Plant of the month
You know Cyclamen? Of course, in winter you find it on nearly every windowsill. They have beautiful, dark green leaves and big flowers in bright colours. Clear white – elegantly! Light pink – a wonderful contrast with the dark leaves. Bright red – such a clear red with this long-distance effect. They descend from the Persian Cyclamen, Cyclamen persicum, and breeder’s efforts brought us wonderful coloured houseplants with large and long lasting flowers which show their splendour best in cool rooms.
But there are more, small flowering, tenderly and enchanting. A true abundance of species which cares for the collector’s virus as soon as you discovers it. Especially delightful are often the leaves of Cyclamen, they vary in the single species from a clear dark green to silvery, often signed with green and silvery markings or with a “Christmas tree” coloration which is particularly remarkably. Some have smoothly leave edges, others have more or less toothed leaves, there are species with round leaves and with pointed leaves – just because of the leaf patterns you could start to collect Cyclamen.
If you start to pay attention for Cyclamen, you register at first that there not only Cyclamen for the house but also for example Cyclamen coum, usually pink to red flowering. C.coum f.pallidum is a white flowering form with a red eye. These Cyclamen surely is one of the most beautiful ones which feel well in our gardens, it would defame a place on the windowsill. Do you have discovered Cyclamen coum, the spring flowering Cyclamen, you will ask yourself why it is called spring flowering Cyclamen. Curious now, you will see that there is also Cyclamen hederifolium, the Ivy leaved Cyclamen which shows it’s flowers in autumn. And this is just the beginning because there are so much more, hardy ones and tender ones, better suited for the cold greenhouse.
But first let us stay with the garden suited ones. Cyclamen coum is at home in Bulgaria and Caucasus but grows also in Turkey and Israel. If you plant it at a dry place in the garden, in the shadow of bushes which care for protection of too much sun and if you take care that the bulb is planted just scarcely under the surface, it survives our winters. With the temperatures in winter it has no problems, the same for Cyclamen hederifolium – too much water will care for total failure for all Cyclamen.
The autumn flowering Cyclamen hederifolium, because of the leaf form also called ivy leaved Cyclamen indeed remembers a bit on Ivy. This species is at home in South Europe and Turkey and, as C.coum, spreads good in the garden in the course of the years if it gets a good place. Considering that it grows for example in Toscana, Italy in dry forests, you will be able to find the best place in the garden. Anyway, not only for Cyclamen, a good method to find the right place for in your own garden is to imagine how a plant grows at the places where it is at home. Have you ever seen pictures of the wild occurrence or have you seen the plant there by yourself where it grows without been planting from a gardener, if you have these pictures in your mind, you will find the best place for your plant mostly without descriptions. You just have to learn to trust your own feeling.
Now – you found a place for the autumn flowering Cyclamen and soon you will see that there are, like for C.coum, not only pink ones but also white ones and since some years also dark pink forms like `Purple Ear Strain´. There are also hybrids with silvery coloured leaves like Cyclamen coum, Silverleaf or C.hederifolium f.roseum, Silverleaf. Especially the white flowering Cyclamen hederifolium f. album increases well from seed when it got a good place.
Now we have Cyclamen for spring and for autumn – the next question of course is whether there is one flowering in summer. Cyclamen purpurascens, maybe one of the most beautiful Cyclamen with dark pink flowers and large, dark green leaves shows it’s flowers in summer. With luck you can see C.purpurascens, also called European Cyclamen, for example in Germany or Luxemburg in the wild – protected as all Cyclamen. This species builds large bulbs, as a lot of Cyclamen do, but it sets not enough seed that it could be able to conquer destroyed locations back as Tanacetum or other wild plants do. As some other Cyclamen, C.purpurascens is fragrant.
A smaller Cyclamen whose name sometimes cares for confusing people is Cyclamen trochopteranthum. Formerly called Cyclamen alpinum it is now named C.trochopteranthum. Remarkably for this species are dark pink flowers which propeller-like petals. The leaves are dark green with a nice silvery marking. Originally it grows in Turkey and we over wintered it successful in the garden in mild winters but minus 10° Celsius means gambling.
One of the nicest is Cyclamen mirabile, also a smaller representative, at home in Turkey. The flowers in late summer are light pink and the leaves dark green with an evenly ring of silvery spots and in autumn, when temperatures fall down pink to reddish spots. It grows fast and builds larges bulbs for such a small plant. In mild winters it survives in the garden when the place is dry enough.
Another species which is at home in Turkey and able to survive at protected places in the garden is Cyclamen cilicium with pink flowers. There is also a white flowering form Cyclamen cilicium f.album which is rarely offered. Both are flowering reliably and convince with a long flowering time.
Some species are better suited for cultivation in the cold greenhouse because they come from warmer areas and like it grow in cool conditions but would not withstand frost.
Cyclamen intaminatum from Turkey is an absolute dwarf and grows not even up to 10cm. It has small, round and dark green leaves, usually without markings. The leaves make a good contrast with the light pink flowers in late summer. This dwarf should be kept in the cold house in winter, in the garden it would disappear soon.
A species with large, deep green, remarkably signed leaves and light pink flowers is Cyclamen libanoticum. This Cyclamen is at home in Syria and Lebanon and flowers sometimes in late autumn but usually in winter.
In France and the Balearic Islands is the home of Cyclamen balearicum, a species which also is not hardy and prefers a place in the cold house. Planted in a flat bowl or pot it will be soon an eye catcher with the white flowers and the dark green leaves. The fragrant flowers appear in spring.
Cyclamen graecum comes from Greece, Turkey and Cyprus and the leaves vary from a deep dark green to a wonderful moss-green. Beside the white form there is also a light pink and a dark pink to red form, Cyclamen graecum, red form. Cyclamen graecum `Glyfada´ is a form which shows a really special leaf colour, a kind of silvery green, a colour which is not easy to describe but absolutely special. Often the leaves show a really small dark green edge. C.graecum flowers in winter.
Also in winter Cyclamen cyprium shows it’s flowers. This species is at home in Cyprus, as the name says, and shows beautiful signed, dark green leaves which make a good contrast to the pink flowers.
In a wide spread area from France to Italy, The Balkans to Greece grows Cyclamen repandum but it is not often to find in culture. The leaves are dark green, not remarkably signed and the dark pink to cyclam red flowers which appear in spring give it an elegant appearance.
And with a little luck we will get soon Cyclamen coum f.albissimum and….
There is no end in sight because there are so much beautiful Cyclamen, everyone with its own attraction and everyone should find a place in the collection.