It's been a while since I checked in here. I'm gardening in San Jose,
California (USDA zone 9, Sunset zone 16).
My son likes plants! Last fall, he asked us to buy a "Laser Scarlet"
cyclamen at a local home and garden store, which we potted and enjoyed
on the back patio all winter and spring. Then it went dormant, and
maybe it died.
This season, the store has stocked many more of these plants, and
they're even pretty cheap. So we bought a few more. By now, I've
done some homework, and I've concluded that "Laser Scarlet" is a
cultivar of florist's cyclamen, C. persicum, a perennial native to the
eastern Mediterranean. Knowing that, I thought that we might try them
as a permanent garden feature, given that we live in California.
We've put them straight in the ground this time, in a partly-shaded
area on a slope near our apple tree. I amended the soil with a little
peat moss and sand before planting. So fertility should be good, and
I'm sure that drainage is excellent. I've top-dressed the soil around
the plants with some redwood bark floss, but made sure to keep the
crowns uncovered. I watered them heavily once, when I first put them
in, but have done little to them since.
The plants have been in the ground for a month, and they look quite
I've also planted out the contents of the dormant cyclamen pot from
last season. I'm not sure if there's anything still alive in there.
The roots that I saw looked brown and shrivelled. I didn't want to
dig into the encrusted soil to examine the corm, for fear of breaking
Has anyone tried this species outdoors? I can see that a lot of
gardeners try C. coum or C. hederifolia, but everyone seems to grow C.
persicum as a houseplant. The main problem with C. persicum seems to
be sensitivity to frost.
I do not plan to provide any off-season water for these plants. So
they'll definitely be going dormant in the summer. (I'm not even sure
that I could prevent them from going dormant if I wanted to.) I do
not intend to dig and store the corms, either.
To keep this patch of the garden from looking ugly eight months from
now, I'd like to find a suitable companion plant that, at the least,
is green in the summertime, and whose foliage would not overshadow the
cyclamens while they're putting on their show. Any suggestions? I
was thinking of something like Pacific coast hybrid iris. I have a
surplus of narcissus and freesia bulbs, but I'm not sure that either
will tolerate the shade.
Rainforest laid low.
"Wake up and smell the ozone,"
Says man with chainsaw.
John J. Ladasky Jr., Ph.D.