Cyclamen are pretty woodland plants which do well in semi-shade and are not difficult to grow, provided the site is not overly dry or sunny. They are tuberous perennial members of the Primulacea family, and are active in winter and dormant over the summer. They are low-growing and early-flowering – making them a valuable addition to woodland garden beds. They do well in most soil types, so long as they don’t get too wet in winter and too dry in summer.
- Plant tubers 1¼-2 inches deep (3-5cm) into a large hole dug out with a spade.
- Plant in small groupings or singly. (May be also planted into pots*, as is the case on our allotment.)
- Do not plant cyclamen too deeply or they may not flower.
- To establish quickly, plant tubers when they are in root growth. This will also help to distinguish between the top and bottom of the tuber.
- Grow in part shade in any moderately fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil.
- Mulch annually with leafmould as leaves die down.
- In frost-prone areas it is best to provide a deep loose mulch such as bark chips in winter.
* For potted cyclamen, grow in a mixture of John Innes No 2 potting compost with extra grit and leafmould or fine composted bark.
Usually cyclamen are planted by corm/tuber, but they can also be started from seed.
The RHS advises to collect seed of most cyclamen species when the flower-stalk coils, drawing the seed capsule closer to the soil surface to release the ripe seed. seeds should be sown immediately after soaking overnight, in a mix of equal parts seed compost and sharp grit. Cover seeds carefully with a thin layer of seived compost as light can inhibit germination. Cover the container in a clear plastic bag and keep at a minimum temperature of 16°C (60°F) in light shade until large enough to transplant.
Interestingly, one cultivar – cyclamen coum – can be natuarlised in rough grass, so long as the mower is not used until early summer. (RHS, The Garden, December 2017, p.32.)