The Persian Violet, also known as Cyclamen

This exotic beauty is all too often treated as a disposable plant.  Why?  Because most people manage to kill this flowering plant within a matter of weeks, and throw it away (hopefully in the compost).

So why do they die off so quickly?  Well, if you study the plants’ growing needs, you will find out that this plant likes it cool, shady and not too much water, or its bulb (officially called: corm) will rot.

Please don’t give up on this plant.  If you’ve had your disappointments with the Cyclamen, pick another one up next time you are shopping at Home Depot, where they usually sell them year around.  Place it in a cool, shady spot, (Morning sun is fine.) on your patio, and keep the soil moist (lukewarm water), but never totally wet.

I personally prefer the immersing method by plunging the pot in lukewarm water in the kitchen sink (or a pot, or plastic bowl); let it sit there for at least half an hour until the soil surface is totally moistened.  This is to avoid the corm from becoming saturated in water which usually leads to a death end.  You only have to do this once a week, but it’s worth the effort.

Wilted and dying flowers and yellowing leaves should always be removed; use your thumb and index finger and, with a slight twist, the leaf easily snaps off at bulb level.

Let’s see how long it will keep blooming — maybe a few months at the most, but then it needs a rest, no water, a rest from all that hard work which showing off flowers always is.  Leaves will start to droop, turn yellow and, when you think the plant is on its last legs, don’t panic.  It is just begging you to snap off all the dead leaves, spent flower stems and then, after a well-rested period, it may just decide to start growing again.  It usually does.

The Persian Violet (or cyclamen), with its heart- shaped leaves, belongs to the Primula family, and its elegant flowers come in shades of pink, red, mauve, burgundy, white and pastel shades in between.  While the plant is in bloom, I like to feed it with a water-soluble plant-food, such as 15-30-15 NPK or 10-15-10 NPK, following the mixing directions on the package you use.  Simply add that to the water, when you plunge the pot and the plant-food will extend the profusion of flowers.

If you need a surprising plate-setting decoration for a special dinner, cut off a few flowers of the Cyclamen and place them in a small vase.  Be prepared for them to stay fresh for a week or longer!  Enjoy!

About Fleur

Fleur is a retired freelance Garden Writer, currently exploring Baja flora and living in Punta Banda. You may reach her at [email protected]

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