Also known as Persian violet or alpine violet, the cyclamen genus (cyclamen spp.) consists of about 20 flowering perennials. Cyclamen flowers are characterised by mottled, heart shaped leaves and pink, red or white flowers. Common cyclamen types such as florist's cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) and baby cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium) can be grown both indoors and out with a moderate amount of care.
The cyclamen is native to Europe and the Mediterranean east to Iran. Cyclamen plants prefer cool environments, and do best with a daytime temperature between 15.5 to 18.3 C (60 to 65 F) and a nighttime temperature of around 10 C (50 F). Indoor plants do best in bright, indirect light, while outdoor plants prefer dappled sunlight. Do not place plants under a heat vent or in other areas with hot, drying air, as this will leach moisture from the soil.
Grow cyclamen plants in a moderately fertile, humus-rich soil that is also well draining. Water regularly to keep the soil moist, but not wet or water logged. Mulch annually before winter frosts to help keep the soil warm, and reduce watering during the plant's winter dormancy. Remove spent flowers to prolong the blooming period and to give the plant a healthy, tidy appearance. Fertilise monthly with a diluted, liquid fertiliser during the growing season.
Cyclamen plants go dormant after flowering, losing their leaves to conserve energy. Gardeners may attempt to re-bloom the plant, although this is difficult indoors due to low light levels. Water occasionally during the dormancy to keep the soil from drying out completely, and keep the plant in a shady area. When new leaves appear, move the plant to a bright, sunny location and water and fertilise the plant regularly. With sufficient care, the plant will bloom again by midwinter.
Cyclamen plants are hardy plants that are generally pest and disease free. Indoor plants are sometimes attacked by common house plant pests such as aphids, mealy bugs, thrips and spider mites. Pests may be controlled with an insecticidal soap. Plants infested by cyclamen mites should be discarded, as the bugs are difficult to get rid of permanently. Plants grown in temperatures that exceed 21 degrees C (70 F) will fail to produce buds and will not flower.