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Powerhouse Plant For All Seasons: Cyclamen coum

Cyclamen coum 'Maurice Dryden'. Image ©GardenPhotos.comTime for a look at another Powerhouse Plant, these are Plants For All Seasons - individual varieties which bring colour and interest to the garden for at least two seasons of the year. I feature over five hundred of them in my latest book, Powerhouse Plants, and every month in Gardeners' World, Britain’s top-selling garden magazine (and also available in the US) I focus on one very special Plant For All Seasons, highlighting three features of a single variety that bring color to the garden at different times of the year. This month, in the magazine, I feature Spiraea ‘Goldflame’ and next month it’s the lovely but long-winded Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum ‘Variegatum’.

And every month or two, here on my Transatlantic Gardener blog, I bring you details of another Powerhouse Plant this month it’s Cyclamen coum (left, click to enlarge).

This unexpectedly tough little plant from Turkey and the Caucasus (hardy to z5, -29C) has two special features. First there are the small, neat, rounded, rather leathery leaves. These can be beautifully silvered, with or without a green edge, but in some cases are a rather dull uniform green – of course, choose the former. They emerge in the autumn and are followed in winter and spring (depending on the climate) by flowers made up of five reflexed petals held above the leaves on individual stems; in some cases, the flowers are attractively scented.

The flowers come in a range of colors from pure white through various pink shades to magenta and including some lovely bicolors like this one (above, click to enlarge) which is ‘Maurice Dryden’ whose pinkish red stems are another highlight.

So, with its long season of silvered foliage partially overlapping with its small colorful flowers, this is an easy and reliable little plant for a shady or partially shaded site and preferably in rich but well-drained soil. In fact this one of the easiest of all garden cyclamen and usually self sows once established. It’s lovely under hellebores with wild crocus such as C. tommasinianus.

There many varieties of Cyclamen coum, and they all set out in Chris Grey-Wilson’s excellent book Cyclamen: A Guide for Gardeners, Horticulturalists and Botanists (available in the UK and also in the US). Varieties to look out for include ‘Maurice Dryden’ (above) and ‘Silver Leaf’ although some nurseries sell them under descriptive names such as “Silver/Pewter Leaves, White Flowers”.

In North America you can order Cyclamen coum from Edgewood Gardens and in Britain you can order Cyclamen coum from Potterton’s Nursery.

North American readers can find out more about Powerhouse Plants here.

British readers can find out more about Powerhouse Plants here.


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Lesley Cox

My plants are already well into leaf with a few early budas as well, even though it is early autumn here in New Zealand. So I'll expect at least 8 months of interest and pleasure from this choice but easy plant. I have them massed under a magnolia tree where their various leaf forms are making, after just one year planted out after a house/garden move,a beautiful, tapestried carpet, soon to be dotted liberally with pink, white and red bloom.

Graham Rice

You're right, Lesley, eight months of colour from one easy little plant is remarkable, isn't it?! And so many people still know cyclamen only as the indoor pot plant that they kill by overwatering! Well, they should try this one.

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