Cyclamen, with their vibrant blooms and captivating foliage, are a late winter delight for any gardener. These charming perennial plants might seem fairly insignificant in a garden due to their compact size, but in the right setting, they make more of an impact than you might think!
Here, I explore the myriad benefits of growing cyclamen, the ideal growing conditions, and various creative uses that make them a versatile choice for both indoor and outdoor spaces.
Why Grow Cyclamen?
Cyclamen persicum, commonly known as Persian cyclamen, has stunning, upswept petals that come in a range of colours, from deep purples and pinks to delicate whites.
But it’s not just the flowers that are eye-catching. When I visited Morel, a 100-year-old cyclamen-focused breeding company based in the South of France, I found that they had programmes to select different types of foliage. For me, cyclamen foliage should not be overlooked when making a purchasing decision – those fantastic leaf shapes and unique variegation patterns really take these plants to the next level.
Besides their obvious beauty, here are some other reasons to consider adding cyclamen to your green space:
- A Splash of Colour: Cyclamen brighten up your garden or indoor space with their eye-catching, delicate flowers, adding a burst of colour during the fall and winter months.
- Long-Lasting Blooms: Cyclamen’s flowers are known for their longevity in the right conditions, often gracing your garden or home with their beauty for several months.
- Low Maintenance: These plants are relatively low-maintenance, making them an excellent choice for both new and experienced gardeners.
- Adaptable: Cyclamen can thrive both indoors and outdoors, making them versatile additions to your plant collection.
Some of my favourite cyclamen to grow right now
With 23 species within the genus, and many more varieties, there are lots of cyclamen to choose from. Here are some of my personal favourites:
‘Absolu de Morel’
A new variety from Morel, this plant is vibrantly fragrant and has outstanding cold performance. It features white, blousy blooms with pink ruffled edges.
The pretty, pink-and-white blooms of ‘Indiaka’ have been tested and approved by professionals to be long lasting. Not only that, but you get a generous amount of flowers – what a full and fabulous plant!
Petite by name, but not necessarily by nature, this plant produces masses of long-lasting double flowers.
When to Grow Cyclamen
Understanding the ideal growing conditions for cyclamen is essential to ensure their health and vibrancy. Here’s a breakdown of when and where to grow these lovely plants:
Planting Season: Cyclamen are typically planted in late summer to early autumn when temperatures start to cool down. This timing allows them to establish their roots before the growing season begins.
Outdoor Cyclamen: In regions with mild winters, cyclamen can be grown outdoors in well-draining soil with partial to full shade. They make beautiful additions to flower beds, rock gardens (because, yes, it’s an alpine), or containers.
I recommend Morel’s Midi+ collection for outdoor performance. The flowers are held higher above the foliage than they are with other types, which helps them get better air circulation. This is a plus, as they don’t like to be wet. In fact, this is also a reason why they work better in rock gardens and containers, rather than in the ground.
Indoor Cyclamen: Cyclamen can thrive as indoor houseplants, providing a burst of colour during the winter months when many other plants are dormant. Place them near a bright, indirect light source, and keep them in a cool room (ideally around 10-15°C or 50-60°F).
Growing Tips for Cyclamen
To ensure your cyclamen flourish, consider these growing tips:
- Well-Draining Soil: Cyclamen prefer well-draining soil that prevents waterlogged roots. A mix of potting soil and perlite or sand works well for indoor plants.
- Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy. Water thoroughly when the top inch of soil feels dry.
- Fertilising: Feed your cyclamen with a balanced, water-soluble fertiliser every 4-6 weeks during their active growth period (autumn through spring).
- Deadheading: Remove spent flowers to encourage continuous blooming.
Different Uses for Cyclamen
Cyclamen’s versatility extends to various uses, both indoors and outdoors:
Rock Gardens: Cyclamen really thrive in rock gardens, adding pops of colour during the colder months when other blooms have faded.
Containers: Cyclamen’s compact size makes them perfect for container gardening. Place them in decorative pots on your patio or balcony for a stunning display.
Indoor Decor: Cyclamen are cherished as houseplants, adding elegance and colour to your living spaces. They make beautiful centrepieces and windowsill decorations.
Gifts: Cyclamen are often given as gifts during the festive season due to their winter blooming. They’re a thoughtful and long-lasting alternative to cut flowers.
Growing cyclamen offers a host of benefits, from their unusual beauty and low maintenance to their adaptability for both indoor and outdoor settings. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just beginning your horticultural journey, cyclamen will become a beloved addition to your collection. So, why grow cyclamen? For their enduring charm and the joy they bring to your garden and home, of course!
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook – and writes a plant-focused Substack called Grow This, Not That.