Caring for Cyclamen

A native to the coasts of the Mediterranean, cyclamen is a plant commonly grown as a winter houseplant in our area. They come in shades of red, pink, and white. The foliage usually exhibits a beautiful marble pattern. Cyclamen are a tuberous plant that grows from a corm, a small, stem-shaped bulb.

Cyclamen does best in an area with bright, indirect light. Cyclamen do not like heat, but they also cannot tolerate cold. Do not expose them to temperatures below 50F. Avoid drafts as well as hot, dry air. High humidity during the winter growing season is crucial. Keep them on a tray of water filled with pebbles.

When leaves are present, the plant is actively growing. Water it whenever the soil feels dry; however, avoid getting water on the crown of the plant. As the flowers begin to fade, allow the plant to slowly dry out for 2-3 months. It is going into a dormant stage, and too much water can cause the corms to rot.

Cyclamen go dormant for the summer. Along the coast of the Mediterranean home, there is excessive heat and a lack of rain during the summer months. Going dormant is a smart way for them to survive. By April cyclamen will begin to yellow and die back. When they go dormant depends on their growing conditions. In a home that is kept toasty with electric heat, they will go dormant more quickly.

During the summer months, dormant cyclamen can be kept indoors, in a cool, dark spot with plenty of air circulation or outdoors in a shady spot. If you move yours outside, be sure to turn the pot on its side to keep the rain out. If the soil gets too wet it can cause rot. The best time to repot is during the dormant period.

In September, you will begin to see new growth. Begin watering again as it starts to awaken from its summer slumber. Make sure you bring it back indoors before frost. Since they are forced to bloom for the holidays by greenhouses, expect it to bloom naturally in late winter to early spring.