Cyclamen is a plant native to Europe and Asia (but there are also species native to Africa) and belongs to the family of Primulaceae and includes about 15 species. In Italy, the c. neapolitanum, the repandum and the europaeum grow spontaneously in the woods. The flower was already known in ancient times by the Romans and Greeks who cultivated it in their gardens, but giving it other names.
The current name comes from the Greek “kuklos” which means “circular” and perhaps refers to the shape of the bulb. The cyclamen that we find normally on the market, however, usually comes from cyclamen persicum, of eastern origin. It was introduced in Europe in 1600 and is now one of the most common pot plants.
They started to cultivate it and to select it in England, but then they became fond of it also in France and Germany, to the point that already by the beginning of 1900, cultivars with double flower or with frayed petals had been produced. Then, they went in search of dwarf and perfumed cultivars, even if, in this last case, with little success.
Some nurserymen have also researched leaves to obtain particular colours and shapes.
Family and species
Primulaceae, comprising about 15 species
Half shade, shade
Resistance to cold
The persicum no, many others yes
Forest, acid or basic depending on the species
Some at the end of winter, others in autumn
White, pink, red, purple, salmon
from 10 to 35 cm
Type of plant
Normal, afraid of stagnation
Easy to medium difficult
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- Cyclamen Persicum was obtained from the latifolium species (of Greek origin) and has become the most cultivated and traded cyclamen.
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Rustic cyclamen grow well outdoors in a shady or semi-shaded position. They usually have smaller leaves than apartment ones. The tubers are planted in late spring or late summer, at a depth of 3 or 4 cm in soils rich in organic matter, to which must be added beech leaves and sand, capable of retaining moisture, but at the same time permeable to excess water. Let’s water the soil periodically, but only when it is dry.
After flowering, with the arrival of spring, the foliage withers and the painte enter into vegetative rest; let’s avoid watering them during this period of the year. If we wish, when the tubers are dormant, we can unearth them for moving them.
How to treat cyclamen
In this paragraph we will talk in particular about the cyclamen persicum that is, the one sold in stores from autumn to early spring and how to treat it. It’s definitely the most common. The root is a black oval bulb from which the leaves and stems almost depart. The leaves are heart-shaped and medium green with, at times, white veins. The flower is made up of five petals that slender upwards. When flowering comes to an end, the plant produces round capsule shaped fruits.
Inside are the seeds, numerous and very small. Being a nursery important plant you can find many colors and variegations. In addition, there are smooth, fringed and even wavy petals.
CALENDARIO DEI LAVORI
January, February, March
Flowering, irrigation, fertilization, cleaning
Start of rest
May, June, July, August, September
Resting, repotting, dividing, sowing
Beginning of flowering in early species
Semirustics cyclamen, on the other hand, in cold climate areas should be grown in apartments during the winter period.
In summer, watering must be abundant. During the winter period the optimal temperature is 18-20°C and must not fall below 15°C. Let’s water regularly, but only when the soil is dry, and avoiding leaving water in the saucer or excessively wet the foliage.
Indoor cyclamen suffer greatly from heat sources and too dry air, for this reason it is good to place them away from stoves, heaters, or other heat sources, and spray the leaves regularly.
During flowering it is preferable to avoid vaporization, as the water tends to stain the petals; to increase the ambient humidity we can also place the containers in saucers or bowls filled with expanded clay, immersed in water: in this way the evaporating water will increase the ambient humidity, without coming into contact with the roots of the plants.
How to make cyclamen flourish again
If after weeks of beautiful flowers you start to see the flowers of your cyclamen deteriorate, do not be afraid and above all do not panic. After a long and abundant flowering, even the cyclamen stops blooming and begins a slow transition to a state of dormancy.
At first you notice the leaves yellowing, then they dry out and fall off. In this phase NON BUTTATE LA PIANTA DI CICLA MINUS, but follow the advice we give you, because despite appearances the plant is not dead.
Once the flowering is finished, usually around February or March, the cyclamen must be taken to an unheated environment or, for those lucky enough to have one, to a cold greenhouse. Watering must be reduced considerably and when the plant no longer produces leaves (usually around June) completely interrupted. In August, the pots are emptied and the tubers are taken. Remove the old roots and plant the tubers in a soil rich in organic matter with beech leaves and sand.
Watering must be very abundant.
Cyclamen can only be reproduced from seed. In fact, the tubers do not reproduce and cannot be divided. Seeds should be harvested in summer. Remember that apartment cyclamen must be pollinated to produce seeds. To do this with a brush you take the pollen from the anthers and deposits on the stigmas. The seeds should then be sown in September
Cyclamen parasites and diseases
Cyclamen is a plant that is not frequently attacked by parasites. Sometimes attacks of aphids or mites can occur. The use of a specific pesticide is recommended. However, it is afraid of root rot and botrytis, fungal diseases that develop in case of excessive watering, poorly draining substrate and lack of ventilation.The most common problems for cyclamen are usually the rottenness of the bulb or leaves.
In the first case, unfortunately, there is no remedy for the damage done. That is why prevention is very important by adopting good strategies for irrigation and systematic cleaning. It is also good to be very careful when buying. In fact, especially in non-specialized stores such as supermarkets, plants are watered carelessly and happen to buy infected ones. It is therefore important to check the substrate carefully to make sure it is not too wet.
The leaves can instead be attacked by Botrytis, especially if the ambient humidity is very high. In this case it is necessary to carefully remove the affected leaves and ventilate the area more. Another problem can be an attack by the red spider mite (mites). You will notice a yellowing of the leaves and a loss of vitality of the plant. It is caused by an excessively dry environment. It is therefore necessary to vaporize the plant often with water and distribute an acaricide.
Origin: Asia Minor. Maximum height 10 cm. Semirustic, with variegated leaves, produces pale pink flowers that bloom in October.
Origin: Europe on East Asia Minor. Maximum height 10 cm. Rustic, with variegated leaves, produces pink fuchsia flowers that bloom from December to March. There is also a white variety (cyclamen Coum albissimum). It originates from two areas: the shores of the Black Sea and Turkey. It grows in forests of deciduous or evergreen plants. It is very resistant to cold and is therefore recommended for cultivation in the open land.
The leaves, round and with silvery areas, sprout in autumn while flowering takes place from January to March. They are very small plants, they do not reach the 10 cm. The flowers can be deep pink or white.
Origin: Lebanon. Maximum height 15 cm. Semirustic, with variegated leaves, produces pink flowers that bloom from February to March.
Origin: Eastern Mediterranean. Maximum height 20 cm. Semirustic, with variegated leaves, produces large flowers that bloom in winter. This is the cyclamen commonly found on the market.
It originates from the forests of southern Europe. It can be planted in autumn or spring, even in the open ground (usually only in the south, but there are also rather resistant cultivars). It needs a well-drained woodland soil. Usually it reaches 15 cm in height, can be fragrant and has flowers ranging from mauve to pale pink. The leaves are round or oval and appear after the flowers.
Cyclamen europaeum (purpurascens)
It is very small in size as it goes from 7 to 10 cm. It tends to bloom in autumn and lives in the northern regions, in forests of birches, chestnut trees and locust trees or meadows on limestone soil. It has round, serrated leaves, bright green with silvery veins. The flowers are purple and fragrant.
Also known as ivy leaf cyclamen, it is endemic to the whole of Central and Southern Italy. It is quite rustic and blooms in spring. It reaches a height of 8 cm. The flowers are single mauve in colour and are carried high above the leaves, which appear first. These are round green with many spots and silver veins that make them resemble those of ivy.
One of the best selling varieties in nurseries that is worth knowing, are definitely the midi cyclamen. More than a variety it is a cultivar, in fact these cyclamen are normal cyclamen but of medium size. In the nurseries we find mainly 3 cultivars of cyclamen: mini, midi and maxi. The three different types of cyclamen correspond to three different price ranges, increasing from the mini to the maxi variety.
Cyclamen midi have the same characteristics as normal cyclamen and also have the same cultivation needs. They are particularly suitable for baskets and compositions because being medium to small they can be easily combined with many types of plants and flowers.
Where to find cyclamen
The ideal habitat of the Cyclamen are the holm oak forests, characteristic of the southern regions. They bloom in March and April and, although they can be admired in all their beauty, being a protected species is not allowed to seize them and remove them from their natural environment.
This fascinating plant, outside, prefers to be in the semi-shade and in well protected and sheltered positions, while indoors it is always better to locate it in bright rooms and always protected by strong sources of heat, direct exposure to the sun and preferring the cool and well ventilated and airy environments. The Cyclamen plant is also a poisonous plant for man: in fact, its tuber contains toxic substances that are harmless to many animals such as the pig.
These cyclamen are usually grown in pots. They need an acidic substrate, composed of forest soil, peat and sand in equal parts. Being a plant that suffers particularly from stagnation should be particularly careful and create a thick drainage layer on the bottom with shards, gravel or pearls of expanded clay. Usually repotting is necessary only after many years when we see that the roots come out of the container, i.e. from the drainage holes or from the soil.
In that case, it is best to proceed in the late spring or summer when the plant stops flowering and goes into vegetative rest.
This is a very important point to be able to keep our cyclamens well. It is absolutely necessary to avoid any kind of water stagnation. The soil must remain fairly moist, but not soaked. During the growing season it is best to proceed every day or at least every two days filling the saucer with water and waiting about half an hour. In this time the plant will absorb as much as it needs. After that we will have to throw away the remaining water.
After the flowering period we can gradually thin out the irrigations so that the plant can go to rest. It will then be necessary to water slightly every 15-20 days in the area of the bulb.
To obtain abundant and colourful blooms, it is a good idea to administer a liquid fertilizer for flowering plants every 10 days during irrigation. However, it would be a good idea to give a product with a higher nitrogen content at the beginning of the growing season, so that leaf production is stimulated. Then it is possible to intervene with another one in which the potassium is predominant.
Exposure and temperatures
This type of cyclamen fears the cold. In fact, it cannot stand temperatures below zero and can only live outside in the extreme south of Italy. In the central regions, especially those near the sea, it can only be kept outside if it is placed next to a well-protected wall. Elsewhere it should be considered an apartment plant. The ideal temperature for it to live and flourish well is around 15°C during the day and 8°C at night.
It must be kept in a bright area, but not in direct sunlight, especially in the southern regions. In the North, on the contrary, it can also tolerate it, especially the winter one.
Another fundamental point to keep our cyclamen avoiding rottenness is to always intervene with a punctual cleaning. It is necessary to constantly remove the leaves and wilted flowers directly at the base, without leaving stumps. This is because if they rot, they could carry bacteria to the underground part of the plant, i.e. the bulb. You should also always try to use clean shears and maybe disinfect them periodically with bleach.
Cyclamen can be multiplied mainly by seed or bulb division. For both methods it takes a lot of patience because, in the first case, it will be necessary to wait at least three years before seeing the flower, in the second case it will be necessary to wait for the parts to strengthen and resume flowering.
Multiplication by seed: from spring to early autumn. In a box you have to put some light soil suitable for sowing on which you have to spread the seeds (mixed with fine sand, since they are very small) in horizontal lines. They should then be covered with very little soil to be spread with a sieve. It is then irrigated using a vaporizer and covered with plastic, aerating from time to time. To avoid rottenness, you can add a specific product to the water.
In a few weeks we will see the seedlings appear: the sheet will be removed and the box will be exposed to light, not direct. You can also thin out the seedlings keeping only the most vigorous. When they are bigger we can extract them gently and put them in a jar with their final substrate.
Multiplication by bulb division: we can divide the bulb into several parts with a knife cleaned and disinfected by flame or by washing with bleach. Each section must have at least two eyes.
Remember that cyclamen is a poisonous plant in all its parts and especially the bulb. Therefore, care must be taken in the presence of children.