Fanciful cyclamens are associated with our holiday season. Blooming in winter, these beautiful red, fuschia, pink, and white, woodland bulb plants remind me of our native columbine that seems to hang upside down with their petals reaching up to the sky.
Cyclamens can seem difficult to maintain and are often treated as annuals and tossed away after they start to decline but if you understand their needs and their growth pattern, you can keep the plant for several years.
Cyclamens need bright sunlight, moist but not wet soils, and cool temperatures. Do not place near heating vents or under hot lights. Since the biggest cause of decline is rotting from excessive moisture, its important to allow the plant to dry out between waterings. So if you water the top of the plant, just make sure it doesn't stay on the crown long or keep the soil wet. Like African violets and primroses, this African native benefits from high humidity and watering from the bottom, although the cyclamens do not get the foliage damage when their leaves get wet.
Fertilize with a diluted solution of liquid fertilizer every two weeks while blooming. Cyclamens like temperatures in the 70's and unless a hardy species, do not take temperatures under 50 degrees. They do not like hot summertime weather.
After flowering, cyclamens should be placed in a cool, shaded location with good air circulation. Do not water and allow the plant to go dormant during the summertime. Keep the tubers and soil dry. At the end of this dormant period before you start watering again, you can transplant into a larger pot or change out the soil in the existing pot.
If you continue to water the plant during the summertime, and you do it correctly, the plant may not go into dormancy. In September, resume watering and place in bright light. The cyclamens should reappear for another new year holiday season.
Cyclamen Season - IFAS
Cyclamen Problems - NDSU