The Hardy Cyclamen

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Hardy Cyclamen Blooms Pictured Above.

Hardy cyclamen (‘sick-le-men’) are a virtually unknown and underused autumn blooming perennial.  Not to be confused with their cousins, the florists’ cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum), hardy cyclamen grow outdoors in the garden and bloom from late summer through autumn or winter to early spring.  They are easy to grow, spread slowly, are deer-resistant, and bloom when most other garden perennials are done and beginning to go dormant.

They prefer dry soil (they will actually rot if planted in a moist situation) and are great for planting under large established shade trees.  They are dormant from early spring through late summer when the trees are using up all the moisture and bloom when the trees are going dormant; large trees also help protect them from the hot sun.  In late summer or early autumn, the flowers emerge on two to four-inch stalks looking like small white to pale pink butterflies hovering just above the ground.  After blooming, they form attractive seed pods which spiral down to the ground to release the seeds.  Then the leaves appear and stay above ground all winter to add appeal to the garden in what can be the bleakest season of the year.

The most popular cultivars are Cyclamen hederifolium (flower in late summer and autumn in shades of white to pink with dark centers), Cyclamen purpurascens (flowers in late summer and autumn in shades of rose-pink to red with deeper blotches) and Cyclamen coum (flowers in winter to early spring in shades of white, pink and crimson).  All hardy Cyclamen are hardy to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Try some hardy Cyclamen in your garden for the color of the flowers in autumn and the texture of the leaves through the winter.  You may find that they add just the right touch to your landscape and make your garden a little more enjoyable in winter when interest can be hard to find.

Hardy cyclamen foliage

Hardy Cyclamen Foliage pictured above.

 

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