The Q&A Archives: Cyclamen bulbs

Question: I have tried to plant cylcamen bulbs for the last two fall seasons. Nothing has grown. This summer I found the bulbs that I planted last fall and dug them up. Can I plant these again? If so, what care do I need to take in regards to soil, depth, shade/sun, soil retaining water, etc. Please help. I love these plants and do not know why I cannot get them to grow. Thank you

Answer: Not all cyclamen are cold hardy so if you've planted twice with no success, you may need to find the hardiest bulbs and plant them. Snow cover makes a difference in their ability to take really cold winters, so you may have to do some experimentation to find the right spot in your garden. Cyclamen mirabile is a very cold-hardy species. Mature leaves will go limp after a frost but soon recover. Some forms have a reddish cast over the silver of the variably marbled, but always attractive, leaves.

Hardy cyclamen need to be planted in a spot where they are protected from hot sun and severe weather exposure. An ideal spot is to plant them under trees or high branched shrubs, or on the east side of the house. Since they are low growing, place them near the front edge of your flower beds, where they can best be seen. These are great plants for a rock garden.

Be sure to take time to properly prepare the planting soil, as hardy cyclamen need good drainage and lots of humus mixed with existing soils. It is a good practice to mix peat moss or processed manure into the planting soil. Also, add some sand to help provide better drainage. Then mix thoroughly with your existing soil.

Plant the small hardy cyclamen tubers only about 1/2 inch deep. They should be spaced about 4 to 6 inches apart for best display. Tubers can be dug and divided about every four to six years if desired. This process of dividing is not necessary, but is a good way to expand planting areas or share tubers with friends and neighbors.

The best time to plant or transplant is during their dormant season, or with the autumn or winter flowering varieties, after they have finished flowering.

Best wishes with your cyclamen!

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