Tips for outdoor cyclamen care

This week I decided to give the area around my front door a winter face lift. The local garden centre didn’t have much left in the way of bedding plants, but I was delighted to get my hands on a few pots of Cyclamen hederifolium (also know as ‘hardy cyclamen’ or ‘ivy-leaved cyclamen’). With their compact mounds of marbled foliage and colourful perky blooms, they are an ideal plant for adding zing to the garden when little else is in flower.

They are autumn-flowering plants but, with a bit of TLC, I hope I can keep them flowering into the new year.

Cyclamen winter colour
Hardy cyclamen are a great choice for winter colour

Top tips when planting cyclamen

Cyclamen are native to Europe, the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East, where they grow in woods, rocky areas and alpine meadows. They thrive in any humus-rich well-drained soil, and tolerate shade and the roots of other plants. They will do well in your garden as long as they don’t get waterlogged (as the tubers may rot) or too dry and hot.

They are best planted in a sheltered, shady spot in soil with plenty of added organic material (such as leaf mulch or well-rotted garden compost). I put some of my newly acquired cyclamen plants in a small bed by the side of the house, with lots of well-rotted bark chippings, under the shade of a Clematis montana.

Plant cyclamen in a shady well-drained spot
Plant cyclamen in a sheltered, shady, well-drained spot

I put the rest of the plants into pots by the front door, with bark chippings, Growmore fertilizer and horticultural grit. I filled in the back of the pots with some Hellebores that I have been growing from plug plants since last Spring. I’m hoping they will produce flowers this coming Spring.

Cyclamen winter pots
Cyclamen are the ideal plant for adding colour to winter pots

A few tips for ongoing maintenance

The good news is that cyclamen, once planted, require minimal maintenance, but here are a few tips for keeping them looking their best for as long as possible.

  • Protect blooms from heavy frosts (for example, with garden fleece). A hard frost is unlikely to kill the plant, but will ruin the blooms.
  • Protect the roots from extreme cold by adding a thick mulch of organic material around the plants. Avoid smothering the plants.
  • Deadhead withered blooms to keep the plant flowering (or leave the dead flowers if you want the plant to self-seed).
  • Don’t let the the plants dry out (probably not a problem in the UK!). Check if they need watering – but don’t let them get too soggy!

Finally, enjoy!

Cyclamen winter colour
A splash of colour near the front door puts a smile on my face every day