About 20 species of plant make up the Cyclamen group, and Cyclamen persicum is a cultivated species that grows well in pots. The plant grows from a tuber, and produces scented long-stemmed flowers that range from white to purple. Also known as florist's cyclamen, this species can thrive in the wild or as a houseplant, and grows best in moderate temperatures.
Cyclamen persicum grows wild in the countries that form the eastern and southern coastlines of the Mediterranean sea, from Turkey along the Middle East, to Algeria. As this natural range experiences hot, dry summers, the plant has evolved to lay dormant over the summer period. The colorful flowers bloom during the colder months of the rest of the year, and this trait of the wild plant extends to the cultivated varieties of the Cyclamen persicum.
The cultivated varieties of Cyclamen persicum are potted plants, and are suitable for indoor growth. The plant grows from a large tuber, which is also the dormant form of the plant. At its maximum height, a cyclamen can be up to 16 inches (about 40 cm) tall. Garden centers typically sell cyclamens in a pot when the green and silver leaves, which are shaped like a heart, are thriving, and the plant has some flowers on it.
Flowers of the Cyclamen persicum can be white, pink or red. They grow up from the center of the tuber and differ in appearance depending on the particular variety. Some may have a single row of petals, for example, where others have frilled petals. Flowering lasts for about one month, and after this time, the cyclamen falls back into dormancy. During this time, the leaves wither and become yellowed.
In dormancy, the plant saves all its energy for the tuber, which, in nature, is the part that survives the harsh sun of the summer period. Householders who like the plant for its decorative nature in colder times may throw away the cyclamen once it turns dormant, as treating the tuber so it grows again is complicated.
When the plant is not dormant, it prefers a pot with a moist soil, as too much water can result in tuber rot. During the day, an ambient temperature of 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit(about 15 to 18 degrees Celsius) is a suitable range, as higher temperatures can prevent growth. Lots of light also helps the plant thrive, although direct, harsh sunlight may damage it. Propagation is a complex process with Cyclamen persicum, as seed growth can take about a year of preparation, and propagation directly from the tuber may not survive.