Persian violets feature white to pink to magenta flowers. All have purple markings at the base of the petals. (Richie Steffen)

Persian violets feature white to pink to magenta flowers. All have purple markings at the base of the petals. (Richie Steffen)

Great Plant Pick: Cyclamen coum aka Persian violet

This winter bloomer features white to pink to magenta flowers. All have purple markings at the base of the petals.

What: Cyclamen coum, also known as Persian violet, is one of the most delightful of winter-blooming plants. This tuberous plant is native to the Mediterranean, so it is summer dormant. Foliage begins to appear in late autumn and early winter. Silver-dollar-sized foliage can range from dark green to solid silver and will remain attractive well into spring. Flowers vary from white to magenta and a range of pinks. All have amethyst stained markings at the base of the petals. Flowers will appear as early as December with the main display being in February and March. This is one the few plants that will tolerate the dense shade of Douglas firs and Western red cedars, as well as the competitive, dry shade of beech and maple root zones. Cyclamen coum is drought resistant as it is dormant in the dry season. It will naturalize and spreads slowly by seed. The seeds are coated with a sugary coating that the ants like and will carry away and plant.

Where: This hardy winter bloomer will grow well in light to deep shade. Plant it in a well-drained or sandy soil.

Size: Persian violet will grow to be 6 inches tall and 6 inches wide when mature.

Care: Once established, it is drought tolerant. Seed is scattered around the garden by ants; watch for the tiny seedlings to sprout in late fall.

— Richie Steffen, Great Plant Picks

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