Guide To Growing Outdoor Cyclamen Plants

Updated/Fact-Chacked on November 3, 2021 by John

Growing cyclamen outdoors will give you colour in late autumn when all your autumn flowering plants are starting to die back, some cyclamen varieties will flower all winter.

There are many cyclamen varieties, I opted for winter flowering ones to get some colour over the winter months. You can also buy indoor cyclamen varieties to keep as house plants, but this of for another article.

Growing Cyclamen

Cyclamen can be grown from seed or tubers, but it’s easier to buy a plant from your local supplier as they can be tricky to propagate.

If growing from seed, the seeds should be soaked overnight once collected. Immediately after soaking, they should be sown in the soil with a thin layer of compost to stop light from affecting germination. You must also be aware of the right temperature to prevent them from dying. The recommended temperature for cyclamen seed germination is around 16-18 degrees.

While germinating, you must cover your seed tray in a clear plastic bag to great some humidity, placing it in a cool dark location.

If you are looking to buy cyclamen plants, most good garden centres and nurseries will stock them. I bought mine at Shincliffe Mill Nursery (County Durham) during the autumn, they had a whole enclosure dedicated to them.

Outdoor Cyclamen Planting & Maintenance 

Cyclamen are fantastic at thriving in the shade, I have a couple in pots in a very dark and damp spot in my north-facing garden. They receive very little light and have been flowering for months, hopefully, this will continue over winter.

Outdoor cyclamen planted with lavender and placed in shade
Outdoor cyclamen planted with lavender in my north-facing garden

Cyclamen also do well planted under trees as they don’t like heavy rain. In autumn I planted three under my cherry blossom, all have been flowering well so far.

Cylamen planted under cherry blossom tree in a north facing garden

Outdoor cyclamen are easy to maintain and do not require watering, as long as you receive some rainfall. Simply plant in your required location and add some compost around the base of the plant. If planting in pots and containers or hanging baskets, John Innes No 2 potting compost is recommended with some gravel/perlite to help drainage. You could also include some slow-release feed pellets to help them through the winter months.

Cyclamen will thrive with regular deadheading; flowers can fall and become rotten, which can affect the plant’s tuber.

Cyclamen Growing Problems

Just like other plants, you may encounter problems when growing cyclamen plants. Here are some of the problems we can expect to happen:

  • Moulds and fungi can develop on these types of plants. Keep your eye out for a grey fuzzy mould which is cyclamen grey mould. It can spread to the stalks and leaves which can cause them to collapse. To avoid this mould, remove dead plant material regularly and ensure good airflow if kept in a greenhouse.
  • Cyclamen plants are prone to rotting especially when they are exposed to moisture. Because of this, the temperature becomes cool and the air circulation becomes restricted. The rotting is usually observed at the base of stalks and spreads to the flower buds and leaves. When this happens, the affected areas should be removed ASAP.
  • Plant pests such as red spider mites can cause problems if growing under glass.  Although they are very small to be seen by the naked eyes, they can be observed when you notice yellow or deformed leaves. To avoid these pests, you must place the plant in a well-humidified environment.

Cyclamen Varieties

If you fall in love with cyclamen, you can plan your varieties so you have cyclamen flowers all year round. Each variety has has its own colour ranged and flower shapes, all these below are considered hardy.

Cyclamen coum-  varieties will flower over the winter months and come in a range of colours

Cyclamen hederifolium – this variety will flower in late summer through to early winter

Cyclamen purpurascens – this variety generally flowers in summer with strong-scented flowers

Cyclamen Intaminatum – autumn flowering variety

Cyclamen Cilicium – autumn flowering variety with an amazing scent

For a full list, check out plant delights article.

Outdoor Cyclamen FAQs

Will my cyclamen come back?

Yes most cyclamen varieties bought in the UK are perennial plants

Can cyclamen stay outside in winter?

Yes certain varieties like coum will actually flower in winter which makes cyclamen amazing plants to grow

What do you do with cyclamen after flowering?

Simply remove any of the dead flowers that have dropped and let the plant die back naturally

Do cyclamens flower all year?

No variety will flower all year round, but you can plant different cyclamen varieties to get colour in every month

Are cyclamen annuals or perennials?

Cyclamen are considered to be perennials

What month do cyclamen go dormant?

This will depend on the variety you have, winter-flowering cyclamen will go dormant in summer and vice versa

How can you tell if my cyclamen is Hardy?

Indoor cyclamen varieties generally have much bigger flowers, hardy cyclamen plants are much smaller

How do you take care of cyclamen in the winter?

If you have a summer-flowering outdoor variety, add some leaf mulch around the surface to protect the tubers from frost

How long do cyclamen last outside?

Cyclamen plants can last for years

Do cyclamen spread?

Yes cyclamen can spread by self-seeding, but they are not invasive