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Cyclamen: Caring For Cold Weather Houseplants

Those of us who live in cold climates love houseplants that will flower indoors in winter, and one with great appeal is the cyclamen.

a pink and white cyclamen flower bud in the fore of a snowy background.

Photo: withrow

Cyclamens are a good choice for winter because of their affinity for cold environments.

Those of us who live in cold climates love houseplants that will flower indoors in winter. There is something magical about them all and one with great appeal is the cyclamen. This plant originated in the mountainous areas of Iran where nights are cold and days are cool.

Potted cyclamens are often expensive to buy because growers have to keep the plants for a long time before they set buds and are saleable. However, they are worth the cost. Cyclamens come in such luscious colors and their blooms seem to me to look like ballerinas dancing high above the leaves. In January, after the brightly colored decorations have been put away, these plants are decorative in an elegant refined way that is restful on the eyes after the holiday glitz.

Taking Care of a Cyclamen

Obviously the origins of plants provide us with clues about the conditions they prefer, so cyclamens enjoy a cool spot in our homes in order to flourish. If we do an inventory of our homes we can often find an entry way, window sill or other spot that is cooler than the rest of the home. For me it is my enclosed front porch with lots of windows. It is perfect for plants like azaleas and cyclamens that wilt if they get too hot.

There are some specific instructions to keep in mind when caring for a cyclamen:

  1. Cyclamen grow from corms, and some experts warn against pouring water into the center of the plant or the corm may rot.
  2. When removing dead leaves and flowers you should twist stems and then pull rather than cutting off the stems.
  3. However, the main thing is to give them the cool temperatures they like and to let them rest after they finish blooming so they have a period of dormancy of about 2 months. I display mine indoors during the day, especially when I have guests, but always make sure that they sleep on my cool porch each night.
  4. Anytime the plant looks poorly, leave them out on the cool porch continuously.
Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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  • Janesitterly

    A question: a fully flowered cyclamen was left in the car in 19 degree temps. oops. Now most of the leaves and flowers are flopped and limp. However, there are several stems with leaves and a few stems with buds standing upright. should I cut off all the dead stuff now or should I keep it cool and give it a day or two? sunlight? no sunlight? help.. It was beautiful. sigh

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