A SHOWY FLOWER FOR THE AUTUMN GARDEN
Practically everyone is familiar with the large flowering 'Florist Cyclamen', but surprisingly few are aware that there is a showy small autumn flowering hardy type of Cyclamen. The small flowers provide an abundance of color in the autumn garden and the delicate two-toned mottled leaves are also noteworthy during the spring, summer and fall growing seasons.
Hardy cyclamen are a nice addition to the autumn garden, providing a spot of color at a time when there is not much flowering in the garden. The unusual shooting-star-like flowers begin appearing during the autumn months of September, October and November. A few species flower earlier and others into the months of January and February.
Here in the Northwest the autumn flowering species seem to be the most popular. They come in shades of pink, rose-purple and white. The flowers are on stems 2 to 4 inches high.
PLANTING LOCATION - Hardy cyclamen need to be planted in a spot where they are protected from hot sun and severe weather exposure. An ideal spot is to plant them under trees or high branched shrubs, or on the east side of the house. Since they are low growing, place them near the front edge of your flower beds, where they can best be seen. These are great plants for a rock garden.
SOIL PREPARATION - Be sure to take time to properly prepare the planting soil, as hardy cyclamen need good drainage and lots of humus mixed with existing soils. It is a good practice to mix peat moss or processed manure into the planting soil. Also, add some sand to help provide better drainage. Then mix thoroughly with your existing soil.
PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS - Plant the small hardy cyclamen tubers only about 1/2 inch deep. They should be spaced about 4 to 6 inches apart for best display. Tubers can be dug and divided about every four to six years if desired. This process of dividing is not necessary, but is a good way to expand planting areas or share tubers with friends and neighbors.
The best time to plant or transplant is during their dormant season, or with the autumn or winter flowering varieties, after they have finished flowering.
Nurseries often carry the tubers already planted in pots, and these plants can be set out at anytime. In fact, that is a good way to buy them, because you get a better idea of both flower and leaf color.
If your cyclamen flowers go to seed, they can be started by sowing the seed in a regular houseplant potting mix or a combination of 50% sand and 50% peat moss. Keep them in a place where temperatures range between 55 and 65 degrees. Barely cover the seeds with the soil or sand mix.
HARDY CYCLAMEN SPECIES
Most species of hardy cyclamen are hardy to -10 to -20 degrees:
Cyclamen coum - winter to early spring flowers are white to pink or crimson. Native to the Caucasus.
Cyclamen hederifolium - native to Asia Minor and southern Europe. Flowers in late summer and fall are white to pink with dark centers.
Cyclamen pseudibericum - flowers are often two toned in shades of crimson or purple with white edges. Native to Asia Minor. Flowers in late winter or early spring.
Cyclamen purpurascens - fragrant flowers in late summer and fall. Flowers range in shades of rose pink to red with deeper blotches. Native to the European Alps.
CARE OF FLORIST'S CYCLAMEN
Since this discussion centers on Cyclamen, it is only appropriate that a few words be devoted to the care of this showy species Cyclamen persicum, commonly called the 'Florist's Cyclamen'.
In a protected spot this species will tolerate temperatures to about 25 degrees outdoors. Colder temperatures and the plants must be kept indoors.
Indoors they must have ample humidity. One suitable way of providing the humidity is to simply place a glass or decorative vase full of water near the plant. Then, as the water evaporates it provides the humidity the cyclamen needs.
The second most important requirement of indoor Cyclamen is the need for cool temperatures. Keep them in a room where temperatures range between 55 and 65 degrees.
Keep the soil a little on the moist-side, but never continually wet. Water with room temperature water.
When given proper care it is not unusual for this plant to continue to grow and flower for several years. I have a Canadian friend that keeps their 'Florist's Cyclamen' in the kitchen in a north-facing window. They boost out it being in continual bloom for the past three years. Generally it is recommended that the tuber be rested for three or four months, once it finishes flowering. After which time it is repotted and started all over again.