Violet, Persian Violet, Sowbread
are a genus of plants containing 20
species, which are part of the family
of Primulaceae, the Primrose family.
the wild, their distribution is centered
on the Mediterranean, being natives
of parts of Europe, western Asia and
parts of North Africa.
are tuberous plants and have no obvious
affinity with Primroses, although
they do resemble the North American
Dodecatheon in having reflexed petals.
Their habitats range from Fagus (Beech)
woodland, through scrub and rocky
areas, to alpine meadows where they
flower in snow meltwater. In cultivation,
there are some species which are definitely
hardy, some which are borderline,
and a few species which will not tolerate
genus is notable for the fact that
although it is small, there are species
which flower in every month of the
year. The genus also provides florists
plants in the form of cultivars based
on Cyclamen persicum. These are generally
winter and spring flowering plants
which are available in a wide range
Cyclamen Plants ~
Blooming Period ~ Cyclamen
are traditionally sold during the
Christmas season and into the winter
as a florist plant. Most will bloom
from mid-November until mid February,
provided conditions are satisfactory.
Colors ~ Most of the blooms
are either white, red, pink or lavender
and appear to hang upside down over
the heart-shaped mottled green/gray
Light ~ Cyclamen prefer bright
indirect light. An east window will
provide adequate light for your cyclamen
to stay healthy.
Temperature ~ Cyclamen prefer
cool temperatures. Ideal daytime temperatures
are 60 to 65 degrees F. with night
temperatures around 50 degrees F.
Humidity ~ High humidity during
the winter indoors is also crucial.
To maintain humidity, fill a large
plate, shallow pan or tray with water.
Set the cyclamen on an inverted dish,
just out of the water. Pebbles could
be placed in the plate, pan or tray
with the pot setting on the pebbles.
Water ~ Plants prefer to be
kept moist. Water at the soil level
but keep moisture away from the area
on the tuber where the leaf and flower
stems grow. If that gets wet, the
plant may rot. Most are planted in
a peat moss soil that dries quickly.
Plants can wilt quickly. Make sure
pots have drainage holes. Repot if
drainage holes are not present. One
signal to watch for is the leaves,
which are normally firm and erect,
with almost crunchy feeling if you
brush through them with your hand.
When the plant needs water, the leaves
Dormant Stage ~ In late winter
the cyclamens stop blooming and the
leaves turn yellow as the plants go
dormant. Cyclamens may be set outdoors
in part sun for the summer, fed and
watered regularly, then brought back
inside in September. They'll usually
start forming new leaves and flower
buds again soon. Another option after
flowers start fading, is to gradually
withhold water. When the foliage is
withered, remove the "bulb" (actually
a tuber) from the soil, clean off
all soil from it and store it in unmoistened
peat moss or vermiculite in a plastic
bag at 50 degrees F. Replant in good
potting soil in May or June, keeping
the upper half of the tuber above
the surface. Pot in a mixture of 2
parts peat moss to 1 part packaged
potting soil and 1 part sharp sand
or perlite, with ground limestone
added at a rate of 3 to 5 ounces per
Fertilizer ~ Feed about twice
a month with a complete liquid fertilizer.
Miniature Cyclamens ~ Beginners
should try miniature cyclamens, which
bloom longer and are sometimes fragrant.
The minis also tend to be a bit more
heat tolerant than larger cyclamens.
Air Circulation ~ Good air
circulation around the pots will reduce
the chance of disease. They can stay
in the same container until, when
lifted gently, roots are obviously
crowded; then it's time to transplant
them to a larger container.
Grooming ~ There's a right
way to groom old flower stems and
leaves. With one hand, steady the
plant at soil level. With the other,
reach in and pull off the aging stem
with a snap.
Transplanting ~ The best time
to transplant is when the cyclamen
is dormant. Ideally, you should wait
until the plant starts to move, and
then repot. Assuming the leaves die
off and it goes dormant in April,
then if you repot in July you should
find that the roots have just started
to produce a few new shoots, although
there is no evidence of growth above
the compost. The only downside to
this is that if you pot it into moist
compost then it may start the plant
into growth before you really want
in Outside Gardens ~
Climate Zones ~ Most small-flowered
cyclamens are suited for outdoor gardens
in Zones 5 to 9. Zone 10 is too hot
for them, and Zone 4 is generally
too cold, although some gardeners
grow them by covering the beds with
a winter mulch such as salt hay or
wood chips. See the Plant
Hardiness Zone Map.
Bloom Periods ~ Cyclamens are
native to the islands and shores of
the Mediterranean. In this country
they blossom, according to their species,
in spring or fall. In Zone 9 spring-flowering
species come into bloom from January
through March, elsewhere they open
in April and May. Fall-flowering species
bloom for four to six weeks, beginning
as early as August in warmer areas
and lasting into October in cooler
regions. Flowers of every species
bloom for many weeks. Most species
lose their foliage for a brief period
each year, usually in midsummer.
Small Flowered Cyclamen ~ The
small-flowered cyclamens are best
grown where they can be enjoyed close
at hand, beneath the shade of a tree
sheltering an intimate entrance garden
or in a protected nook beside a favorite
chair on a patio.
Light ~ All small-flowered
cyclamens do best in light shade in
soil enriched with compost. An annual
spring mulch of about 1/2 inch of
compost gives enough nourishment.
Plant the tubers in midsummer, spacing
them 6 to 8 inches apart. Cover the
tubers of Neapolitan cyclamens with
2 inches of soil; set the tubers of
others just beneath the soil.
Planting ~ Florists' cyclamens
can be planted in fall in Zones 9-10
for winter and spring bloom. Set growing
plants 12 to 18 inches apart with
the tubers half above the soil level.
Discard after flowering.
Seeds ~ Cyclamens may be propagated
from seeds, which usually take about
two years to reach flowering size.
The large-flowered cyclamens, with
bright 2 to 4 inch blossoms are well
known to most gardeners, but not everyone
is as familiar with the charming little
wild species of cyclamens that may
be grown in gardens throughout most
of the country. Compared to their
hot-house sisters, these species could
be called miniatures because they
grow only 4 to 5 inches tall, bearing
3/4 to 1 inch butterfly like flowers
in shades of pink or white.
Vegetative Reproduction ~ Cyclamen
are plants which spend part of the
year in growth, and part of the year
in a dormant state, during which there
is no living foliage, although some
species fruiting pedicels may remain
in a vegetative state as the seed
matures. During this dormant period
the plant remains in the form of a
subterranean tuber, which is in fact
a swollen root. As a tuber, the possibilities
for corms or bulbs do not exist, however,
as in the case of a common potato
(which is a similar organism), the
tuber can be divided provided each
portion has both a growth eye and
part of the rooting region of the
is an owner-operated North American
grower and supplier of high quality
garden and potted plants.
in 1939 as a family run operation,
Fernlea has grown to become one of
the largest suppliers of garden plants
in North America. Founded by Lloyd
and Mary Veit, it continues as a family
operation with the current owners
Joe and Virginia Howe. In addition
to supplying bedding plants, we offer
other popular specialties such as
Poinsettias, Christmas Cactus, Cyclamen,
Fall Pansies, Easter Lilies and Boston
States Locations: Tallahassee,
Apopka and Stuart in the state of
Florida. Look for Fernlea products
in your favorite garden center.