27 March 2018

Cyclamen are seasonal treasures

Find out which three species of cyclamen are grown at Wakehurst and get expert tips on how to grow them yourself.

Cyclamen in the Winter Garden at Wakehurst

With their delicate white and pink flowers, cyclamen are a firm favourite with many of our visitors here at Wakehurst.

Stepping out of the Visitor Centre into the gardens, you are greeted with swathes of this beautiful flower.

There more than 20 species of Cyclamen found in countries around the Mediterranean and spreading north to the Alps, but most need greenhouse conditions to thrive.

Cyclamen at Wakehurst

At Wakehurst we have chosen three species which perform particularly well here in the southeast England climate.

These are:

  • Cyclamen coum (planted under the oak and beech tree near the Visitor Centre)
  • Cyclamen repandum (planted on the bank as you leave Wakehurst and return to the car park)
  • Cyclamen hederifolium

Winter spectacle

During the depths of winter it is Cyclamen coum, with its pink or white flowers that look truly magnificent. Originating from Turkey, this species has a smaller and daintier flower than other types, with shorter petals and rounder leaves. 

Spring blooms

In March and April it is Cyclamen repandum, from southern France and Italy, that produces tall elegant flowers of deep pink, often with gently spiralling petals. This species is the last to flower in spring with delicate pointed leaves that will not tolerate exposure to strong sunlight. For this reason, it is best planted in shadier areas.

Summer showstopper

In August, the shuttlecock flowers of Cyclamen hederifolium get their moment in the sun. This species originates from Greece and Turkey.  

The marbled and patterned leaves develop from mid-October onwards. These then stay on the plant until May the following year, making this a great choice for a lightly shaded site. Their tolerance of dry conditions makes it ideal to plant under deciduous trees, where they cover the ground for nine months of the year and self-seed to make an even bigger display.

Try your hand at growing cyclamen

Create your own display with these top tips from our experts. 

Select a species

  • Cyclamen hederifolium and C. coum are the easiest to grow.
  • Species for the garden in order of hardiness are: C. hederifoliumC. coumC. purpuracensC. ciliciumC. pseudibericum and C. repandum

Pick out the best spot

  • Cyclamen are ideally suited to growing in shaded areas - one of the most challenging spots for gardeners.
  • They are quite hardy plants and can survive temperatures below freezing. 
  • As the flowers are small, plant them where you can see them close up – such as near doorways or on the side of paths.
  • Sandy to clay soils are perfect, but they should be well-drained and loose with grit, compost or mulch on top. Wet soils with poor drainage will cause tubers to rot. 

Nurture your cyclamen

  • Water in late summer and early autumn to break dormancy and encourage new growth. Water during any dry spells while the plant is growing in autumn, winter, and spring. 
  • Fertilisers are not necessary, but adding bonemeal can be beneficial. A layer of compost or mulch applied over the dormant tubers in summer is all they need for nourishment, while also discouraging weeds. 
  • Heavy leaf fall in autumn should be removed to let in light. Avoid using a rake as this can damage the tops. 

Collect seeds to grow or share

  • Cyclamen have amazing round seed pods on coiled stems, which release sticky seed that ants take away to spread throughout the garden.
  • Seeds can be collected when the firm pods feel soft, or just let the ants spread them naturally.

Browse our Visitor Centre shop for a range of cyclamen plants to take home and enjoy.

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