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Persian Violet Cyclamen

Other plants called Persian Violet:

Previously known as:

  • Cyclaminos Heldr.
  • Cyclaminum Bubani
  • Cyclaminus Haller
Phonetic Spelling
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below

Cyclamen is the name for a genus of 23 species of flowering herbaceous perennials that grow from a tuber. They are a member of the family Primulaceae or primrose family. They prefer to be planted under trees or shrubs and are best planted with other small plants. They have a mounded growth habit. Their leaves may be heart-shaped or kidney-shaped with marbled variegations. The blooms range in color from white, pink, magenta, red, or lavender. They typically bloom from fall to spring. 

The genus, Cyclamen, is native to Europe to Iran, and Northeast Somalia. Most of the Cyclamen species are native to the Mediterranean. They typically grow in rocky areas and prefer hot dry summers and cool wet winters. They are dormant during the summer. The population of wild Cyclamen has decreased due to the depletion from commercial trade. Some species are now endangered in the wild.

Cyclamen comes from the Latin word "cyclamnos." It is derived from the Greek word "kylos," which means circle or wheel. This refers to the shape of the plant's tubers. Cyclamen has many common names, including its genus name. Other common names include Alpine Violet, Persian Violet, and Sowbread. The name Sowbread originated because apparently, pigs like to dig and eat the tubers. Cyclamens are not Violets nor are they native to Persia. It is unclear how the Persian Violet name originated.

The plant may tolerate many soil types but prefers slightly acidic soils. Well-drained soil and bright indirect sunlight are recommended, Since the plant is dormant in the summer, it is very sensitive to excessive moisture at that time. They prefer temperate climates, but some species are more cold-hardy than others. The USDA Hardiness Zones may vary, depending on the species. The species Cyclamen hederifolium, Cyclamen cilicium, and Cyclamen coun can tolerate USDA Hardiness Zones 4a to 8b. Other species zones, such as Cyclamen persicum, may range from 9a to 11b. The depth of planting the tubers also varies between species. Some species are easy to grow, and others are more difficult.

Cyclamen may be propagated by division or seeds. They are best divided during their dormant period. They can be challenging because the tubers dry out quickly and may rot. Propagation by seeds requires that the seeds be fresh, and sometimes germination can be erratic.

The leaves are dark green and have unique silver variegations depending on the species. They may be heart-shaped, kidney-shaped, or circular and appear alternately on the erect stalk. The flowers give the appearance of a delicate winged-butterfly in colors of white, red, pink, magenta, or lavender. Some flowers are scented. The fruits are small capsules that are 5-7 chambered that contain sticky seeds. 

Bees pollinate the flowers.

Cyclamens are colorful and add interest to the garden in the fall, winter, and spring. When planting outdoors, ensure that the species you have selected is cold hardy to your area and is adaptable. Some species are easier to grow than others.

Diseases, Pests, and Other Problems:

Cyclamen in the garden has no serious insect or disease problems. Aphids, weevils, and thrips may be seen. Tuber rot may occur from overwatering.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Juniper Level Botanic Gardens: Front Shade Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#fall flowers#showy leaves#spring flowers#winter flowers#partial shade tolerant#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#summer dormant
Cultivars / Varieties:
#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#fall flowers#showy leaves#spring flowers#winter flowers#partial shade tolerant#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#summer dormant
  • Attributes:
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The plant has been used for medicinal purposes for over 2000 years. In the last 400 years, the plant has been used as an ornamental.
    Life Cycle:
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe to Iran and North East Somalia
    Native: Albania, Algeria, Austria, Baleares, Bulgaria, Corse, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, East Aegean Island, France, Germany, Greece, Hungry, Iran, Italy, Kriti, Krym, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, North Caucasus, Palestine, Poland, Sardegna, Sicilia, Somalia, South European Russia, Switzerland, Syria, Transcaucasus, Tunisia, Turkey, and Yugoslavia; Introduced: Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland, Romania, Ukraine, and USA--OR
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees pollinate the flowers.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Bulb Storage:
    Store enlarged hypocotyls in peat at 48 degrees F (9 degrees C); Not necessary for some.
    The tubers and roots are poisonous. The flower petals are used to make tea.
    Height: 0 ft. 4 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 8 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fruit Type:
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a spherical capsule and is divided into 5-7 chambers. The capsule contains sticky, sugary seeds. When the seeds ripen, the capsule will open.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long Bloom Season
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The plants' flowers come in a variety of colors including, white, red, pink, magenta, or lavender. The flowers may bloom from fall through spring. The blooms are solitary on each flower stalk, and they are 5 lobes that appear fused at the base, form a tube-like structure, and appear to be "nodding". The petals may be rounded, triangular, or twisted in shape.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Leaf Type:
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Leaf Shape:
    Leaf Margin:
    Hairs Present:
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are alternate, heart-shaped to kidney-shaped, and sometimes almost circular. The margins may be entire, toothed, or lobed. The leaves are dark green and variegated with silver. Depending on the species, the variegated silver may be in the form of blotches, flecks, diamond patterns, heart-shaped patterns, Christmas tree patterns, or spearhead patterns. In most species, the leaves appear in the fall or winter and will last until summer when the plant goes dormant.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Small Space
    Landscape Theme:
    Pollinator Garden
    Shade Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Contact Dermatitis
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Children
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Poison Symptoms:
    Ingestion of this plant by humans is rare because of its unpleasant taste. If ingested, salivation, vomiting, and diarrhea may occur. Skin irritation may result from handling this plant. Chewing or ingestion of any part of this plant, especially the roots or tubers, can result in the poisoning of cats, dogs, and horses. Symptoms include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea. If large amounts are ingested, the pet may develop an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and death may occur.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Terpenoid saponins
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Poison Part: