Florist’s cyclamen, or indoor cyclamen, are popular house plants grown for their large, showy winter flowers, in shades of white, pink and red. The flowers may be frilly or scented, and are set off by marbled, heart-shaped leaves. They are widely available in garden centres and at the florist’s in autumn and winter and are often given as gifts. Given the right care, they should flower for at least six weeks. If you’re choosing a cyclamen to buy, look for one plenty of buds – it will mean that the plant will flower for longer.
Florist’s cyclamen are cultivars of the wild Cyclamen persicum, native to Turkey. The smaller-flowered cultivars, also known as ‘mini cyclamen’ are sold as outdoor bedding plants in autumn. These are great for adding colour to pots and window boxes in autumn and early winter. However they are not frost hardy.
Florist’s cyclamen die back naturally in spring, in preparation for a period of dormancy in summer. At this point many people discard their plant. You can encourage the plant to flower again the following winter, however, if you allow the plant to follow its natural growth cycle, reduce watering in summer while it rests.
How to grow indoor cyclamen
Your cyclamen needs a cool, bright spot to thrive. Keep away from direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist but do not overwater – this is a common way to kill cyclamen. If you want your plant to flower again the following autumn, you will need to let it go dormant over the summer, reducing watering.
Indoor cyclamen: jump links
- Planting indoor cyclamen
- How to care for indoor cyclamen
- How to propagate indoor cyclamen
- Growing indoor cyclamen: problem-solving
- Best indoor cyclamens to grow
Where to grow indoor cyclamen
Your cyclamen needs a cool, bright spot to thrive. Keep in a cool room that’s around 10-15°C – a cool conservatory, porch, or east- or north-facing windowsill is ideal (bring it inside if frost is forecast overnight). Keep away from direct sunlight. If you keep your cyclamen in a warm room, the leaves will turn yellow, the flowers will quickly fade and the plant will go into early dormancy.
How to plant indoor cyclamen
If you’re planning to keep your cyclamen for only one season, it should be fine in the pot it’s growing in, placed into a more decorative pot. But if you want to keep it going from year to year, it’s worth planting it into a loam-based compost with added horticultural grit. Make sure the new pot has drainage holes and ensure the top of the corm sits just above the soil surface. Take care not to disturb the roots too much.
Caring for indoor cyclamen
Water once the soil begins to feel dry. Rather than watering with a watering can, which can splash water on the leaves causing mildew, stand the plant in a saucer or shallow bowl of water for an hour or so until the compost is moist but not soaking wet. Let any excess water drain away.
Cyclamen don’t need much feeding – otherwise they will produce lots of foliage rather than flowers. Feed every couple of months with a house plant fertiliser if you’re planning on keeping your plant from year to year; if not you don’t need to bother.
Remove any dead or dying flowers or leaves by tugging them away gently.
How to get an indoor cyclamen to reflower
In spring, your plant will stop watering and the leaves will begin to go yellow. This is normal. Stop watering the plant at this point. Put your plant somewhere cool and dry for the summer – a sheltered, shady spot outdoors is ideal. Keep the compost barely moist. If you live in a wet area, lay the pot on its side so excess rainwater drains away. Your cyclamen should start to regrow in September. Bring the plant indoors, repotting it if necessary, and start watering again when you see fresh growth.
How to propagate indoor cyclamen
You can sow seeds of Cyclamen persicum, but they can take a long time to germinate.
Growing indoor cyclamen: problem solving
Most problems with indoor cyclamen are caused by over watering or high temperatures.
Yellow leaves in autumn or winter mean the room is too warm or the plant has been under- or over-watered. It may also have received too much sunlight. Keep your plant in a cool room, out of bright sunshine, and water when the soil begins to dry out. Yellow leaves in spring are normal, however – the plant is dying back naturally before going dormant.
Poor flowering is due to the room being too warm – this will send the cyclamen into early dormancy. In spring, it will stop flowering naturally, however.
A collapsed cyclamen could be due to it getting too much water. If it’s is brown and mushy at the centre, this may also be due to crown rot, due to water splashing on the leaves and stems, or temperatures that are too low. A collapsed plant can also be due to vine weevil larvae, which eat the roots.
Grey, fuzzy mould on the stems or flowers could be cyclamen grey mould, Botrytis cinerea. This develops in humid conditions. Removing dead leaves or flowers promptly can help prevent it developing, as can avoiding splashing water on the leaves.
Indoor cyclamen varieties to grow
Most indoor cyclamen are sold without labels at the garden centre, but you could look for these specific varieties online:
- Cyclamen persicum ‘Verano Red’ (Super Verano Series) – crimson red flowers on upright stems
- Cyclamen persicum ‘Winfall White’ (Winfall Series) – white flowers that contrast beautifully with marbled foliage
- Cyclamen persicum ‘Blanc Pur’ – stunning, snow white flowers
- Cyclamen persicum ‘Violette’ – bright magenta flowers