The Q&A Archives: Cyclamen Culture

Question: I purchased at Kmart several cyclamen - the flower of which is bright watermelon red. The sign above the pots was labelled: Cyclamen - perennial - full sun. However, the plastic card in each pot I noticed when I got them home indicated "indirect light" and a home temp. to follow. When the leaves started to all yellow (inside), I thought that they were dying as houseplants, so I cut all the yellow leaves off and put one back outside in mostly shade, still in its pot. The result of that has been one absolutely beautiful green plant out on my porch, and four yellowing ones inside. How can I tell if this is hardy outdoor cyclamen or the houseplant? Can I plant them outside in zone 7 or will they not bloom if not given dormant conditions? I have two supposedly hardy cyclamen bulbs from a mail order planted outside in shade but they haven't emerged since their burial in mid-April. I don't want my still blooming ones to meet a sad fate......

Answer: Isn't it frustrating when plants are poorly labelled, and there's no one knowledgeable to ask? (One reason to buy plants at a nursery--even if they cost a little more!)

Florists' cyclamen are not hardy. The leaves are rounded to kidney-shaped, usually with silvery patterns. The flowers can be up to 2 or 3" long. They are the most common cyclamen sold.

As a group, hardy cyclamen are similar in appearance, but the flowers are smaller and less showy. There are many varieties of hardy cyclamen.

My first guess would be that the cyclamen you purchased in pots are florists cyclamen. I would bring them all outdoors in the same shaded spot. though considered a houseplant, cyclamen prefer cooler temperatures and will probably do better on your porch. You can bring them in when temperatures drop in the fall, and they may or may not survive the winter indoors.

I would also speculate that the bulbs (technically, corms) are indeed hardy, and are now growing roots, with the shoots to appear soon.

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