1132 Cyclamen persicumCommon Names: Cyclamen persicum, cyclamen, florist’s cyclamen, greenhouse cyclamen Family: Primulaceae (primrose Family)
Cyclamen is an herbaceous perennial that stems from a flattened tuber (technically a corm), with a diameter usually 2-3 in (5-8 cm), but up to as much as 6 in (15 cm). The leaves are heart shaped, 2-5 in (5-13 cm) long, deep green with silver mottling above and purplish green beneath. The flowers may be white, pink or red and are 0.5-0.75 in (1-2 cm) long in the species, but up to 3 in (7.5 cm) long for some cultivars. The usually sweet scented flowers nod downward on their erect, 6-8 in (15-20 cm), slender scapes (flower stems), but the five petals are twisted and reflexed, pointing back upward. Florist's cyclamen blooms winter to spring.
There are many cultivars of florist's cyclamen selected for various leaf characteristics, overall plant size, and flower colors, shapes, fragrances, sizes, and seasons of bloom. Some are as tall as 12 in (30 cm), others are miniatures, not exceeding 3 in (7 cm) in height.
Cyclamen persicum is native to the eastern Mediterranean region from Libya to Lebanon, Turkey and Greece. Apparently it does not occur in Persia (Iran).
CultureLight: Keep cyclamen in bright filtered light when in leaf. A bright east, west or south facing window is ideal, but avoid direct sun. Moisture: Water regularly when in leaf, but reduce watering as leaves begin to fade, and do not water at all for the 2-3 months when the plant is dormant. When new growth appears, resume watering. Water the soil mix only, avoiding the crown. The best way is to set the pot in a tray of water for a few hours. Do not overwater and do not keep the soil constantly wet. Add a diluted low nitrogen fertilizer to the water or fertilizer full strength every two weeks when in leaf. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 . Propagation: Soak seeds for 12 or more hours before planting. When replanting tubers, the tops should be above the soil surface.
Florist's cyclamen is typically grown as a houseplant. It blooms with beautiful, swept-back, sometimes fragrant flowers in winter, and usually goes dormant in summer. Avoid cold drafts and hot, dry air when in leaf and flower. After blooming, when the leaves die back and the corm goes dormant, allow it to rest for a for a couple months, then in midsummer, repot with fresh potting mix and place the pot in a warmer spot until new growth begins at which time it can be returned to the cool, bright position for flowering.
Cyclamen persicum makes an excellent houseplant. It has gained an undeserved reputation as difficult to maintain, but if you follow the recommendations about temperature, light and dormancy, florist's cyclamen will not disappoint. There are some 18 other species of cyclamen that are better suited as garden plants in beds and rock gardens; C. hederifolium being one of the most popular.
All parts of cyclamens are reportedly poisonous if ingested.
Steve Christman 2/14/11