A flowering perennial, cyclamen is a native of West Asia, North Africa, and some parts of Europe. It was originally a part of the Primulaceae family, but now, it is under the Myrsinaceae family. Its color will vary depending on the specific variety of the plant, but more often than not, it will be white, pink, red, or violet. Some flowers are a combination of two colors. Each flower has five petals, which are all pointing upwards. Most cyclamens will not have a height that is taller than one foot.
There are20 species of cyclamens, each of which will have their own characteristics and flowering season. One of the most popular is Cyclamen hederifolium, which is known for its ability to withstand even the extreme cold, making it popular as an outdoor plant. If you want one as an indoor plant, the best choice is Cyclamen persicum or florist cyclamen. They are available in a wide range of colors and thrive best in a sheltered location. Known as the ballerina of the plant world, its flowers are sure to add life to any indoor space.
Planting and Growing Conditions
The cultivation of cyclamen is possible through seeds, but this is one thing that you might want to avoid as it can be tricky for novices. In the same way, it will also take a long time before it grows. On average, it will take approximately 18 months for the plant to reach full development if you grow it from seeds. With this, a better choice is to buy a plant from a local nursery. This is good since the plant is already established and all that you have to do is to take care of it so that it will grow fully and retain its health.
To successfully grow cyclamen indoors, it is important to satisfy the growing requirements of the plant. In this case, one of the most important is light. Bright and indirect light is best. Keep it away from a place where there is direct sunlight. Too much sun will damage the leaves and the flowers. This can also cause the colors to fade. On the other hand, if it is in a place that is too dark, blooms will end up being sporadic.
Meanwhile, when it comes to soil, you need one that is rich and well-draining. It must be able to retain moisture, but should not end up being soggy. Potting mixes are great. You can also combine organic materials to make it even richer.
Water is another essential growing condition for cyclamens. Watering is critical for the plant’s health, but be sure to do this only when the soil is dry to the touch. Poke the surface with your finger to know if it is already time to water the plant.
For the temperature, on the other hand, cyclamen will thrive in an environment that is about 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. It needs to be in a cool room that has no central heating. Keep the plant away from any source of direct heat. Preferably, put it in the coolest spot in your house.
Pests and Diseases
Similar to the case of other indoor plants, cyclamens are not free from problems, especially if you are not proactive in taking care of the plant. Some of the most common diseases that it can experience include bacterial soft rot, botrytis blight, fusarium wilt, leaf spot, and Pythium root rot, among others. Meanwhile, when it comes to pests, spider mites are amongst the most common.
Care and Maintenance
Aside from emphasis on the growing conditions, it is also critical to keep these things in mind:
- It is important to note that cyclamen undergoes a period of dormancy, a time wherein the leaves fade and wilt. This usually happens in the summer. This is an indication that the plant would like to rest, but this does not mean that it is already dead. At this point, avoid watering as this will only kill the plant. Instead, leave it by the window for two to three months. Soon, new signs of growth will be evident.
- The application of fertilizer is an essential to make sure that the plant remains in tip-top condition and to encourage flowering. The best choice is a high potassium liquid fertilizer. Apply it once in a couple of weeks.
- When the flowers no longer look as vigorous or when they are dry, take them out from the stem. Leaving them on the plant will just affect the health of the other parts. The same thing is true with the yellow leaves. By removing them, it will encourage new growth.
- When watering the plant, do it from the bottom, making sure that only the soil will get wet and not the top part, occasional misting will be good, but do not soak the flowers and the leaves in water as this will only make it prone to pests and diseases.
- Running a humidifier around the plant will also work, especially during the hot months. This will provide the humidity that the plant needs and will prevent it from drying out.
Cyclamen is a charming plant that is a favorite of many florists. For novice gardeners, there is no need to be hesitant in growing it as an indoor plant. During the gloomy winter season, this is one of the best ways to brighten up your space.