Cyclamen is one of the most popular of all winter-flowering pot plants and its charm is obvious. Compact growth, beautiful swept-back flowers on long stalks and decorative foliage which is patterned in silver and green. The blooms are in bright colors or pastel shades, large and eye-catching or small and perfumed.
Most Cyclamens are unfortunately consigned to the dustbin after a few weeks. With care they will bloom indoors for several months and then can be kept to provide another display next winter. First of all, try to buy a plant in fall and not in mid winter, and choose one with plenty of unopened buds. Then put it in a suitable home – a north-facing windowsill is ideal. The spot must be cool and away from direct sunlight – a warm room means a short life for a Cyclamen.
The wild Cyclamen persicum of the Middle East has narrow, pink petals – the hybrids which first began to appear about 100 years ago are sometimes listed as C. persicum giganteum. These plants have wide petals which may be frilled and are available in many colors – white, pink, red, purple and salmon. Fragrant varieties are available and the foliage is usually edged, marbled or lined in white. This leaf pattering is sometimes bold enough to rival the flowers in dislay value.
Cyclamens are bought in vast numbers between fall and early spring. You can save the tubers for planting in summer but it is usually better to buy fresh ones. You can also raise Cyclamen from seed, but you may have to wait about 1½ years for the plants to bloom. You can find standard (12 in height), intermediate (9 in height) and miniature varieties (height 6 in or less).
Triumph series: Large and abundant flowers and attractive leaves.
Rex series: Compact plants. Leaves boldly marbled in silver.
Decora series: Noted for pastel shades (salmon, lavender etc). Leaves marked in silver.
Turbo/Laser series: Compact and fast growing. Up to 35 flowers at one time.
Tiny Mites series: Smallest of all – daintly flowers in a wide range of colors.
Secrets of success
Temperature: Cool – 50°F – 60°F is ideal.
Light: Bright light away from direct sunlight.
Water: Keep compost moist at all times. Employ the immersion method using soft water.
Care after flowering: Reduce watering and stop feeding. Place pot on its side in a cool spot and keep it dry until midsummer. Then repot using fresh compost, burying the tuber to half its depth. Stand the pot in a cool, well-lit spot. Water to keep the compost moist.