Cyclamen care & info

Cyclamen, especially the ever popular Cyclamen persicum, are a genus of houseplants loved for their extremely colorful flowers. They are gorgeous plants when cared for properly, but unfortunately there is a lot of conflicting info out there. Many houseplant enthusiasts discard this plant when the flowers die off, which is a shame and not necessary at all!

Keep reading to find out all about Cyclamen care.

Name(s) (common, scientific) Cyclamen, sowbread, Cyclamen sp.
Difficulty level Intermediate
Recommended lighting Indirect
Water When dry (weekly)
Soil type Soil + grit + mulch

Cyclamen care

The most important aspects of Cyclamen care are location and water. As with almost all houseplants the natural habitat and growth gives a good indication of what it needs in terms of care:

  • Cyclamen grow from a tuber. Overwatering isn’t appreciated, as these tubers start rotting quite easily.
  • In their natural Mediterranean habitat, most Cyclamen species are unable to grow during the hot summers. They have evolved to become summer-dormant, and will go into their dormancy stage when temperatures rise.
  • During the dormant period during the flowers and leaves die off. The tuber, however, remains very much alive and ready to start producing new foliage!
  • Generally speaking, there are two types of Cyclamen: hardy ones, that are suitable for gardens and keeping outdoors, and indoor ones (also known as florist’s Cyclamen). Have a look at the label on yours to confirm it’s actually a houseplant. Cyclamen persicum is probably the most common indoor variety, while Cyclamen hederifolium does well outside.
Magenta Cyclamen flowers on white background | Full Cyclamen care guide

Cyclamen care: temperature & location

Temperature

Because most Cyclamen are summer dormant, they prefer a cool place without direct sunlight. This imitates the winter conditions that the plant normally grows in when it becomes active.

Keep in mind that the situation in our homes during wintertime is often not ideal for Cyclamen. Rather than cool and somewhat humid, it’s dry and we try to keep things warm.

Remember that this plant won’t appreciate being placed near a heater at all. The heat will dry out the bulb much too quickly and temperatures will often just be too high.

Location

As mentioned before, where you place Cyclamen in your home is a very important aspect of the plant’s care.

Because of its temperature requirements, I placed my own Cyclamen near a not so well isolated window on the northern side of my house. This turned out to be the perfect cool spot to grow this plant, with plenty of indirect light.

Because they naturally grow during Autumn, Winter and Spring, Cyclamen also appreciate plenty of moisture. In addition to regular watering, you can place this plant in a moist place such as near the bathroom. This is not a must at all, but can definitely help!

Light pink flowers of Cyclamen houseplant, close-up

Cyclamen care: planting

Because Cyclamen prefer being watered from the underside (more about that below!), it’s a good idea to use a removable inner pot with drainage holes inside your decorative outer pot.

If you want to repot your Cyclamen, because the pot you bought it in is a bit too small or doesn’t look good, it’s best to wait until the height of Summer when the plant has gone fully dormant.

Loam based potting soil combined with some grit and mulch usually work best. This mix helps allow water to drain easily, which can really help prevent rotting tubers.

Cyclamen care: watering

It can be pretty difficult to figure out how often you should water your Cyclamen and what the best way to do so is.

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to your watering schedule and method.

  • Cyclamen have tubers. While some will be fine when watered from above, the water can have some trouble reaching the roots this way and any water sitting on top of the tuber or on the leaves/stems for extended periods of time can cause rot.
  • This means you’ll usually be most successful if you use an inner pot that you can take out and place in a dish with some water.
  • Cyclamen like plenty of water, but don’t appreciate the soil being wet all the time. When the soil becomes dry to the touch, it’s time to water – usually once or twice a week. Always allow any excess water to drain.
  • Don’t wait too long. Once the soil is dry the plant can quickly begin to suffer, causing the flowers to fall off and the leaves to become droopy or die.
Pink flowers of Cyclamen houseplant in the sun | Full Cyclamen care guide

Dormant Cyclamen care

If you’ve decided not to throw away your Cyclamen once the dormancy period starts and its flowers have started to fall, there are a few things you can do to ensure it will come back as a healthy plant.

  • Around April or May, you will likely see the leaves and flowers yellowing and dying. This is nothing to worry about and you can choose to remove the dead leaves or leave them on.
  • Move the pot to a cool and dry place (outdoors is an option as long as no direct sunlight or rain can hit the plant) and just try to leave it alone as much as possible for the next few months. No water is needed and it will actually cause the tuber to rot!
  • A dormant Cyclamen can look completely dead from the outside, but the tuber is just waiting for September to roll around.
  • Once the time has come, you can repot the tuber as described above and give the soil a good soak and drain to wake it up. New growth should start appearing soon and once it does, you can resume your normal watering and feeding schedule.
Close-up of pink flowers of Cyclamen houseplant | Full Cyclamen care guide

Cyclamen care: fertilizer

Cyclamen don’t require a lot of extra plant food. You can use a regular houseplant food around once a month when the plant is not dormant.

As with many flowering houseplants, feeding more will not help produce more flowers: there will be more leaf growth but flowering will be inhibited. With the amount of flowers that this species tends to produce throughout the year that shouldn’t be too much of an issue, though.

Buying Cyclamen

Cyclamen are very common and you should be able to find them in almost any flower or plant store, especially during winter when it’s flowering time for these plants. You can also easily order Cyclamen online here!

Is Cyclamen toxic to cats and dogs?

The ASPCA and other sources list Cyclamen as toxic to both cats and dogs.

They contain irritating saponins that can cause nasty issues like vomiting and diarrhea when eaten, as well as more serious problems when large amounts of the plant are ingested. All in all, be very careful with this plant if you own a cat or dog.

Pink ruffly flowers of Cyclamen houseplant | Cyclamen care guide

If you still have questions about Cyclamen care or want to share your own experiences with these gorgeous plants, be sure to leave a comment below.


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