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Friday, December 9, 2011

Plant Lover

One of the joys of growing plants is that I get to fall in love every year.  Usually several times. 

The object of my affection this time of year is the lovely Cyclamen.  It all starts in late summer when the summer dormant Cyclamen hederifolium tuber sends out flowers in shades of pink or white.

Just when many garden plants have finished their show, bright splashes of color appear in the dark corners of the garden as this fall flowering Cyclamen spring to life.

It can be fascinating just to compare plants of this highly variable species.  Along with or soon after it begins to flower, Cyclamen hederifolium foliage unfurls.  Leaf shape can vary from broad and heart-shaped to narrow and spear-shaped and just about anything in between.  Leaves can be glossy or dull, bright green to silver, heavily patterned or plain.

With the onset of warm weather the following spring, the foliage of Cyclamen hederifolium dies back for a summer rest.  But the fun is not over.  If you look closely, you will see that the seed capsules have ripened and spilled seeds on the ground around the tuber.  These seeds will emerge as seedlings in fall and provide new plants to enjoy in future years.

Cyclamen hederifolium is a reliably cold hardy (reported hardy to Zone 4) and adaptable species.  It can be grown in sun to shade and does particularly well when grown in dry to moderately moist, humus rich soils under deciduous trees where it will seed itself to form large drifts over time.

Cyclamen hederifolium is native to a large geographical region in the Mediterranean from SE France through Italy and eastward to Southern Turkey.  It grows in a variety of habitats from woodlands to rocky hillsides and from sea level to elevations of over 4,000 feet.

Being a Mediterranean plant, Cyclamen hederifolium is adapted to dry summer conditions and can be grown in the dry shade in Western woodland gardens.  Just another reason to fall in love all over again!


  1. Emma,
    Those we purchased from you and planted last spring, under and between a Doug Fir and a Beech at Pittock, slept quietly all summer. Then, in October, pink and white heads nodded on stems above the bare ground for a few days before the foliage appeared, just as you described. We've also planted some Cyclamen coum whose small round leaves will last through the winter and start to die back right after they bloom in late February or March. With both, just when you have completely forgotten about them, they return to bring an occasional, "Ooh-ooh", and always a smile. Skip

  2. Very cool! It would also be very nice to add Cyclamen purpurascens to the Pittock garden. It is a mid-summer bloomer with a wonderful fragrance and it has evergreen foliage which gives it four season interest. We had some at the nursery last summer that I think ended up at a Seattle area public garden. There are more in seed pots that should be ready to go in a season or two....

  3. The C.purpurascens has been on my 'future' list, as I'm hoping to have these surprises of butterfly-like blooms alight in our new woodland area through out the year (not to mention the oh-so-interesting foliage). Glad to know I can watch for it at WGF. s