Mini cyclamens offer the same eye-catching foliage and lovely heart-shaped flowers as a florist’s cyclamen but in a miniature package. These flowers come in pink, red, and white and stand out beautifully against the rounded, dark green leaves with gray-green markings. Because of their winter blooms, they are famous gifts for the winter holidays. Mini cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) are toxic to pets and humans.
|Common Name||Mini cyclamen|
|Botanical Name||Cyclamen persicum|
|Plant Type||Perennial, tuber|
|Mature Size||4-6 in. tall, 4-6 in. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Partial, shade|
|Soil Type||Loamy, well-drained|
|Soil pH||Acidic, neutral|
|Flower Color||Red, pink, white|
|Hardiness Zones||10-11, USA|
|Native Area||Europe, Mediterranean|
|Toxicity||Toxic to humans, toxic to pets|
Mini Cyclamen Care
These plants thrive as indoor potted plants or can be grown outdoors in zones 10 and 11. Mini cyclamen require cool temperatures to bloom and do so in the wintertime. They are very moisture-sensitive and are prone to develop rot if too wet. Mini cyclamen fare the best in an area with bright, indirect lighting and good air circulation. Common problems include mites and botrytis.
Keep in mind that mini cyclamen are toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. According to a case study published in Veterinary and Human Toxicology, these plants (especially the tubers) are also toxic to humans, though the incidence of serious exposure is very low.
As a houseplant, the mini cyclamen requires bright, indirect light, such as a north or east-facing window. When planted outdoors, filtered light is most desirable. Mini cyclamens do best when planted in a sheltered area, such as under a tree.
Mini cyclamen are sensitive to moisture on their leaves or flowers. When watering, it is very important to water only at the soil line to avoid getting the foliage wet. Alternatively, mini cyclamens respond well to being watering from the bottom rather than the top. To do this, simply place the pot into a tray of water and allow the root system to suck up the water for the day.
For mini cyclamens grown in the garden, be sure to water at ground level and allow the soil to dry out in between waterings.
Temperature and Humidity
These little plants like cool, humid climates lower than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They do not handle high heat well, so be sure to keep them away from any heaters or vents if grown inside. High heat can cause these plants to go dormant. Mini cyclamen also do not handle drafts well, so keep them away from any drafty areas.
Interestingly, these cool weather-loving plants are suited for outdoor growing only in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11, where they bloom in the moderate winters and go dormant in the hot summers.
Mini cyclamen plants benefit from a weak solution of low-nitrogen liquid fertilizer given every month or two during the winter. This will help promote healthy growth and flowering.
Propagating Mini Cyclamen
Propagation can be done by dividing the tuber in the fall. However, you should know that propagating mini cyclamen plants can be challenging since cut tubers can rot. Patience and persistence are needed. You will need sharp garden snips, a well-draining pot, and well-draining soil. Then, follow these steps:
- Carefully dig up the tuber of the mini cyclamen.
- Using clean, sharp garden snips, cut the tuber into two pieces.
- Plant each piece in its own pot, burying to a depth of about 2 inches.
- Water around the edges of the tuber or from the bottom of the pot. Roots will take time to form, and new growth should appear the following season.
How to Grow Mini Cyclamen From Seed
Propagating these plants from seed can also be a challenge, but offers an alternative means of growing mini cyclamen. Here’s how to do it:
- Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours.
- Plant them into well-draining soil, lightly covering them.
- Keep the seeds in a cool, dark place.
- Place the pots in a shallow tray of water to moisten the soil. Remove after the soil is moist, then repeat once it begins to dry.
- Germination may take several months. Once seedlings appear, move them to an area with bright, indirect lighting or place them under grow lights.
- Once they are a few inches tall, thin them out. Replant the seedlings into individual pots when each tuber has sprouted at least a few leaves.
Potting and Repotting Mini Cyclamen
When potting a mature mini cyclamen, be sure to cover its tuber very lightly so that it is sticking out of the ground at least slightly. This will allow for proper airflow and prevent rot.
Mini cyclamen should be repotted in the fall, right before their growth really takes off. To do this, gently remove the tuber from the soil and place it in a pot that leaves around 2 inches of space around the tuber. Bury it in well-draining soil, allowing the tuber to stick slightly out of the soil. Water around the tuber at the soil line or water from the bottom of the pot.
Many popular houseplants require special care during winter, but the mini cyclamen does its best work during this season. Instead of becoming dormant, these plants bloom during the winter months. For optimal blooming and health, be sure these plants receive bright, indirect light and provide a low-nitrogen fertilizer every month or two.
As spring approaches, the mini cyclamen will begin to go dormant for the hotter season and you'll need to adjust care as you would when overwintering other plant species. Withhold fertilizer, but continue to water as usual. When the leaves begin to yellow as the temperatures rise, withhold water and allow the plant to die back completely. Keep the plant in a dark place until fall. When fall arrives, place it in bright, indirect lighting and start to water again.
How to Get Mini Cyclamen to Bloom
Mini cyclamen are famous for their unique flower shape. Their red, pink, or white blooms dip over, facing downward. However, the petals curl back, giving these blooms an upright appearance. They have a strong floral scent. These pretty blooms appear yearly during the winter months, when most other flowers disappear.
To encourage blooming, give these plants low-nitrogen liquid fertilizer during their growing season. Deadhead spent or damaged blooms to encourage more blooming and to prevent rot from forming and spreading to the tuber. Be sure to remove the whole stem all the way down to the tuber.
Common Problems With Mini Cyclamen
Given the right conditions, mini cyclamen plants will thrive both indoors and outside. But if conditions dip outside of this plant's preferred range, problems can affect the plant's health and growth.
Yellowing Leaves and Fading Blooms
This condition often occurs when temperatures are too warm. Move the plant away from any heat sources, including bright sunlight, and allow it to acclimate to the cooler temperatures.
Drooping leaves are often an indicator of overwatering, which can lead to rot. If this occurs, cut back on watering until the soil feels dry. Move the mini cyclamen to an area with good air circulation to ensure there is not too much moisture.
Are mini cyclamen indoor plants?
Yes, mini cyclamen are popular indoor plants to grow, especially during the winter when they bloom. In USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11 they can also be grown outdoors.
Do mini cyclamen come back every year?
Although it may look like this plant has died when summer rolls around, the mini cyclamen is a perennial and will come back yearly. It simply enters dormancy during the summer and will grow again when the fall season arrives.
Should I deadhead mini cyclamen?
Yes, deadheading is important to encourage blooming, to keep the plant clean, and to prevent any rot from forming and spreading to the tuber.
“Cyclamen.” Aspca.Org, https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/cyclamen.
Spoerke, D. G., et al. “Toxicity of Cyclamen Persium (Mill).” Veterinary and Human Toxicology, vol. 29, no. 3, 1987, pp. 250–251.