By Sarah Wilson published
Cyclamen add a real focal point to your home in autumn and winter and thanks to their beautiful blooms and attractive foliage they are one of the prettiest houseplants around.
The larger, showier cousins of hardy garden cyclamen, these bright blooms are a seasonal favourite. Their delicate petals come in a huge range of colors from palest blush pink to darkest red, as well as luminous white, the blooms sitting above layers of marble-patterned heart-shaped leaves. They really are one of the best Christmas plants around.
If you haven’t had a cyclamen before or find they often die a few weeks after you get them home, you need our expert tips on cyclamen care. They’re easy and rewarding plants as long as you remember a few key things.
Top tips for cyclamen care to keep yours blooming for longer
From where to position one to how often to water it, we've rounded up all the expert tips you need on how to care for cyclamen so you can get the most out of your beautiful new houseplant.
1. Keep them cool
Your cyclamen plant will thrive in a cool spot away from direct sunlight. If the room is too warm, the leaves will go yellow and the flowers will fade.
‘Cyclamen are pretty easy and reliable indoor plants, and if you keep them cool (out of direct sunlight and away from radiators), they look good for about eight weeks,’ says plant expert Sarah Raven.
‘Too much heat in a sunny window will encourage early dormancy, while growing in light, but cool conditions may see them continue to flower into April. Try putting them on east- and north-facing window ledges.’
Bright, indirect light is also best when it comes to learning how to care for a poinsettia, too.
2. Allow them to draw up water slowly
For indoor cyclamen care, always water from the base and allow the plant to draw up the water it requires. The worst thing is letting your plant get waterlogged.
‘I sit the pots in a tray of water and leave them overnight, then the whole root ball gets a good drink and the compost rehydrates,’ says Sarah Raven. ‘If water collects in the base of the saucer or pot-holder, tip it out and don’t water again until the compost is almost fully dry, which is usually in about a week or so.’
This is a good tip for the rest of your best indoor plants too, as it means you won’t overwater them, which can be worse than not watering them enough.
3. Keep your cyclamen going for another year
Don’t put your cyclamen plant on the compost heap once it finishes flowering. As soon as it starts to fade, don’t water it and let the leaves go yellow. Put it somewhere cool and dry out of the way.
‘They will even be happy outdoors as long as they are out of the rain,’ says Sarah Raven. ‘In September, repot them into a slightly larger pot, teasing out the roots.’
Make sure the new pot has drainage holes and ensure the top of the corm sits just above the soil surface. Take care not to disturb the roots too much. Water sparingly, keeping the compost just moist. Bring them undercover if they’ve been outside.
'In the right cool place with gentle watering, they should flower again soon after Christmas and will get bigger and better each year,' says Sarah.
How to care for a cyclamen plant indoors
Cyclamen generally last around eight weeks indoors, sometimes longer if you’re lucky.
Just as with how to grow a Christmas cactus, if you treat cyclamen well (cool spot, right level of watering) they will last longer than if you put them in a stuffy overheated room or overwater them and leave them sitting in water for too long.
- As long as your cyclamen plant is put in a cool position most of the problems will stem from not watering plants correctly. Water them if the soil feels dry to the touch. Stand the plant in a dish of water so the plant takes up water from the roots only. Allow the compost to almost fully dry out between waterings
- If your cyclamen starts drooping it can be a sign you’re being too enthusiastic with the watering can. ‘Overwatering can cause the plant to rot, which leads to wilting stems and flowers,’ says Sarah Raven.
- The leaves can also turn yellow if you overwater your cyclamen, and sometimes the plant can even rot. So if your plant looks like it’s dying you could be watering it too much.
- Treat cyclamen to a house plant fertilizer if you’re planning on keeping your plant from year to year. If not, you don’t need to bother. You can learn more about fertilizing plants in our guide.
How do I keep my cyclamen blooming?
Your plant will normally come home from the shop or garden center in full flower and continue to do so for up to eight weeks, maybe longer if you’re lucky and treat it in the right way. Make sure you choose a plant with lots of buds.
- If the room is too warm you will stop getting flowers as your cyclamen will go into early dormancy, tricked by the warm temperature.
- Deadheading flowers will avoid a build-up of wilted material around the base of the plant, which could lead to mould.
- In spring, your cyclamen will stop flowering naturally. If you repot your cyclamen to keep it going for another season don’t plant the tubers too deep in the soil or they may not flower. Use fresh compost to give your plant all the nutrients it needs. Similar rules apply for how to repot a Christmas cactus too.
- If you look after your cyclamen plant properly it will reward you by flowering again the following season and then hopefully many more afterwards.
Do cyclamen like sun or shade?
Cyclamen plants don't like extreme heat, drafts or dry environments. Unlike kalanchoe, they don't like being positioned in direct sunlight. Put them in a cool shady spot that's well away from any radiators and they will thrive for weeks.
Where to buy a cyclamen plant
Now you know how to care for a cyclamen plant, you probably want one of your own. They're available in garden centers and nurseries as well as grocery stores, but you can also shop for them online for extra convenience.
Our quicklinks will help you start your search.
Shop cyclamen plants in the UK:
- Shop cyclamen plants at Suttons
- Shop cyclamen plants at Amazon
- Shop cyclamen plants at Sarah Raven
- Shop cyclamen plants at Crocus
Shop cyclamen plants in the US:
Sarah Wilson has been a lifestyle journalist for many years, writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, as well as Country Homes & Interiors and Modern Gardens magazines.
Her own (small urban) garden is a work in progress - so many ideas, not enough space to cram them in. Hero plants include her ever growing collection of ornamental grasses, black bamboo and ferns, and the perennials like salvias and penstemons that come back reliably year after year. All very restrained though when in fact she'd love to pack her garden with gaudy dahlias and giant cannas, so these are top of her wish list for what to grow next.
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