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Cyclamen: More Than Just a Houseplant?

Cyclamen are unmistakable plants, with their silvery marbled leaves and pretty, swept back petals. So ubiquitous is the cyclamen that it is easy to overlook it for something more exotic but they are worth a second look, they are versatile, provide colour when very little else does at this time of year, and cared for correctly, will flower happily for months.

Common Name: Sow or swine bread, as it was believed that pigs ate the tubers.

Family: Primulaceae

Native to: Southern Europe and the Mediterranean.

Cyclamen Undressed

Cyclamens grow from a tuber which is the stem of a seeding, (similar to a potato) from which roots can grow from any part.

This is sometimes referred to as a corm which is misleading; a corm has a papery exterior, crocus is a good example, and roots grow from its base plate only.

Cyclamen as a Houseplant

Temperature: Cool to warm, no lower than 10°C, maximum 18°C.

Watering: From below using an immersion method i.e. soaking the pot rather than pouring water on the surface of the soil.

Humidity: Gently mist the air around the plant, but not directly onto leaves or flowers.

Light: Indirect, out of bright sunshine but also not too shady.

Feeding: Weekly when in flower.

After Flowering

Naturally winter flowering, cyclamen will die down in the spring. Allow the tuber to dry out and lie dormant until midsummer, then repot and resume watering and feeding.


Look out for cyclamen mite. They dislike light and heat so live in the centre of the plant, once the damage is spotted it is usually too late and the plant should be destroyed.

As a Cut Flower

French horticultural company Morel are the leaders in growing and developing cyclamen as a cut flower, although it’s not yet something that has caught on in the UK. Similar to muscari in size and stem type, cut cyclamen are suitable for small vase arrangements, but don’t last in floral foam. For more information on cut cyclamen visit

As Foliage

If the flowers on your cyclamen plants go over before they are sold, don’t throw the plants away, the leaves can be cut and wired into corsages or added into sprays on funeral tributes.


Su Whale is a florist and freelance writer with over twenty-five years' experience in the floristry industry. She is the author and publisher of three best-selling books: Cut Flowers, 4th edition (2020) Cut Foliage, 2nd Edition, (2021) and Houseplants (2019), all bookshelf essentials for the professional florist.


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