This time of year, our attention turns to the indoor plants rather than the cold outdoor ones  taking their winter respite. A favorite flowering houseplant is cyclamen, Cyclamen persicum, the species sold in florists’ shops. There are several different colors available. These florist’s cyclamen are not hardy outdoors but do prefer a cool house in which to live. Room temperatures for cyclamens should be below 68 degrees F during the day and 44 to 59 degrees F at night. Unfortunately, the night temperature requirement is not the same for humans! This leads to the eventual death of the plant. I have seen cyclamens live several years in a dentist’s office that keeps cool day temperatures lowers the night temperatures sharply. Higher temperatures sends the plant into its dormant state. Native to the Mediterranean, cyclamen likes the cooler weather naturally, but not freezing. In the heat of summer it rests without flowering.

Cyclamens grow from flattened round tubers. Place cyclamen in bright light from fall through early spring. Once the sun becomes more intense in mid spring, move it further away from the window. Water should be given to keep the plant when the soil surface feels dry. Don’t wait until the plant shows signs of becoming limp. Do not water the center of the plant or the tuber may rot. Soak the plant, draining off any excess water, then do not water again until the soil is partially dried out again.

Fertilize cyclamens with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer at half the recommended strength every three to four weeks during the fall winter and spring, not during its resting period of the summer. Too much fertilizer will only produce leaves at the expense of flowers. Meeting the needs of the plant will ensure a long flower display and a healthy houseplant for several years.

-Carol Quish