Cyclamen are one of the best winter blooming plants, and for this reason they make very popular gift plants around the holidays! The flowers last for a long time, and they are gorgeous! Unfortunately, most people throw their cyclamen away once it’s done blooming because the plant will go into it’s normal dormancy phase, and people think that it’s dying, or that they killed it. But, with the right cyclamen plant care, you can keep your plant for years, and get it to bloom over and over again!
There are tons of beautiful cyclamen varieties to choose from, some of them have ruffled flowers and others are rounded. You can even get an adorable miniature cyclamen plant. Whatever variety you choose, you can’t go wrong. All of them have large bright flowers which appear to float above the gorgeous heart shaped foliage. A common question I get asked about them is: “is a cyclamen plant poisonous?”. The short answer is yes. Cyclamen plants can be toxic to cats, dogs and humans. So, if you have any fur babies or littles running around, it’s best to keep this one out of reach.
Cyclamen Plant Lifecycle
Cyclamen plants have an opposite growing season than most houseplants. They are a winter flowering plant, which means that they grow and bloom during the cooler winter months, and go dormant during the heat of the summer. That’s why they’re such popular gift plants around the holidays, and throughout the winter. This is perfect for those of us who live in a cold climate, because cyclamen plants bloom just when we need them the most – during the dark dreary winter months! Caring for cyclamen indoors isn’t difficult, but it’s very different than other houseplants. Use this as your cyclamen plant care guide, and you’ll be good to go!
Indoor Cyclamen Plant Care Guide
The biggest mistake people make with cyclamen plant care is trying to force their plant to grow year round. Most people don’t realize that cyclamen plants need a period of rest, or dormancy, in order to survive. When the plant begins to go dormant, the leaves will start to turn yellow and die. This is completely normal, but most people think they’re doing something wrong, so they try to save the plant by giving it more water or light or heat… only to end up killing it for realsies (not that I would know anything about that… grumble, grumble)! Once you understand how cyclamen plants grow, caring for them will be so much easier!
Cyclamen houseplants are super fussy about the temperature. If they get too hot, it will force an early dormancy. They like to be kept cool, but they are not frost hardy. It’s best to keep indoor cyclamen plants growing in a room where the temperature is kept between 50-70F. The cooler they are kept, the longer the flowers will last too.
They are also very sensitive to drafts, so avoid hot or cold drafty air (like heat vents or drafty windows). Keeping cyclamen plants growing in the perfect temperature is pretty easy during the winter, simply put them in the coolest room of your house. But again, make sure they stay away from any heat sources (heat vents, fireplaces, space heaters…etc).
How To Water Cyclamen Plants
Like African violets, cyclamen plants don’t like getting their leaves and stems wet. So it’s best to water a cyclamen plant from the bottom rather than from the top. To bottom water plants, fill the plant tray or cache pot with water, and allow the plant to soak up the water through the holes in the bottom of the pot. Once the soil is wet, dump out any water that’s left in the tray, and allow the excess water to drain completely from the pot. But never allow the plant to sit in water for an extended period of time.
Cyclamen plants like to have their soil kept evenly moist during their active growing period. Be careful though, consistent overwatering is a cyclamen killer! Allow your cyclamen to dry out slightly between waterings. Just so the soil is dry to the touch, but don’t allow it to dry out completely, or to stay dry for too long. Check the soil each time you water, and only water the plant if the soil is dry. If you’re not sure how to keep the soil properly watered, I recommend getting a soil moisture gauge to help you out.
Another important piece of successful cyclamen plant care is humidity. Humidity is especially important during the winter months, and cyclamen plants like a lot of humidity. Heating our homes sucks the humidity out of the air, and that’s not just bad for our skin, it can be pretty tough on houseplants too. To help increase the humidity level around your cyclamen, you can run a humidifier near the plant, put it on a pebble tray filled with water (don’t allow the plant to sit in the water though), or even grow your cyclamen in a small plant cloche or a mini indoor greenhouse. To help you maintain the proper humidity level, you can keep an indoor humidity monitor near your cyclamen plants.
Cyclamen plants like bright light, but they don’t like it hot so keep them out the sun. Direct sunlight is too intense for them anyway. They will do just fine in a bright room, or near an east or west facing window.
Repotting Cyclamen Plants
If your potted cyclamen has outgrown it’s container, you can repot it into a larger one. The best time for repotting cyclamen plants is while the plant is dormant. General purpose potting soil will usually work just fine for planting cyclamen. But if you tend to under water your plants, or the soil dries out too quickly, then I recommend adding in some peat moss or vermiculite to help the soil retain moisture. Make sure to plant your cyclamen in the new pot at the same depth it was growing in the old pot. Don’t bury the tubers too deep, they should be kept slightly above the soil line.
You can feed your cyclamen houseplant using a weak half dose of liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks while it’s actively growing and blooming. Stop fertilizing once the flowers begin to fade, and never fertilize it when it’s dormant. When you bring your cyclamen out of dormancy, you can start fertilizing again when the plant starts to put on new growth. A good rule of thumb is to only feed cyclamen plants while they have leaves growing. I recommend using an organic compost fertilizer, which you can get in liquid form or buy compost tea bags and brew your own. If you prefer, you could use another type of organic plant fertilizer like fish emulsion or liquid kelp on your cyclamen plants.
Cyclamen Flowering Season and Dormancy
In nature, cyclamen plants bloom during the winter, and go completely dormant during the summer. Cyclamen houseplants follow a similar pattern, and will go dormant shortly after they bloom. After the flowers fade, the leaves will start to turn yellow and fall off. Eventually the plant will die all the way back to the soil, and officially begin it’s dormancy. When this happens, most people think that they killed the plant so they’ll throw it out. But just like an amaryllis, cyclamen plants need this dormant period in order to bloom again. So don’t toss it out! With the proper cyclamen plant care during dormancy, you will be able to get your cyclamen to bloom again year after year!
How To Rebloom Your Cyclamen
- Once the leaves start to turn yellow, stop watering the plant and allow all of the leaves to die back
- Remove the dead leaves and place the pot in a cool, dark location for 2-3 months
- Allow the soil to dry out completely and don’t water the plant during it’s dormancy
- After 2-3 months, bring the plant back out of dormancy and give it a good drink of water, make sure to soak the soil and allow all the excess water to drain away
Wait until you see new growth before you water the plant again. Once you start to see new leaves growing on the plant, you can begin watering and fertilizing it regularly again. Shortly after the leaves grow, the plant will start to bloom. Woohoo!
You can store your dormant cyclamen plants outside during the summer in a shady spot where they will stay dry if you prefer, but make sure to move them back inside before it gets below 50F.
Pests are rarely an issue with healthy cyclamen plants, but spider mites and soil gnats can become an issue. Spider mites thrive in dry environments, and won’t survive if it’s too humid. So get rid of them by raising the humidity level around the plant. You can gently wipe the leaves the help control spider mites, but don’t spray anything on your cyclamen plant or you could damage the leaves. Soil gnats on the other hand live and bread in wet soil. They are just a nuisance and rarely do damage to a plant. If you see soil gnats flying around your cyclamen houseplant, allow the soil to dry out a bit more between waterings. You can use a yellow sticky trap to help control soil gnats.
Troubleshooting Common Problems
- Cyclamen yellow leaves – Yellow leaves on a blooming plant can mean that the plant is getting too hot and is starting to go into dormancy. Move the plant to a cooler location, and keep it out of the direct sunlight. Yellow leaves on a cyclamen plant that has just finished flowering is a sign that the plant is going into it’s dormancy period, and it’s totally normal! See the section above on dormancy.
- Cyclamen flowers drooping – Droopy cyclamen leaves and flowers are usually caused by improper watering. Check the soil level to make sure it’s not too wet or too dry. See the section above to learn how to water cyclamen plants.
- Cyclamen leaves look dirty and deformed – If the leaves or flowers look like they’re dirty or faded, take a closer look at the plant. Check the undersides of the leaves for signs of spider mites, you might notice their webbing before you see any bugs (spider mites are teeny-tiny). See the houseplant pests section above for more details.
With proper cyclamen plant care, these beautiful plants will bloom year after year during the holidays, or shortly after! Perfect timing for winter!
More Posts About Growing Flowering Houseplants
- How To Care For Holiday Amaryllis Gift Plants
- How To Rebloom Your Amaryllis Plants
- How To Care For A Phalaenopsis Orchid Plant
- Peace Lily Plant Care Guide
Do you grow cyclamen indoors? Share you cyclamen plant care tips in the comments below!