Q: What tips do you have for an indoor cyclamen plant that is now drooping? There are tiny flowers coming out, but all the leaves are drooping, and the flowers are drying up before they bloom. I don't think it is time for their dormant stage. Please help with any tips!
A: It’s often hard to tell what’s killing a houseplant. Typically, the problem is overwatering, especially with cyclamens, but underwatering, inappropriate light or temperatures, disease and insects can all take their toll.
We got in touch with this writer to get a little more information: How long had she had the plant? How did she water it? What kind of light did it get? How warm is the room it’s in? But even armed with her answers, we can only make educated guesses.
She told us she’d had the plant for two weeks, that it was in indirect sunlight, near a window with temps about 40-50 degrees, and was watered once a week from the bottom, without getting water on foliage.
That’s an appropriate way to water a cyclamen. It’s a good idea to make sure it stays moist but not soggy, and to avoid getting water on the leaves or the center of the plant. Cyclamen are susceptible to crown rot if improperly watered.
And the writer is correct that the problem probably is not that the plant is entering dormancy, as cyclamens’ dormancy is from later spring into summer. We are in their active growth period right now. The indirect sunlight is appropriate, as long as it’s bright enough. An east- or south-facing window is best.
Being it has been only two weeks, the plant may also be going through some transition shock from going from the ideal greenhouse environment to our often less-than-ideal home environment. It’s also possible the plant got nipped by cold as it was brought home.
Another possible concern is the low temperatures in the house. Cyclamens do like it cool, even down to 50-55 degrees. The 40-50 temperatures might be too cool, although some sources say those temps are okay. It would be worth a try to find a warmer location that still provides bright, indirect light. Cyclamen also should be kept away from hot or cold drafts, as they can cause yellowing and can make buds drop before opening. And on the opposite end, I would avoid any temperatures of 70 or higher.
Another thought is that cyclamen are prone to root rot. Because of the speed of this plant’s demise, it could be bacterial soft rot. With this rot, plants will rapidly yellow, wilt and die. If that’s the case, the plant should be discarded. Fusarium wilt is also another possibility, but I didn’t see the dark brown or black in the plant’s corm or any evidence of foliar symptoms of browning or necrosis in the photos.
I would watch the soil and plant for any insects. I would also carefully remove all the dying stems and discard. Debris left on the soil makes the plant more susceptible to diseases and pests.
For more information, see cyclamen.org/plants.
Written by U of M Extension Master Gardeners in St. Louis County. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.