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Cyclamen Care

Cyclamen is a group of flowering plants consisting of 23 species from the Primulaceae family. These perennial plants are indigenous to Europe, Iran, the Caucasus, and Somalia. Carl Linnaeus first documented the genus in his 1753 book, “Species Plantarum”. They are tuberous plants and are prized for their flowers of upswept petals and patterned leaves.

The diversity of this species growing around the Mediterranean has been comprehensively studied to determine how the plants remain distinctive and how they react to climate changes in their habitats. Recent climate change models predict that many species might become extinct within 50 years in their present range.

In addition, plant populations have been dwindling in several areas due to often illegal collection by collectors, with some species becoming endangered. However, plant conservationists have advised people to carefully control their harvesting to sustain future crops by sowing seeds, protecting wild populations to promote a reliable income, and propagating the plants in nurseries without harming the wild plant population.

These plants grow from fall to spring, becoming dormant in summer with new growth sprouting in the fall. The heart-shaped thick green variegated leaves with green or red or purple undersides and flowers sprout directly from a big tuber and grow 6-9 inches in height as well as width. They produce 5-petaled flowers throughout winter in colors of pink, violet, red, and white. The fruit contains several sticky seeds that turn brown when mature and are spread by ants who eat the sticky coating and discard the seeds. These perennials can live for more than 2 years. 

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Sunlight

These plants prefer growing under indirect bright light, with a minimum of 4-6 hours daily. Don’t expose the plant to strong sunlight as the leaves can get scorched. Exposing it to direct sunlight is only suggested during the early morning or at sunset. Keep it in a cool and dark location when it becomes dormant in summer.

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Water

Cyclamen don’t require plenty of water and must only be watered after the topsoil dries out. They cannot tolerate being over-watered along with under-watering, so you have to be careful with your watering plan. Only water the soil as wet leaves and flowers can initiate a broad range of diseases

Water the plant twice weekly on average, depending of course on how fast the soil becomes dry, always monitoring soil dampness to avoid over-watering. Waterless in summer, just enough to prevent the soil from becoming completely dry and killing the roots.

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Humidity

Like average humidity levels of 40-60% humidity for proper growth and flowering. If indoor humidity levels are not high enough, you will have to use a humidifier to raise them. However, be careful as humidity beyond the recommended percentage along with poor ventilation can initiate pest infestation and disease. Do not mist these plants.

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Temperature

These plants will not tolerate temperatures over 68˚F in the day and less than 50˚F at night. The ideal temperature range is between 40-65˚F. 

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Soil

Cyclamen favor growing in well-drained soil amended with organic matter to produce healthy flowers. Take extra care to ensure the soil doesn’t get soggy because these plants can easily get root rot, particularly during summer, when growth is dormant. 

Regular potting soil is suitable for these plants, amended with peat moss to increase acidic pH levels.

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Repotting

If they survive beyond 2 years, they will have to be repotted to a pot that’s an inch more in diameter than the tuber and not too deep. Plant it so the tuber top sticks up above the soil. Good pot drainage is necessary. 

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Propagation

These plants are propagated by seeds and root division. Soak seeds for 24 hrs. in water before sowing them in spring. Seeds can be appropriated from the plant you’re presently growing or purchased from a supplier. 

If you’re propagating it indoors, you should have a warm, protected environment to germinate the seeds. However, if you don’t have such an environment, wait for spring to start sowing the seeds. 

The average soil temperature should be between 45-55˚F when planting the seeds. After the seeds germinate, you can only expect the plant to flower in the following spring.

Wait for fall, when the plant emerges from dormancy, to separate the tubers by selecting individual tuber roots growing from the main tuber. Plant them separately 2-3 inches deep in newly prepared pots, completely covering them with soil.

Maintain appropriate temperature levels and water as mentioned above. The foliage will appear before winter starts.

Additional Care

These plants need regular feeding to fulfill their nutritional requirements for producing healthy blooms. Use a diluted liquid low-nitrogen fertilizer once in 1-2 months from fall until spring. Excess nitrogen in the fertilizer will initiate more leaf growth but reduce flowering. Don’t feed the plant in summer. Always water the plant well before feeding to prevent root tip burn. 

These plants don’t spread too much, so they don’t need pruning other than removing dead, damaged, or diseased leaves and faded blooms immediately to prevent disease and pests and to promote better growth. 

Common Problems

Spider mites can initiate stunted/distorted growth, leaf curl leaves, and prevent flowers from blooming. These tiny pests hide under leaves and flower buds, attacking the plants in conditions of high humidity and poor ventilation. They can effectively be removed with a diluted neem oil spray used twice weekly.

Indoor-grown plants grown in high humidity are prone to an infection from a fungus called Botrytis (Gray Mold). This infection can make the leaves become yellow with brown patches and/or drooping leaves. 

To prevent this from happening, keep the plant in well-ventilated conditions, frequently removing dead foliage and watering only the soil – not the leaves. It can be effectively treated using fungicidal sprays.

Drooping leaves could be a symptom of root rot caused by overwatering that kills the roots, preventing the plant from absorbing adequate water. Follow the recommended watering guidelines.

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