Sunday, December 15, 2013


In one of the French blogs I follow (Un jardin à Pouzioux), François was saying about a month ago that he had had an attack of cyclamenitis. It is a disease I am quite familiar with, as I suffer from it as well. I don't know what it is about cyclamens that makes them so attractive. In my case, it might be in part because they are not easy to grow in our Ontario climate, and a gardener always loves a challenge. However I love them just as much in Victoria B.C. where not only are they not difficult, but they can be a weed!

Some of you will know places where cyclamens do well. In Victoria, B.C. especially in gardens that have been neglected, you can witness literal invasions of cyclamens. Not only do they grow without any of the TLC I have to provide them with in my own garden to simply insure they survive, but in some cases, they seem intent on taking over whole gardens.

Cyclamens on the move in a lawn
Cyclamens invading a rock garden

There are many species, but I find it difficult to differentiate them by sight. The colour of the flowers and the marking on the leaves are no help as they vary a fair bit within a species. The two species that do best at my place are the hederifolium, which bloom in autumn, and the purpurascens, which bloom from June to September. The are all growing together, so I cannot really tell them apart. I presume that the summer bloomers are purpurascens.  I also have a cyclamen coum in a different part of the garden. However coum is not appropriate to my climate, because in order to see its blooms, I have to shovel off the snow in late winter!

Not only do cyclamens succeed rather well here in Victoria, but their corms can grow to impressive size. The corm on the following picture grows in a public garden here in Victoria. Contrarily to what you would expect, the dinner plate size corms do not seem to produce proportionally bigger plants.

Large cyclamen corm

I have found that the secret to success with them, at least in my part of the world, is leaf mould. They seem to respond very well to a good litter of leaves and will even self seed (very moderately in my own garden). Self-seeding of cyclamens puzzles me. When I read germinating instructions from experts, I am surprised how much they stress that total darkness is required. Some authorities say you cannot even peep at the covered seeds to check if they have started to germinated! This seems suspicious because how would seeds manage to germinate in nature as obviously when they are growing outside they do not get such consistent darkness. Yet, as some of these pictures show, given the right conditions, they can self-seed ferociously.

More invading cyclamens


  1. We have cyclamen hederifolium all over our garden and I have to weed them out - they come up in cracks in paving and some have also made it to the allotment in what must have been old compost.
    Before I knew how easily they self seeded I collected seed and grew some on and they weren't at all difficult to germinate. I have a few cyclamen coum that I grew from seed last year.
    I also have some of the small cyclamen sold as bedding that I grew from seed collected from plants I raised from seed the year before. These were sown under a grow light in a spare bedroom and germinated like weeds. They are just beginning to flower.
    I guess I must have the disease too.

  2. Amazing that they grow like weeds in Victoria. I struck out when I tried to grow them in North Carolina. They do grow here if you know what you're doing, which I clearly didn't. But they sure aren't weeds! I'd call that a lucky problem to have.

  3. My mother has grown cyclamens in Ontario for years -- in pots in the living room. It has never occurred to me that they might be outdoor plants anywhere east of B.C., so congratulations on your efforts!

  4. Cyclamen are doing good in the grass... How magic this must be when they're flowering ! They are good doers when they like their emplacement.
    Like you I'm not able to put in words why I like them so much... but we don't really care, do we ?
    Thanks for those cyclamen
    Bonne journée

  5. Sadly there are many such diseases that afflict gardeners. The perverse thing is that we seek out and cultivate these maladies! There's Rudbeckiacytosis, Eutrochiumalgia, and Hemerocalliasis, and many others. All very dreadful, to be sure.

    1. I have dicentritis and asteramellusus

  6. I've got one in a pot that I've had going for six years now. Hard to imagine it outside, covered in snow! :) There are so many pretty varieties now. Wish they were hardy here.


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