This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(classical name, probably from the Greek word for circle, in allusion to the spirally twisted peduncles). Primulaceae. Herbaceous and low plants, with a flattish tuber or corm, grown sometimes in the open and one of them much prized as a florist's and window-garden subject.
Flower single, on a scape, with usually 5-parted calyx and corolla (the parts strongly reflexed), 5 con-nivent stamens, with pointed sessile anthers, 1 style and stigma, and a 5-splitting caps.: leaves cordate or reniform, long-petioled, entire or sinuate-dentate: flowers nodding or declined, purple, rose or white. - About 20 species of the Medit. region, extending to Cent. Eu. C. persicum is the source of the standard florists' cyclamens. Most of the other species are essentially outdoor plants. They are little known in outdoor planting in N. Amer., however. The European catalogues list several species aside from C. persicum, and they are here described; and others are included in the supplementary list that are recently mentioned in horticultural literature. Old English name sow-bread, from the tubers being sought by swine. Consult fruit Hildebrand, Die Gattung Cyclamen, Jena, 1898; also Pax & Knuth in Engler's Pflanzenreich, hft. 22, 1905.
All cyclamens are very beautiful, and would be much more popular were they hardy in our eastern climate. On the Pacific slope many of them probably would be perfectly at home as outdoor plants, producing a great number of flowers above the bare soil in the depth of winter before the leaves are developed. - It is, however, with the Persian cyclamen (C. persicum), which is tender, that florists have had the greatest success. There is no common winter-flowering subject of as much value for duration in bloom, variety of coloring, or wealth of color. It is preferable at all times to begin the culture of Persian cyclamen with seeds, sown in the early winter months. Grow on without any check for the following year. They should bloom freely about fifteen months from planting. Old tubers, such as are offered in fall with other florists' bulbs, rarely give satisfaction as compared with a packet of seeds. It is not the nature of the plant to have all its roots dried off, as if it were a hyacinth or tulip. Our summers are rather too warm to suit cyclamen perfectly, and it will be found that the most growth is made in the early autumn. It is best to give the plants a little shade in the hot months, such as a frame outdoors near the shade of overhanging trees at midday.
This is better than growing them under painted glass, as more fight is available, together with plenty of fresh air on hot days. It will be found that cyclamen seeds require a long time in which to germinate,-often two months. This is due to the fact that the seed produces a bulb or corm before leaf-growth is visible. As soon as two leaves are well developed, place the plants around the edge of 4- or 5-inch pots until every one is large enough for a 3-inch pot. The roots are produced sparingly in the initial stages, and too much pot-room would be fatal at the start. By the middle of summer another shift may be given, and in September all will be ready for the pots in which they are to flower,-5- or 6-inch pots, according to the vigor of the plants. It will always be found, however, that there will be a certain percentage that will not grow, no matter how much persuasion is used. These may be thrown away, to save time and labor early in the season. In the house they should have the lightest bench. It is impossible to grow them in a warm, shady house. About 50° at night is the ideal temperature when in flower. The best soil is a fresh, tufty loam, with a fourth or fifth of well-rotted horse-manure, to which add some clean sand if the soil is heavy.