University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Winter Holiday News Article

CONSIDER CYCLAMENS

Contact: Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

 

If you think poinsettias are pretty, but too traditional for holiday decorating, consider the cyclamen with its variegated gray-green elliptical leaves and large, colorful blossoms held on a stalk above the foliage. Readily available at most florist shops and greenhouses, it is one of the prettiest, though trickiest, winter potted plants to grow.

Why?

Because it needs cool temperatures to continue blooming. You need to keep this plant away from heat sources and, preferably, in the coolest part of the house to do well.

When nighttime temperatures climb above 60 degrees F, cyclamen leaves may turn yellow, and buds may die. Leaves also drop quickly when lighting is poor.

Under proper conditions, however, the cyclamen's vivid, orchid-like flowers may last up to six weeks. Depending on the variety, the blossoms may be pink, lavender, deep purple, white, or red. Cyclamens range in height from six inches (miniatures) to ten inches tall.

To prolong the life of your plant, water the soil as soon as it feels dry to the touch. Avoid overwatering, and do not spill water onto the crown of the plant or the stems may rot.

Once your plant stops blooming, reduce watering, and allow it to dry out. Remove the corm (the bulb-like structure from which leaves grow) from the soil, and place in peat moss, vermiculite, or a mixture of the two to keep it moist. Store for a few months at 50 degrees F.

In June, repot it in a mixture of equal parts peat moss, garden soil, and sand, keeping the upper half of the corm above the soil surface to help prevent rotting. Move it to a shady spot outdoors, and water as needed. Fertilize twice a month.

Before the first autumn frost, bring your cyclamen indoors. Place it in a cool, sunny window, and wait for the blooms!


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