What is a Cyclamen?
A winter season gem – Cyclamen are small blooming plants offering unique heart-shaped silver-veined leaves, and brightly colored blooms. Broadly considered as an annual, cyclamen don’t tolerate temperatures much below 25°F, but they do have the potential to be perennial plants (emerging in the garden year after year) if planted in a protected location.
You’ll find cyclamen in a variety of sizes and colors. Some offer large white with blushed pink flower petals, some have petals with a wavy edge, others bloom small vibrant pink flowers. Choosing a cyclamen to add a pop of color in winter containers is an easy decision; but the hard part is deciding which plant to choose in the beautiful variety offered! Cyclamen blooms appear as white, pink, red, violet, as well as bi-color shades.
Bonus: Deer don’t particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats.
Growing Tips for Cyclamen
This plant should be grown in a location that is shaded from the hot afternoon sun.
It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. Cyclamen require good drainage, performing well in a drought tolerant shade garden.
Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone over the growing season to conserve soil moisture.
Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden. The soil should neither completely dry out, nor become soggy.
The most common cyclamen variety you will find is Cyclamen persicum, also known as Persian Cyclamen. This variety has the potential to be an herbaceous evergreen perennial, growing to be 6-8 inches tall with the flowers, but only if well protected (covered or brought inside) during cold snaps. It is a great choice for growing in outdoor pots as a ‘filler’ plant, providing a nice full base of leaves and a cluster of flowers that bloom from late fall to late winter. These flowers are fragrant too!
Cyclamen hederifolium, also known as Persian Violet Cyclamen, are known for their arrow-shaped leaves. A bit more sun tolerant than other varieties with long-lasting flowers that can bloom into spring. The hardiest variety of cyclamen.
Cyclamen coum is the third most common variety of this winter bloomer at our nursery. Though not as hardy as C. hederifolium, Cyclamen coum will usually return year after year if planted in a sheltered location. It deserves a spot in the winter mix with its especially attractive foliage; heart-shaped leaves with varied silver and gray tones. It’s as though every plant has its own leaf print, making each plant one-of-a-kind. Cyclamen coum blooms magenta, pink, or white flowers in late December into early spring.
Darren tip about cyclamen hardiness – Basically, Cyclamen persicum are not year-over-year hardy, and need to be protected below about 25F – we consider them to be in-and-out as temperatures drop, and as annuals. Cyclamen hederifolium is substantially and reliably hardy where drainage is adequate, down to near 0F. Cyclamen coum is somewhere between, and often considered a perennial (though it may freeze out on bad winters (around 10-15F).