How to grow cyclamen from seed

There are very few plants out there that are hardy enough to flower during the depths of winter, but of those that do Cyclamen species and cultivars are some of the best. Native to Europe and the Mediterranean Basin, Cyclamen are a genus of 23 species of hardy and half/hardy perennials growing from tubers. So if you live in a northern European climate then you will need to consider the hardier varieties.

Growing cyclamen from seed

Cyclamen seeds
In order to obtain the most consistent and highest percentage of seed germination you will require fresh seed. It should be sown as soon as it is ripe, ideally immediately after being gathered but just before the seed pod splits open.

Before sowing, soak the seed in warm water for about 24 hours prior to sowing. To aid the absorption of the water through the seed coat you can add a drop of detergent such as washing-up liquid to the water.

Sow cyclamen seed into trays or pots containing a good quality seed compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting'. This can be done any time from September to March.

The seed should be sown on the surface of the compost, spaced about ¾ inch apart. Cover with a layer of horticultural grit about ¼ inch deep and gently water in.

If you are sowing the seeds from fresh then they will not need to be kept in freezing conditions. However they will require a heated propagator or sealed in a polythene bag and then kept in a warm place at an optimum temperature of 13-15 degrees Celsius. Do not be tempted to keep then at a higher temperature. Furthermore, be aware that light is an inhibitor to germination in cyclamen seed, so for the best germination rates you will need to keep them in the dark.

Cyclamen seedlings
You can expect to see the seedlings emerge from 30 days onwards, at which point they can taken out of the propagator/sealed polythene bag.

They can now be placed in the light, but for now only in a north or east facing window.

Transplant the seedlings into individual 3 inch pots when they are large enough to handle.

They can be grown over the summer in a shaded, ventilated area and then kept at around 10 degrees Celsius during the autumn/winter period. The following spring they can be planted out into their final position.

For related articles click onto the following links:
WINTER ACONITE - Eranthis hyemalis

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