By Mary Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener
Cyclamen need not only be enjoyed in the home. Hardy cyclamen lights up the garden with showy mounds of silvery-white foliage and heart-shaped leaves that appear in autumn and last until the plant goes dormant in late spring. Deep rose-pink blooms appear in late winter and early spring. Fall-blooming varieties are also available.
Although this woodland plant looks delicate, hardy cyclamen is vigorous and easy to grow. The plant pairs well with other small woodland plants such as hellebores, ajuga, or trillium. Hardy cyclamen tops out at 3 to 6 inches (7.5-15 cm.).
Planting Hardy Cyclamen Bulbs Outdoors
Growing hardy cyclamen outdoors is simple as long as you follow a few general guidelines. Hardy cyclamen is difficult to propagate from seed, but you can plant bulbs, or tubers, in late summer or early autumn. Plant the tubers with the top of the tuber just below the surface of the soil. Allow 6 to 10 inches (15-25.5 cm.) between each tuber.
Unlike florist’s cyclamen that grows outdoors only in warm climates, hardy cyclamen tolerates cold climates and freezing winters. However, this cool climate plant doesn’t survive where summers are hot and dry.
Hardy cyclamen grows in nearly any type of loose, well-drained soil. Dig a few inches of mulch, compost, or other organic matter into the soil before planting, especially if your soil is clay-based or sandy.
Hardy Cyclamen Care
Care of hardy cyclamen is simple and the plants require minimal maintenance to look their best. Water the plant regularly during spring and summer but don’t overwater because the tubers may rot in waterlogged soil.
Brush excessive leaves and debris from the plant in autumn. Although a light layer of mulch or leaves protects the roots from the winter cold, too much cover prevents the plants from getting light.
Divide tubers in late summer, but don’t disturb old, well-established tubers, which can grow to the size of a plate and produce hundreds of blooms every year. One tuber can sometimes live for several generations.