Cyclamen help please

Maryl zone 7aDecember 16, 2006

I usually have zero luck keeping potted bulbs alive (the overwatering queen here) so didn't expect these Cyclamen to last more then a couple of weeks. But here they are still blooming and I bought them in October already in bloom from Lowes. Now I'm encouraged and want to keep them going if I can. Right now the pots are overwintering in my unheated garage and I assume that they are the Florist Cyclamen as the flowers are large. But that's one of my questions. How do you know the difference? And of course my second question is what to do with them after they stop blooming. Will they drop their leaves and go dormant?

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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

Florists Cyclamen have the large flowers. If your flowers are large, that's all you need to know.

These plants are winter growers, dormant in summer. Enjoy them while you can, then put them away for the summer. Normally they will flower in late winter and spring but are brought on early for sale. Provide a bright place but not in direct sun. They will be happy at room temperature but don't let them get too hot. In particular try to let them cool off at night, but no frost. Water when the soil starts to dry out but never allow to become waterlogged. If you keep them too warm they will either go dormant or get stressed and need so much water that the tuber will rot.

They will stop flowering at some point, usually in late spring when it starts to get warm, but maybe earlier on your forced plants. Then the leaves will dry up. Stop watering, put them away until autumn when they can be watered and will put out new leaves.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2006 at 4:08PM
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Maryl zone 7a

Thank you so much for taking the time to explain this to me. I hadn't even thought about them being forced for sale in fall. If I may ask one more question please? Where should I put the bulbs until they sprout new leaves? It gets awfully hot and humid here in Oklahoma beginning in mid May or so, so I don't think I want to leave the bulbs outside. Should I refrigerate them maybe or will an air-conditioned house be alright?

    Bookmark   December 17, 2006 at 1:57PM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

Definitely don't refrigerate them in summer. They would probably think it was time to grow again. I'm not sure how they will do in the heat and humidity, probably OK. They certainly don't mind heat but must be somewhere that won't stay wet in summer or they'll rot. Indoors should be OK, your AC is probably still warmer than summer in England :)

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 8:12AM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

If you can put them on the north side of a building which also gets any breezes that would probably help.

Give yourself a calendar reminder to check on the tuber around July -August. The florists' Cyclamen don't seem to stay dormant for long.

Don't be surprised if the 'pretty' tuber you first bought has become a bit warped in shape. That's usual. What you are looking for are little bumps across the surface - leaf buds.

When they begin to show is a good time to repot the tuber.

Get a pot one size bigger and use a potting mix that has added 'grit' of some sort because they prefer to be well-drained. Avoid peat and any mix 'for acid plants'.

If you rest the pot on pebbles in its tray then water can drain away easily and the lower roots won't rot from being left standing in water.

If you need to feed then half-strength liquid food for tomatoes will probably be fine once a month. Water carefully from the bottom by dipping the pot in a container of water for a couple of minutes then leaving it to drain well before putting it back on its tray. This is because sometimes the combination of water on top and warmth causes the crowded buds to get mould on them. If that happens use fine-pointed scissors, snip out the mushy bits and place the plant where it can get cooler, fresh air. Let it dry out between waterings. It can take a bit of droughting. It has a big reservoir in that tuber.

When the leaves start to yellow toward the middle of spring is when to stop watering so it can go dormant and rest.

Good light - and a cool situation.

Same thing every year - and expect your plant to go on getting more weird in shape, putting up more and more buds over many years.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 3:49PM
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Maryl zone 7a

If not for your alls (that's southern grammer-lol )advice I'd have killed them for sure. So I need to take the tubers out of their pots when they go dormant? I thought I'd just keep them in the dried up soil until leaves began to poke out again.
And yes, UK -my house in summer even with A/C is probably warmer then yours. For one thing we can't afford to cool it down that much. You definitely don't want to drink your Guiness at room temperature in Oklahoma during the summer.

Again Thank you both for assisting me.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 10:57PM
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greenguy1(z7 Maryland)

I would definitely leave them in their pots and soil during the dormancy period, then repot just as they start into new growth. Carefully crumble the old soil away and pot up to a larger pot as Vetivert8 says. Also, Veti's advice about the soil type/drainage is spot on. It might seem a little counter-intuitive because you likely bought the plant in a peaty, very organic mix that will hold a lot of water, which is fine for the growers who are watering on a precise schedule and who are trying to quickly produce a plant for sale which they would prefer that you not try to keep from year to year so that you will buy another one next year. That soil is not what you want for longer-term growth.

- Steve

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 8:54AM
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Maryl zone 7a

Appreciate it Steve. I was wondering about the soil mix. The mix now is the typical growers mix - Peat based. For important plants I use a private nursery blend that is mostly compost and sand and I will transfer to that. Was I correct in assuming that when the plant revives it will send up leaves to remind me to repot it?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 3:13PM
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greenguy1(z7 Maryland)

Yes, you will see some little nubs start expanding on top of the tuber, don't be surprised if they turn out to be blooms first and then leaves. Sometimes the leaves come first, sometimes the flowers (although the other will soon follow), sometimes they come together, and it can vary from year to year.

If you don't see anything happening by October or so, you can go ahead and repot, then water carefully just to keep the soil barely moist and that will kick-start it.

If you find yourself turning into a Cyclamen nut, there are also two hardy ones that are readily available in the fall as tubers and that do quite well in zone 7, Cyclamen hederifolium and C. coum. The former puts out flowers in October-November (for me, in Maryland) and then leaves which persist through the winter before dying back in spring; the latter will put up its leaves first in late fall/early winter, then start blooming in February before also dying back in late spring. Flower color for both is in the white-pink-magenta-lavender ranges (like the florist types) - color is variable for the species although there are named cultivars for both with known flower colors. There are other species which will also do well in our zone, but the two mentioned above are the ones you are most likely to be able to find. They're great for planting under the canopies of trees because they get the winter sun when they need it, are shaded by the trees during the summer which helps keep the tubers from drying up, and the trees will take up all the water during the growing season so the tubers won't rot.

- Steve

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 8:36AM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

If you're going to repot, I suggest doing it as soon as the leaves die back. Cyclamen will grow roots, and even underground portions of the leaves, long before you see anything above ground and it can set the plant back to disturb this when it is going into full growth.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 6:42PM
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Maryl zone 7a

Such good advice from everyone. I'm trying to relate what the Cyclamen tuber is like compared to something else I've grown successfully. Are Cyclamen tubers more like Dahlias or true Lilies. You know that a true lily is never really dormant while a Dahlia is. Am I even close with these two examples?..........And yes, I've considered the hardy Cyclamen as it's reputed to do well in our climate. Maybe because it has the good sense to go dormant during our hot/humid miserable summers. Is it picky about soil? The area I'm thinking about is not in the least "moist but well drained" (so sick of that "minor" requirement in all the growing books). It's more like rooty and droughty with soaker hose being used every other day or so during high summer........Maryl

    Bookmark   December 22, 2006 at 2:44PM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

I suppose it is closer to Dahlias, except it is dormant in summer. Some don't go fully dormant for very long, some can be virtually evergreen, but some species lose all growth above ground for six months or more.

The one type of soil that Cyclamen won't tolerate is a heavy sticky soil. They will rot if the soil gets very wet while they are dormant. Different species prefer woodland type soils or more gritty soils but most will grow in anything that is well drained. As dry as you like in summer, tree or shrub roots are good for soaking up any excess rain. They do like a decent amount of water in winter and they don't like strong sun.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2006 at 10:29AM
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Maryl zone 7a

This spot is droughty because of shrub/tree roots, and although this bed is amended we do have very heavy clay soil. Raised beds are the only way to have "moist but well drained soil" in our area. Still in this particular bed I might try a tuber or two. Can you tell from just looking at them which way is up?

    Bookmark   December 26, 2006 at 5:52PM
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Maryl zone 7a

I just wanted to update you on what has happened with my Cyclamen that I bought in bloom early last October. You know they never did go dormant. I stuck them in the unheated garage over winter and they just kept right on blooming until late spring. Then when the flowers finally stopped, new leaves started popping up in amongst the old leaves. I followed your advice and repotted in a non-peat potting soil, shaking off the old soil from the bulb and pulling off the old leaves to make room for the new. So far so good. Our usual heat hasn't arrived yet (just high 80's so far), so I don't know what they will do when it finally gets here. I've never had any bulb flower so long - at least 7 months. Can anyone tell me when I might expect flowers? I'm just so amazed by these plants that any further advice to keep them going is most welcome. You all got me this far. Maryl

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 3:07PM
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Flowering starts late autumn/winter as someone said earlier. Dormancy occurs as the temperature rises (for my C. persicum hybrids that never happens - they remain in leaf throughout the year and I get some flowers for most of the year, even though planted out in the garden).

You might try using a paintbrush to pollinate the flowers - cyclamen seed is relatively easy to raise and lots of the new hybrids seem to flower at a very small size.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 8:29PM
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Maryl zone 7a

thanks Kayman. If I succeed in getting them to flower again I will be tickled pink (pun intended).

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 3:26PM
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Hi, I am trying to grow Cyclamen Hederifolium here in Atlanta. I purchased them as bulbs and had them planted in a nice potting mix. After about six months of planting the three bulbs,in September, they started blooming so profusely and each bloom lasted for weeks, that it got me so freaking excited! But then, since November started until now there have been no signs of leaves coming out at all. I checked the bulbs to see if they were rotting or doing fine, and they seem to be still doing good. However, there are no leaves yet. Can anyone suggest why it is so?

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 6:49PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Cyclamen hederifolium are a different plant from florist's cyclamen that were discussed in this (wonderful) thread. However, there are many similarities, including the important fact that these bulbs must have dry soil during their summer dormancy. Well drained soil all year is imperative too. And, they need shade.

All that being said, it is normal for the leaves to wait to emerge until the plant is finished blooming. Assuming your growing conditions are right, just be patient. The gorgeous leaves will come.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 10:57AM
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