A bright spot in winter needs certain care

Cyclamen persicum often called florists cyclamen is an indoor blooming plant that can be easily found in your local grocery store and garden center beginning in late fall and throughout the winter months. Its cultivars are white, shades of pink, purple and red. The beautiful blooms are smooth and frilly with varying heart shaped leaf patterns that make this plant unique.

Indoor cyclamen is a tender variety in a genus of perennials native to Europe and the Mediterranean. Some hardy varieties can be grown in our region. Cyclamen coum and Cyclamen purpurescens are just a couple of varieties that bloom from late winter to summer. Cyclamen are grown from tubers that are often confused as corms, which have a papery outer layer. Cyclamen persicum prefers a cool, humid environment. Daytime temperatures should not exceed more than 68 degrees during the day. Temperatures above that can force the plant to go dormant and stop blooming. Nighttime temperatures should not go below 40 to 45 degrees.

Provide the plant with bright to medium indirect light. I usually place my plants in a northeastern window that has strong morning light. Watering can be a little tricky, they tend to be sensitive to too much water or too little. When soil is dry and pot feels light its time to water. I recommend watering the plant from the bottom and allow the roots to take up the water that way you keep the center tuber dry. Over watering can cause the tuber to rot and the leaves to become soft and rotted as well. Fertilize once a month with a water soluble houseplant food at 1/2 the recommended rate. Too much will effect any future blooming.

Cyclamen will keep blooming well into February and early March. To keep plants blooming dead head spent blossoms to encourage future blooms. When Cyclamen is completely finished blooming stop watering and allow the leaves to die off. Leaves will turn yellow and brown and begin to shed. Place the plant in a cool, low lit area and begin decreasing daylight hours. Be sure to remove any dead foliage and allow plant to dry out. Plant will go into dormancy for a couple of months, during the spring and summer. After dormancy water plant thoroughly and repot using a sterile all purpose potting soil. Once plant begins to produce leaves, place in a cool sunny window and watch it bloom for another season.