The plant has striking dark green leaves marbled with silver. The flowers face down and the petals sweep upward. The flowers may be red, magenta, coral, pink or white. Some may be sweetly fragrant.
Native to the Middle East and west into Turkey and Greece, wild cyclamens, sometimes called Persian violets, grow in mountainous areas in the shade of trees. Sadly, due to climate change, their habitat is shrinking. The plants grow from a tuber that looks like a bit like a potato. This water storage tuber helps the plants survive periods of heat and drought. Cyclamens bloom when it is very cool and often go dormant in summer.
Florist's cyclamens have been bred from these wild species to produce bigger plants with larger flowers. They thrive on a cool windowsill. High heat will inhibit flowering. Keep them moderately moist but not soggy. A bloom booster type of fertilizer will also enhance flower production.
Many people keep their cyclamens on the windowsill year round, even though they flower only sporadically in summer. The plants are not normally prone to any diseases or pests, although weevils may chew the leaves if you take them outside to a shady spot in summer. It's not a big deal.
Turn down the heat, throw on a sweater and enjoy one of the most cheerful plants of winter.
Plants are courtesy of Tagawa Gardens.
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