Looking for a pretty houseplant to decorate for the holidays? Try growing cyclamen persicum. Caring for a cyclamen is easy if you plan to grow this houseplant as an annual and discard it after flowering.
Taking care of florist cyclamen during the dormant period so that they will bloom again the following year is the tricky part. This is the reason so many people treat them as a seasonal holiday plant.
This is the time of the year when tropical flowering plants associated with Christmas start to appear in all the big box stores. Florist cyclamen is one of those plants.
Thanksgiving cactus and Christmas cactus plants are also available at this time and also flower when the weather is cold.
Very few flowering houseplants can bring the pop of color to a room during the darkness of winter as much as a cyclamen does.
The lovely contrast of the colors of the flowers on their tall stems and the variegated gray-green leaves will decorate any window sill beautifully.
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What is a florist cyclamen?
Cyclamen persicum is called florist cyclamen because it is widely available at home improvement stores and florist shops during the holiday season.
The plant can be bought already in flower during the fall and winter months and is normally treated as an annual.
With proper care, however, it really can be a perennial that will flower again the next year.
There are several other seasonal plants that are seen around the holidays in full bloom. Christmas cactus, poinsettia and kalanchoe blossfeldiana (florist kalanchoe) are three examples.
Florist cyclamen vs hardy cyclamen
There are many varieties of cyclamen. In its natural habitat, it grows in rocky areas and is a tender plant that does not like the frost.
There are versions of the hardy cyclamen that can be grown outdoors and will overwinter since they will withstand the colder weather. These are known as hardy cyclamens.
Florist cyclamens are quite different from the hardy plant in many respects – mainly the minimum temperature in which they will grow.
Cyclamens have over 20 species and many hybrids. Hardy cyclamens are a decent sized perennial. Some florist cyclamen also come in dwarf varieties which will grow to only 6 inches tall.
How do I know if my cyclamen is hardy? The plant tag will usually tell you but, if not, go by the flowers and the foliage.
As a general rule of thumb, the larger and more showy the flowers and leaves are, the less likely it is to be suitable for growing outdoors all year long.
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Facts about florist cyclamen
Florist cyclamen is a tender perennial plant in the family primulaceae. The plant is native to rocky hillsides and shrubland up to 3900 feet above sea level.
It is commonly seen growing from Turkey to Jordan and Israel. Flowering cyclamen also grows in some Mediterranean areas.
- Family: primulaceae
- Genus: cyclamen
- Species: cyclamen persicum
- Common name: ‘Florist cyclamen’
Caring for a cyclamen plant
The care of this pretty plant depends very much on whether you are growing it to enjoy it just during the flowering season (over the holidays and winter) or whether you want to get it to rebloom.
The first is easy and the latter requires much more diligence. Read on for basic tips for caring for a cyclamen, and also suggestions for getting the plant to flower again next year.
Cyclamen persicum has been know to quickly stop growing and show signs of incorrect care and unfavorable conditions.
However, if you have a bit of a green thumb, the florist cyclamen can be kept blooming for many years without too much effort.
Sunlight needs for cyclamen persicum:
Caring for a cyclamen starts with the right light conditions.
Florist cyclamen prefers moderate or diffused light conditions. Keep the plant in high indirect light when it is in bloom. After flowering, move the plant to medium light.
Be careful of placing the plant in a spot with too much sun. One thing that cyclamen cannot take is extremes of heat.
A north facing window is ideal for florist cyclamen.
Fertilizing, humidity and watering cyclamen:
Good cyclamen care means that you need and water regularly during the spring and early summer.
Erratic watering will result in cyclamen plants which have droopy flowers. Give liquid fertilizer when buds start to form. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Fertilize twice a month from fall to early spring, which is the bloom time.
I like to place my plant in the sink and water it thoroughly and then let it drain. Another way to water cyclamens is to immerse the container in water and allow it to soak up from the bottom and then replace the plant in its original spot.
Cyclamen persicum likes high humidity. Use a mister to keep humidity high, or place the pot on a tray of pebbles with water to allow the water to evaporate upward.
Plants grown in terrariums will also enjoy high humidity, so cyclamen plants are ideal for this type of container. Grouping cyclamens with other humidity loving plants also creates a nice environment for them.
Soil Needs for florist cyclamen:
Caring for a cyclamen means starts with your soil choice.
Grow cyclamen persicum in an all-purpose soil based mix. All types of cyclamen do best with soil that has been enriched with compost or other organic matter.
Be sure the soil mix will retain moisture but also drain well.
Repot crowded plants to a container 1/3 larger only when the nights are consistently above 55 °F
Ideal temperature range when caring for a cyclamen:
Cyclamen persicum likes a cool temperature. During the day, florist cyclamen likes a temperature of 60 to 72 °F. At night, keep temperatures in the 45 to 60 °F range for best results.
Since the average home doesn’t normally have rooms that are kept this cool, maintaining this temperature can be a challenge.
Additionally, drafts from cold windows and variations in temperatures can result in bloom droop and also in plants failing to produce flowers.
Florist cyclamen is a popular gift and holiday plant with long lasting blooms. The plant is only cold hardy in zones 9-11.
Cyclamen care: flowers and foliage:
Florist cyclamen is a cool loving plant that flowers from October to April in the northern hemisphere.
The butterfly-like flowers of cyclamen come in many shades of red and pink, with white and lavender varieties also common. Under the right conditions, florist cyclamen will flower nonstop for many months.
The beautiful blooms of cyclamen sit on long, stiff stems, well above the foliage. Dwarf varieties can be found with frilled flowers and also with double flowers.
The basic leaves of cyclamen persicum are green with silver markings. Other varieties have a silver marble effect around most of the leaf with a green center.
Flowering occurs from winter through to spring. The beautiful cyclamen flowers sit above a rosette of heart shaped blue green leaves. Cyclamen persicum is a graceful plant, often with beautiful silver markings on the leaves.
Caring for a cyclamen means spending some time with maintenance. To extend the length of time that your cyclamen flowers, you should deadhead it regularly. Use this time to also inspect for yellowing leaves and insects.
To correctly deadhead fading flowers and foliage follow the stem all the way down to the soil and cut with scissors.
Cyclamens come in basically three types when it comes to mature size.
- Standards will grow up to 1 foot tall.
- Intermediates grow up to about 8 inches tall.
- Mini cyclamen varieties will grow no more than 6 inches tall.
Florist cyclamen forms compact clumps from underground tubers.
To get a larger sized plant right away, plant several smaller ones to a pot. The mounding growth habit of the plant will blend them nicely into a uniform look.
Cyclamen care: diseases, problems and insects:
Cyclamen persicum is prone to spider mites and cyclamen mites which can cause distorted growth on the plant. If you find an infestation, discard the plant.
A common problem for florist cyclamen is yellowing foliage. This happens because of temperatures that are too hot, or from too little humidity. If the plant receives too much sunlight, the foliage will also yellow.
Other problems are a short life span for the flowers. While cyclamen normally blooms for many months, if your environment is too warm and dry or the plant doesn’t get enough water, it can suffer from a short flower life.
Lack of moisture can result in buds drooping. Be sure to give water right way if you notice this and it will quickly recover.
If the leaves are soft and drooping and the plant is soft in the center, this is a symptom of crown rot. This is caused by too much water. Repot and avoid watering and hope the plant will recover.
Droopy cyclamen flowers are the first thing to alert you to either underwatering or overwatering of your plant. If you react quickly to either, the plant will pick up quickly.
Getting a cyclamen to flower again
Once your cyclamen persicum has bloomed, it goes into a dormant state. They leaves and flowers will look dead, but the plant is just asking for a rest!
With proper care, you can keep the plant through dormancy and it will flower again in the fall.
The trick is to let the leaves die and hold off on watering during the dormant state.
Keep the plant in a cool, dark place for 2-3 months and new growth will start again.
For more details on how to get a cyclamen to flower again, check out my post – getting a cyclamen to rebloom.
How to propagate cyclamen
One of my most often asked questions from those wondering about cyclamen plant care is how to propagate the plant. The easiest way for gardening novices to get new plants is by growing cyclamen from seed.
Division of the tuber is also possible but this is better suited to an advanced gardener.
Sow seeds in later summer to late fall in moist sphagnum moss.
Maintain a cool temperature. Put the seedlings in a cool, bright spot for the winter and repot in early spring.
Plants will bloom in 12-18 months. If you live in a hardiness zone where cyclamen will grow outside, the plant will often self-sow seeds.
Is cyclamen toxic to pets?
Many plants can be toxic to animals and care must be taken growing them if you have animals who are likely to nibble on them.
The APSCA lists cyclamen varieties as toxic to cats, dogs and horses because of terpenoid saponins.
The signs of this are salivation, vomiting and diarrhea. If your pet consumes a large amount of the tubers, heart rhythm abnormalities, seizures and death can occur.
Where to purchase florist cyclamen
Check the garden center of both Lowe’s and Home Depot. I found my plants there recently. The Farmer’s market is also a great place to purchase holiday plants. Cyclamen persicum is also available online:
- Florist cyclamen plants on Etsy
- White cyclamen plant on Amazon
- Cyclamen bulbs at Easy to Grow Bulbs
- Seeds for cyclamen persicum on Amazon
A note on purchasing the plants locally. Look for specimens that have some buds unopened, instead of one that is already in full bloom. This will allow you to enjoy this delightful plant longer.
The indoor cyclamen is truly a spectacular looking houseplant. The flowers are striking, pretty and very colorful, and the leaves are also gorgeous.
This plant brings color and texture to the home during the holidays and is worth looking for to see if one is available for purchase in your area.
Follow these tips for caring for a cyclamen to bring the beauty of nature into your home during the cold and dreary days of winter. You’ll be delighted if you do!
Pin these caring for a cyclamen tips for later
Would you like a reminder of this post for growing cyclamen persicum? Just pin this image to one of your Pinterest indoor plant boards so that you can easily find it later.
You can also watch our video for growing cyclamen plants on YouTube.
- Florist cyclamen plant
- Well draining potting soil
- Organic matter
- Liquid fertilizer
- Watering can
- Place your florist cyclamen in a bright location. A north facing window is ideal.
- Keep daytime temperatures in the 60-72 °F range and 45-60 °F at night.
- The plant likes high humidity. Use a mister, plant in a terrarium, or place the pot on a tray of pebbles with water.
- Keep evenly moist during bloom time (winter months)
- Fertilize twice a month during bloom time.
- The growing season is fall and winter.
- Only cold hardy in zones 9-11.
- Propagate from seed.
To get the plant to rebloom next year
- When blooming has finished, hold off on water and fertilizing.
- Cut away dead and dying leaves and stems.
- Place the plant in a shady, cool spot in the garden in the spring and summer.
- Water only enough to keep barely moist.
- When the temperatures dip to 50 °F at night, resume watering.
- Move to a greenhouse or cold frame. (A cool porch will also do.)
- Continue watering until new growth and buds appear.
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