In this post, we will learn about Caladium plants starting from planting and how to take care of the plant.
Before we go further, let’s first understand what Caladiums are.
Caladiums are the tropical perennials that have very colorful, heart-shaped leaves native to tropical forests in South and Central America that do well during dry and wet seasons.
These plants come in three colors: yellow, green, and pink. Because of this, they look great in gardens.
They usually grow at heights of between 40 and 90 cm and their leaves can stretch to a length of 18 inches long and are spoon-shaped.
Growing and taking care of the caladium plant does not require any technicalities because these plants can be planted in containers or beds and borders.
Though caladium plants are considered to be heat-loving plants, they are at the same time very tolerant of temperatures. Therefore, they can be kept as house plants in all zones if they are under proper management.
What are the features of Caladiums?
Caladiums are available in various colors such as pink, yellow and green. These plants have huge leaves that do not have stems.
Since the main target in the planting of Caladium plants is in the beautiful foliage, you can remove the flowers as soon as they start to show because flowers consume a lot of food reducing the size of the tube.
There are two main types of caladium plants:
- fancy leafed types
- lance or strap leafed types.
Fancy leafed caladiums have large and heart-shaped leaves. They grow well in areas that are semi-shade and they can grow to a height of between 12 and 30 inches long depending on the available conditions.
On the other hand, lance or strap leafed caladiums are small in size, long with ruffled leaf margins and usually they grow to a height of 12 inches long.
What are the uses of Caladiums?
Caladiums are largely grown in containers and are available from florists and garden centers during spring and summer.
Caladiums also can be used for bedding purposes, just as petunias and marigolds are. When planted in beds outside, they make the garden look very beautiful and attractive because they provide an extremely colorful effect.
Since Caladiums offer a striking contrast with evergreen plants, they are best suitable for foregrounds of borders and foundation plantings. Dark, rich colors tend to blend with the background plantings and are more effective along walks or other areas seen at close range.
Conditions that favor the growth of Caladiums
As we mentioned earlier, caladiums are plants that thrive well in semi-shade areas, which means that they can be planted partially in the shade and partially in the sun.
In case you intend to plant Caladiums outside, you will have to apply a shade as soon as they start to germinate. Same to many other types of plants that you know, Caladiums also do well in well moistened and well-drained soils.
Note that if you want to plant caladiums at your home, then put them in a location that is a bit warm with a lot of bright but indirect light and a lot of humidity.
Caladium- How to grow this plant?
Before you proceed to grow the Caladium plant, make sure that you keep the weeds under control. You should get rid of weeds because they provide high competition with the plant for water, space, and nutrients. Therefore, you can use simple methods such as mulching to prevent them from growing.
Mulches will also help to improve the soil moisture and temperature. You can put mulch on beds, but when the plant starts to germinate, you are supposed to remove them because they might lead to rotting.
Always make sure that the Caladium plant is well watered throughout the growing season. These plants need at least 1 inch of rainwater every week during the planting season. You can use a rain gauge to determine the level of rainwater and check if there is a need to add more.
You can use the drip method during watering to deliver water under low pressure. Apply the light fertilizer as soon as the plants start to germinate. During the application, keep the fertilizer granules away from the leaves to avoid the scorching effect.
Keep an eye on the plant in case of pests and diseases. You can check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for the pests that can be found in your area.
You can remove the flower stocks as soon as they start to show to keep the strength in the plant.
How to plant Cladium tubers?
Even if we said that they do well in tropical zones between the 9th and 11th month, it is also very possible to plant caladium tubers indoors and letting them establish before putting them outside. Putting these plants indoors before moving them outside will greatly help to improve the color.
After winter has gone, you can move the caladium plants outside in the garden bed. It does not matter where you live as long as you start with putting the tubers indoors before moving them outside, they still will thrive well.
It is always advisable to put the Caladium tubers in the soil while the buds are facing upwards for a fast growth rate.
You can start with dormant tubers bought from late winter through early summer. There are a variety of choices depending on the target leaves size and the color that you want.
Start the tubers by putting them first in the pots until they establish. After establishment, you can use a sharp knife to remove the buds.
You can as well apply some insecticides before you proceed to plant them outside. In the case of unusually large tubers, you can use a sharp knife to cut them into smaller sections to produce more plants.
Place the tubers in the soil with the buds facing upwards, cover them with a thin layer of the planting medium. Put them in pots first until they start to produce leaves.
Caladium- Annual or perennial?
Whether indoor or outdoor, caladium plants are seasonal plants with foliage during summer and the rest in autumn and winter.
Therefore, Caladium plants are only perennial in USDA Hardiness Zones but they can be grown as annuals or overwintered.
Caladium- Sun or shade?
The Caladium plant prefers indirect light or moderate shade indoors. When that plant has narrow leaves, then it means that it can at least withstand the greater sun.
For those that wish to plant this plant in the field, it is suggested that when the tubers start to germinate, it will be better for you to construct a shade around the plants since Caladiums do not need much light.
Caladium- How to take care of this plant?
Caladiums same like any other plant, also need full protection, especially from the hot sun for the best growth and color.
Some cultivars can tolerate the hot sun for a couple of hours every day, but in general, they need moderate shade with protection from the direct hot sun.
These plants need warm, moist and well-drained soil for it to grow well because of the cool soil results in the slow growth of the tubers or sometimes rotting.
Always remember that you are advised not to go ahead with the planting process unless the soil temperature has reached 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
During planting, it is better to use large tubers because they have more buds than the smaller ones. Another important thing that you need to do is to remove the large central bud. It’s because it might make the Caladium plant to produce few colorful leaves.
You can use the tip of the knife that is sharp to lift out the large bud carefully not to destroy the other surrounding small buds.
During planting, you are encouraged to plant the tuber 1.5 to 2 inches deep into the soil and 8 to 14 inches apart with the bud facing upwards.
Always make sure that you carry out watering frequently and thoroughly to keep the soil evenly moist to touch but it should not be saturated.
In case you planted your caladium plant in a container, also make sure that the soil is well-drained and the container has a hole to protect the tubers from rotting because caladiums tend to rot when kept too wet.
Every two weeks, you are supposed to fertilize the caladiums that are planted in the containers using a soluble liquid fertilizer to help in the promotion of strong foliage growth.
The type of soluble fertilizer that you can use for your indoor Caladiums could be Miracle-Gro Liquid All Purpose (8-7-6).
Another fertilizer option you might want to take is to use a 6-month time-release fertilizer which includes Osmocote, Outdoor and indoor (15-9-12 plus micronutrients). You should not use a fertilizer that is high in phosphorous.
If you are planting the caladium tubers directly in the field, you are advised to carry out a soil test before you plant to determine the nutrients that the Caladiums might require.
You can dig the tubers in the fall season before losing their leaves and color to save the Caladium tubers for the next planting season.
After digging the tubers, spread them out and allow them to dry for at least a period of one or two weeks.
Once they have lost the moisture content, you can proceed to cut or simply pull the dry foliage from the tubers and also remember to remove all the dry soil and pack in dry peat moss, perlite or vermiculite for storage.
The dried foliages are not supposed to touch each other because if they do, the tubers will automatically start rotting and therefore they should be stored in a dry, warm place where the temperature will not go below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Starting each year with new tubers may trigger better results because it is known that second-year foliage is not that good as that of the first year’s.
Problems associated with the planting of Caladium plants.
The common problem associated with the planting of Caladium is tuber rotting which is a fungal decay of tubers in storage or during the growing season.
It is always advisable to select tubers that are disease-free and store them in an area with temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid high humidity.
You should never store the Caladium tubers in the refrigerator because under low temperatures, the buds will not survive properly. If you have purchased your tubers in early spring, you should keep them at room temperatures.
Leaf spot is a common disease in Caladium plants and it causes the lower leaves to develop light tan to brown spots.
When you identify any signs of such spots in your plant, you can remove and dispose of the diseased leaves as soon as they start to appear.
Always make sure that the fertilizer does not come in contact with the leaves because they might lead to the burning of the edges and scorching of the leaves.
As soon as the temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, especially when winter comes, you cant dig the caladiums up and store them then leave them in the ground to find.
In warmer areas, especially with temperatures above 70 degrees, you can just apply mulch to help conserve moisture content in the soil. Once winter disappears, you can remove them from the soil and then dry them before storing them in a proper place.
Put the tubers in dry sand or just take them outside and shake the dirt from it. Once done, store them in a warm place and wait for the planting time
What are the ideal conditions that favor the growth of the Caladium plant?
We have already seen some information earlier in this post, but here we just want to make it easy for anyone to understand.
Several factors must be made for you to successfully plant Caladium plant and you need to be very careful with them:
- The first condition that must be made before you plant Caladium is the light because the Caladium prefers bright but indirect light.
- The second one is temperature. Caladium requires at least a warm temperature. Therefore, you need to aim for temperatures above 50 F.
- Water your plant evenly as soon as the leaves start to appear to keep the plant from drying up and also watering helps to increase the humidity.
- Soil is a very important factor too, and therefore you will need to plant Caladium plants in well-drained and moist soil.
- Apply liquid fertilizer to your plant weekly during the growing season to increase the growth of foliage.
Caladium Common Pests and Cultural problems
Bacterial Leaf spot: you will notice this disease when you see small translucent spots with some yellowish edge that enlarges slowly to become angular with some reddish at the center. This disease is common in cooler temperatures.
To control bacterial leaf spot, remove the infected plants and do not plant in the same place the next season. Avoid overhead watering.
Fusarium wilt: this is one of the damaging diseases because it normally spreads during hot weather. You will notice this disease when you see the appearance of yellow leaves or drooping of the lower leaves. This is caused by a soil-borne fungus that enters through the roots into the stem releasing harmful substances.
To control this disease, you need to destroy the affected plants as soon as you start seeing the signs of the disease.
We have seen different ways of planting and taking care of a Caladium plant.
Planting a Caladium in your home is a good decision because this plant is great decoration. It is quite easy and it does not require many skills as some other plants do.
With Caladium, you will only need to purchase the tubers from the market and then put the tubers in the soil with the buds facing upwards.
Also, remember to water your plant regularly because the water will help your plant to grow very well because it will greatly improve the humidity level in the soil.
Your garden where you want to plant Caladium should be well-drained and well moist so that there is an equal circulation of air and water.
Another important thing was to use a fertilizer that is less in phosphorous. You will need to carry out the soil test so that you can be sure what nutrients your soil needs most.
Since the flowers are not a goal of planting Caladium, it will be good if you remove all the flowers as soon as they start to show because the flowers will tend to take a lot of the nutrients.
Caladium plant is a semi-shade plant and it needs to be planted in areas with no extreme sun because it might cause the tuber to start rotting.
Many people who practice this type of farming say that the plant is very tolerant and you can plant it anywhere you like.