By: Jackie Carroll
Several diseases and conditions can turn your perky little cyclamen into messy yellow leaves and dying blossoms. Can diseased plants be saved? This article focuses on tips to help you prevent cyclamen plant diseases so that you don’t have to throw away your plants.
Caring for Sick Cyclamen
Before you decide something is wrong, remember that the leaves on a healthy cyclamen plant turn yellow and drop off in summer. This is perfectly normal—the plant is just preparing to go dormant. After a summer nap, the leaves regrow.
Indoor cyclamen diseases infect plants during the winter growing period. There is no cure for many of these diseases, and the best course of action is to discard them before the disease spreads to other plants.
Cyclamen plants aren’t very expensive, and they are difficult to bring back into bloom after the first flush of flowers. For these reasons, many people simply replace their plants when problems develop. If you decide to try caring for sick cyclamen plants, keep them isolated. Wear an apron when working with diseased plants, and don’t wear the apron outside of the immediate area. Wash your hands and thoroughly disinfect tools with a household disinfectant before working with healthy plants.
Cyclamen Plant Diseases
Growers should be aware of these devastating diseases in cyclamen:
Bacterial soft rot and Fusarium wilt cause the entire plant to rapidly turn yellow and die. There is nothing to do but discard the plant. To prevent these cyclamen diseases, buy corms from reputable sources and plant them in clean media. If you are reusing a pot, scrub it out thoroughly with a household disinfectant or a weak bleach solution before planting.
Botrytis blight causes tan leaf spots. Flower petals look water-soaked at first, and then they develop tans spots as well. The whole plant might be covered with gray fungus. You might be able to save your cyclamen if you catch the disease soon enough. Place it in isolation and run a fan to improve the circulation. The disease is contagious, so keep a close eye on plants that may have been exposed.
Leaf spot causes round spots that can be yellow, gray, or brown. If you look closely, you’ll see black dots inside the spots. Isolate the plant to keep the disease from spreading. Try to avoid getting water on the leaves or the crown when you water the plant. If you can’t water cyclamen from the top without wetting the leaves or crown, water from the bottom.
Thielaviopsis root rot causes stunted plants. If you check the roots, you’ll find that they are black and shriveled instead of plump and white. Discard plants infected with this disease.
Viruses cause a number of symptoms, including misshapen, deformed leaves and flowers, and abnormal color patterns such as streaking and ring spots. If you suspect your plant is infected with a virus, discard it immediately.
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Read more about Cyclamen Plants
Growing and caring for cyclamen at home
Cyclamen is a plant that attracts many amateur gardeners with a general decorative effect, compactness, abundance and duration of flowering. Moreover, his buds open in late autumn or even in winter, when most houseplants fall into "hibernation". It can not be called too whimsical, but it is advisable to familiarize yourself with the requirements for the conditions of detention in advance. There are many natural varieties of the flower and hybrids bred by breeding. Each grower will be able to find a plant to their liking, which fits perfectly into any interior. Given the peculiarities of cyclamen care at home, even a beginner will be able to get abundant and prolonged flowering.
Reasons Why Your Cyclamen Leaves Curl Under
There are a lot of reasons why your cyclamen leaves curl under, here are the common causes that we need to consider.
Cyclamen Mite Infestation
You probably wonder how come that you don’t notice the mites running around your plant. Well here’s the answer, the most common reason for the cyclamen plant curling leaves is because of cyclamen mite infestation. (Source: University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment)
So, what do these mites look like?
These mites are semi-transparent, greenish, and they are about 0.02 in length. So you see, these mites are too tiny to be noticed with the naked eye.
Here are the insects that commonly harm cyclamen:
- Cyclamen mites
These insects give obvious damage to the plant. They usually hide on the reverse side of the exposed leaves. The effect of this might seem light at first. Slowly, the foliage will turn into yellow as it eventually dies and falls off.
Now, how do we deal with cyclamen mites?
We can get rid of these insects, which causes discoloration and withering of the plant, by using insecticidal soap.
Another way to remove them is with a high-pressure stream of water to both sides of its leaves since we mentioned earlier that they usually hide on the reverse side of the blade.
If your cyclamen plant still has the same problem after doing the said things above, below are the other ways to fix it.
How to Fix
The best way to do it is to cast out the infested plants. Mites will reproduce rapidly and they will just spread out in the other areas of the plants making it harder for you to control them.
Another way is heat treatment mites will die when exposed to 110°F (42.3°C) water for about 15 minutes.
The heat won’t harm the plant as long as you keep up with the exact given temperature, always remember not to overheat the roots and protect the leaves from too much heat.
You can also use Neem oil which is a biopesticide for the organic approach. It works really well, especially with mites and aphids.
The second option you have is Imidacloropid. It is a systemic insecticide that is known for being long-lasting and effective.
Another cause of the cyclamen leaves curling under is because of under-watering.
It’s obvious to almost all plants that when they are under-watered, big chances are they will become dry, the leaves will turn yellow, and in time it will wither.
How to Fix
Pour over water to the pot and make sure that it reaches the roots of the plant, observe until the bubble stops rising.
Several waterings will be necessary to make sure that you’re not leaving the plant dry.
Overfeeding Cyclamen With Fertilizer
It’s important to fertilize your plant regularly. However just like with water, when you overdo the fertilization it will not come up well.
You should feed cyclamen once every 3-4 weeks. It is sensitive when overfed, wilting will take place. It’s also ideal to use a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus, like 20-20-20.
How to Fix
First, check your cyclamen if it has the signs of over-fertilization. The signs are discoloration, excessive foliage and less flowers, misshapen leaves, and excess fertilizers above the soil.
What you have to do is scoop the excess visible fertilizer out of the pot. Then, leach the soil with water to spread the excess fertilizer away from the roots.
Finally, replant it if possible, do not feed your plant until it looks sturdy again, and that would be for about 3-4 weeks. Lastly, avoid fertilizer with too much nitrogen.
Lack of nutrition
When a cyclamen plant lacks nutrition, its leaves will only grow small, and it will not bloom.
Thus, the immunity of the plant will be decreased making it easier to wither, curl, and fall off.
The main culprit for the cyclamen’s leaves curling is a deficiency of K (Potassium) and Cu (Copper).
How to Fix
Feed the plant with a fertilizer that is high in K (potassium). Feed your cyclamen every 3-4 weeks.
You can use 0-0-26, a fertilizer that is rich with K (potassium) which is responsible for the sturdiness of the leaves.
Apply the fertilizer to the plant or preferably to the soil for easier absorption.
The best temperature for cyclamen is a cool temperature and this is already an advantage for them because they are a houseplant, far from direct heat.
However, when placed near a window without curtains or near appliances that generate much heat, it can give the cyclamen temperature stress, causing it to curl its leaves and dry.
How to Fix
The perfect temperature for cyclamen plants is 57.2°F (14°C) . Always keep them in the temperature around the referred range.
Another way is to always consider the place where you keep your cyclamen.
When placing them into the window, make sure that they are not exposed to direct heat by hanging a fine curtain between the window and the cyclamen.
Root Rot from Overwatering
Proper watering your cyclamen is the main requirement for it to stay alive and healthy.
However, overwatering can cause damage to your plants. Root rot commonly came from containers that lack sufficient drainage holes.
Because of this, excess water is stuck in the soil, which causes stunted growth and curling leaves.
Here are the symptoms that you have to observe to know whether you’re overwatering your beautiful indoor plant:
- The roots of your cyclamen become inactive and the plant itself starts to wilt.
- When the leaves begin to curl or turn yellowish.
Neglecting these symptoms may cause for your cyclamen leaves to fall off or worse, your plant as a whole, to potentially die.
How to Fix
Stop watering your cyclamen! It’s the easiest and most common solution. Make sure that the pot has big enough holes for the excess water to drain out.
If your cyclamen is small, you can remove it from the pot, uncover the roots and soil-ball by exposing them to the air, and drying them.
Otherwise, as you remove it from the pot, get a paper with the ability to absorb water, and wrap it around the roots and soil-ball, this will eventually dry off the excess water.
Make sure to trim off the infected roots and disinfect them with charcoal or potassium permanganate.
After removing the excess water, make sure to clean the pot and check if there’s functioning drainage holes before you place the cyclamen back.
When your cyclamen starts to appear sturdy again, keep it in the shade.
Water helps the plant to make its own food, to stay healthy, and to stay alive.
That’s why it’s important to consider the quality of water that you feed your cyclamen.
Water contains different substances, some can give a healthier life for the plant, and some can worsen the plant’s health.
Some factors of water that affect the nourishment of your cyclamen are chlorine and salt. These things at a different amount are in a different type of water.
If you’re living in a town, chances are, your water comes from water companies who add chlorine to eliminate possible diseases and germs, this is what we call tap water.
Tap water usually contains chlorine and immoderate salt. Although, this can benefit us, but it can harm our cyclamen.
Chlorine kills beneficial microbes in the soil, though the cyclamen can survive.
It can never thrive when it’s regularly affected by chlorine water causing it to lose its sturdiness and potentially curl.
On the other hand, excessive salt causes a salt burn, it gives dryness to the plant and distorted leaves.
How to Fix
As much as possible, use rainwater for your plant and when feeding it with tap water make sure to distill it first to soften the water.
It will help eliminate excess salt and chlorine. The best way is to collect rainwater and use it for the cyclamen.
Too Much Or Too Little Light Exposure
The light requirement is as important as water. Light works a big part in photosynthesis, growth, and sustainability.
Without proper light exposure, your cyclamen can either fail to grow, look sick, leaves drop off, leaves curling down, or to die as a whole.
Like water, light exposure is a bit complex, you have to give your cyclamen a regular amount—not less and not more.
How to Fix
Give it the exact amount for it to avoid curling. Some factors that affect light exposure are the: location, north/ east/ west/ and south-facing windows.
Giving your cyclamen too much exposure can cause drying for the plant however less exposure than needed gives the plant a smaller growth.
When your cyclamen plant is receiving intense heat from the window, you can always use a sheer curtain to lessen the intensity of the heat protecting your plant from drying and other similar problems.
Always give your cyclamen the right amount of light exposure duration. Do not expose them too long especially if you see signs that it is slowly drying and curling.
Like other house plants, cyclamen also prune to different diseases. For example, Fusarium Wilt, root rot, Bacterial Soft Rot are the common diseases.
These diseases may cause the cyclamen to be misshapen, twisted, deformed, and can cause yellow or brown markings.
How to Fix
The best way to resolve this is to cut and eliminate all the infected areas, control the aphid and thrips.
You need to make sure that everything is cleansed to stop disseminate viruses. Also, keep your cyclamen in a well-ventilated place and water properly.
As of now, it’s been proven that cyclamen is a bit temperamental. Cyclamen plants love cold temperatures that are also why they are an indoor plant. Thus, low humidity causes a big problem for your cyclamen too.
Cyclamen loves a moist environment and would probably suffer if it lacks it.
Cyclamen are easy to dry and curl under when not moisturized enough, it should always be at a high or at least an average amount of humidity.
How to Fix
Your cyclamen is an indoor plant so mostly they are just sitting beside the window or the coffee table, far from too much heat and that’s great!
However, you also need to consider using a humidifier or constantly misting your cyclamen.
Another easy way is to use the pebble tray method. If you group the indoor plants together it will help increase the humidity.
Soil type is also important in taking care of your cyclamen. It’s crucial to check the drainage capacity, moisture absorption, and aeration of the soil.
If your soil type doesn’t have these characteristics then chances are the roots will not get enough nutrients.
The soil might collect excess water, and there will not be adequate space for air. All these can cause curling, wilting, or death for the entire cyclamen.
How to Fix
The best solution for this is to use a mixture that absorbs moisture well, resists compaction, has a good drainage capacity, and allows aeration for the nutrients to reach the roots.
AND BY THIS, I’m talking about a potting mix that is usually composed of peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite.
Cyclamen plants don’t need a lot of space so never mistake putting them in a bigger pot than expected, or else this will cause an uncompacted soil and unhealthy growth.
Small pots inhibit roots from spreading, so it becomes root bound. Then it can not function properly.
Nutrients can not flow from roots to leaves, so your cyclamen leaves can show curling symptoms.
How to Fix
Since the cyclamen plant is not spacious, put them in a small or regular size of pot. It preferably depends on the age of the flower.
The diameter of up to 8cm (3 inches) is for flowers with an age of 1-1.5 years. However, a diameter of up to 15cm is for the flowers with an age of about 3 years.
Botrytis cinerea belongs to the order Moniliales (or Hyphales) of the class Adelomycetes. They are of the Moniliaceae family, and are septate fungi: their mycelium is divided by partitions. Reproduction is asexual: this is in fact the asexual fungal spore (conidium) of Sclerotinia fuckeliana (syn. Botryotinia cinerea = B. fuckeliana), of the family of Melotiaceae of the order Discomycetales, class Ascomycetes. The reproductive apparatus consists of asci, bag-like cells enclosing spores known as ascospores. The asci are themselves enclosed in an ascocarp, making these fungi Euascomycetes (Higher Ascomycetes).
The sexual form is not so common and harder to find.
Botrytis cinerea is an airborne fungus. It keeps quite well in the soil in the form of small hard nodules, dark in colour, made of intertwined hyphae: these nodules are known as sclerotia or ‘resting bodies’. In this form, the life functions of the fungus are in slow motion and it can wait for a number of years for favourable conditions to return. These sclerotia can withstand temperatures from -2ºC (28.4ºF) to 33ºC (91.4ºF). The fungus is well adapted for living on dead organic matter (saprophyte) and can maintain a long continuous development on dead or rotting vegetation.
Where the necessary temperatures and high humidity prevail (as for instance with condensation on plant organs which happens when cyclamen are grown under glass), the sclerotium can develop into a mycelium which produces conidia (spores) by simple budding-off from specialised parts. These spores are the agents of the primary infection of the plants.
Cyclamen diseases will bypass you if the flower is provided with the following conditions:
- The right lighting. In the active period, it should be bright, but excluding direct sunlight from the plant. Therefore, it is better to keep the flower in partial shade on the windowsills facing east and west. On the southern windows the plant will have to shade, and on the northern windows there will be too little light.
- Temperature. In winter, during the period of active growth and flowering, the optimum temperature for cyclamens is +10 ° , the maximum limit is +14 ° . In summer, the ambient temperature should not exceed 25 ° C. If possible, it is recommended to dig the pot with the plant in the garden, in a shaded place.
- Watering. For it, you need soft, settled water, the temperature of which should be a couple of degrees below room temperature. During flowering, the plant is watered so as to prevent either drying out or overmoistening of the earthen coma. Top watering is possible if it is done carefully so as not to soak the buds and tuber. It is better to water cyclamen from the pan. After holding the pot in the pan for one or two hours, the water is drained from it to prevent root decay. When flowering ends, watering is gradually reduced, and with the onset of the summer dormant period, watering is extremely rare. From the beginning of autumn, watering is gradually increasing.
- Air humidity. To increase it, the plant is periodically sprayed until the buds appear, after which the spraying is stopped so that the buds do not rot. To moisten the air, the pots can be placed on a pallet with wet moss, expanded clay or pebbles so that their bottom does not touch the water.
- Top dressing. When the plant is actively increasing leaf mass and until the beginning of flowering, it is fed every two weeks with full mineral fertilizer. It must be remembered that an excess of nitrogen fertilizers can lead to decay of the roots.
- The soil. Cyclamen should be transplanted into the soil, consisting of sheet soil, humus, peat and sand. The acidity of the soil should not be higher than six, otherwise the likelihood of developing various fungal diseases increases.
Failure to comply with these basic rules leads to various problems. Consider the main diseases of cyclamen with a photo.
The most common diseases of cyclamen are various types of rot.
- Wet rot. Flowers and leaves sag, an unpleasant putrefactive odor appears. The roots also gradually rot. The cause of the disease is infection in cracks or wounds on the plant. The source of infection is a diseased plant or contaminated water. Unfortunately, in this case, it will not be possible to save the flower. It must be destroyed to prevent infection of other plants. Prevention measures - compliance with the irrigation regime, prevention of soil waterlogging.
- Gray rot. The plant becomes soft and watery, it forms a gray mold coating. High humidity and too low temperature provoke the disease. To combat the disease, remove all diseased leaves and flowers and treat the plant with fungicide. Make sure that the air is dry, for this purpose ventilate the room, avoiding drafts. To avoid the appearance of gray rot, it is necessary to prevent excess moisture and water from entering the tuber and leaves during watering.
- Non-infectious tuber rot causes yellowing and wilting of leaves. The tubers become brown and soft. The diseased plant is destroyed. As a prophylaxis, you need to use the correct soil mixture, follow the rules of fertilizing, less often moisten the tubers, especially in the heat, and do not plant them to great depths.
Consider other fungal diseases of cyclamen and their treatment with a photo.