University of Illinois Extension

Cyclamen: A Plant for All Holidays

“Cyclamen is a holiday plant that just keeps on showing up, holiday after holiday. It is very popular around Christmas, but does well as a Valentine’s Day gift due to its color range of pinks, reds, and white,” said Sharon Yiesla, a U of I Extension horticulturist. “It is likely, as the year progresses, that you will also see this plant showing up for Easter and Mother’s Day.”

The common florist’s cyclamen is derived from a species native to Mediterranean areas such as Greece and Turkey. The plant grows from a bulb, but is usually purchased in full bloom.

“Cyclamen is prized, not only for its beautiful blooms, but for its foliage,” she said. “The leaves of cyclamen are dark green, etched with delicate patterns in silver. Even when the flowers are finished, the plant is still attractive.”

cyclamenWhen selecting a cyclamen, Yiesla recommended choosing one with several unopened buds rather than one in full bloom. This will extend the flowering time and your enjoyment.

“Cyclamen plants appreciate a cool room--50 to 60 degrees at night and less than 70 during the day,” she noted. “It is not always easy to meet these needs, but the closer you can match these temperatures, the longer the plant will bloom.

“Place the plant in direct light and keep the soil evenly moist. The bulb is often planted in a soil mix that is heavy in peat moss. If this soil mix dries out, it may be difficult to re-wet.”

Yiesla cautioned that the cyclamen bulb has a depression in its center. Avoid getting water in that depression. If water sets there, the bulb may rot.

“Because cyclamen are such beautiful plants, most people want to get them to flower again,” she said. “Cyclamen, however, can be difficult to re-bloom. Often, even when everything is done correctly, the plant may not re-bloom.”

After flowering is over, the leaves may remain for a while. When they start to decline, reduce watering so that the foliage dies back completely.

“Allow the bulb to be dry for six to eight weeks,” she said. “After that time, resume watering and place the bulb in a cool window. When leaves begin to develop, put the plant into a sunny location. Water and fertilize regularly.”