The animated blooms and curious leaves of the Cyclamen make it one of the most exotic houseplants. It’s known scientifically as Cyclamen persicum and blooms with sweet, fragrant flowers that extend on top of long stems over the leaves.
Unlike most plants, Cyclamens go into dormancy in the summer. The tuberous perennial loses all of its foliage and dies down to its fleshy roots.
The plants regrow from the dormant roots every fall.
How to Care for Cyclamen Indoors
A well-drained, loamy, and acidic soil is perfect for Cyclamens. They need bright light for 4-6 hours a day. The ideal growing temperatures are 40-65˚F (4-18˚C). They need to be watered when the top few inches of soil dry out, water directly at the base of the plant. They like 40-60% humidity.
Cyclamens like growing in well-drained, loamy soil with acidic pH. They prefer soil rich in organic matter for robust blooms. Keep extra care that the soil doesn’t get too soggy because Cyclamens are susceptible to root rot, especially during the summer months, where only the roots are alive.
Choosing the right type of soil will determine whether your Cyclamen plants will survive all year so they can adorn your space again in the following winter.
For potting indoor-grown Cyclamens, you can use regular houseplant potting mix because it has all the soil traits these plants like, except the adequate pH.
To lower the pH and make the potting mix more suitable for Cyclamens, you can add Sphagnum Peat Moss to the soil.
Not only does it work to retain good soil moisture, but its acidic characteristics also make the potting mix perfect for growing these plants.
The soil should have good water retention but should also drain quickly. This serves to keep the roots healthy even in the summer dormancy period.
Water retaining soil elements like organic compost and peat moss absorb water and store it inside. They slowly release the water back into the soil when the roots need it.
This will keep the roots supplied with the moisture they need in both summers and winters.
On the other hand, quick drainage is needed, so that excess water does not sit around in the soil and cause root rot. Primarily in the summer when there is no foliage, and the plant does not need as much water to keep up with transpiration.
Cyclamens like to grow in bright, indirect light. They need bright light for 4-6 hours a day. 1-2 hours of mild morning sunlight will serve them well. Keep the plant out of strong sunlight through the window. During the summer dormancy, place the plant in a cool, dark place.
Cyclamens like to bask in bright light to perform well. While they love bright light, the light should not be intense enough to increase the temperature around the plants.
Direct sunlight will scorch the leaves and prevent blooms. Direct sunlight is only recommended in the mild parts of the day, such as early mornings or sunset light.
Placing near a North or West facing window is recommended for adequate light levels and protection from sunlight.
Cyclamens do not need a lot of water and should only be watered when the top few inches of soil dry out. They will not tolerate overwatering and underwatering, so you need to be meticulous with the watering practice. Always water below the leaves, directly at the soil.
During the winter season, when the plant is actively growing, water it regularly as the soil requires. Always check soil moisture before watering to avoid overwatering.
Watering during the winter season does not need to be very frequent. Twice a week would suffice on average, but it depends on how quickly your Cyclamen’s soil dries out.
It is advised to use a long-spout water can so the water reaches directly to the base of the plant and in the soil. Water sitting over the leaves and flowers can lead to a range of diseases.
Water sparsely in the summer. Only to prevent the soil from completely drying out and the roots dying.
Unlike most plants, Cyclamens prefer lower temperatures. Cyclamens do not tolerate daytime temperatures over 68˚F (20˚C) and nighttime temperatures over 50˚F (10˚C). The ideal growing temperatures range is 40-65˚F (4-18˚C). They are hardy to USDA zones 4-8. Summer temperatures lead to dormancy.
The temperature preference of Cyclamens sets them apart from all other plants. That they prefer colder temperatures over hotter temperatures to grow raises many plant parents’ curiosity.
Cyclamens do not like hot places, so give them a site that stays cool and well-ventilated.
The typical indoor temperatures, even during the winter, can be too high for Cyclamens, so give them a mildly cool, unheated space.
The growth starts from the tubers in the fall, when the summer temperatures fall to tolerable levels for Cyclamens.
Growth will stop again in late spring, and the plant dies back in the summer. Keep in mind that the Cyclamens usually sold as houseplants are tropical ones and do not tolerate temperatures below 40˚F (4˚C).
Adequate humidity levels are essential for Cyclamen growth and blooms. Indoor humidity is not enough for Cyclamens, and you will need to notch it up artificially. Cyclamens like 40-60% humidity. However, excessive humidity and poor ventilation can lead to pest infestations and diseases.
Indoor humidity levels are too low for houseplants, particularly during the winter. Make up for the required humidity by placing your Cyclamen over a pebble tray or using a humidifier.
Misting these plants is not a recommended practice. It does little to raise the humidity and can be more bad than good for the plant.
Container-grown Cyclamens need frequent fertilization to fulfill nutrition needs. Fertilize using a low-nitrogen, liquid fertilizer every few weeks from fall to spring. Always dilute the fertilizer to half strength. Excessive fertilization can lead to root tip burn.
Pot-grown blooming plants always need supplemental feeding. Although they need to be planted in soil rich in organic matter, Cyclamens still need readily available nutrients to produce vigorous blooms.
Fertilizers with a low nitrogen content are recommended. Too much nitrogen in the soil will lead to fast leaf growth but will reduce the blooming power of the plant.
You choose any good liquid fertilizer for houseplants, but ensure that the nitrogen content is not too high.
Furthermore, always water well before feeding the plant to avoid root tip burn. Never fertilizer a Cyclamen immediately after bringing it home from the plant shop.
You never know when was the last time it was fertilized at the nursery, so better be on the safe side and wait for a few weeks before feeding mildly.
Cyclamens grow from fall to spring and are dormant in the summer. The leaves and flowers grow directly from a big ball-like root called a tuber. It has heart-shaped leaves and can grow 6-9 inches in height and width. They bloom throughout the winter in colors of pink, white, red, and violet.
Cyclamens are knowns tuberous perennials. This means they can live for more than two years but will be dormant for some time in between.
For Cyclamens, the summer is the dormancy period where only the tuber stays alive. New growth sprouts every fall from the same tuber.
They are excellent houseplants for their small size and unique leaves. Leaves are thick, medium-dark green with light-green or silver marbling on them.
They are native to the Mediterranean, which makes them prefer cool temperatures with bright light.
Cyclamens do not need very large pots. Select a pot that is just an inch more than the diameter of the tuber. Pot the plant so that the top of the tuber sticks above the soil level. Pot drainage is a must. You will have to repot to a bigger pot every two years if you manage to keep it alive.
Cyclamens can go with any kind of pot as long as it’s got adequate drainage and size for the plant. The pot does not necessarily have to be too deep or wide.
Using a pot that is slightly bigger than the tuber makes the Cyclamen plant look good as compared to using a pot that is too large.
Cyclamens do not have a very spreading growth habit, so they don’t require pruning to keep them to size. However, all dead and disease foliage must be removed immediately to avoid pests and diseases. Fading blooms should also be pruned off in time.
Pruning is not a very essential part of Cyclamen care. It is limited to just removing dead, diseased, or damaged leaves and fading blooms to encourage better growth.
Cyclamen can be propagated through seeds and root division. Soak seeds in water for a whole day before planting them in the spring. You can also divide Cyclamen plants at the roots by separating tubers and repotting them in the fall. Keep in a protected place, and roots will form in a few weeks.
You can obtain the seeds from the Cyclamen already growing in your home or purchase them from a supplier. To propagate Cyclamens through seeds, you will have to practice the right method at the right time.
Before sowing, soak the seeds for a full 24 hours in water to activate them.
If you’re propagating Cyclamen indoors, you can start any time of the year if you have a warm and protected atmosphere for the seeds to germinate.
However, in case you can’t provide the right seed starting conditions in your home, wait for spring to sow the Cyclamen seeds.
Plant the seeds when average soil temperatures are between 45-55˚F (7-12˚C). The seeds will germinate in time. However, expect blooms only in the subsequent spring.
For tuber division, wait for fall when the Cyclamen comes out of dormancy and separate the plants by identifying the individual tuber roots in the rootball.
Plant the separated tubers separately and plant them 2-3 inches deep into the newly prepared potting mix. Cover the tubers completely with the soil.
Keep in mild temperature and makes sure the soil retains moisture. The foliage will grow before winter arrives.
Common Problems with Cyclamen Indoors
Growing Cyclamen indoors can sometimes get tricky, especially with all the pests that like feeding on these exotic bloomers. Here are the most common Cyclamen pests and diseases and how to deal with them.
If you notice stunted and distorted growth, curling leaves and flowers failing to bloom, and you can’t diagnose the problem, chances are you have a Spider Mite infestation.
They are tiny insects that typically hide in flower buds and new leaves, making it hard to diagnose the infestation. Mites usually attack in high humidity, poorly ventilated sites.
You can effectively deal with them by using a diluted natural insecticide spray and spraying the infested sites twice a week.
Indoor-grown Cyclamens are prone to a fungal infection called Botrytis, or Grey Mold. The perennials usually contract this disease in highly humid conditions.
Botrytis can make the leaves turn yellow and leave brown, unsightly patches at infections sites.
To keep your plant safe from a Botrytis attack, place it in a well-ventilated area, remove dead foliage frequently, and watering Cyclamens only at the soil and not over the leaves.
Botrytis can be efficiently treated with fungicidal sprays.
The fact that Cyclamens are active during the winter and dormant during the summer makes them a truly unique plant.
Plant parents don’t have much to do during the winter, but you can keep yourself occupied by caring for these beautiful perennials.
Care for them well and enjoy the unique foliage and sweet flowers of the Cyclamen.
Frequently Asked Questions about Growing Cyclamen Indoors
Why are Cyclamen leaves drooping?
Drooping leaves on your Cyclamen can be a sign of overwatering. Root rot kills the roots, making the plant unable to absorb adequate moisture. Drooping leaves can also indicate Botrytis.
Why is my Cyclamen not blooming?
Each Cyclamen variety has varying bloom times and will only bloom when they’re established. They also may not bloom if tubers are planted too deep into the soil or if the soil lacks the needed nutrients.
Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.