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Cyclamen, a marvelous flower


Cyclamen is one of the cutest houseplants to bloom indoors in fall and winter.

Core Cyclamen facts

Typespring bulb

Height – 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm)
Flowering – end of fall to early spring

Exposure – part sun      –      Soil – light and well drained

Care, planting and watering will help you make it bloom year after year.

Planting cyclamen

Cyclamen, though often classified as a bulb flower, is actually a tuber. The roots look like flat, round patties.

Planting cyclamen tubers

Planting cyclamenIt is recommended to plant cyclamen end of summer or beginning of fall. Plant each tuber 3 to 6 inches (10 to 20 cm) from the next and bury them more or less 1¼ to 1½ inches (3 to 4 cm) deep.

Important! Make sure your tubers are right-side up! Topside should have a few eyes or buds, bottom side is where roots fan out.

It can be set in a pot, garden box and also in semi-shaded flower beds. In any case, only a very thin cover is needed for the bulb, with garden earth mixed with soil mix. Don’t bury it too deep: there should be no more than a half-inch (1.5 cm) of soil atop it.

For cyclamen purchased with flowers already, check that there are new buds forming, this will ensure the blooming will last longer.

Sowing cyclamen

Sowing is quite easy. Simply recover seeds when seed capsules open up and put them in nursery pots with soil mix.

  • Beforehand, you can soak the seeds for several hours in lukewarm water to speed germination.

How to settle cyclamen indoors

Favor a luminous spot but not in the path of sunrays.

Avoid having nearby heat sources, such as radiators or a South-facing window.

The ideal temperature is around 65 to 70°F (16 to 18°C).

Cyclamen can’t stand heat. It appreciates cool evenings.

With these growing conditions, your cyclamen will bloom from September up to the month of May.

Pruning and caring for cyclamen

Caring for cyclamen is easy when they're outdoors as ground cover.Remove wilted or yellowing flowers regularly (deadheading).
For that, remove the entire stem that bears the flower, rotating it just a bit in your hand and tugging it off with a sharp pull.

This twisting and tugging step is useful because if a portion of the wilted stem is left behind, it might rot and make the bulb rot.

  • To have spectacular blooming, add flower plant fertilizer once a week.

Watering Cyclamen


Wait for soil to dry out thoroughly between 2 watering sessions, and avoid any excess water that might drown the plant.

  • Watering 2 or 3 times a week should be enough.
  • In winter, once a week or even once a fortnight is probably more adequate.


Natural rainfall should be enough, except in case of strong heat or long-lasting dry spells.

What to do after blooming is over

At the beginning of spring, the plant will enter a dormant phase.

It will be possible to have it bloom again in the following fall, if you keep the bulb at rest during the summer.

  • For that, store it in a dry place that is rather cool and dark.
  • As soon as the weather starts turning cool, generally in September or October, it should start blooming again.

Common problems with cyclamen

Disease pest cyclamenThis plant, both indoors and outside, won’t often run into problems.

Indoors, main issues are over and underwatering, and also too much sun exposure and dry air.

Remember, it’s a shade plant!

Cyclamen leaves dry up

  • It’s a bit as if they were burnt. This means there was too much sun. Protect your plants from the sun’s rays.

Leaves wither

  • If your plant looks sad, it is either due to excess watering or to nearby heat sources such as radiators.

Cyclamen leaves turn yellow

  • Add fertilizer, this is most certainly connected to lack of nutrients.

Leaves are spotted

  • Probably due to excess moisture. You must be careful not to wet either the leaves nor the flowers of the cyclamen.

Leaves lose their shine

  • If they look a bit pale, remove wilted flowers as they start to wither and provide fertilizer once a week.

Learn more about Cyclamen

Cyclamen flowerCyclamen is one of the favorite winter-blooming flowers.

It’s fun little flowers seem to have their petals flipped upwards like Marylin Monroe’s skirt in the iconic “flying skirt” photo.

But Cyclamen is also connected to another “Mary” person in history: the virgin Mary.

Cyclamen varieties

There are hundreds of cyclamen plants. They differ in flower color, leaf shape, size, and blooming period. Outdoors, Cyclamen coum is great to resist deep cold freezing. Indoors, ivy-leaf cyclamen boasts intricate patterns on its leaves: nice to admire even when not blooming!

Certain Cyclamen varieties are used to produce fragrance that is added to perfume. It has a delicate, watery feeling that is similar to the refreshing effect a slice of cucumber has on a hot summer day.

Where did cyclamen get its name?

Today, the scientific name, “Cyclamen”, comes directly from Latin. The “cycle” part of the name refers to the near perfect circle the flowers show when they’re lifted up. It actually comes from Ancient Greek, “κύκλος” or “kuklos”, which also means cycle. In many languages, the scientific name is used for the plant even in common language, which is rather rare!

Cooking with cyclamen

Interestingly, in some areas of Greece, some recipes call for cyclamen leaves to be filled with delicious stuffing. But be careful! Cyclamen tubers are toxic!

Read also:

Smart tip about Cyclamen

Amending the soil with special “flower plant” organic fertilizer will strongly increase growth and blooming of the plant.

Images: Pixabay: Manuel Torres Garcia, Beverly Buckley, Ilona Ilyés, JacLou DL, Kerstin Riemer
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  • A curious gourmet wrote on 9 January 2023 at 21 h 42 min

    I had no idea leaves were edible. Any recipes I can follow? Are leaves from all varieties edible?

  • mustafa almanshof wrote on 14 February 2019 at 7 h 29 min

    Looking for plant roots such as corrigiola telephiifolia. I want roots similar in their chemical composition to these roots. Can you help? Look for the roots of soap wort.

    • Gaspard Lorthiois wrote on 19 February 2019 at 19 h 40 min

      Corrigiola is often produced in Morocco and Spain. I’m not sure it’s easy to find plants that have the same chemical composition. If you intend to use them medicinally, you should know it’s very difficult to predict how plant parts will interact with the body. It’s also impossible to predict what a plant can treat based on its chemicals, because even plants of the same species that are from different varieties may have different effects!

      For Corrigiola, also called strapwort, here is an article that may help you a bit:

      How to grow Strapwort or Corrigiola

  • mustafa almanshof wrote on 14 February 2019 at 7 h 25 min

    Hello, why is this name called “Incense of Mary”? Is it because it has a beautiful organic fragrance? Is it possible to find cyclamen in bulk? Thanks

    • Gaspard Lorthiois wrote on 19 February 2019 at 12 h 39 min

      Hello Mustafa! It’s a very good question – and thanks to your asking, I looked up more interesting names for the Cyclamen flower. It’s now all written up in a new article you can read here:

      Surprising links between Cyclamen and culture

      About buying cyclamen in bulk, maybe simply go to your nearest garden store and look up what plant brands are there. If you get in touch with those, they might deliver to your area since they already have more regular customers nearby. Hope this helps!