At the beginning of August I collected seed from the pods of Cyclamen hederifolium and coum in my garden and Cyclamen repandum in another garden. The pods were ripening and beginning to split open and I collected both open pods and those just about to open.
I space sowed two full sized seed trays with C. hederifolium, placing the seeds around half an inch (12.5mm) apart, then covering them with a thin layer of compost. I used Sylvagrow peat free compost. I sowed, rather more thickly, two one litre pots of C. hederifolium, two of C. repandum and one of C. coum. The first C. hederifolium seedlings emerged after about five weeks and they are still emerging after two months. C. coum were nearly all up after six weeks. C. repandum have only just started to show after two months.
I plan to keep the spaced seedlings in the trays for two growing seasons before moving them but will probably move the seedlings in the pots into trays next summer unless they are still extremely small. After two seasons growth I hope they will be big enough to plant in the garden, which I will do towards the end of the dormant period following two seasons of growth, July/August 2021.
I probably should have covered the seeds with a good layer of grit. A tray that I sowed in 2017 has become covered with moss and it is likely that this will be an impediment to the cyclamen pushing up their leaves. I have sprayed the moss with Jeyes fluid, diluted at 30mls/litre and this has given me a good kill but it remains to be seen whether it adversely affects the cyclamen and whether the dead moss decays to let the cyclamen leaves through. They have a tendency to run their leaf stalks sideways before turning upwards. I should have treated it at least a month earlier, while the corms were still fully dormant. I have since rolled up the moss layer and top dressed the tray with compost, which is probably what I should have done to begin with.
One of the things I have subsequently realised is that when I was getting excited about all the ripening seed I was finding, I wasn’t thinking about how good the plants had been nearly a year earlier when they had been flowering. Most of my cyclamen have been bought as miscellaneous seed raised forms, usually when in flower, which is when they appear, briefly, in garden centres, so I’ve been selecting good coloured flowers and interesting leaves to the degree that the choice available allowed. However, I have occasionally seen and bought named forms, undoubtedly still seed raised, but selected for having particularly good flower colour or outstanding silvery foliage. Those are the plants I should have labelled carefully and focussed on for seed collection. There’s always next year and I must check the labelling while they’re still flowering.
If you go into a garden centre in September or October, there will likely be bench upon bench of cyclamen on offer. They are beautiful, often fragrant, with amazing coloured flowers and every conceivable variation on leaf markings. Sometimes they are labelled as hardy. IMHO they are well and good, they have their place, I have bought them myself, BUT they are not hardy cyclamen species, not hederifolium or coum. They lack the simple charm of the species. They will not settle down in poor growing conditions and live for a hundred years, seeding about like Cyclamen hederifolium can do. They won’t be pushing their flowers up through snow cover in January and February as Cyclamen coum can. They won’t make huge drifts of graceful swaying flowers as Cyclamen repandum sometimes does.
You will probably find the cyclamen species in the alpines section and then only for a few weeks when they are in season. Be warned though, succumb to their allures and you risk being hooked for life.