The lovely pink, piglet ears of Cyclamen hederifolium (sometimes called Cyclamen neapolitanum) flowers appear in late summer. The petals are so reflexed that they almost fly behind themselves and they sail in varying shades of pink to white with deeper pink veins and blotches at the base. The stems are slim, straight and burgundy in colour and, as the flowers fade, coil back down to the ground pulling the burgeoning seedhead with it. Both emerge well before their attractive marbled, heart leafed foliage which remains in situ carpeting the ground over Winter and which is such a feature of this plant. Each leaf exhibits its own unique pattern; fascinating in itself. These features together certainly account for this cyclamen winning the RHS AGM and make it a welcome additionto our range of cyclamen corms for sale. The original tuber is tiny - no bigger than a finger nail - but this wonderful autumn plant has longevity and can live up to 100 years. Over the years the tuber can become really quite large, the size of a dinner plate, and protrude above the soil. Roots emerge like tentacles from every part of the tuber to encourage more colonisation.
One of the best things about both Cyclamen hederifolium and coum is that they rejoice in the sort of dank and damp secret places which many other plants would find most uncongenial. Grow them about 10-15 cm apart and plant the tubers about 2-3 cm below the soil initially. The soil can be as thin as you like and stripped of nutrients but they like an autumn coating of dead leaves to provide leaf mould; the area beneath a hedge or the crevices between the roots of beech trees (both of which provide the essential requisite shade that C. hederifolium prefers because they do not like to dry out either) will be welcome refuge and are both areas where a the light and colour of these flowers is a joy against bleak earth and browning leaves. Tempting as it is to then plant C. coum to provide winter flowers in the same place, mixing them is not advised as Cyclamen hederifolium is a stronger grower and may oust C. coum over time. Instead grow C. hederifolium with autumn crocuses (Colchicum autumnalis) and ferns like Hart's tongue fern (Asplenium scolodendrium) to create the woodland effect that they are so adept at achieving. It also looks good poking its nose up through common ivy grown as ground cover. You can use C. hederifolium as a pot plant provided that it is kept somewhere very cool - never more than 15 C - and with enough light. The compost must never dry out and then once you are bored of it inside, plant it out in the garden while it is still growing to give it the best chance of re-appearing next year. The flowers make wonderful mini-bedside arrangements too.
And on and on....
C. hederifolium have evolved to work with ants! The seed, once it has reached ground level, develops its own starchy, sugary seed coat which ants love. The ants then pick up the seed and move it around the garden which is why hardy Cyclamen are so good at naturalising in your garden. This method also makes a virtue of the fact that very few other pollinating insects are found underneath hedges or trees!