Hardy Cyclamen (Cyclamen purpurascens)

Common names:
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Give a thumbs up European Cyclamen
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General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Partial Shade to Full Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 5a -28.9 °C (-20 °F) to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)
Plant Height: 3-6 inches
Plant Spread: 12 inches
Leaves: Evergreen
Variegated
Other: Leaf pattern variable, from all-silver to all-green. Green with a silver pattern is most common. Leaves grow in early summer and last a year.
Fruit: Other: When flowers are fertilized, stem coils so that seed pod rests on ground below leaves.
Fruiting Time: Summer
Fall
Other: Flowers are pollinated in summer and fall, and seed ripens next summer.
Flowers: Showy
Fragrant
Other: Blooms for several months in summer and fall.
Flower Color: Lavender
Pink
Purple
White
Bloom Size: 1"-2"
Flower Time: Summer
Fall
Inflorescence Height: 6 inches
Foliage Mound Height: 3 inches
Underground structures: Tuber
Uses: Provides winter interest
Groundcover
Will Naturalize
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Propagation: Seeds: Provide darkness
Depth to plant seed: 1/2 inch
Suitable for wintersowing
Other info: Takes a long time to germinate. Seedlings often have different leaf patterns from their parents.
Pollinators: Bumblebees
Wind
Containers: Suitable in 1 gallon
Preferred depth: Just under surface to 6 inches deep

Image

Comments:
Posted by Cyclaminist (Minneapolis, Minnesota - Zone 5a) on May 1, 2015 10:56 PM

The European cyclamen is one of two cyclamen species that aren't summer-dormant. The leaves grow in summer, last through the winter, and wither the next summer when another flush of leaves replace them. The flowers are fragrant, with a fragrance similar to Sweet Violet (Viola odorata), more pleasant than the soapy scent of florist's cyclamens. Outdoors, they bloom from June until November, when the freezing temperatures stop them. Not a huge number of flowers at once, but several flowers on each plant for many months. Light magenta with a darker nose is the most frequent color, but white, pink, and deep magenta also occur.

I grew my plants from seed ordered from Jan Bravenboer in the Netherlands, and I have many different leaf patterns, from all-green to green-and-silver to all-silver. Silver leaves are the rarest, and I hope to grow more plants with silver leaves, or leaves with larger patches of silver. The leaves form a mound above the tuber, and if you plant one tuber every 8 inches, they cover the ground.

The European cyclamen is the hardiest in continental climates. In England, the ivy-leaved cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium) is hardier and the European cyclamen doesn't grow as well, but that might be because the European cyclamen comes from the Alps and prefers continental climates: warm summers and cold winters.

European cyclamen is the only cyclamen that I can grow outdoors in the winter. Here in Minneapolis, Minnesota the average daily high temperature from December to February is below freezing, and the average yearly coldest temperature is -20 degrees Fahrenheit. European cyclamens are evergreen, so the leaves are frozen all winter and can look dried out at the end of the winter because the roots can't supply them with water while the soil is frozen, but as soon as the soil thaws they fill out again. See my picture of the leaves in early spring after the soil thawed. In a climate like mine, it's best to grow them in partial shade, because winter sun dries out the leaves, and summer dryness makes the leaves wilt.

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Posted by Cyclaminist (Minneapolis, Minnesota - Zone 5a) on May 23, 2016 11:22 PM

In the wild, European cyclamens often grow in beech woods (or so I hear). Beeches often keep some dried leaves on their branches over the winter and drop them in spring (a pattern called marcescence). European cyclamens are well adapted to this pattern: they grow new leaves in summer, after the beech leaves fall, and thus the new cyclamen leaves will be able to grow on top of the fallen beech leaves, rather than being covered by them. The cyclamens might have a harder time growing under other deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the fall, since the fallen leaves would cover the cyclamen leaves and prevent them from photosynthesizing in the spring, and thereby retard their growth and blooming.

Anyway, that's my theory. Related to this, the ideal time to mulch (or transplant) European cyclamens is in late spring or early summer, immediately before they grow new leaves and bloom. That way, the new leaves that grow in summer will be able to grow on top of the mulch (or the leaves inevitably messed up from transplanting can be replaced by a new and orderly set of leaves).

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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Lovely by Cyclaminist May 1, 2015 11:02 PM 0
Have you lost many perennials to winter, those which ordinarily survive? by ellenr22 Jun 2, 2018 10:47 AM 32
Short plants with winter interest by Jai_Ganesha Mar 2, 2018 11:21 AM 16
Any frost Hardy Cyclamen in red or white? by keithp2012 May 26, 2016 7:34 PM 64
What's caught your eye? ---Photos 2014 by dirtdorphins Nov 20, 2016 4:45 PM 72
What did you do today? by Leftwood Dec 5, 2019 3:10 PM 3,282
Starting lilies from seeds by pardalinum Dec 2, 2019 1:04 AM 761

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