Cyclamen are unique flowering corms (flattened bulbs) that originated in Europe, North Africa and Asia.
Most of you will recognize cyclamen when you see it in a garden center but not realize it is one of easiest houseplants to grow. Astonishing, cyclamen flower through the winter when other blooms are asleep!
The leathery leaves are round or ivy-shaped, dark green and often highlighted with silver. Flowers in white, pale pink, rose or dark red open from an elongated, nodding bud to display narrow, recurved petals sometimes flaunting a maroon blotch or slight twist at the base of each petal.
Cyclamen corms are potted with the crown or top of the bulb exposed to the air. All leaves and flower stems emerge from the center of the corm. Burying the corm deeper will cause it to rot. Place the pot in a bright (but not hot) window, leaving the plant in as it is in the pot. Feed it once a month with an all-purpose houseplant food diluted to half strength.
Outdoors, cyclamen naturalize by reseeding. Indoors, trim the stem of the old flowers as they begin to make seed. (You will notice a round, hard ball developing where the flower was.) This will encourage the corm to continue developing flowers. It is not unusual for cyclamen to bloom from November through the end of March.
Many species of cyclamen are hardy in Oklahoma and points north, but they are not the species offered as seasonal potted color. Although they prefer cool growing conditions, do not allow the plants offered during the holidays to freeze.
Summer is cyclamens’ dormant season. Expect the foliage to disappear for two or three months and reemerge in the fall as the temperature cools. Allow the plant this rest period. Keep the pots on the dry side, in a shaded location until leaves begin growing again.
Are you looking for a hostess gift or inexpensive party favor? Cyclamen’s your plant! These colorful flowers brighten a bedside for people with limited mobility. They are small enough to fit on almost any windowsill. They can be “grown” and enjoyed by anyone who can give it a drink once a week – no experience or green thumb required. My bet is you will be so proud of your cyclamen’s performance, next year you will collect one of each color!
LeeAnn Barton has worked with nurseries for more than 20 years. She digs in the dirt in Stillwater. Direct any questions to her, especially about tree selections, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.