The cyclamen plant is one that is perfect as an indoor plant, though it may also be kept outdoors. One of the most popular houseplants that is easy to maintain, the cyclamen grows better in a cool but humid environment and has a dormancy period that lasts through the summer. It grows from tubers, which if cared for well, help the plant survive when it is dormant. This guide on cyclamen plant care is simple to understand and will help you care for your plant in the right manner.
The flowering period of a cyclamen plant falls between September and April. This plant should be purchased in the phase where it has just begun to bloom, and there are enough buds to bloom later. Also, the stems of the flowers should not be drooping. Though it thrives better while indoors, cyclamen may be kept outdoors too, however, with strict adherence to its light and temperature requirements. Follow these instructions when caring for and growing the cyclamen.
• Watering Requirements: Watering the plant in the right amount is of utmost importance. An excess or a deficit of water can cause several problems and hamper the tubers from which the plant grows. A cyclamen plant should be watered with cool water only when the soil appears dry. Do not allow the water to touch the crown of the plant. Ensure that the container that the plant is placed in has sufficient drainage holes to eliminate excess water.
• Temperature and Humidity Control: This plant thrives in a humid and cool environment. Ideally, it should be kept in an environment where the temperature does not exceed 60ºF. Due to these requirements it is possible to care for a cyclamen plant indoors, and in effect ideal, as you are able to control the temperatures and moisture levels under which it grows. It is best to keep this plant near or on a window sill that gets a fair amount of but not harsh sunlight so that it can thrive. To fulfill the moisture requirement of the plant, place its pot in a pebble lined tray filled with water. Do not directly immerse the pot containing the plant in water.
• Controlling Cyclamen Growth Environment Outdoors: Even if you wish for to keep this plant outdoors, the temperature it is exposed to should not exceed 70ºF, while the temperatures in the evening should hover around 40ºF and 50ºF. Anything below or above this temperature range is not suitable for the plant. Bright and harsh sunlight is not appreciated by this plant, but it still requires a certain amount. Thus, place the plant in an area that is well-lit, but not directly exposed to sunlight. For instance, a spot in the shade outdoors is a good place to keep a cyclamen plant. This is only during the period ranging from fall to spring. In summer the plant becomes dormant, and should be placed away from bright sunlight.
• Fertilization Requirements: Regular fertilization, with a fertilizer that is suitable for indoor plants, is essential if the plant has been kept indoors. This means the plant should be given a regular feeding every 3-4 weeks, which begins a month after the plant has been purchased. As is the case with excess water, so is the case with fertilizer. The right amount will help the flowers bloom perfectly, while an excess will result in the growth of only foliage.
• Re-potting the Plant: If all these requirements are met, the plant will be in full bloom from the months October through March. It is only as summer arrives that the leaves begin to yellow, which signifies the onset of the dormancy period of the plants. During this period, do not water the plant. Allow all the leaves to yellow and wilt; during this period place the plant in a cool and slightly dark place. Once all of them have wilted, and summer is nearing its end, move the tubers into a container that is larger than the previous one, and replant them using a soil-based potting mix, with the tubers protruding slightly from the top of the soil. Do not water until the foliage begins to grow. Store the plant in a cool area, away from direct sunlight.
• Pests and Other Problems: Though cyclamen plants are hardy they can sometimes get infested by red spider mites and even cyclamen mites. The latter are very difficult to spot unless viewed under a magnifying glass. Check for yellowing, deformed or curled leaves and withered blooms. Infestation by these mites can be prevented by keeping the plant in a humid environment. If you find the aforementioned symptoms it is best to discard the plant as getting rid of these mites is difficult. Other pests that affect this plant include red mites, aphids and thrips that cause discoloration of the plant and flowers, and may be eliminated to a certain extent by using insecticidal soap. Large-scale infestations by any kind of pest requires the plant to be discarded. Similar is the case if the plant gets affected by bacteria or fungi that can cause the stalk and then the entire plant to rot because of excess water/fertilizer and less ventilation. If you notice this rotting at an earlier stage, remove the affected parts and place the plant in a well-lit and ventilated area.
The cyclamen plant also makes a great gift for those who have a green thumb and are fond of indoor gardening. On the other hand, if you are a budding gardening enthusiast, the cyclamen, with its minimal requirements, is the ideal choice to begin your newly discovered hobby.