Only few houseplants will bring such a fresh color to any room during the gray winter days, as the cyclamen does. The beautiful contrast between the colors and shades and the green-grayish heart-shaped, shimmering leaves decorates every house with a distinctive charm.
Whatever excursion you may have in the Greek nature in the autumn or winter time you will definitely come across a cyclamen. These are the wild cyclamen, which have flourished for years in the Greek and Mediterranean nature. Cyclamen is a bulbous, perennial low plant that blooms from November to late January.
The cyclamen persicum is the most famous and the mother of the cyclamens, providing the cultivation basis for numerous other varieties and subgroups. In total, there are 22 different varieties, which are equipped with smooth, frizzy or wavy leaves. The colors of the flowers can turn out uncolored as well as two-colored and the flowering season may vary throughout the year.
The “aroma cyclamen” and the miniature version, which has been added to the small and large cyclamens, are less well-known. As a rule, winter-hard cyclamen species are garden plants, which is why they are not counted to the indoor species. Nevertheless, they are also kept in rooms all year round. For wild cyclamen, the flowering period begins much earlier in September, and lasts until December. However, there are also some varieties that bloom from the beginning of the spring until the beginning of the summer. These varieties will not be found in Greek nature.
They hate the heat and that is the main reason why they cannot stand long indoors. Also to be properly maintained, they need moisture. The ideal conditions for these plants are the wet and cool places, which are away from direct sunlight and the sun's rays. A good location for your cyclamen would be a shady balcony or under a window sill.
Cyclamen may have started out like wild flowers that flourished on their own and independently in nature but they are considered quite demanding plants as a houseplant.
Fill the pot with soil, which is usually mixed with substrate. It is important that the bottom half of the tuber is planted into the soil. Quartz sand or potsherds should be spread on the bottom opening in order to function as drainage and to avoid water logging. A bottom plate is useful to collect excess water. Between the soil surface and the top edge of the pot, a space of at least two cm should be maintained. This ensures that after watering, when the soil may be muddy, it won’t run over the top edge of the pot.
If the transplant is done in your garden, it is good to try to imitate the conditions under which the wild cyclamen thrive. Plant the cyclamen in a shady place, near tree trunks, under the layer of fallen leaves, at a point with limited exposure to the sun and rain. So the sunlight will not see them directly and at the same time protect them from strong winds and rain.
Cyclamen generally love humidity but not much water. Keeping in good condition requires humidity and moderate temperature. If you water them every day, avoid excessive water because you risk rotting their roots. The best way to water cyclamen is to sink them with their pot in a water basin at room temperature. Leave the pot 10-15 minutes in the water to absorb as much water as they need. Repeat the process when you see that the soil in the pot has dried out. You should water it slowly and evenly, in order to better control the water supply and prevent over-watering. Do not splash water onto the leaves as they may react sensitively.
It is advisable to use a moderate fertilizer, which should be applied along with watering. Cyclamen need soil that is fluffy and well drained, so it is recommended to use some soil improvers such as peat or perlite. During the growing period, between October and April you should use liquid fertilizer or fertilizer sticks every two weeks. If you repot the plant or place the cyclamen outdoors in the summer, the fertilizer rhythm can be reduced by half.
Once your cyclamen has finished blooming, it may go dormant for a period of time, usually in the summer, although indoor conditions may confuse the timing. Leaves will begin to yellow and gradually die before disappearing completely.
At this point, you may decide whether to keep the plant, hoping it will revive in the fall or to discard it and replacing it with a new plant for the summer months.
If you want to keep it, stop watering the plant and find a sheltered spot outside with morning sun and afternoon shade. Tip the pot on the side so it won’t get waterlogged, protect it from the rain, and keep the soil dry. You could also keep your plant indoors in a cool, dark location such as a basement until fall. Water it about once a month to keep the soil dry.
In late August or early September, repot your cyclamen in fresh soil and a slightly larger container. Water sparingly until new growth begins - it may take a month. Once new growth starts to emerge, resume regular watering and fertilizing. You should get to enjoy your beautiful blooms again in a few months.
Here are solutions to some problems that may arise:
If leaves begin to wilt or the tuber becomes soft and mushy, you’re most likely over-watering! Too much water is the number one cause of houseplant problems. Always check the soil to make sure it is dry before watering.
If your plant has few flowers, your room is either too hot or the air is too dry. Try moving your cyclamen to a cooler room and set up a pebble tray, or mist more frequently.
If the leaves are turning yellow, it may be too hot, too dry, or getting too much sun. Try moving it to a cooler spot with lower light and keep it evenly moist and misted.
If you begin to notice twisted, stunted leaves, you may have cyclamen mites. Smaller than the head of a pin, they live on the underside of the leaves. You can remedy mites by washing the leaves with lukewarm water, then spraying with an insecticidal soap.
If your cyclamen plants start to wither, water immediately and pick off any dead leaves or buds to encourage a recovery.
Occasionally mould can develop underneath the leaves, if this occurs, pick off any damaged leaves and flowers, let the plant dry out a little and then water more regularly, but sparingly. Mould is caused by damp humid conditions around the leaf stems or uneven watering and can often be improved in a better drier room.
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