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How to Grow Cyclamen in Your Garden

by | Aug 14, 2023 | Gardening | 0 comments

Cyclamen are tuberous-rooted perennials grown for their beautiful flowers that resemble shooting stars.

They’re native to the Middle East, Cypress, and Crete. They have a common name of “Sow Bread” because pigs eat the big roots. Their tubers contain “cyclamin,” which is harmless to pigs but can cause gastritis and nervous tension when ingested by humans.

Roasting destroys the toxicity of cyclamen. In ancient times, tubers were roasted, beaten, and made into small cakes, said to be an aphrodisiac. Much of the folklore about cyclamen refers to love and conception. The plant was considered so potent that it was dangerous for a pregnant woman to even step on it.

Hot Pink Cyclamen

Cyclamen supposedly could also:

  • Heal snake bites
  • Ward off magic spells
  • Influence affairs of the heart
  • Bring good luck

Cyclamen persicum is the wild ancestor of the florist cyclamen. The name “cyclamen” comes from “kuklos,” meaning circle. We think this name comes from the spiraling action of the seed capsule stem to the ground.

The original species has pale to pink or white 2-inch fragrant flowers on 6-inch stems. Selective breeding has given us large flowers which have lost their fragrance.


Today’s cyclamen bloom in late fall to spring in many colors: crimson, red, rose pink, salmon, purples, and white. The flowers are usually large, uniform, 3 to 4 inches, borne on 6 to 8-inch stems above kidney-shaped, dark green leaves.

Some varieties have silvery marbling on their leaves. Cyclamen have a firm, upright habit and are quite vigorous.

Pink Cyclamen

Dwarf or mini cyclamen are popular because their 1/2 to 3/4 size makes them perfect for smaller gardens or window sills.

Tips for Growing Cylamen

Plant cyclamen outdoors in southern areas as a fall and winter bedding plant.

Cyclamen is an excellent choice to replace caladiums or impatiens in shady, moist spots. They prefer rich, porous soil with lots of humus.

Cyclamen are hardy to 20 degrees F. Plants will lose their leaves and go dormant in hot weather but may survive if drainage is good and the soil isn’t waterlogged or too dry.

Fertilize cyclamen every 3 to 4 weeks with blooming plant fertilizer.