Ideas & Inspiration
How to Grow Cyclamen
Cyclamen’s vibrant, frilly flowers and silver-mottled leaves make this tropical flower a good choice as both a ground cover in shaded areas and also as a houseplant.
Best known as winter-blooming houseplants, cyclamens bloom for several months with proper care. In warm climates, plant cyclamens outdoors as winter annuals. They are perennial for hardiness zones 9 and 10.
Look for cyclamen plants with lots of butterfly-shaped buds that are just opening and have healthy green foliage. Cyclamen leaves may be rounded or heart-shaped and colored with silver.
The blooming season for cyclamen is in winter, followed by a dormant period in summer. Give cyclamen bright indirect light and cooler temps, along the lines of 65 degrees Fahrenheit in the day, and nights as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Refer to your variety’s plant tag for specific care.
Like most houseplants, cyclamen likes a humid environment. Water when the soil feels dry to the touch, and when you do, water from the bottom to prevent the plant crown from rotting. Fertilize cyclamen every few weeks while blooming with a product formulated for houseplants.
When the plant finishes blooming and goes dormant, pull back on the watering and stop fertilization. At this point, you can set the plant outside for the summer, or remove the tuber from the pot and store it in a dry environment like vermiculite at about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
When it’s time to bring back the plant, repot the tuber in fresh potting mix, begin watering again and resume fertilizing.
Outdoors, cyclamen is a good choice for dry shade. (Heuchera is another plant that likes dry shade, so if you have spot with happy heuchera, chances are, cyclamen will thrive there, too.)
Choose a location in partial shade that's shielded from afternoon sun. Wooded areas under trees or shrubs are best. In areas where cyclamen overwinters, plants will go dormant in summer and will rot if the soil is wet at that time.
How to Plant Cyclamen Outdoors:
- Plant cyclamen tubers in both beds and containers so that they sit slightly high. Cyclamen flower buds form at ground level and may rot if exposed to too much water.
- Plant in containers at least 6 inches wide with drainage holes. Use potting soil that includes starter fertilizer or add your own.
- Plant in small groups outdoors in shady flowerbeds. Dig the bed with a digging fork. Add a spadeful of compost and a handful of time-release flower fertilizer to each planting hole.
- Water as needed to keep the soil moderately moist. Cyclamens need steady water and excellent drainage. Cyclamens that run dry often collapse, but water will usually revive the plants. Rehydrate dry containers by placing them in a bin or bucket filled with 4 inches of cool water for 30 minutes.
- Keep plants well-groomed by clipping off old blooms and leaves as needed with scissors or floral snips.
- Feed plants every two weeks with a water-soluble flower food, starting a month after planting.
Cyclamen are delightful as both a houseplant and in the landscape, where they grow as annuals throughout most of the country. You have a colorful palette to choose from. A planting of a single color is always attractive, or add contrast by including a few white-blooming plants in the mix.