The Caged Tiger
The Florists Cylamen (Cyclamen persicum) is like the tiger that someone is keeping in their apartment as a pet. It is trapped inside, but it really wants out.
Although often marketed as an indoor plant, a cyclamen will slowly wither away in a warm indoor environment as it craves coolness.
But like the apartment tiger, it needs to be saved from itself. It needs to be cool, but also protected from rain, wind, and freezing temperatures.
It needs a covered, protected porch. And the person who can provide this will be rewarded with continuous blooms for several months.
With this plant, location is everything. Last year I had a potted cyclamen on my covered porch next to the front door (in Seattle, hardiness zone 8a) that bloomed from early fall until late spring.
I had another cyclamen on the opposite side of my front door, the side that is less protected and gets more wind, and that plant lasted less than a month.
A Great Container Plant
Cyclamen come in some striking colors – white, pink, red, and lavender. The foliage is also very attractive. They bloom pretty prolifically and continuously in the right environment, and they do well in containers.
They make a beautiful floral accent next to your front door to welcome visitors at a time of year when nothing else is really blooming.
This year I planted my cyclamen with just a little Golden Spikemoss as a contrast, but they can be used with a wide variety of other plants for an attractive container garden. Try them with small evergreens, winterberry, or miniature ferns.
Care and Feeding
Cyclamen that are sold as indoor plants are usually still happier outside in a protected environment as long as the temperature stays above 40 degrees.
Cyclamen sold in a nursery as an outdoor plant usually can tolerate even cooler temperatures. Be sure to read the plant tag.
Cyclamen do best in pots with excellent drainage, and when the soil is consistently moist. But be careful not to overwater them. It’s best to deliver the water close to the base of the plant and not get the leaves wet or they might start to rot.
They like dappled sunlight or light shade. So indirect light or a little morning sun works better than heavy shade.
They need occasional fertilizer, but not more than once a month.
After blooming like mad for several months, a cyclamen may hit a dormant period, especially when temperatures begin to climb. With the right care (discontinue watering for a while, keep out of sunlight, repot and resume watering, put back into the light) you can get the cyclamen to come back for a repeat performance, but honestly I have always found it easier to just get a new one every year.
Call me lazy. But at least the tiger was free from his cage while it lasted.
You might also enjoy:
- Container Gardens for Fall: A Hail to Kale
- Flower Arranging with Hydrangeas
- Greenhouse on the Brain
- Color Tip: Go Bold and Have Fun with Small Outdoor Garden Structures