Cyclamen

Height 7.5-10cm (3-4in)

Planting distance 15cm (6in)

Flowers mid summer to late winter

Well-drained humus-rich soil

Shaded sheltered site

Corms available in mid summer for autumn flowering, and autumn for winter and spring flowering

The pretty pink or white flowers of cyclamen present a charming sight in a shaded rockery, beneath a tree, or around the base of a shrub – they are one of the few bulbous plants to flourish under conifers.

Closely related to the florist’s cyclamen, several species are hardy enough to be grown outdoors, in well-drained but moisture retentive soil. As natural woodland plants, they prefer a soil rich in leaf-mould or well-decayed garden compost and need a site shaded from hot summer sun and protected from cold winds. Sometimes slow to establish themselves, cyclamens when happy will colonize to form carpets of colour from mid summer right through to mid spring.

Popular species

Cyclamen cilicium, height 10cm (4in), is hardy in most winters and produces its honey-scented flowers in early and mid autumn, usually before the silver-speckled leaves appear. Flower colour varies from near white to deep rose-pink.

Cyclamen coum has purplish pink, rose-pink (‘Roseum’) or, more rarely, pure white flowers (’Album’) that usually appear in mid winter. The ‘Pewter’ selection ranges from pale to deepest pink. In a mild year, they might just come out in time for Christmas. The plants are only 7.5cm (3in) high with round green leaves marbled with silver. This species does best under trees and self-seeds freely.

Cyclamen europaeum (syn. C.purpurascens) has strongly scented rose-pink to purple blooms standing 10cm (4in) high. They begin to appear in mid and late summer and continue in succession until Christmas. The green, rounded to kidney-shaped leaves have faint silver markings. This is one of the hardiest cyclamens.

Cyclamen hederifolium (syn. C. neapolitanum) has delicate pink or white flowers on stalks 10cm (4in) high. These open in early and mid autumn. The deep green leaves are variegated with silver and form an attractive carpet through the winter and spring months, until they die down in late spring. Plant in a rock garden or beneath shrubs, where the soil is rarely disturbed. The variety ‘Album’ is pure white, sometimes with a hint of pink around the mouth.

Cyclamen libanoticum grows in mild regions only, producing its scented pale pink flowers in early spring. The ivy-shaped, toothed leaves are dark green and white-marbled above, red on the under-sides. It grows to 15cm (6in) tall.

Cultivation

Cyclamen do best under woodland conditions, in shady sites, sheltered from the wind, with well-drained, humus-rich soil. Choose a spot where the plants can be left undisturbed. Plant the corms in late summer and early autumn, setting them 15cm (6in) apart in clusters. Place C. coum and C. europaeum 2-5cm (1-2in) deep, or more in light soil. With C. hederifolium barely cover the corms, but add a 2cm (1in) mulch of leaf-mould annually after flowering.

Propagation

The corms do not divide or produce offsets and seed propagation is the only means of increase. Many cyclamens will seed themselves, and bought seed can be sown in late summer or early autumn in pans or pots of a proprietary seed compost. Leave the seeds to germinate in a cold frame or, preferably, place the pans outdoors against a north wall for sturdier seedlings.

Prick off the seedlings singly into 6cm (2-1/2in) pots of compost and grow them on in a cold frame before planting them out in their flowering sites in late spring or summer. They will usually flower in their second year.

Pests and diseases

Mice some-times eat the corms in the ground. A disease, black root rot, can kill the roots and discolour the foliage.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Bulbous Plants, Featured Articles | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Cyclamen

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