Cyclamen, also called Persian violet, is one of the most popular winter flowering plants in Europe due to its particular beauty.
1. Taxonomy and Origin
Cyclamen, also called Persian Violet, is one of the most popular winter flowering plants in Europe due to its particular beauty. Its name derives from the Greek word Kyclos, meaning circle, and refers to the peduncles of flowers of some species that curls.
Within the genus Cyclamen (Primulaceae family), about 15 species are included, although the varieties that are cultivated are derived from C. persicum. This species comes from the Middle East, the Aegean Islands and Persia, and originally presents small and delicate flowers, and almost entirely green leaves. However, modern varieties have a wide range of flower colours ranging from white to scarlet, to pink hues, purple and salmon.
- Bulbous plant, perennial with a maximum height of 30-38cm although some species are considered dwarfs. It is also attractive for its lively colours. It has a thick tuber which is dark, round and flattened.
- Leaves: Fleshy and heart-shaped with a long petiole. They show different patterns, forming silver spots on a dark green background.
Cyclamen leaves. Photo: Erutuon
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- Flowers: Solitary and hermaphrodites. They are located at the tip of the stalk. It consists of five wavy and velvety petals that turned backwards and have different bright colours (from white to red). It blooms from fall to spring.
Cyclamen flower. Photo: Gailhampshire
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Cyclamen flowers. Photo: A Yee
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- Fruit: a capsule which takes 4-5 months to ripen.
It is a typically dormant plant during hot and dry season and it sprouts when temperatures decrease and during the onset of rainy seasons. It is a plant that can last for years if it is kept in the right conditions. Its production is carried out throughout the year, although sales are oriented generally from October to February.
When grouping the varietal types, various classifications can be found (Jiménez y Caballero):
- «Pastel» type, developed in Germany, France and Belgium, most important markets. Famous varieties are: «Johann Strauss», «J. Brahms» and other names of famous musicians.
- Classic or large-flowered type. They include the so-called «Aaalsmeer», with series like «Rosa of Zalendorf», «Arlequín», «Sylphide», «Cardinal», etc.
- F1 hybrids with different characteristics of each seed company lines: «Firmament», «Virgo», «Concerto», «Carmen», «Pastourelle», «Rosamunde», etc.
- Miniature Type, with increasing importance: «Syrius», «Willie», «Brigitte», «Collete», «Anglia», etc.
- «Rococo » type which was cultivated 20 years ago.
3. EDAPHOCLIMATIC REQUIREMENTS
- Temperature: There are different opinions when it comes to establishing an optimal temperature. It is a plant that does not like high temperatures so it could be established a range of about 12-20°C. It can withstand even -5ºC. The plant prefers shady, cool and moist places.
- Light: sixth week after planting, the plants should be placed in a bright place. Mobile shading systems facilitate lighting control, which influence the improvement of production. It is not advisable to place them in direct sunlight because the flowers would last less time.
- Soil/Substrate: Cool soil that drains to avoid excess of water. The pH should be about 6.
- Humidity: Average humidity.
- Watering: Watering is best to carry them out by capillarity as this plant is very sensitive to excess moisture. Keep in mind that this plant is at dormant state in the summer so that the risks will be lower during this season.
Commercial propagation is exclusively via seeds, mainly from specialized seed houses, since obtaining the seed presents difficulties; the germination decreases rapidly after three years.
The sowing is carried out in 3 cm multi-locular trays, covering the seed with some substrate. This substrate should have a pH close to 6, being appropriate to provide a complete fertilizer with microelements. After about 1 week, fertigation should be done with low concentrations of nutrients.
The time required for germination is about 4 weeks, with an optimum temperature of 18-20°C, minimum of 15°C and a maximum of 22°C. Dark chamber germination can also be used at 17°C.
The appearance of the first leaves occurs 80-90 days after sowing.
In breeding programs and hybrid production, division of corms and propagation in vitro can be performed.
Planting should be done from early autumn to late winter in order to obtain flowers for the following year.
- Transplantation: 4-5 months after sowing, 10-12 leaves state, can be planted into an 8-9 cm pot and then to 12-14 cm container. However, it can be planted directly to the final container if there is a proper control of irrigation and fertilization and if a balanced substrate is used. In case of mini-cyclamen, planting is done directly in the final container (8-9 cm).
5. GROWING TECHNIQUES
- It is a plant that is not pruned. It is recommended to remove only the wilted leaves and flowers. In this way, the appearance of parasitic diseases can be avoided.
- Fertigation: watering with plain water depending on weather conditions and fertigation every 10-15 days, at a rate of 0.1 g of fertilizer per litre of water, taking care not to overdose with nitrogen to prevent excessive leaf development. Potassium is decisive for the quality of flowering. Fertilizer spikes that are inserted into the ground can also be used.
- Floral induction: once the plant has reached the right size, 13-15°C night temperatures stimulate flowering. 20-30 ppm of GA3 can also be applied directly to the central crown, although care must be taken into account to avoid etiolation of peduncles.
6. PESTS AND ILLNESSES
Highlights the mite Stenotarsonemus pallidus by giving leaves and flowers a crumpled appearance. Other insect pests that attack the cyclamen are spider mites, aphids and thrips. A series of preventive programs and curative treatments with acaricides and insecticides should be done.
In seedlings, Phythium debaryanum Hesse and Rhizoctonia solani Kühn can attack seedlings which rot and wilt shortly after germination. The most effective preventive control is through substrate sterilization.
Root rot: A disease caused by the fungus Thielaviopsis basicola Berk, that causes wilting and discoloration of the leaves and even plant growth detention due to the destruction of the root system. The preventive control is to disinfect the substrate, prevent water-logging and excessive watering and fertilization, particularly at low temperatures.
Rhizome rot: Fusarium oxysporum Schel is the causative agent of this disease. Leaf yellowing occurs and even causes death of the plant. Just like the previous case, preventive control is essential. It is done by disinfecting the substrate, cleaning maintenance, removal of diseased plants, etc.
Rot roots, rhizomes and petioles: Caused by the fungus Cylindrocarpon radicicola Wr. Certain crop conditions enhance the attack of this fungus: excessive irrigation, poor drainage, excessive nitrogen fertilization, etc.
Grey mould: Causal agent: Botrytis cinerea. It is characterized by the appearance of brown spots on the leaves and flowers, which are covered with a gray powder. Diseased parts should be removed and ventilation must be improved.
- Flaccid leaves and flowers due to high temperatures along with dry conditions.
- Yellow leaves that begin to wilt due to high temperatures and low light. It may also be due to an excess of lime.
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