The Q&A Archives: care of cyclamen

Question: I received a cyclamen, which I keep in good light,partial shade in my home. I keep the plant damp. The stems get very long, compared to the plants I see at the florists, and many of the leaves curl under. I have found that the leaves tend to burn in too much sun (when I moved the plant, thinking that would counteract the stem growth) and I have tried to wash the underside of the leaves, in case insects were the cause of leaf curl. I did see some black shiny spots on the underside, but no sign of the usual insect pests. Can you offer help with the long stems and especially the leaf curl?

Answer: Cyclamen are very difficult house plants, primarily because they prefer cool temperatures of about 55 to 65 degrees when they are in active growth. After blooming, they typically go dormant for the summer. It sounds like your plant may be trying to rest. You could taper off watering and then stop altogether next month and let it die back, store it dry for the summer and then repot it in the fall when the weather turns cool again. Then provide barely damp soil and bright light (and cool temperatures) and hopefully it will grow and bloom again for you. Fertilize every other week with a water soluble fertilizer from fall through spring; avoid wetting the stems or foliage when you water it to reduce the chance of disease. Most people treat this plant like a florist bouquet and don't try to keep it growing once the blooms fade. Good luck with your cyclamen!

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