Total Cyclamen Genus Guide

25 Feb 2022

The Cyclamen genus is a stunning plant that sprouts beautiful blooms. They are fairly simple to care for and they add that needed pop of color during the wintertime.

We’ll explore how you can grow a thriving Cyclamen as we touch on its care needs as well as how to grow and revive one.

Main Characteristics

It is a gorgeous flowering plant that belongs to the Primulaceae family. It is native to woodlands and rocky areas in the Mediterranean. As it’s accustomed to warmer regions, this plant isn’t frost-tolerant. Unfortunately, it is actually endangered in its natural habitat.

This genus is a tuberous perennial. Basically, this means that it will die down all the way to its roots during its dormancy period. Unlike the Caladiumthis plant is dormant during the summertime. Then it’ll regrow during the autumn if cared for well.

The reason it dies off during the warmer spring and summer seasons is to protect itself. Its native environment becomes extraordinarily hot and dry during the summertime which could kill the plant if it didn’t become dormant.

The best part about this genus is that it flowers during the winter, much like the Christmas cactus. So, you’ll be gifted with beautiful blooms during the cooler months. Not only are its blooms eye-catching but it sprouts lush, heart-shaped, and green foliage with intricate patterns too.

Flower Meaning

The Cyclamen flower symbolizes empathy and devotion. It is also regarded as the ‘holy flower of love’ because it signifies loyalty, love, and affection.

You will even see these beautiful blooms feature at many weddings. Its rich meaning makes it the perfect gift too.

Fun fact: The ‘holy flower of love’ is also planted in churchyards and other religious monasteries.


There are 23 different species in the Cyclamen genus. Each one blooms its own uniquely colored flowers and sprouts lush foliage too. We’ll be discussing five of the most popular types below.

  • Cyclamen hederifolium: It’s known as the ‘ivy-leaved’ Cyclamen due to its ivy-like foliage. Its leaves are dark green with creamy-white variegation. It produces light pink blooms too.
  • Cyclamen confusum: This variation grows slightly larger flowers which are accompanied by lush foliage. Its dark green leaves have deep veins and intricate light green patterns.
  • Cyclamen persicum: The ‘florist’s’ Cyclamen is one of the most common types. It has dark green leaves with light green veins, and it blooms pink, white, red, and violet flowers.
  • Cyclamen mirabile: Its rounded leaves have serrated edges and it sprouts scented pale pink flowers.
  • Cyclamen coum: This type is also known as the ‘eastern sowbread’, and it grows rounded green leaves with creamy-green variegation. It also produces pretty pink-purple flowers.

How Big Does It Get?

The houseplant can grow between 6 to 16 inches (15.2 – 40.6cm) tall. If cared for well it can also grow a spread between 6 to 9 inches (15.2 – 22.8cm).

How Fast Does It Grow?

It has a moderate growth rate and will take between 2 to 3 years to reach its mature size. On average, the Cyclamen will grow an additional 3 to 4 inches (7.6 – 10cm) every year until it reaches its mature height.

How Long Does It Live?

The exact lifespan may differ depending on the type of Cyclamen and the care it receives. Typically, it will live for around 15 – 20 years.


The plant contains a saponin that can have harmful effects when large quantities of it are consumed. The saponin is called the terpenoid saponin, and it is mainly found in the houseplant’s tuberous roots.

We’ll touch on the symptoms to keep your eye out for.

Is it Toxic to Cats and Dogs?

Cyclamen is toxic to both cats and dogs when consumed in large quantities. When it’s ingested by your pets they may experience mild or even severe side effects. We have jotted them down below.

  • Excessive salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Heart abnormalities
  • Death

It is imperative that you contact your veterinarian immediately if either one of your pets eats the plant.

Is It Poisonous to Humans?

The saponins found in the Cyclamen’s roots are toxic to people too. Studies have shown that symptoms will crop up if the person or child ate a large amount of the toxin.

Here’s a list of potential health effects:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Convulsions and death
  • Paralysis

When you or a child has eaten the houseplant’s roots, you must seek out professional medical advice right away.

Cyclamen - size, lifespan, toxicity, growth speed (infographics)

Cyclamen Care

So, by now you have a basic idea about the Cyclamen and understand its main characteristics. We can then move on to discuss its precise care needs and environmental requirements.

How Often to Water It

The Cyclamen needs to be watered more frequently during autumn and winter than in spring and summertime.

A general rule of thumb is that it should be watered once every 10 days during winter and autumn. During the springtime and when it enters its summer dormancy, you can water it once every two weeks to ensure that the soil doesn’t completely dry out.

If you’re unsure of when to water it then feel the soil. It’s best to water the houseplant when the top inch (2.5cm) of the soil is dry.

You want to avoid getting water on the plant’s leaves and crown. So, we recommend that you place your potted plant in a tray of cool water for one hour. This will give the roots plenty of time to soak up water while also avoiding damaging the houseplant’s foliage.


Drainage is imperative when it comes to this houseplant and many others too, such as the eucalyptus plant. When a plant is grown in an overly moist environment, it can develop root rot.

You can create a well-draining environment by planting it in airy and light soil. Using a container with 3 to 5 drainage holes is another great way to ensure that any excess water drips out the pot.

Furthermore, you must always empty the saucer underneath the container. When the water flows through the drainage holes it will build up in the tray. If the water is left there then the houseplant may become waterlogged.

When and How to Prune It

This houseplant should only be pruned when the foliage is unhealthy, damaged, or yellowing as it enters its summer dormancy. This will typically be needed during the springtime as the plant prepares to become dormant.

Follow the steps listed below:

  1. It’s important to sterilize your tools before pruning the houseplant. This will minimize the spread of harmful bacteria.
  2. Use a pair of pruners or scissors and snip off the stem down to the base of the plant.
  3. If you only want to remove a few healthy leaves then simply pull these off or snip them off with a pair of pruners.
  4. Water the plant well if needed.

When and How to Repot It

Every two years you should repot the houseplant or once it has become root-bound. You’ll know when this has occurred as the roots will begin to grow through the drainage holes.

It’s best to carry out this process during the summertime while it is dormant. This will minimize any stress experienced by the houseplant and you won’t disrupt its winter blooms.

Check out the guide below:

  1. First, you will need to loosen the soil by knocking on the bottom of the container. Slide the houseplant out of its current pot.
  2. When you dust away any excess soil stuck to the roots, you must be careful not to disturb them too much.
  3. Fill a new pot with fresh soil and plant the Cyclamen at the same depth that it was previously.
  4. Finally, allow the roots to soak in some water. This will help the roots settle into their new home.

Environment Conditions

Sun or Shade

Cyclamens prefer indirect sunlight during the autumn and wintertime. When the warmer spring and summer months approach then it must be positioned in a cool and dark area.

It must never be left under direct sunlight as this will scorch its foliage. The plant also does well when placed under natural sunlight near a windowsill.

Soil Preference

The best type of soil is one that is slightly acidic, loamy, and lightweight. It will also thrive in a fertile and nutrient-rich potting mixture too.

A clay potting mix or one with sphagnum moss is ideal. This will not only enhance the drainage but it’ll ensure that the soil retains some moisture too.


A well-balanced, water-soluble, and liquid fertilizer is ideal when it comes to this houseplant. You will want to use one that is low in nitrogen such as a fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10-10 or 20-20-20.

You should dilute the fertilizer to half its strength and feed the plant once every 3 weeks during its active growing seasons.

Pot Size and Type

The ideal pot is a clay or terracotta one. This porous material will encourage drainage and allow the soil to dry out faster. It also promotes more oxygen to the roots.

A Cyclamen can be grown in a container with a width that is 1 inch (2.5cm) wider than the rootball’s diameter. It needs enough space to grow but if the pot is too wide then the plant’s roots may become rot.

Temperature Tolerance

The optimal daytime temperature is between 60 to 70°F (15.5 – 21.1°C). It also prefers a nighttime temperature range of 40 to 50°F (4.4 – 10°C).

Furthermore, the houseplant mustn’t be positioned near any drafts or cool air.

Humidity Level

It thrives in a humid environment and this is especially important during the wintertime. If you want it to bloom then you’ll need to increase humidity levels surrounding the plant.

The optimal humidity level is around 60 percent. If you live in a dry area then the best way to create a humid home is by placing a bowl of water near the houseplant or misting its foliage several times a week.

Indoors or Outdoors

You can grow this houseplant outdoors in USDA hardiness zones of 9 through 11. It must be noted that the Cyclamen makes for an excellent potted plant as it’s simple to control its environmental conditions.

If you opt to plant it in your garden then you’ll have to feed and water it more frequently. Furthermore, the temperature range must remain consistent as any sudden changes will negatively affect its health.

The sun’s rays may be too harsh so it’s best to plant it in partial shade. The plant can bask under indirect morning light, however, the harsh afternoon sun may scorch its leaves.

Cyclamen - care, water, light, pot, temperature, fertilizer (infographics)


This houseplant’s flowers are absolutely gorgeous! Depending on the species these blooms may be pink, white, red, or purple. They sprout atop of long stems that emerge through its jade-green foliage.

When and How Often Does It Bloom?

This houseplant blooms in the winter, just like the poinsettia. It will bloom once a year if provided the optimal care throughout the year.

To encourage it to rebloom during the next year’s winter, you will have to look after it well when the flowers begin to die. Later on, we’ll be discussing how to care for it when this occurs.

How Long Do Its Flowers Last?

The flowers will usually keep their healthy and pretty look for up to six weeks before it dies. The flower will eventually drop or start to wilt, and it’s best to remove them when this occurs.

How to Make It Bloom

There are a few ways that you can encourage healthy blooms during the winter. The houseplant must be grown in optimal environmental conditions if you want it to flower.

You’ll need to feed it regularly as the plant will need plenty of nutrients and energy to produce these blooms. Additionally, it must be placed under bright sunlight, however, if the sun rays are too harsh then your plant won’t bloom.

Another care aspect to keep in mind is the temperature. The houseplant must experience a warm day and a cool night.

Care after Flowering

When the leaves start to yellow and drop off, you must remove the flower. The houseplant is heading into a stage of dormancy during the summer, so it’s best to deadhead the plant before this occurs.

You must allow the foliage to wilt and die. When this happens you will also need to adjust your watering schedule and decrease the number of times you water it.

After the leaves have all dropped off, you can now allow the plant to dry out for 2 to 3 months. These actions are all necessary to encourage the plant to bloom next year and maintain its health.

How to Grow It

You can grow a new Cyclamen during the late summer or early autumn. You’ll be able to grow your collection by propagating it or planting its seeds.


You can propagate this houseplant in soil by plating its bulbs and tubers. Each of these methods is usually successful and a straightforward process to follow. We’ll discuss each method below.

How to Plant the Bulbs

A mature plant will produce bulbs that can be found below the soil. You can simply plant these in fresh soil and a new Cyclamen will grow from it.

Follow the steps below:

  1. Fill a new pot with a fresh potting mixture.
  2. Remove the bulbs from the soil and allow them to dry out in a cool room.
  3. Plant the bulbs so that the tiny roots are covered while the top half of the bulb is exposed to some sunshine.
  4. Make sure to mist the bulb a few times a week to keep the soil moist.
  5. After 2 to 4 weeks some new growth will emerge and then you can care for it as you would a mature houseplant.

Planting Tubers

Tubers are swollen roots located at the bottom of the stem. You will need to divide the plant to propagate these individual tubers.

We’ve explained the process here:

  1. Gently lift the tubers out of the soil and separate them into different sections.
  2. Prepare a new container with a quick-draining potting mixture and plant the tubers 4 inches (10cm) deep.
  3. Water them frequently so that the soil is moist and position them under bright light.
  4. You can also add a layer of mulch to protect the tubers from any cool climates.
  5. In 2 to 4 weeks the tubers will root and then you can treat them as you would an adult Cyclamen.

Growing from Seed

The Cyclamen’s seeds can be planted to form a new houseplant, however, this method is often unsuccessful. If you’re up for the challenge then check out the following guide.

  1. Fill a shallow tray with moist compost.
  2. Scatter the seeds evenly across the compost and spritz them with room temperature water.
  3. Now, you must cover the seeds with a thin layer of compost.
  4. Place the seedlings in a dark and cool room. Ideally, the temperature should be around 60°F (15°C).
  5. After 2 to 3 months, the seeds will germinate and produce new growth.
  6. Once the seedlings grow a few leaves, you can then care for them normally.

How to Revive It

Just like with all houseplants, when the Cyclamen isn’t cared for well then it’ll run into a few issues. In this section, we’ll tell you how to rectify a variety of problems and revive it back to health.

Yellow Leaves

The leaves will yellow for a few reasons; high temperatures, improper watering, or if it’s preparing for its summer dormancy.

When temperatures are too high its foliage will become yellow. You will need to find a cooler home for the plant and maintain a consistent temperature too.

Over- and underwatering a houseplant is detrimental to its health. You will need to either reduce or increase the number of times you water it. In the future, you will need to adjust your watering schedule to ensure that it receives just the right amount of moisture.

If summer is fast approaching then its leaves will naturally turn yellow and drop off. This is nothing to worry about and you can care for it as you normally would during the summertime.


When the houseplant is overwatered, placed under direct sunlight, or if it experiences stress due to fluctuating temperatures its foliage will appear limp.

When the soil is too moist you must allow your plant some time to recover. You should only water it after the soil has dried out slightly.

Cyclamen’s leaves will burn when it receives too much sunshine or if it is positioned under harsh sun rays. Simply, place it in a new home where it’ll bask under bright, indirect light.

This plant can experience a certain level of stress when temperatures drastically change. You should aim to keep temperatures within the optimal range.

Flowers Falling Off

It’s always heartbreaking when the flowers begin to drop off too soon. Typically, this is caused by improper watering and high temperatures.

You should make sure that the soil is neither too dry nor waterlogged. If the houseplant is overwatered then wait until the top soil has dried out before watering it again. When the soil is completely dry then you must deeply water it immediately.

Extreme temperatures will cause the blooms to drop. It prefers cooler temperatures during its blooming season so you will need to place it in a different region in your home.

Wrapping It Up

The Cyclamen genus is a must-have! This is especially true if you love having a pop of color during the gloomy winter months. It’s an absolutely stunning houseplant if cared for well.

The main thing to keep in mind is that you must create an optimal environment for it and allow it to enter a stage of dormancy during the summer.

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