At its best:
Providing pretty spring-like colour from early autumn, through the depths of winter and beyond, these delicate-looking perennials are tougher than they appear.
Originating from the Mediterranean, modern hardy varieties all descend from Cyclamen persicum, which has been described in literature as far back as the 4th century BC.
It finally made its way to Europe in the late 16th century, becoming highly fashionable from the 1860’s as variants of this wild ancestor began to be developed here in England. Early varieties were hybridised to maximise the size of their flowers and to diversify the range of shades available.
From these early hybrids descend our modern F1 varieties, which are hardier, live longer, flower longer and come in an extensive range of hues. The hardiest of these is probably Cyclamen coum, which flowers in the middle of winter.
For 3 seasons of colour try Cyclamen hederifolium. Its fragrant pale-pink or white flowers with dark-green, silver patterned leaves will kick things off from late-September. Follow-up with the unusual slender-petalled rose-pink Cyclamen cilicium, then finally, let Cyclamen coum ‘Album’ take up the baton from December. Its pure white flowers are touched with violet at the base, almost like they’ve been dipped in paint.
When & Where:
Cyclamen are woodland plants and so will thrive when planted in locations and conditions that resemble the forest floor.
Plant approximately 3-5cms deep around the base of mature shrubs and trees, where they’ll receive dappled sunlight in summer, though make sure it’s somewhere that will remain moisture during autumn and winter. They look particularly fetching planted in drifts against a backdrop of white-barked Betulas (Birch) such as Betula utilis ‘Jacquemontii’.
Once planted, try not to disturb them and the flowers will naturalise and increase year-after-year.
Tolerance & Resistance:
If you find gaps where you planted your cyclamen corms, then it might be that they’ve been dug up by squirrels for a tasty treat!
The name Cyclamen is derived from the Greek word ‘kuklos’, meaning ‘circle’, though it’s no reference to its delicate ring of petals. It in fact refers to the flattened, round shape of its tuber.
Learn more about woodland planting with our insider’s guide.