With white, red, purple, and pink leaves, cyclamen offer unique aesthetics unmatched by any other plant. Unfortunately, these aesthetics aren’t easy to maintain.
Despite being a flexible plant, cyclamen requires specific lighting conditions to maintain its stunning look. If these conditions aren’t met, it won’t make a pleasant addition to your garden.
So, what are these lighting requirements? What happens if you don’t meet them? I’ll answer these questions and more in this post.
Let’s get to it!
There’s a time and place for both, but if I had to choose one, I’d prioritize the sun. Cyclamen want a lot of light. However, you want to grow them somewhere with bright, indirect sunlight.
That doesn’t mean they can’t tolerate shade, though. If you’re growing them outdoors, planting them behind large trees would be ideal.
You’d be surprised how many people misinterpret the term “bright, indirect light.” It doesn’t mean you should place your cyclamen far from the window or off to the side.
In fact, you want to put them directly in front of your window. That doesn’t count as direct sunlight because the window diffuses and reflects some of that light, reducing its intensity.
If you’re still not convinced, you can drop the curtains. That should be enough to create indirect sunlight.
As a rule of thumb, you want your cyclamen to have a clear view of the entire sky.
That means don’t put them on a high shelf. Try to keep them at a low angle.
A common mistake new plant parents make is putting their cyclamen in front of a north-facing window, thinking it’ll provide it with enough light. It won’t.
North-facing windows get the least light in the house. If you’re growing them indoors, opt for a room that receives natural sunlight from the west or south.
You can keep your cyclamen in full shade, but that wouldn’t be an ideal scenario. Partial shade is what you want.
It’s worth noting that cyclamen’s tolerance for shade might differ depending on the season. While indirect sunlight is suitable for winter, a dark spot would be perfect for summer.
After all, that’s when cyclamen are dormant and don’t need much sunlight. Make sure to provide good air circulation, though.
You can probably guess the answer to that question. I don’t recommend exposing your cyclamen to direct sunlight, as it might damage the leaves.
That said, cyclamen come in various types, few of which can break this rule. For example, Persian cyclamen need 4-6 hours of daily direct sunlight to grow properly.
Here’s the thing: You can’t control the lighting conditions in your house. If you live in Russia or Norway, you may not always get enough sunlight to grow plants.
Unless you’re Storm from X-Men, you probably can’t control the weather, either.
So, should you give up on acquiring cyclamen, then? No, you can always use artificial lights.
I know the idea sounds strange, but flowers don’t need sunlight in particular to complete photosynthesis. They need photons, which also exist in artificial lights.
Unfortunately, using artificial lights doesn’t come without risks. Exposing your cyclamen to LED lamps for too long might result in elongated limbs and weaker tissue.
Using artificial lighting isn’t as simple as placing your plant under a lamp and being done with it. Remember, you want your lights to mimic natural sunlight.
So you need to consider their intensity and how long you’ll use them. I suggest keeping your lamp 12-36 inches above your plant.
That distance would provide light strong enough to grow your cyclamen but not strong enough to burn it.
As for how long you should use artificial lights, you want to imitate the duration of daylight hours. That’s 8-12 hours a day.
While they can withstand it for a bit, excess exposure to improper lighting conditions won’t allow your cyclamen to grow properly.
That said, the side effects depend on the lighting scenario you provided.
Not providing enough light will slow down the flowering process for your cyclamen. Sometimes, that could be the only sign of insufficient lighting, so it can be hard to notice.
In poor lighting scenarios, cyclamen can drop older leaves, preserving their energy to grow new ones. Unfortunately, in that case, they’ll probably grow weak leaves with a soft texture.
That’s if they’re able to grow leaves in the first place.
As weird as it may sound, one of the most obvious signs of insufficient light is developing elongated stems. You might also notice the space between the leaves getting longer and thinner.
That makes your plant look stretchy and weak. It may even break under the pressure of its weight.
Exposing your plant to excessive sunlight is as bad as not providing enough light. Even Persian cyclamen can’t withstand direct sunlight all day.
Not only will they not grow to their full potential, but their leaves will also experience noticeable damage.
They’ll start turning dark brown, losing the moisture inside them, and developing crispy edges. That’s not the end of it, though.
These changes can disrupt the plant’s photosynthesis, which might shorten its lifespan.
Even if the leaves don’t burn, they can still curl and twist. Cyclamen usually do this to limit the area exposed to the light.
You might also notice the signs of sunscald, which manifests as white spots on different parts of your plant. Not only does it stunt the plant’s growth, but it can also damage the leaves and the stem.
Ultimately, excessive light can break down the chlorophyll inside your cyclamen, which can cause it to lose its green color.
Your actions should depend on the type of damage your cyclamen is experiencing. For example, if it’s not receiving enough sunlight, move it to a sunny spot where it can receive indirect, bright sunlight.
If you have a Persian cyclamen, expose it to direct sunlight. Don’t be afraid to use artificial lights if you want.
On the other hand, if you’ve exposed your plant to excessive sunlight, keep it somewhere with gentler lighting conditions and a bit of shade. An east-facing window with curtains would do the trick.
Now you know all the necessary lighting requirements for your cyclamen to grow strong and healthy. While it depends on the type of cyclamen you’re growing, you generally want to expose it to bright, indirect sunlight.
A bit of shade won’t harm anyone. If your home doesn’t get enough natural light, artificial lights will do the trick.
Don’t worry if your plant shows signs of discoloration or stunted growth. Just move it somewhere with proper lighting, and it should bloom again.
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.