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January 2008
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Details about Cyclamen

Cyclamen are a genus of plants containing 20 species, which are part of the family of Primulaceae, the Primrose family. In the wild, their distribution is centred on the mediterranean, being natives of parts of Europe, western Asia and parts of North Africa. They are tuberous plants and have no obvious affinity with Primroses, although they do resemble the North American Dodecatheon in having reflexed petals.
The florist cyclamen is derived from Cyclamen persicum, a Mediterranean plant. In nature it goes dormant during the summer months, comes into growth as cooler, damper weather starts, flowers in autumn, winter or spring, and goes dormant again as the summer becomes warm. Cyclamens grow from tubers that are round and rather flat. The tubers are the storage organs that keep the plants alive during their summer dormancy.
Many species are hardy, generally in USDA Zones 7 and above. But Cyclamen persicum is often seen for sale throughout the fall and winter, in less hardy zones, as a houseplant. C. persicum, aptly referred to as the Florist’s Cyclamen, has sweet scented small (½ to 3/4 inch) flowers that are produced on long stems, held upright above the foliage.
In a garden which does not have any large shrubs or trees that can be under planted, hardy cyclamen may be positioned in any well-drained soil in dappled shade. They will need mulching each year with leaf-mould. Hardy cyclamen’s low habit and preference for shade means that they are best used as ground cover beneath deciduous plants. Here, the flowers and attractive leaves will provide a feature until late spring when its neighbouring larger plants again come into leaf.
Cyclamen are very tolerant of diverse soil types and are not concerned too much with the pH, although they prefer a slightly alkaline soil. However, whether they prefer woodland conditions or or a more open environment it is important to ensure that the drainage is good as excessive moisture can cause the tubers to rot.
The majority of Cyclamen species should be planted with the top of the tuber at, or just below the soil surface. A good option is to have the tuber just at the surface but with a covering of grit or gravel 1 to 2 inches (2.5cm – 5 cm) deep. The less hardy species are better planted slightly deeper, maybe between 3 and 6 inches (7.5cm – 15cm) deep, depending on the species and size of tuber.
Aim for temperatures between 40° and 50°F at night and day temperatures less than 68°F. A cyclamen won’t be too happy in a house heated much above 70°F, with the dry atmosphere that goes with it. If you are unable to provide cool enough conditions, the plant will survive for a time, but eventually it will develop yellow foliage and its blooming time may be cut short. It will probably tolerate a less than ideal location for a day or two as long as you return it to a better place shortly afterwards. The plant will tolerate indoor conditions even better if you move it to a cool spot at night. Make sure to provide as much light as possible in its daytime location.

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