Cyclamen plants, native to the Mediterranean's cool and damp climate year-round, are an excellent choice for your home during winter months. The abundant selection of vibrant colors nestled among sweet, heart-shaped leaves brighten up any holiday or hallway table. When this plant’s life cycle is understood and respected, it’s not difficult to maintain year-round.
Unlike most flowering houseplants that grow in North America, cyclamen thrive during winter and lie dormant in summer. Cyclamen plants store the food needed for energy and nutrition to grow in the swollen tuberous roots. The flowers can be daintily ruffled or rounded, depending on the variety you choose, and their beautiful colored blooms enhance any space you put them in.
There is no need to dispose of your cyclamen after it has bloomed. The plant enters dormancy--they rest and restore energy during the summer months to bloom again with the winter season. The leaves turn yellow and die as the plant begins dormancy. This is normal, so do not give it more water, light or heat, or you will lose the plant.
Indoor cyclamens are fussy when it comes to temperature. To keep your plant flowering for a long time, keep it in a room between 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooler the room, the longer your plant's blooms will remain vigorous. If overheated, the blooms may be forced into dormancy. These plants are also very sensitive to drafts, so be sure to keep them away from heat vents, fireplaces, space heaters, and other warm air-blowing sources.
When the soil feels dry to the touch, moderately water the plant. Cyclamens do not like their leaves or stem to get wet, so water the plant from the bottom rather than the top. Fill a shallow tray with water and let the plant soak up water through the pot’s bottom drainage holes. To prevent root rot, do not leave the plant sitting in the water for too long. When the soil is wet, lift it from the tray and let all the excess water drain before restoring your plant to its location.
In the winter months, homes tend to be dry due to heating, and cyclamens prefer a humid environment. To ensure your cyclamen gets the humidity it needs to thrive, you can place a small room humidifier nearby. If you prefer, line a tray with rocks, fill with water, and rest the plant on the rocks without it touching the water. You can also cover your plant with a small, portable covering called a cloche to keep it moist.
When your cyclamen is blooming, fertilize it every other week with a weak mixture of liquid fertilizer. Once in dormancy, do not fertilize until the leaves start to grow again. If you prefer to fertilize organically, brew your own with compost tea leaves or choose one specifically formulated organically for African violets.
It’s best to repot your cyclamen approximately every two years, depending on your plant and its container. Repot your cyclamen during the summer when it’s dormant. Choose a pot that’s approximately 1-inch larger than the current one and fill it partway with potting medium. Carefully lift the cyclamen from the old pot and brush off as much dirt as possible, then place it into the new pot. Cover the roots halfway with soil, with the tuber about 1-inch below the pot’s rim. Place it in a shady spot and let it dry until autumn, when you can begin watering again.
Cyclamen mites, tiny eight-legged arachnids, are a threat to your plant’s health. There are several telltale signs that your plant is infected: pale leaves, brittle leaves, leaves with dark speckled undersides and leaves spotted with yellow. Some flowers may be twisted, deformed, or have holes in them. If you suspect pests on the plant, isolate your cyclamen and wash your hands. You can get rid of these pests by using a non-toxic, biodegradable insecticide where the mites tend to cluster.
Cyclamen plants are poisonous to cats and dogs due to the large accumulation of toxins in the plant tubers. Tubers are located beneath the soil, making ingestion unlikely. If your pet chews the leaves, it may exhibit mild digestive issues. However, if it has dug into the pot and munched on the roots, your pet may experience drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Consult your veterinarian immediately to avoid complications.
Unlike the indoor varieties, hardy cyclamen are a robust and easy-to-care-for addition to an outdoor garden. These plants require minimal care, with only regular watering in the spring and summer. A layer of leaves protects the tubers from cold temperatures but keeps them free from cover so they can receive sunlight. You can divide the tubers in late summer and replant them to ensure the steady growth of these beautiful plants.