Botanical Name: Cyclamen persicum
Thanks to new hybrids, cyclamen plants are bigger, more vigorous and showier than ever before. Rising above heart-shaped, silver-and-green leaves are upright stems bearing beautiful backswept petals in shades of pink, purple, red or white.
Winter-blooming cyclamen plant is usually bought in flower from the florist and treated as an annual, then unfortunately, is tossed out when it begins to deteriorate in spring. However, cyclamen plant is a perennial that you can enjoy for years.
With good care, this cool-season, flowering house plant will last for several months, then can be brought back to bloom the next winter. When flowers die and foliage turns yellow, cut it back. Put the dormant plant in a cool, dark spot for the summer giving it just enough water to prevent its roots from drying out completely. In fall, put the plant back in bright light and resume watering and fertilizing. Blooms should appear in 2-3 months.
Sudden wilting of leaves and flower stems is caused by dry soil. Don't worry -- they'll usually come right back after a thorough watering. Stems and flowers that don't respond can be pinched off.
Wet soil and poor ventilation may cause botrytis -- a gray, fuzzy fungus that can quickly kill the plant. Yellowing leaves with brown patches are a sign of botrytis. Cut off the affected leaves. If the plant is badly affected, get rid of it. Cutting off spent flowers and any yellow or shriveled leaves will help air circulation around the plant and help prevent the fungus from growing.
Aphids and spider mites may attack cyclamen. Look over your plant every time you water. Aphids tend to hang out on stems and new growth. You'll notice the presence of mites by the webbing between stems and leaves. Treat any infestation immediately.
There are hundreds of cyclamen hybrids to choose from. Many are not even named, making it difficult to recommend one.
Some petals are striped, frilly or tipped with a contrasting color. A few varieties are sweetly scented. Miniature cyclamens are charming, reaching only 5 in (13 cm) tall.
Vibrant blooms make them must-have house plants. Even their lacy leaves are beautiful. Set one on a plant stand to show it off.
Origin: Hybrids with parents from Southern Europe and the Middle East
Height: 6-12 in (15-30 cm)
Light: Bright light. Some direct winter sun is okay.
Water: Keep soil lightly moist. It's best to water cyclamen plant near the edge of the pot, not over the crown, which may cause it to rot. Or water from below by placing pot in a saucer of tepid water for no more than 20 minutes.
Humidity: Moderate (around 40-50% relative humidity). Increase humidity with a cool-mist room humidifier or a humidity tray.
Temperature: Cool temperatures 55-70°F/13-21°C year-round.
Soil: Good-quality all-purpose potting mix
Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks with high-phosphorus fertilizer diluted by half only while plant is budding and blooming.
Propagation: Cyclamen seeds are tiny, and slow to germinate. Sow seeds in late summer through fall. They must be kept at 70°F/21°C to germinate; use a heating mat to maintain warmth. You'll wait about a year and a half for most varieties to bloom.