Cyclamen are hardy plants that have the potential to live for decades if provided with the right growing environment. Yet, they’re highly sensitive and can easily be affected by either too much or too little water.
To help you take care of your cyclamen, we present you with this thorough cyclamen watering guide. We’ll walk you through how much and how often to water.
We’ll also give you a few more general caring guide tips in our FAQs section to ensure your cyclamen continues to grow and bloom for a long, long time.
So, whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a hobbyist who just wants to enjoy some colorful plants during the bleak winter season, this guide is for you!
Let’s get started!
Cyclamen are tuberous perennial plants that grow to an average size of 6 and 16 inches. They’re known for their green, heart-shaped foliage marked with white or silver patterns.
Like most other plants native to the eastern Mediterranean climate, cyclamen bloom in winter and continue blooming for up to three months. Then, each year, they enter a dormancy stage that lasts throughout the hot and dry summer months.
They produce a wide range of vibrant flowers, such as red, rose, white, and purple. They also have a delicate, floral scent, making them one of the more popular gift selections for Valentine’s Day.
So, if you want your cyclamen to brighten up those dark and gloomy winter months, make sure you follow these watering tips.
In general, cyclamen plants will begin to bloom and continue blooming when their growing environment is high in humidity. They also prefer moist soil, but it shouldn’t be muddy or waterlogged, which can lead to root rot.
Also, avoid watering the center, or crown, of the plant. If it remains too wet for too long, this can also lead to a rotting tuber.
Many green thumbers prefer placing their cyclamen in a watering tray. This ensures that the roots stay moist by taking up the water they need from below.
This is in contrast to watering the plant from above, which increases the risk of root rot and other fungal diseases that can affect the health of your plant.
Your best indication of when to water is the state of the soil. If it appears to be dry on the surface, stick your pointer finger in the soil.
Does it feel dry? That means the soil needs to be watered until it’s moist, but never muddy or soggy.
If you’re not sure if your plant is thirsty or not, look at the leaves. If they appear to be bending downward and droopy, that means they’re not getting the moisture they need.
After you water them, the leaves should perk up again.
Cyclamen prefer to be watered once a week from early fall to early spring.
Sometime in April, your plant will begin preparing to go into dormancy. That’s when you should start to reduce the frequency of watering bit by bit until the plant is no longer flowering.
By early fall, you may begin to notice new leaves starting to emerge. This is when you start to water the plant once again about once every 10 days.
Continue watering it at this rate during the cold months. Then, repeat the process all over again when spring rolls around.
Some people believe that more water is better for their plants. The problem with this is that cyclamen are sensitive plants that don’t do well when overwatered, even in the summer.
Giving the plant too much water at one time will cause the roots to rot. The leaves will soon start to wilt and drop off the plants one by one. In addition, the flower buds will also start to fall off.
The initial sign of an overwatered plant is yellowing foliage. However, keep in mind that the leaves will also change colors in late winter and early spring, which is an indication that the plant is going into dormancy.
On the other hand, giving the plant too little water will also result in a sudden onset of wilted foliage and flowers.
This is one of the biggest indicators that the soil is too dry. And if the soil is too dry, that means the plant isn’t able to get the moisture it needs to grow and thrive.
For indoor cyclamen, it’s recommended that you begin reducing watering starting in early spring. Then, when the plant stops flowering, which will be sometime in April, stop watering altogether.
Don’t be alarmed if you notice their leaves turning a deep shade of yellow and wilting. This is a sign that they’re starting to go into dormancy.
If you want, you can move the dormant plant outdoors. Keep the plant away from any moisture by placing it in a cool, dry spot. The best place for your cyclamen would be somewhere with as little light as possible to ensure it gets all the rest it needs during this time.
Then, before the first frost, you can bring it back indoors.
After reading about their watering needs, it’s time to find out a bit more about the other types of care these sensitive plants need to grow and bloom.
Cyclamen don’t do well in direct sunlight mainly because they don’t like the heat. They seem to do much better when placed in cool, humid areas that get plenty of indirect light.
If they don’t get sufficient amounts of bright light, they’ll stop blooming. Instead, they’ll put all of their efforts into growing longer stalks and larger leaves, which makes the plant more vulnerable to diseases and pests like vine weevils, mites, and thrips.
Not only that, but they’ll delay flowering until they receive the ample indirect light they require to thrive and bloom.
Typically, most cyclamen plants need between 8–10 weeks of dormancy. After about two weeks, you’ll start to see new leaves begin to form.
This is the first sign that your plant is ready to come out of its dormant stage.
To help revive it, your plant will need a good soak because it’s spent the past 2–3 months with no moisture at all. Start by watering it with a bit more water than usual.
If the water runs through, then, soak the pot in a bucket filled with about four inches of cool water for 10 minutes. Then, remove the pot and allow all the excess water to completely drain away.
Next, move the plant to a cool area that gets plenty of bright, indirect light. You should start seeing new blooms begin to emerge after around 2–3 weeks.
If three months of dormancy go by and you still don’t see any signs of new life, it could be an indication there’s something wrong with the tuber.
If this is the case, it’s up to you to revive your cyclamen. The best way to do that is to repot the plant and add a fresh mix of high-quality potting soil.
Finally, water accordingly and add fertilizer.
You can add a soluble, low-nitrogen, well-balanced houseplant fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 fertilizer, to your cyclamen plants starting in fall and early winter. Continue adding fertilizer once every two weeks until new blooms begin to appear.
When the plant is actively flowering, you’ll only need to add fertilizer once every 3–4 weeks.
Keep in mind that adding too much chemical fertilizer will likely harm the leaves or tuber. It could result in the plant producing a lot of foliage instead of flowers, making it highly susceptible to mold and fungal diseases.
To avoid harming your plant, you can always opt for an organic fertilizer like compost tea. You can brew your own, or you can buy compost tea bags or find it in liquid form online or at any local garden center.
By early April, the plant will begin going into dormancy. This is when you should stop fertilizing.
Now that you know more about your cyclamen watering guide, you can provide them with the best care to help keep these vibrant plants healthy and thriving during the cooler months.
Then, when summer rolls around, you’ll know exactly what to do until they start emerging from their dormancy state. This way, they’ll come out feeling rested and ready to start growing and blooming all winter long.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.