While begonias and impatiens may not be up to the challenge of colder temperatures, cyclamen are colorful, shade-loving annuals that are willing to take on the challenge. With bright, bold, vibrant color, cyclamen are perfect options for seasonal change in your containers or landscapes.

Cyclamen are beautiful winter annuals for San Antonio.
Cyclamen are beautiful winter annuals for San Antonio.

Cyclamen comes in a variety of colors to choose from like: pure white, scarlet, wine, purple, lilac, salmon-coral, hot-pink rose, and cotton candy pink. The sizes you can find cyclamen in are standard/large, growing to heights of about 10-12 inches, and dwarf/mini growing to heights of about 4-6 inches. Cyclamens come with a standard bloom that kind of resembles an open tulip, or with a frilly bloom that adds some unique texture to the plant. You’ll just have to find the cyclamen that best suits your aesthetic.

Late October through early November is the perfect time for cyclamen to be planted and established. They need the consistent cooler weather to thrive. Cyclamen have tolerated our winters very well, and unless the weather stays cold for a long period of time you can expect blooms everyday all through winter and into spring.

 A short freeze probably wont bother these toughies, but if we have a prolonged freeze predicted or an ice storm, it will do you good to toss a blanket over them for some protection. Cyclamen are best suited for your garden areas with filtered sun, or A.M. sun/P.M. shade. They certainly cannot take the blazing direct sun.

If we don’t have rainfall you will need to water them about twice a week. Aim your watering for the soil UNDER the leaves as much as you can. Splashing water all over the flowers and foliage can cause your leaves, stems, and flowers to rot. Drip systems are ideal for this type of watering. Cyclamens, like all winter annuals, do best when planted in beds that are enriched with compost and other organic matter. Adding some blood/bone meal fertilizer into the garden bed or into potting mixtures in containers gives your cyclamen a great start. Offer your cyclamen a water-soluble fertilizer about every 10-14 days to keep the gorgeous blooms coming.

If you have a bright, sunlit spot indoors you can add a cyclamen to your indoor décor. Give cyclamen a pot with a nice drainage hole, and remove excess water from the saucer under your plant 2o minutes after watering and when the plant has had time to drain. Water your potted cyclamen when the top 2 inches of soil are dry (check by sticking your finger into the soil). Feed your potted cyclamen the same way as noted in paragraph above.

Anyone who has grown cyclamen in the past is always happy to see them return to the nursery in fall. I strongly urge you to give them a try, whether in the ground, a pot on a shady patio, or as a welcome addition to your indoor plant family.

~The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy