Cyclamen (hardy) Planting Guide

You’re probably familiar with the potted cyclamen plants found in the local florist shop. While related, these hardy cyclamen are much tougher and are well adapted to growing outdoors, even where winters are chilly. Tender potted cyclamen are greenhouse forced to bloom in spring. These flowers, in a blend of pink shades, bloom in the early- to mid-autumn. Plant these winged beauties and expect to hear “Wow, those grow in your garden?”

Choosing a Growing Site

Choose a site with dappled sunlight or early day sun. Locations under deciduous trees, particularly those with limbs high enough to let in some light, are ideal. The soil under such trees often has benefitted from years of decomposed fallen leaves making it perfect for cyclamen. Hardy cyclamen sprout in the late summer and flower in autumn when many ornamental plants have long since wrapped up their show.

Soil Preparation 

Cyclamen love humusy soil, but this variety will thrive in average soil, too. Loosen the soil before planting and consider adding a bit of leaf mold, compost or very well-rotted manure. These plants will not thrive in dry, sandy or clay soil.

When to Plant Cyclamen

Plant in the fall, as soon as you receive your bulbs.

How to Plant Cyclamen Bulbs

Dig holes 2” deep and add a handful or two of compost to the soil you removed. Add most of the amended soil back into the holes and place a tuber with the concave or dimpled end facing up. Cover with 1/2” of soil, pat gently to eliminate air pockets and water well to settle the soil. Flowering the first fall is dependent on planting timing (earlier planting encourages first year blooms). Note: we do not recommend using bone meal as an amendment when you plant these bulbs as it encourages pets and pests to dig up the bulbs you just planted.

Plant tubers 3-5” inches apart.

During the Summer through Fall Growing Season

Hardy cyclamen need water in late summer to nudge the plants out of dormancy and to encourage fall bloom. While actively growing, these plants require about 1” of water a week from rain, irrigation or a combination of the two.

At Season’s End

After flowering, cyclamen foliage persists through the winter in all but the coldest parts of the growing range. (Nice!) In mid to late spring the leaves will yellow. If you choose to remove the foliage for esthetic reasons, shear it off rather than pulling it. These are shallow rotted plants and it’s easy to accidentally pull up the entire plant. For the same reason, be careful raking fall leaves around cyclamens.

Insider Tips

  1. Plant tubers 3-5 inches apart. As plants age, the tubers grow larger and can reach a giant 7-8” across. This size tuber delivers a spectacular number of flowers.
  2. Cyclamen and trout lilies make great partners and thrive in similar growing conditions. The trout lilies flower in the spring and these cyclamen bloom in the fall.
  3. Hardy cyclamen develop seed pods after flowering and self-seed freely to create more future flowers.
  4. Well sited, cyclamen naturalize and expand over time into large patches. These are lovely while in bloom, and with their silver-etched foliage that persists through winter, they create an attractive groundcover.
shop hardy cyclamen
shop hardy cyclamen

Success Snapshot

Light: Dappled or Partial shade

Soil: Humusy to average soil

Depth: Plant 1/2” deep

Water: Average moisture

Uses: Woodland gardens, under deciduous trees

Tip: Plant the bulbs upon receipt

GUIDE: Cyclamen Planting Guide

They Start Out Looking Like This: