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The Key Differences Between Indoor and Outdoor Cyclamen

The Key Differences Between Indoor and Outdoor Cyclamen

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Cyclamen are beautiful plants known for their beautiful and delicate flowers as well as their showy variegated leaves, which makes them excellent ornamental plants.

However, one aspect that many new cyclamen owners are curious about is whether they can be planted indoors or outdoors, and the differences between the two.

In this article, I’ll answer all these questions and explore all the key differences between indoor and outdoor Cyclamens, including their appearance, care requirements, and other characteristics. So without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Are Cyclamen an Indoor or Outdoor Plant?

Cyclamen is both an indoor and outdoor plant, as it’s actually a genus of more than 23 different species that belong to the Primulaceae or Primrose family of plants.

In other words, whether the plant can be grown indoors or outdoors mainly depends on the plant’s ability to adapt to the climate and environmental conditions.

For instance, many species of the Cyclamen plant are native to Southern Europe and the Mediterranean Basin while others are native to North Africa, Iran, and parts of Somalia.

As you can see, each one of those regions has its unique climate, so it all comes down to the species of Cyclamen you’re planning to grow.

The most common type of cyclamen is called Cyclamen persicum or Persian cyclamen. As the name suggests, this type of plant prefers cool, moist conditions, but it won’t be able to survive in harsh winters outdoors.

On the other hand, species like Cyclamen hederifolium or Ivy-leaved cyclamen are hardy and can survive outdoor winters if you provide them with enough care.

Are Indoor and Outdoor Cyclamen the Same?

As previously established, whether a cyclamen is an outdoor or an indoor species mainly depends on its ability to withstand outdoor conditions and where you live.

However, outdoor and indoor species are not practically the same, as there are some fundamental differences between the two.

That being said, hardier species of cyclamen can be grown both indoors and outdoors, especially if you live in a spot with similar properties to the plant’s native habitat or mild weather all year round (no extreme winters or summers).

How to Differentiate Between Outdoor and Indoor Cyclamen

There are plenty of indoor and outdoor cyclamen species out there. To help you choose the right one for you, here’s a brief look at some of the key differences between both.

Indoor cyclamens are usually taller and wider than outdoor ones. They also have larger and slightly thicker stems. Indoor cyclamen flowers are typically showy with upright leaves.

You’ll also notice that outdoor species are typically sold as small bulbs or sold in small pots in general, compared to indoor cyclamen, which is usually grown in a fairly large pot to accommodate its bulbous tuber.

Can Indoor Cyclamen Be Planted Outside?

Keeping indoor Cyclamen outside is quite challenging and the results are not guaranteed, so you should typically avoid it.

This is mainly because indoor Cyclamens aren’t as hardy as outdoor species, so they’ll not be able to survive cold winter winds and frost.

Indoor cyclamen are typically pure or hybrids of the Persian Cyclamen, which is not tolerant to low temperatures and prefers a generally warm climate.

If you live in a reasonably moderate climate, you can still plant indoor cyclamen outside, but you will need to take some extra precautions to protect them from the cold, especially at night.

For instance, you should choose a spot sheltered from the wind and receive partial shade during the day.

You will also need to cover the plants with a frost blanket if temperatures are expected to drop below 32 °F or 0 °C.

Can You Keep Outdoor Cyclamen Indoors?

The short answer to this question is yes. In most cases, you can keep outdoor cyclamen indoors.

Outdoor cyclamen species are quite hardy when compared to indoor cyclamen and can tolerate cooler temperatures.

They also prefer shady or partially shaded areas, so transferring them inside can still work out if you keep them in relatively favorable conditions.

To care for an outdoor cyclamen indoors, you should place it in a relatively cool spot, but it should still be away from direct sunlight and cold air conditioner drafts.

You’ll also need to water the plant regularly, but allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings to avoid overwatering and root rot.

As for fertilization, you’ll need to feed the plant every two weeks with a balanced fertilizer during the growing season.

Outdoor cyclamen will typically go dormant in the summer. During this time, reduce watering and feeding to avoid breaking the plant’s natural cycle.

In the fall, the plant will start growing again quickly, so you should re-establish your regular watering and fertilizing routine.

How Long Do Outdoor Cyclamen Last?

Outdoor cyclamen can last for many years with proper care, especially if you live in a regional climate similar to the plant’s original habitat.

Keep in mind that they’re perennial plants, which means that they should come back year after year.

However, the exact lifespan of an outdoor cyclamen will vary depending on the species and the climate where you grow them.

A typical outdoor cyclamen will last for around 10 years. You can extend this lifespan by a few years by keeping the plant in a sheltered spot, protected from direct sunlight and frost.

Where to Plant Cyclamen Outdoors

The best place to grow cyclamen outdoors is somewhere with plenty of partial shade and moist but well-drained soil. These aspects protect the leaves from scorching and prevent overwatering respectively.

One trick to get a vibrant and healthy plant is to plant its tuber at exactly the right depth from the topsoil.

This shortens the distance the plant needs to cover to deliver nutrients and water to the flowers while staying protected from the elements of weather.

When to Plant Cyclamen Outdoors

The best time to plant cyclamen outdoors is during the fall, right after the plants emerge from their summer dormancy period.

During that time, the plant is back to its growth phase, and it’ll be ready for regular watering and fertilizing every 10 to 14 days.

You can also plant cyclamens outdoors in early spring, but you should be ready to cut off your watering and feeding as soon as the plant enters its dormant period.

Final Thoughts

Cyclamen plants come in a wide range of varieties. In most cases, relatively large species are indoor ones while smaller species are usually hardy and withstand outdoor growing.

If you’re looking for a nice indoor plant, you should consider the Persian Cyclamen or its varieties. On the other hand, outdoor cyclamen exists in multiple species, such as Cyclamen purpurascens and Cyclamen hederifolium.

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