Cyclamens are one of those rare dual-purpose plants. In the garden, they can be a terrific bedding plant, and indoors, it does just as well in a vase as a table decoration. At some point in the year, you’ll notice your cyclamen wilting. When it does, know this… it may not as big a deal as it seems.
You see, there are two types of cyclamens. Hardy and tender.
- The hardy cyclamen has bigger leaves than blooms. These can survive zero-degree temperatures; therefore, these are the ones best suited as a bedding plant outdoors.
- The tender cyclamen has bigger blooms and small leaves. These can’t survive freezing conditions making these better suited growing indoors.
If you notice your cyclamen wilting, consider its type. A tender cyclamen planted outdoors is more likely to struggle after a hard frost. A hardy cyclamen is likely to bounce right back. Neither do well in heat.
If there’s one thing to learn about how to garden in the winter it’s to remove tender tubers in the fall. Only hardy varieties of anything stand a chance against freezing temperatures.
Not only that, but these are winter bloomers. In the spring and summer, you won’t see much happen, other than dieback. That is natural as these are deciduous plant varieties. They go dormant in warmer weather.
However, during that time, they still have seed pods. While dormant, the plant won’t drink, but the soil still needs to be kept moist. Water will be lost due to evaporation.
Factors That Can Cause Cyclamen Plants to Wilt
1 – Dry Soil or Potting Mix
Regardless the time of year it is, the potting mix or soil ought to be kept moist. Never soaking wet because these are highly susceptible to tuber rot. Always err on the side of caution with these by allowing the soil (or potting mix for indoor varieties) to nearly dry out before dousing it in water.
For indoor cyclamens, bottom watering is a good practice with these. It eliminates the risk of getting water into the crown of the plant.
All you need to do is rest the pot in a basin of water for up to 15-minutes, then let it drip dry for a bit, and place it back on its saucer or tray. Only water when the soil is nearly dry though.
The problem with top watering, or even just lightly watering the plant every day or so is that watering little and often is unlikely to hydrate the roots. What is more likely is that the topsoil will get wet, but little water will be reaching the depths required to nourish the tubers roots (rootlets).
In the garden, the time to apply mulch is in the fall just before the first expected frost date. When you do though, only use a light covering of leafmold and nothing thick that could warm the soil too much.
2 – Temperatures
Hardy and tender cyclamens are cold-weather plants. It takes a real drop in temperatures for hardy varieties to struggle. What is more likely the case is that a tender cyclamen is wilting in response to higher-than-average heat.
When temperatures exceed 65oF, (18.3oC) you’ll notice the drama begin. Cyclamens wilting, drooping, and if it’s in bloom, the entire plant can look like it’s collapsed on itself.
Check the temperatures are between 55oF (12.7oC) and 65oF, (18.3oC). That’s the ideal range for these.
As both varieties are winter plants, they go dormant in spring and summer. In the fall is when they begin to show signs of life, then as winter comes in, the plant bursts into a life of its own.
You’ll get the seedpods appearing as the weather cools, but no foliage. That’s completely normal. When the leaves do appear, they should be flat with no wilting. When they start to wilt, check the moisture in the soil and the temperature. The cooler the temperature, the better these plants fare.
3 – Early Dormancy
Anything resembling a summer climate can send a cyclamen into dormancy. Direct light is a cause of this. A cyclamen wilting can be an early sign that the plant is heading into a period of dormancy. If that’s the case, you can expect to see the foliage turn yellow and some leaves dropping from the plant.
The fix is to lower the amount of light the plant receives, and check the temperatures aren’t too warm.
Provided you can keep the temperatures stable and get ample light to the plant, it can be healthy indoor year-round (minus the blooms). Outdoors, it will be more difficult, simply because you can’t control the weather. All you can really do is make sure that cyclamens used as border plants have some shade.
The best spot for cyclamens outdoors is under a tree canopy where they benefit from dappled sunlight. They make terrific ground coverings under trees and hedgerows.
4 – Gray Mold
Botrytis cinerea is a fungus that’s responsible for gray mold on plants. Asides from the cyclamen wilting, additional signs will be present when this is the problem. In particular, the gray fuzzy mold that coats the foliage.
High humidity is the conditions this thrives in. The fix is to choke out the conditions that encourage the growth and spread of the fungal bacteria. The main one being high humidity. It’s particularly problematic in greenhouses where humidity is naturally higher.
Another problem that leads to higher-than-average humidity is overcrowding plants. If they are planted (or kept) too close together, the lack of air circulation increases humidity, raising the risk of gray mold taking hold.
Gray mold can be a killer. The way to save a dying plant inflicted with gray mold is to isolate it to prevent the spread to other plants, and then increase air circulation around it. Prune away all the infected parts of the part, and sterilize everything any tools you’ve used – scissors, pruners etc.
5 – Vine Weevils
Vine weevils cause two problems because when you have an adult causing leaf damage, you get the grubs beneath the soil destroying the tuber of cyclamen plants.
The early damage is wilting on cyclamens followed by the early demise owing to the damage done by the tiny grubs gnawing on the rootlets around the corm. Wilting leaves accompanied by yellowing is a symptom of a vine weevil presence.
Eradicating these pests is tricky because it requires eliminating the adult grubs and the larvae. Finding the weevils is best done at night as that’s when you’ll find them actively feeding.
The larvae are best tackled biologically using nematodes, or treating compost with an insecticide and mixing that into the soil to ensure contact.
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.