These dainty species are far more hardy than their houseplant cousins
Dainty, nodding flowers of wild cyclamen are a welcome sight in gardens, coming as they do from late summer and late winter into spring. Of the hardy species and forms, they’re one of those plants that once established you can almost forget. You’re only reminded of their presence when they awake from dormancy to enchant you with delicate flowers, patterned and shapely foliage and, in some species and forms, a delicious, sweet scent.
Cyclamen are low-growing, deciduous to semi-evergreen, tuberous plants found throughout the Mediterranean, to southern Europe, North Africa, east into Syria, Lebanon and Iran. They variously inhabit short grassland, rocky outcrops to open woodland glades, making many species usefully shade tolerant. Some, such as C. hederifolium and C. coum, are able to thrive among tree roots, a notoriously difficult situation for gardeners to deal with. With species flowering at different times of the year, particularly late summer into autumn and mid-winter into spring, you can have a succession of blooms from cerise, through to pale pink and white.
They’re highly variable from seed, and nurserymen have selected forms with interesting leaf patterns or flower colours. Pot-grown plants can be planted any time, while dry corms will be seasonally available. Corms don’t need burying, but planted so they’re level with or just proud of the soil. If growing in pots, use a mix of multi-purpose and John Innes, with additional sharp grit for drainage.