Cyclamen cyclamen

Height: 7.5-10cm (3-4in)

Planting I: distance: 15cm (6in)

Features: flowers summer to winter

Soil: humus: -rich, well-drained

Site: shelter, shade

Type: tuber

The pretty, pink or white flowers and attractive foliage of cyclamen present a charming sight in a shaded rock garden, beneath a tree or around the base of a shrub. They are one of the few bulbous plants to flourish under conifers.

Cyclamens will grow in almost any well-drained soil but, as natural woodland plants, they prefer plenty of leafmould. Several species are sufficiently hardy to grow outdoors, given a sheltered site protected from cold winds by a wall or hedge.

Popular species and varieties:

Cyclamen count has purplish pink, rose-pink (roseum), or pure white (album) flowers that usually appear in mid winter. The plants are only 7.5cm (3in) high, with round leaves, either plain green or marbled with silver. This species does best under trees. The variety ‘Album’ has white-flowers, stained purple at the mouth. Cyclamen hederifolium (syn. C. neapolitanum), a particularly hardy cyclamen, has flowers on stalks 10cm (4in) high. The flowers are white, or pale pink with a darker pink mouth, and open in early and mid autumn. The ivy-shaped leaves are variegated and form an attractive carpet through the winter and spring months, until they die down in late spring. Plant in a rock garden or beneath shrubs, where the soil is rarclv disturbed.

Cyclamen pnrpurascens (syn. C. europaeum) has strongly scented, rose-pink to purple blooms standing 10cm (4in) high. These come out in mid and late summer. It has rounded, plain green or silverpatterned leaves. It is one of the hardiest cyclamen.

Cultivation

Cyclamen do best under woodland conditions, in shady sites, sheltered from the wind. They prefer well-drained, humus-rich soil. Choose a spot where the plants can be left undisturbed.

Plant the tubers in late summer and early autumn, setting them in clusters 15cm (6in) apart. Place C. conm and C. purpurascens 2.5-5cm (1-2in) or more deep, in light soil. With C. hederifolium, barely cover the tubers, but add 2.5cm (lin) of leafmould annually after flowering.

Propagation: The tubers do not divide or produce offsets, so it is difficult to propagate them yourself. However, cyclamen propagate themselves rapidly by self-seeding. Seedlings usually flower within two years.

Pests and diseases: Mice sometimes eat the tubers in the ground. Black root rot can kill the roots and discolour the foliage.

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