Cyclamens Christmas houseplant | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Caring for Cyclamens

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How to Keep Cyclamens Happy Through the Holidays

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Cyclamens are such a pretty holiday plant, with butterfly-shape petals. Here’s how to keep these houseplants happy and keep them blooming through winter. 

Cyclamens (Cyclamen persicum) have brightly colored flowers in white, red, or pink suspended above attractive, heart-shaped leaves on slender stems. Some people say they resemble butterflies in flight!

Cyclamen flowers and foliage.

When selecting this winter-blooming houseplant, choose one with lots of buds just starting to open, as well as sturdy, succulent leaves.

With proper care, cyclamens will bloom near Christmas and continue blossoming for two to three months.


Cyclamen Plant Care

You’ll be fine if you consider the conditions that make cyclamens happy. But make sure you review what they need if you want these delicate plants to keep blooming.

The most important thing to know about cyclamen plant care is to give these houseplants indirect light, good air circulation, moderate humidity, and moist soil (without keeping the tuber so wet that it rots).

They need high humidity, maybe daily misting, plus a pebble tray. (Pebble trays are great for indoor plants during the dry winter heating season. Put a layer of gravel in a shallow tray, set the containers on the gravel, and add water to just below the bottom of the pots. Refill to offset evaporation.) 

  • Lighting: Cyclamens need good light but not too bright. Place them in an east-facing window or northern window that offers bright, indirect light. 
  • Temperature: They prefer cooler temperatures, with 60° to 65°F (15° to 18°C) in the daytime, and  50° to 55°F (10° to 13°C) in the evening. If that’s challenging, just do not let temperatures get above 70°F (21°C), or the plant will think it’s time to go dormant, which will cause it to stop blooming and drop its leaves. Also, keep away from drafts of any kind.
  • Watering: Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Wait until the soil looks and feels dry on the surface and the foliage looks like it’s just started to get limp. Never water on top of the tuber in the center, which may rot if the soil remains too wet. Neve water the leaves. A safer watering method that we use is to place each pot in a saucer or pan of water for about 5 to 10 minutes, then set aside to drain.
  • Humidity: They need moderate-to-high humidity so mist often. Setting cyclamens in a shallow pebble tray is an easy way to add humidity. Just add a layer of gravel to the tray and set the pots on top; our water into the tray to just below the pot bottoms and refill when needed.
  • Feeding: Half-strength fertilizer is best, or you will get mostly leaves with few flowers. Use a half-strength portion of liquid houseplant fertilizer every two weeks while the plant is in bloom.
  • Flowers: As each flower fades, remove the entire flower stalk from where it attaches to the tuber by giving it a gentle tug. New flowers will emerge from one of the many buds waiting just below the foliage.


What to Do After Cyclamens Stop Blooming

Most folks just treat cyclamens as disposable holiday plants, similar to poinsettia. If you wish to keep your cyclamens growing, here are tips:

  • In early spring, cyclamens naturally stop blooming; leaves will turn yellow as the plants go dormant. Gradually reduce water until June and pick off the dead leaves. Set the plants outside in partial shade, and water and feed regularly. Do not wet the center of the plant.
  • In early June, stop watering altogether and expose the corms to full sun.
  • At the end of July, begin watering again. When the corms begin to develop young leaves, replant in a larger pot.
  • Bring the plant back inside in early fall. They will usually start producing new leaves and flower buds soon, and you will have recycled your cyclamen!

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About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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