Listen to this podcast on how to grow and care for cyclamen flowers.
This houseplant and, sometimes garden plant, originated in the Middle East and has spread throughout Europe, Asia and North America. Its name is derived from the Greek, “Kuklos”, which means circle, referring to the shape of the tubers and leaves. It’s a beauty, but also was use medically to treat depression. The tubers were even fed to pigs, hence the common name, pig bread. What’s this flower? It’s the cyclamen.
This time of year you’ll see many florist cyclamens for sale in garden centers. They make great houseplants if you treat them well. The flowers come in white, pink or red colors and the circular leaves have interesting variegation on them. Place your houseplant cyclamen in a sunny window in a room where the temperatures are cool at night. Water only after the soil dries out and the pot is light weight. But don’t let the leaves and flowers wilt. Deadhead the spent flowers all winter. By early summer let the pot dry out and the leaves die. This is the natural resting time for cyclamens. Place it in cool, dark place all summer and start watering again in fall to stimulate growth and flowering. If aphids or mites infect your plants, cut back the foliage to the tuber. The plant will regrow.
Some cyclamen species are hardy outdoors as well to zone 5. Grow hardy species such as the pink flowered Cyclamen hederifolium in a woodland setting under deciduous trees on gritty soil. Good drainage is important or the tubers will rot. The tubers are dormant in summer and bloom in early fall with evergreen foliage. In our climate growing in a protected microclimate and mulching in late fall will help the tubers and foliage survive.