Cyclamen Care for Dummies
When it comes to the cyclamen, care isn’t something that you need to be overly worried about. Many plant novices find that the cyclamen is a great indoor or outdoor starter plant because it is quite easy to take care of. Before we dive into cyclamen care, let’s get to know a little about this plant and the many options that the cyclamen has to offer you.
The cyclamen is a small plant that, contrary to its pretty, exotic appearance, is actually quite hardy. This means that it can withstand many different environmental settings and is not a very demanding plant to take care of. Realistically speaking, cyclamen can endure outdoor temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ve probably noticed that this isn’t a very wide temperature range. If you live in a climate that often gets below 50 degrees at night time or above 70 degrees in the day time, then you would definitely be better off keeping your cyclamen as an indoor plant. If you do decide to go this route, be warned that this plant is toxic to both cats and dogs if ingested. It may also be wise to use this as an indoor plant if your area experiences frost during the winter.
The cyclamen has sweet, dainty flowers that sit on top of long tube-like stems. The heart-shaped leaves spread out in a tidy and uniform bunch at the bottom of the plant, giving the appearance of a bushy carpet of greenery. This is a classically beautiful flower with a hint of tropical flair that can easily accent any of the flowers that you might already have in your house or garden. It would make an excellent centerpiece on a table top or used as a perky sign of welcome on the front porch. This is a plant that, for the most part, looks much more difficult to care for than it really is.
Choosing a Cyclamen
Although you can easily order a cyclamen from one of the many online retail nurseries, you may find a better selection quality in a local nursery. Most nurseries carry this flower between September and December. If your nursery does not keep cyclamen in stock, you might ask if they would be willing to special order it for you. If there are cyclamen in stock for you to choose from, try to select a plant that has plenty of unopened buds. Inspect the leaves to make sure that there isn’t a great deal of damage or discoloration, which could be a sign of an unhealthy specimen.
Outdoor Planting Location
Ongoing cyclamen care may not be difficult, but it can be if you don’t choose a good spot to plant your cyclamen. Sunlight is a major consideration for any plant and this flower’s dormant period is during the summer. The plant should not be subjected to full summer sunlight as this could cause it to overheat and damage or kill it. When choosing a spot, you should base it primarily off of autumn, winter, and spring conditions, when the cyclamen is at its best. Try to find a spot that receives bright or indirect sunlight. The location should also have good drainage. Areas of land that have dips or sunken soil can allow water to collect around the roots of the plant. The lack of oxygen can result in root decay that will hinder your plant’s growth in upcoming years or it could even kill your plant. It is especially important to check to make sure that your cyclamen doesn’t gather water during the dormancy period.
Indoor Cyclamen Care
If you’ve decided that an indoor cyclamen is the best option for you (as it is in most climates), you’ll need to select a pot for your plant. Ideally, the pot should be about eight inches in diameter with holes in the bottom to allow any excess water to drain out. You can purchase a cheap drainage plate to put under the pot to catch the water, but be sure to empty this regularly to prevent the water from becoming stagnant and reabsorbed by the plant. A good quality potting soil is important for optimum growth although a fertilizer or compost is not necessary.
Your cyclamen should be watered on an “as needed” basis. This means that you shouldn’t let the plant show obvious signs of dehydration, like brittle leaves or drooping stems. A good way to test whether your plant is ready for watering is to stick your finger tip about one inch in the soil. If it feels dry, it is probably time to water the plant. Cyclamens also need a lot of moisture in the air. Dry air inside the house, which is common when central heating is used, may require you to use a spray bottle to mist the plant every other day. Eventually, the cyclamen will begin to show signs of upcoming dormancy which includes shriveling leaves that turn yellow and fall off the plant. The dormancy period will probably last two to three months, during which time you do not need to water the plant. Once your plant starts to “wake up”, you can resume a normal watering and misting schedule. It might also be a good idea to add a bit of liquid fertilizer just to give the plant a nutrient boost as it awakens.