When to Plant Tubers for Autumn-Blooming Cyclamen

Plant tubers in summer for autumn-blooming cyclamen. It’s a difficult plant to propagate from seed, so in late summer plant bulbs or tubers. Keep the top of the tubers just below the surface of the soil and space them about 6-10 inches apart.

cyclamen

Autumn-blooming cyclamen is difficult to grow from seed. Plant tubers in summer.

What You Need to Know About Growing Cyclamen

• Grows three to four to six inches high and twice as wide
• Blooms in late summer or early autumn, with flowers that precede the foliage
• Leaves sprout in fall and persist through winter to late spring, when the plant goes dormant
• Grow it in part shade and well-drained soil where it will not receive too much water, especially during its summer dormancy
• Plant corms just below the soil surface in spring, or plant in-leaf cyclamen in the fall
• USDA Zones 5–9

Autumn cyclamen thrive in woodland conditions, with dappled shade and well-drained soil. If starting with potted plants, keep them at the same level. If planting tubers, nestle them with the growing tips upward and just below the ground’s surface. The biggest challenge in growing autumn cyclamen is to avoid digging into them during their summer dormancy. Nestling them between slow-growing perennials, such as hellebores, or between stones can help you avoid slicing them with a wayward spade.   

Because autumn cyclamen are typically propagated from seed, each plant’s leaves are uniquely patterned, a Christmas tree–green mottled and streaked with lighter shades. To choose individuals with foliage patterns most attractive to you, buy plants in leaf from a reputable specialist grower. Several breeders in Europe and the United States, mostly associated with rock-garden societies, have developed seed strains for specific traits, such as white flowers or entirely silver foliage.

Caleb Melchior is a longtime contributing editor to Horticulture.

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