Gardeners and garden watchers delight in anything alive in late February. Alive and colorful seems almost too much to ask. Unless, that is, you have a spot in your garden for hardy Cyclamen.
Cyclamen are distant plant cousins to primroses and are native around the Mediterranean in Europe, Northern Africa, and Western Asia. Their habitats range from the floor of beech forests, through scrub and rocky areas, and up into alpine meadows. There are twenty species, and there are species that bloom in every month of the year.
In a Colorado garden, give Cyclamen well-draining and thoroughly composted soil. Choose a protected spot, one that will retain leaf cover through the winter and is easily watered. The east side of a house, wall, or large shrub or boulder can be a good spot. The south and west sides might be suitable with dappled shade.
Generally grown from corms, cyclamen are planted just below the soil’s surface and don’t like to be disturbed. Corms live about a decade. The flowers will, however, readily make and sow seed, making them great for naturalizing and for rock gardens.
The pictured Cyclamen was photographed in my garden on February 22. Although the mottled leaves suggest C. hederifolium, a fall blooming species, this is C. coum. Hardy in zones 5-8, the corms may stay dormant for a year after planting, as this one did. But, won’t you agree, it’s well worth the wait. Source McClure and Zimmerman. Further reading The Cyclamen Society.