By: Liz Baessler
Cyclamen are low, flowering plants that produce bright, beautiful blooms in shades of red, pink, purple, and white. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow cyclamen in pots.
Container Grown Cyclamen
While they prefer cool weather and actually bloom in the winter, cyclamen plants can’t tolerate temperatures below freezing. This means that if you live in a cold winter environment and want your plants to make it past their dormant summer period, your only options are growing them in a greenhouse or in pots. And unless you already have a greenhouse, pots are certainly the easier route.
Growing cyclamen in containers is also a nice way to take advantage of their blooming period. While your container grown cyclamen are flowering, you can move them to a place of honor on the porch or in your home. Once the flowers have passed, you can move the plants out of the way.
Growing Cyclamen in Containers
Cyclamen come in a large number of varieties, and each has slightly different growing conditions. As a rule, though, growing cyclamen in containers is easy and usually successful.
Potted cyclamen plants prefer well-draining growing medium, preferably with some compost mixed in. They are not heavy feeders and need very little fertilizer.
When planting a cyclamen tuber, choose a pot that leaves about an inch (2.5 cm.) of space around the outside of the tuber. Set the tuber on top of the growing medium and cover it with half an inch (1.27 cm.) of grit. Multiple tubers can be planted in the same pot as long as they have enough space.
Potted cyclamen plants like cool Fahrenheit temperatures in the 60s F. (15 C.) during the day and the 50s F. (10 C.) at night. They grow best if placed in indirect bright sunlight.
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Read more about Cyclamen Plants
Caring for indoor Cyclamen
Cyclamen, both potted for the house and growing in the garden, add a welcome burst of colour at this time of year.
It's gloomy outside at the moment and so all the more reason to make inside as cheerful as possible. I think the small-flowered, indoor cyclamen are as pretty as anything you'll find in a pot at this time of year and they're cheap.
I've just been to my local farm shop and bought some cyclamen for £2.50 each, an intense range of colours from 'Charles de Mills' rose-pink, to wine-crimson and a bright, rich red.
Having a range of similar colours (contrast built in), looks better than perfectly matched plants - wonderful running down the middle of a table and spread around window ledges.
Cyclamen give you intense, stained-glass colour until you can start to pick decent bunches of flowers from the garden in about a month.
The small-flowered varieties of Cyclamen persicum (or so called 'florist's' forms) come in white, crimson or magenta and are in a different league to the large-flowered, large-leaved brigade, which feel rubbery, overfed and coarse in comparison.
The scale of the mini ones feels right at this time of year and fits with their hardy cousins, Cyclamen coum, as well as snowdrops and aconites beginning to poke their way up into flower in the garden.
Displaying indoor cyclamen
- Don't just buy and plonk your indoor cyclamen - they're worth the effort of a bit of doctoring. The plastic pots they come in don't do these winter-flowering tubers justice, so plant them up in a brightly coloured bowl or something sparkly and shiny.
- Try not to disturb the roots - you're doing this for aesthetic reasons only - planting them into any peat-free multipurpose compost, ideally with a bit of grit added.
- One of the great things about indoor cyclamen is if (like me), you are a bit hit and miss with your house plant care, they are pretty easy and reliable, looking good for six to eight weeks in our cold house.
- They're happy at room temperature (about 55F/13C), but shouldn't get too hot. Find them a light position, without too much direct sunlight.
- In the wild, Cyclamen persicum grows in deciduous woods, or you might find it more out in the open, with its tuber hidden under rocks and just the leaves and flowers poking into the light.
- Too much heat in a sunny window will encourage early dormancy, while growing in light, but cool conditions may see them continue to flower into mid-May.
- I have mine on east and north-facing window ledges, bringing them out more prominently onto our main dining table as and when I want them, but putting them back in between times.
- Cyclamen don't like freezing temperatures (don't let them fall below 50F/10C), so on frosty nights I try to remember to bring them into the room.
- As far as watering goes, they don't like much - the worst thing is a constant dribble of water. Keep them moist, but not dripping wet.
- Once a week I sit the pots in a tray of half an inch of water and leave them overnight. Then the whole root ball gets a good drink and the compost rehydrates. I then drain them and leave them for another week or so without water.
- If water collects in the base of the saucer or pot-holder, tip it out and don't water again until the compost feels fairly dry. Dead head and remove any dead or dying leaves with a sharp tug to the stem.
Follow the life cycle
Cyclamen persicum are Mediterranean and follow the common pattern of coming into growth in the autumn, growing through the winter and spring and then going dormant while there is no rain and intense sun in the summer.
To help recreate conditions as similar as possible to their native environment, stop watering when they stop flowering and let the leaves go yellow and wither.
This is usually in April, but could be a few weeks later. Then put them somewhere cool and dry (but not totally dry as the compost is then tricky to rehydrate), for the summer.
If you keep them too moist in the dormant months, you may lose your tuber to rot. While plants are dormant, repot them into a slightly larger pot, teasing out the roots.
You can store them outside in the summer, but Cyclamen persicum are not hardy, so bring them into the house again before the frosts begin.
In September (or when you see regrowth), start watering again. Soak the pot well. If no growth shows when you water it, wait for shoots to appear before watering again.
In the right cool place with gentle watering, they should be in flower again soon after Christmas and will get bigger and better each year.
Small-flowered indoor Cyclamen persicum varieties have now made me realise I don't have nearly enough of the hardy garden Cyclamen coum at Perch Hill for this time of year.
This looks best in carpets as big as you can throw them, almost as lovely in leaf through the autumn as it is in flower now.
My favourites are the deepest magenta colour forms which look good growing outside or arranged inside in a small glass with snowdrops or a few early primroses.
Tips for Growing Indoor Cyclamen
Finding the right temperatures and light indoors is probably the most difficult obstacle for most. Temperature must be on the cool side, 50 to 68 degrees. Dry hot furnace air should be avoided or the bloom time will be cut short. Pots can be moved from a bright cool daytime window into a cool garage or basement at night. I have kept them under artificial light in my basement during the coldest part of winter then moved them outside to an unheated greenhouse when temperatures became warmer.
High humidity and ample water are essential while in growth. A tray of water with a layer of pebbles on which to place the pot, so that the bottom is not in water, will help humidity. Misting the plant can also be helpful. Water just as the top of the soil feels dry then water thoroughly. Do not water the top of the plant's tuber just the surrounding soil. A dilute liquid fertilizer applied every other watering will help keep the plant in top shape.
Intro: Cyclamen, also called Persian violet or primrose, is a small container plant that grows best in cooler weather. Its sweet-smelling flowers grow to about 0.75 inches long, and the whole plant grows to 8 inches high (when flowering) and 6 inches in diameter. Cyclamen's attractive foliage is heart-shaped and often has silver variegations on the leaf tops. Cyclamen flowers bloom between December and may and come in many different colors, including pink, red, white, as well as striped or multiple colors.
Scientific Name: Cyclamen spp., mainly C. persicum
Plant Type: Tuberous flowering plant
Light: Indirect light
Water: Water when the potting soil feels dry. Don’t allow too much water in the cyclamen's crown area because it may cause the tuber to rot. Once the flowers begin to fade (meaning that the plant will soon go into dormancy), gradually reduce watering so that the cyclamen plant dries out within two to three months. Keep soil dry during dormancy because the tuber will rot if kept too wet at this time.
Fertilizer: If the cyclamen plant is given too much fertilizer, it will not flower and will be more susceptible to rots and molds (the occurrence of which can be diminished by good airflow).
Temperature: Cyclamen is picky when it comes to temperature: keep it between 40 and 68 degrees. In cyclamen’s natural habitat (Turkey, Syria and Jordan east to Iran), its leaves grow in autumn, and the plant grows throughout the winter. It dies in the spring and goes dormant during the summer.
Propagation: Plant a cyclamen tuber in a plant container with the top half above the soil’s surface. After several weeks of good watering, the cyclamen should begin to grow.
Pests and Diseases: If your cyclamen plant starts looking distorted or stop growing where buds and new growth is supposed to grow, you may have cyclamen mites (which are microscopic arachnids that attack many African violets). These are very difficult to control, and you will most likely need to throw your cyclamen plant away before it spreads to other container plants.
Misc. Info: This flower blooms for two months, and then its leaves turn yellow. It looks dead, but it isn’t. The cyclamen is now dormant, so allow it to dry out so you can either store the tuber in the plant container or dig up and store it in dry peat moss. Keep the cyclamen’s container in a tray of water with pebbles to keep the right humidity levels around the plant. This plant does well with good air circulation. On a table underneath a ceiling fan or outside in a cool, breezy spot is best.
How to grow Hardy Cyclamen
Grows well in Whatcom County
Hardy cyclamen can survive brief and sometimes prolonged periods at temperatures below 0 degrees especially with snow cover. Weather buffers of trees, shrubs, buildings,
Weather buffers of trees, shrubs, buildings, theВ amount of moisture, the sun, etc. can make a difference in successfully growing cyclamen in severe cold. It is good to keep in mind that winter is their growing season when they need light and moisture.
Plant these Cyclamen hederifolium in partial sun along a garden walkway. Hardy Cyclamen are ideally suited to growing in a shaded rockery or naturalized in the light shade of woodland borders. They combine great with ferns, hardy perennials, and spring flowering bulbs.
Planted in beds of their own they will create a palate of amazing color. Hardy cyclamen are one of the few flowering plants that will grow in the dry shade, one of the most challenging spots in any garden. Cyclamen roots are non-competitive and can be planted among the roots of trees and large shrubs, both deciduous and evergreen.
Since cyclamen plants are small it is nice to plant somewhere you can observe them up close, near walkways, entryways and outdoor living areas.
Cyclamen also make excellent potted plants. There is much written about cyclamen pot culture and many growers and collectors grow exclusively in pots under glass. More information on planting in pots see Cyclamen Pot Culture.
Soil and Water
Sandy to clay soils are acceptable but should be well draining and loose with grit, compost or mulch. Wet and soggy soils with poor drainage will cause tubers to rot.
Hardy Cyclamen need watering in late summer and early fall to break dormancy and encourage new growth. Nature usually supplies enough moisture in these seasons, if not then watering by some other means may be necessary. In summer when plants go dormant most species need some small amount of moisture to keep roots from dying back which will decrease bloom.
Heavy deposits of tree leaves in fall should be brushed aside so growing cyclamen leaves get light. Avoid any raking or the tops of the tubers may be damaged. In freezing weather a light cover of leaves or evergreen boughs will help protect the plants, removing them as soon as possible. In late spring or early summer, the plant’s leaves will start to yellow and the plant will enter dormancy.