This first appeared as “Spotlight on Ornamentals: Cyclamen – The Persian Violet” in the IR-4 Newsletter 42(4):10
With ethereal blooms hovering above heart-shaped, variegated leaves, cyclamen almost glows in wintry light. Cyclamen, originating in the Mediterranean, is hardy to zone 7, and, although it can be grown outside in some areas of the United States, it is primarily know as a houseplant. Its lengthy blooms are commonly used to brighten up interiors in the winder, and its popularity as a winter-blooming houseplant is growing. In 2009, 5.1 million plants were sold in the United States at a value of $14.8 million. Cyclamen has relatively few pest and disease issues for most homeowners as long as it is kept in a sunny location and not overwatered.
Main Disease and Pest Problems
Producers do, however, face some issues when growing cyclamen. Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus causes necrotic (dead, brown) patterns in the leaves. Leaf spots such as Septoria and Phyllosticta mar foliage, while Botrytis gray mold also causes floral spots and will grow and sporulate in decaying flowers and leaves. Erwinia bacteria rot the tuber, and root pathogens such as Pythium, Phytophthora, and Fusarium can cause heavy losses is not managed. Thrips and mites including cyclamen, broad and spider may become issues. Cyclamen mites feed within the calyx and base of pedals and cause cyclamen flowers to be discolored or to shrivel or wilt. Infested flowers may fail to open. These mites also feed on leaves causing them to pucker, crinkle, or curl. Broad mites will bronze foliage as they are feeding because of a toxin in their saliva.
Other than a little crop safety research with Endorse, IR-4 has not worked directly with cyclamen, although several of the diseases and pests damaging this crop have been studied. Botrytis, Erwinia, Pythium, Phytophthora and Fusarium have been some of the pathogens receiving attention in research projects over the last 3 – 4 years. Screening for effective thrips products has been a key research priority. To read IR-4 summary reports on these projects click here
Taking care of a cyclamen properly is essential is you wish to keep your cyclamen plant lasting year after year. Their vibrant flowers and interesting leaves make this plant a popular houseplant and many owners ask, “How do I take care of a cyclamen plant?” Let’s look at how to take care of cyclamen plants both during and after blooming.
Basic Cyclamen Care
Cyclamen are starts with the correct temperature. In nature, cyclamens grow in cool, humid environments. If the temperature of your house is over 68 F. (20 C.) during the day and 50 F. (10 C.) at night, your cyclamen will start to die slowly. Temperatures that are too high will cause the plant to begin to yellow, and the flowers will fade rapidly.
Cyclamen that are sold as houseplants are tropical and cannot tolerate temperatures below 40 F. (4 C.). Hardy cyclamen, on the other hand, which are sold in garden nurseries for outside use, are typically hardy to USDA Zone 5, but check the plant’s label to see the specific hardiness of the hardy cyclamen variety you are buying.
The next essential part of taking care of a cyclamen is to make sure that it is properly watered. Cyclamen are sensitive to both over and under watering. Make sure the plant has excellent drainage with a potting medium that holds water well. Water your cyclamen plant only when the soil is dry to the touch, but to not leave the plant in this dry state so long that is shows visible signs of not being watered, such as droopy leaves and flowers.
When you water the plant, water from below the leaves so that the water does not touch the stems or leaves. Water on the stems and leaves can cause them to rot. Soak the soil thoroughly and let any excess water drain away.
The next part of cyclamen plant care if fertilizer. Only fertilize once every one to two months with water soluble fertilizer mixed half strength. When cyclamen get too much fertilizer, it can affect their ability to re-bloom.
Cyclamen Care After Blooming
After a cyclamen blooms, it will go into a dormant state. Going into a dormant state looks very much like the plant is dying, as the leaves will turn yellow and fall off. It isn’t dead, just sleeping. With proper cyclamen plant care, you can help it through its dormancy and it will rebloom in a few months. (Please note that hardy cyclamen planted outdoors will go through this process naturally and do not need extra care to rebloom.)
When taking care of a cyclamen after blooming, allow the leaves to die and stop watering the plant once you see the signs that the leaves are dying. Place the plant in a cool, somewhat dark place. you can removed any dead foliage if you would like. Let sit for two months.
Taking Care of a Cyclamen to Get it to Rebloom
Once a cyclamen has finished its dormant period, you can start to water it again and bring if out of storage. You may see some leaf growth, and this is okay. Make sure to completely soak the soil. You many want to set the pot in a tub of water for an hour or so, then make sure any excess water drains away.
Check the cyclamen tuber and make sure that the tuber has not outgrown the pot. If the tuber seems crowded, repot the cyclamen in a larger pot.
Once the leaves start to grow, resume normal cyclamen care and the plant should rebloom shortly.