There are some twenty species of cyclamen, including the commonly available Cyclamen persicum, or florist’s cyclamen. Cyclamen persicum is native to the eastern Mediterranean. Like the primrose, it belongs to the Primulaceae family.
Cultivars of C. persicum are grown mainly as flowering houseplants for the holiday season. Their attractive blooms, ranging in colour from pure white to bright red, and including shades of pink, salmon, mauve and purple, are held above the foliage. The upturned petals in some cultivars are ruffled or fringed and the centres of the flowers are a different colour. The delicate flowers contrast with the often marbled leaves. There are also a number of miniature cultivars that are lightly scented.
Cyclamen are tuberous plants adapted to Mediterranean conditions. They have clearly defined growing, blooming and rest cycles. They bloom mainly in winter and their natural rest period begins in spring. They then enter dormancy during the hot summer months.
The blooming period generally extends from November to March, depending on the cultivar, and a plant may flower for close to three months under suitable conditions.