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How to Grow Cyclamen Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Sow Bread and Persian Violet

Cyclamen is a genus of low growing plants that are hardy perennials.

Depending on the variety, Cyclamen may flower anytime from late winter to the autumn.

The Leaves and flowers are very attractive: they have beautiful butterfly like flowers and heart shaped leaves.

Common names include Sow bread, Florist's Cyclamen, Persian Cyclamen, and Persian Violets.

Cyclamen picture by Dean Ravenscroft

Visit this page for more specific information on How to Grow Cyclamen persicum.

Cyclamen Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Sow Bread, Persian violet.
Life Cycle: Hardy perennial. Bulb. Tender species are usually grown in containers and brought indoors for the winter.
Height: 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 cm).
Native: Europe, Mediterranean, Africa.
Growing Region: Zones 5 to 9.
Flowers: Species dependent: Late winter and/or spring and/or summer and/or autumn.
Flower Details: White, purple, pink. Cup-like. Reflexed petals. Five petals.
Foliage: Heart-shaped. Patterned. Ivy-like. Smooth or toothed edge.
Sowing/Planting:
Tubers: 1 to 2 inches (3 to 5 cm). Top of the tuber should be at soil surface level, or about 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) below. Add thin layer of leaves to help keep moisture in and to create a humid atmosphere. Spacing 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm).
Seeds: 1/4 inch (6 mm). Seeds should first be soaked for one day.
Seed: Method 1: Seeds should first be sown into flats containing potting soil in the autumn. Next sink the flat into the ground in an area that offers shade, preferably close to a wall that faces north. Provide a glass/plastic covering. Keep an eye on the flats to ensure that the soil remains moist. Bring the flats indoors at the beginning of spring and keep at 60 to 65°F (16 to 18°C).
Seed: Method 2: Sow seeds in a moist growing medium in flats, wrap in a large plastic bag, then stratify by refrigeration for three weeks. Next bury the flat as described above. Once seedlings emerge transplant them to their final location.
Requirements and care: Partial shade to full shade; some species can grow in full sun. Good drainage. Limy soil, ideally a very rich organic soil. Keep soil cool. Regular watering when growing. Top dressing of leaf mold should be applied towards the end of summer. Winter mulch. Propagate: by dividing towards the end of summer.
Miscellaneous: The Cyclamen plant gets the name sowbread as it is a favored food of swine. Attractive to Gothic moths.
Family: Primulaceae


Further Reading: Clemson Extension Information on Cyclamen; Agrilife Texas A&M; and Houston Chronicle

Commonly Grown Cyclamen Species

Cyclamen hederifolium: Autumn Blooms. Easy to grow hardy species known as the Persian Violet or Ivy-leaved cyclamen. USA Growing zones 5 to 9, UK hardiness: H5 (Hardy to -10°C (14°F). Grows to about 15 cm (6 inches) tall.

Cyclamen hederifolium photograph

Cyclamen hederifolium flowers photograph by Leonora (Ellie) Enking, Creative Commons.

Cyclamen persicum: Winter Blooming. Frost tender. Bring indoors well before temperatures drop below 5°C (41°F). US zones 9 to 11; UK zone H1C. Sometimes called the Florist's Cyclamen. Grows to about 23 cm (9 inches) in height.

Cyclamen persicum

Cyclamen persicum plant by Zachi Evenor, CC.

Cyclamen coum: Spring Bloom. Commonly called the Eastern Cyclamen. Reaches about 10 cm (4 inches) in height. US Hardiness 5 to 9; UK hardiness: H5. Grow in a rock garden, as soil must have excellent drainage. Looks great growing beneath shrubs.

Cyclamen Coum photograph

Cyclamen coum plant by peganum, CC.

How to Grow Cyclamen

Cyclamen can be grown from tubers or from seeds. However, it is quite difficult to grow Cyclamen from seed and it can take up to 18 months before they will flower.

Germination of the seeds can take as little as three weeks to over a year! First you will need to soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours.

The seeds should then be sown outside in flats that are north facing in the autumn, are the soil kept moist.

As soon as spring comes bring the flats containing Cyclamen indoors and keep at a temperature of about 13 degrees Centigrade.

Cyclamen photograph

Cyclamen photograph by David Short, CC.

Once seedlings emerge they should be transplanted outdoors at a spacing of 15 cm (6 inches) - Only transplant the Cyclamen seedlings when you are sure that there will be no further frosts.

They should be planted into a lightly shaded area of the garden that has good drainage. Ideally the soil that cyclamen grows in should be organic and rich, cool, and a little limy (species dependent).

Cyclamen Care

When growing Cyclamen from tubers, then tubers should be planted at a depth of about 5 cm (2 inches) with their tips close to the surface.

If you require more Cyclamen plants then the tubers can be divided at the end of summer.

Plants do very well in pots and require enough watering to keep soil at a medium moisture level



Garden Plants Common Name Index

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