18 November 2012

Psycho for cyclamen

I'm nuts about hardy cyclamen. How nuts? Well... Here is a picture of a shirt my oldest brother made for me one Christmas when I was 16 or so.
Yeah... I was so obsessed with cyclamen and wouldn't stop talking about them so he made me this shirt... It is rather faded with age, but I still love it -- and cyclamen!
C. coum was my first love, because it flowers so incredibly early (the same time as snowdrops for me). Like most gardeners, my love of flowers was soon overtaken by an obsession with foliage. Which C. coum also does pretty darn well.
But C. coum, as lovely as it is, now decidedly takes second place to C. hederifolium
Now THAT is pretty epic foliage diversity!
Not only does the amount and pattern of silver vary wildly, leaf shape is crazy too. I love the long leaf forms we've got at Arrowhead. Stock is low at the moment, but I've sown a massive amount of seed, and we should have more before too long.
C. hederifolium wins for me also for its performance in the garden. C. coum is hardy, but never seems to really thrive for me, while C. hederifolium gets beefy and happy and even seeds around a little.
The flowers are pretty epic as well, coming up in huge numbers in the early fall just before the leaves.
White is even better than the normal pink, to my taste anyway.

Most excitingly, to me anyway, we've for some really cool new cyclamen forms coming along here at Arrowhead... Looking through a seedling batch of C. hederifolium, I spotted a few individuals that show a distinct PINK flush to their leaf surfaces!
Admittedly, the pink color isn't that extreme yet, but if this is what is just popping up from open pollinated seed from our stock plants, I'm very hopefully that a little focused breeding and selection will be able to produce a whole new class of brilliant pink flushed C. hederifolium. Stand by! They're going to be all kinds of awesome.
Also cool this year is this C. coum seedling with MASSIVE leaves! Normal sized leaves are at the top for comparison... I'm hoping the flowers are similarly jumbo, and that it comes true from seed. We shall see.

Finally, there is the one that got away...
How incredibly kick ass is this VARIEGATED C. coum? Sadly, it is also incredibly dead. :( That is the depressing bit about variegated plants... they can be easy to kill, hard to propagate, and once gone, there's no way to bring them back. I'm look through every seedling batch of C. coum carefully, hoping against hope that this gorgeous thing will rear its head again, but chances are it won't... Ah well. We can always dream.


PetalTalk said...

Gorgeous! I'll be watching out for availability of hederefolia. But do you have any Cyclamen purpurascens?

Matt Mattus said...

I want that shirt, Mr. Coum!
Oh, those silver ones are great!

Tom said...

Ok I'm in love with that really narrow leaved one in the 5th picture down.

john said...

I've always been at a loss as to what to combine with C. hererifolium. Any thoughts ??

Joseph said...

Purpurascens isn't as good a grower for us, but we do have a few.

Since they are up in the winter when most other things are dormant I like combining them with perennials like hostas. The cyclamen look great when the perennials are dormant and vice versa.

Kyle Baker said...

they say they're zone 5 hardy...but how far north are folks actually growing them with success.

Joseph said...

Kyle, they are great growers for us here in zone 5 Michigan. Actually just had a conversation with a guy who is growing them in Helsinki Finland! The key is to get them from a good source. The corms can't dry out too much when dormant and many of the big bulb sellers ship dried out plants that are dead on arrival.

nicocia said...

Hello, Joseph.
Like you, I am a big fan of coum. I have been trying growing purprascens from seeds the past couple of years but I succeeded only one time, unfortunately it did not survive michigan's winter, though..

Barry Parker said...

Hi Joseph,

The pink flush on the leaves is typical of C. mirabile, could those plants you show have some C. mirabile genes?

Joseph said...

Barry, we don't grow any C. mirabile, and these are plants from seeds we collected from stock plants at the nursery, so I don't think it they are hybrids. I think we just got lucky.

Barry Parker said...

Hi Joseph, You inspired me to do a post on Cyclamen foliage ( with a link to you). Many Thanks.

Barry Parker said...

Hi Joseph,

I just found in Christopher Grey-Wilson's book "Cyclamen' the following:
"Incidentally, the red coloration is not confined to C. miracle, although it is most pronounced in that species;some forms of C. hederifolium and C. intaminatum can also display pink on the upper surface of the younger leaves"
You live and learn.

Roger Brook - No Dig Gardener said...

Your cyclamen look absolutely fantastic, I wish my C.coum were as good as yours. I am not sure I am so keen on the large clump with extreme variegation, looks a little like it might be due to a virus? I have a hederifolium which has pleasantly yellow foliage, but that looks like a virus too. (Thats not to say some variegated plants known to be due to virus are not magnificent)
You might be interested in my own post about cyclamen on my blog last month)

Susan in the Pink Hat said...

Very pleased to see the C. hederefolia 'Pure Silver Leaf' of yours pulled through. Also very happy you put them on sale so I could buy more.

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