Gardening Tips – December 2023

Signature cool-season color for the landscape or a planter.  Here’s how to grow Cyclamen.

Now is the best time to plant Cyclamen and other cool weather plants outside,
because night temperatures are cool (60 degrees Fahrenheit or below). Cyclamens are pretty plants with pretty colors. They have interesting heart-shaped, variegated leaves and bloom in fall, winter and spring to about late April or May when temperatures start to warm.  [Pictured above: ‘Snowridge Purple’ Cyclamen persicum]

Cyclamen is a member of the family, Primulaceae or primrose family. They prefer
to be planted under trees or shrubs and are best planted with other small plants.
This mounding annual has heart-shaped leaves, red, pink, purple, white or
bicolored flowers with petals that flare backward, making the flowers resemble
shooting stars. Most cultivars have silver or grayish-white variegation on the upper surface of the leaves, adding ornamental interest.  

Cyclamen bloom for several months in part sun with well drain soil. If inside, in a cool but brightly lit spot. They do best with temperatures of 50-60 degrees at night and 70 degrees or less during the day. High temperatures cause the flower buds to abort. Do not allow a cyclamen to wilt. Water uniformly for best results. Too much water causes the tuber to rot. Mites can be a problem on cyclamen, causing curled and stunted leaves. It is recommended to discard the plant in this case.

`‘Laser Synchro Imp. Wine’

Cyclamen persicum

Cyclamen, is native to Europe to Iran, and Northeast Somalia. Most of the
Cyclamen species are native to the Mediterranean. The population of wild
Cyclamen has decreased due to the depletion from commercial trade. Some 

species are now endangered in the wild. Cyclamen is from the Latin word “cyclamnos” and from the Greek word “kylos” which means circle or wheel. This refers to the shape of the its tubers. Cyclamen has many common names, including its genus name, Alpine Violet, Persian Violet, and Sowbread because pigs like to dig and eat the tubers. Cyclamens are not Violets or native to Persia.


Plant Cyclamen in ground in well-drained soil in part sun. They do well in
containers or a sunny window. Prefer cool temperatures inside and do not like it
too warm inside. The blooms will last as long as four months and do fine outside
all winter as long as you control the moisture of the soil in the container so that it
stays evenly moist and does not get soggy which will cause the tuber to rot. Water
when the soil feels dry. Cyclamen can withstand temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

‘Laser Synchro Pink Imp’

Cyclamen persicun

‘Laser Synchro White Imp’

Cyclamen persicun

The tubers go dormant when temperatures heat up and start storing energy for thenext blooming season. Cyclamen are propagated by division or seeds. They are best divided during their dormant period. This can be challenging because the tubers dry out quickly and may rot. Propagation by seeds requires that the seeds be fresh, and sometimes germination can be erratic. Prune any yellow leaves or dead plant material. Fertilize using diluted low nitrogen liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks while the plant has full leaves. You don’t need to fertilize when cyclamen is dormant.  Recommended uses: window boxes, potted patio plants or in ground for South Louisiana.


*Cyclamen may be toxic to pets and people.

By Karen Blackburn

Master Gardener of Greater New Orleans

Photo credits: 

Karen Blackburn

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