Cyclamen hederifolium: Ivyleaf Cyclamen, an unsung herald of fall
Not all fall color comes from leaves. Cyclamen hederifolium, the Ivyleaf Cyclamen, is an unsung herald of fall. In September and October, it emerges from summer dormancy with diminutive beauty. This little treasure is easy to grow in shade/part-shade. It's lovely under trees, under big shrubs that have been limbed up, at the front edges of patios and pathways--anywhere that their bright, graceful blooms can brighten your way as the dark months approach.
Its mottled foliage remains attractive throughout the winter. So it's handy to use in sequential plantings with herbaceous perennials whose presence is down in winter.
In my own garden, I grow them near our front door, under a Hinoki Cypress. The following first two photos are shot from above:
The Cyclamen and Baby's Tears are an example of a sequencing or succession-planting pair, as they are each dormant in opposite seasons. They're also nice texture complements, and color complements.
The scattering Cyclamen blossoms remind me of Edgar Degas' dancers...
petals dropping, ballerinas bending down.
This little patch steels my heart every October!
To encourage the Cyclamen to spread, I could fertilize, top dress with some good compost, maybe irrigate a little more. I could also pull away the Baby's Tears on occasion—an easy task. But this little Cyclamen patch has plugged along for many years with my benign neglect. The clump does "move" a bit, I suspect because new seeds bed down here and there, as they are known to do. (This is probably not the original that I planted years ago.) A very forgiving plant.
This post is not about Baby's Tears, but I should note that I do grow both the Soleirolia and the Cyclamen with very little summer irrigation, and the Baby's Tears does not overstep where it's welcome. In other parts of the country, in rich moist soil, I've heard the Soleirolia can be invasive. But I've never experienced that here. Other ground covers have certainly spread more aggressively under this same Hinoki, but not this.
The photos above were taken in mid-October, with the flowers blooming first, before the foliage fully emerged.
Two to three weeks later it looks like this:
By early November, the foliage is higher, and will remain attractive throughout the winter.
Cyclamen hederifolium is a sweetheart of a plant, hardy in USDA zones 5-9. The little tubers grow well from the pots you'll find in garden centers now. It's drought tolerant (when established), deer resistant, and likes shade. Highly recommend.
Do you grow this or other hardy Cyclamen? How are they performing for you?