Cyclamen graecum are appreciated for their wonderful rosettes of superbly marbled leaves. The markings of which are infinitely variable and include some of the most striking patterns and vivid colour combinations found in the entire genus.
Although, the basic colour is green, though all shades from dark velvety almost black-green through grey-green to lime and silver can be found. The leaf pattern is usually contrasting blotches or bands of cream, green, grey, or silver. The combinations are so numerous that a collection of different leaf forms could be a study in itself. In addition, pure silver leaf forms have been discovered.
The flowers of Cyclamen graecum bloom in early autumn. They appear either just before or with the marbled leaves and have five petals The bases of the petals are curled outwards into auricles and are often fragrant. The colours vary from pale pink to deep carmine, the flowers have a magenta blotch at the base and are veined in red. There is also a rare albino form.
Cyclamen graecum has a wild distribution which includes the southern parts of the mainland of Greece and the south coast of Turkey, and part of the north of Cyprus. It is happy growing both in deep pine needle litter and the hardest of conglomerates. The plant has a very corky tuber and is alone in the genus in having thick, strong, fleshy anchor roots sprouting from the centre of the bottom of the tuber. There is evidence that earlier flowering is encouraged if the plant receives a degree of baking in the summer, as long as there is a little moisture at the end of the roots.
In cultivation, some forms of the plant will withstand significant frost, particularly if the tuber is deeply planted. In colder northern areas with icy winters, and unpredictable winter thaws they can be challenging to keep and are best grown in a frost free greenhouse where they will thrive. Although usually planted near the surface of the compost, they do best in deep pots which will accommodate their fleshy roots.
Sowing: Sow as soon as possible at cool temperatures.
Growing from seed is quite straightforward, though you may have to wait quite some time before the first flowers appear, typically 18 months to two years.
Cyclamen have been found to germinate best in total darkness at around 13 to 16°C (55 to 60°F). Stored seed can be sown from late winter to mid-spring to flower in autumn of the same year. The seed must be soaked in water for 10 hours or more and then rinsed thoroughly before sowing.
Sow the seed into small pots containing a fairly light, gritty soil and lightly cover with soil. Most of the seed should germinate in 28 to 42 days but some may be considerably longer. Do not throw away the pots for at least one year.
The seedlings may be pricked out into individual 7.5cm (3in) pots as soon as they are large enough to easily handle without damaging their fleshy stems. Pot on year-old seedlings and grow for another year before planting outside permanently. Try to site the tubers where excess moisture can drain away. The tops of the corms should be level with the surrounding earth or just submerged.
Cyclamen generally prefer partial shade, very well drained, dry soil and cool conditions. They dislike old manure or excessive feeding. They will need mulching each year with leaf-mould. They thrive in lightly shaded rockeries, growing happily in the crevices between rocks and also adapt well to container cultivation, especially in alpine troughs. Most species have a preference for neutral to slightly alkaline conditions. Adding a few limestone chips to the soil aids the drainage and keeps the pH about right. That said, tough species like hederifolium usually adapt well to being cultivated with acid soil plants such as ericas and dwarf rhododendrons, so don't be afraid to experiment.
Once settled, they will soon self-seed freely and can spread considerably to cover large areas. Nature is never more ingenious than in the distribution of cyclamen seeds. As the flowers fade after pollination, the stem coils both directions, starting from the centre, not from the top as in Cyclamen hederifolium. The seed case expands, protected by the emerging leaves, then splits, exposing the seeds.
The seeds a sticky, starchy coating that changes to sugar, called an elaiosome it attracts ants and wasps. They carry the seed away, eat the elaiosome and discard the seed - ensuring that young plants do not compete with their parents. New plants may be raised by collecting the golden-brown seed as soon as the capsules split in late summer.
Shade/Woodland Gardens, Rock gardens, Containers, Underplanting
Cyclamen graecum is a very variable species with a wild distribution which includes the southern parts of the mainland of Greece, most of the Peloponnese, the Sardonic Islands, the Sporades, the islands of the eastern Aegean, Crete, Rhodes, the south coast of Turkey, and part of the north of Cyprus.
It is at home on stable screes and other rocky habitats, and is happy growing both in deep pine needle litter and the hardest of conglomerates. Its altitude ranges from sea level where it can be found within a couple of metres of the high water mark, to 1200m. It is classified in the family Primulaceae.
The name Cyclamen comes from the Greek word kyklos meaning 'ring' or 'circle', and amen (from the Hebrew) meaning ‘truly’ in reference to the coiled fruiting stalk or the rounded tubers.
The species name graecum simply means from Greece and reflects its Eastern Mediterranean origin.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 10 Seeds Family Primulaceae Genus Cyclamen Species graecum Common Name Greek Cyclamen Other Common Names Wild Cyclamen Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers White, Pink and Rosy-Red Natural Flower Time Autumn Foliage Mottled silver grey. Smooth textured Height 10 to 15cm (4 to 6in) Spread 22 to 30cm (9 to 12in) Position Light Shade