Cyclamen petals can be white, purple, red or pink.

With its pretty flowers that resemble fluttering butterflies, cyclamens add charm to the home, writes Stephanie Choo

With its pretty flowers that resemble fluttering butterflies, cyclamens add charm to the home, writes Stephanie Choo

CYCLAMEN persicum is known as Persian’s cyclamen. The flowering herbaceous perennial is a member of the primrose family (Primulaceae).Cyclamen or kyklaminos in Greek means circle, derived from the spiralling habit of its stems or rounded tuber.The specific epithet, persicum, is of Persia.

The species is native to the Mediterranean region and Northeast Africa.It is an understory plant that dwells in dry forested areas.The low-growing shrub flourishes and flowers in autumn, winter and spring. It dies in summer.

The five united, twisted and reflexed petals can be in white, purple, red or pink. The fruits have five chambers. Their sticky seeds attract ants. The underground stems which are the tubers are turnip-like and black. Besides attractive blooms, the plant bears beautiful green variegated heartshaped leaves.


Its other common names include Sowbread or Panis porcinus, so named because in its native lands, the tuberous roots are a food source for wild swine.English farmers also call cyclamen Stag truffle.

In herbal traditions of Dioscorides, cyclamen is used to treat snake bites, cataracts, boils and other poisonings. According to folk belief, pregnant women should not walk over a flowering cyclamen as this could induce miscarriage. When cyclamen is added to wine, drinkers can become very drunk. Cakes made using cyclamen are eaten as a love potion.


The cultivars of the species are called florist’s cyclamens. They come in various sizes. The miniature ones like Silver Heart Series, Midori Series, Miracle Series and Silverado Series are about 20cm to 25cm tall only.They are, however, more heat tolerant, tough and longer lasting than the others.

The bestselling Laser Series and the very-stunning Sterling Series, with their unique silver foliage, are about 30cm tall and wide. The bigger varieties are about 35cm to 40cm high. Cultivars like Sierra Series, Winter Ice Series and Rainier Series fall under this category of cyclamens.

The flowers and leaves of florist’s cyclamens come in various colours.The flowers are mostly in shades of pink and are simply irresistible.Other colours include white with a dark eye, red, lilac (or purple) and deep salmon.They look extremely attractive atop the wonderful clumps of mottled foliage.

Laser Series, Silver Heart Series and Miracle Series cyclamens have fragrant flowers. Silverado Series cyclamens have very bright flowers. The Rainier Series has thick stems and is a vigorous growing plant.


Cyclamens prefer cool sheltered shade and mildly alkaline soil.Place them in the coolest or the shadiest part of the garden with some indirect sunlight. The plants should be grown in no bigger than 15cm-pots, which they are usually already in when you purchase them from the nursery. So no repotting is needed.

Water as you would other plants that are in the shade. If grown indoors, settle the potted plant in a cache pot if you wish. Some indirect sunlight or artificial light and an airy spot would benefit the plant. Water only when the surface of soil feels dry to the touch. Avoid wetting the crown of the plant, especially the f lowers, to keep mould or fungal diseases at bay. Remove faded flowers and leaves. Keep the plant growing as long as you can.

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