Posted on Aug 12, 2015 11:41 PM
Just like my dog, Sunshine, with her new lime green ball or Daisy, my cat, with an empty box, I'm crazy about these Caladiums. I can't even remember another August as lovely as this one is. A few years ago I had one gorgeous caladium bulb and the next year, of course, I had two; they had lance shaped leaves, 'Florida Cardinal' was the name, mostly deep red with a dark green border. I planted them in a shady spot out front, mixed in planters with dark red and lime green coleus. I remember how striking that combo was and I have no idea why I never had them again. I suspect I left the bulbs in the planters after I'd taken cuttings of the coleus and the whole mess of them turned to mush with the first frost. That's a bad habit I have, pushing my luck with the first frost date. But not this year, absolutely not this year!
I'll save every single bulb I can dig out of these pots before frost even thinks about visiting. Of course next year I'll have to have more pots. The bulbs came in brown paper bags when they arrived in the mail; they were mixed and unnamed. There were different sized bulbs, so I knew there would be also different sized caladiums. Finding their names will be a Winter project.
I've learned that caladiums are native to tropical rain forests and equatorial regions of South America and Latin America. Most species come from the Amazon basin in Peru. Original caladiums had plain green leaves with random red and white spots all over them. I've also learned that commercial caladiums come in two leaf shapes, large heart shaped and those that are more lance shaped. Doesn't matter to me the shape or the color, I love them all!
I have them planted everywhere, wherever there's dappled sunlight, caladiums grow. A friend stopped by one morning last week when I was out watering, said she wanted to see what I had blooming all across the front. And tonight the same thing happened, watering again and heard a car pulling up in my driveway behind me; it was just another friend wanting to know what those large blooms were.
"Not blooms at all," I said to both of them. "Just my caladiums." I love surprised looks when people see them up close.
I also love how they spice up other plants - yucca and coleus for example - that grow around them, as well as the bricks that form arches in the front yard. I think my favorite is the last photo, the one with a dark mound of English ivy in front and a couple of asparagus plants growing behind. There's just something about the contrast in foliage color and texture that I truly love.
Over the past 150 years there have been over 2000 hybrids developed in just about every red/green/white color variation you can think of. I swear I think I was lucky enough to get the prettiest of all of them. I'm going to spend a lot of Winter months finding and matching names to my photos.
There isn't much blooming in my gardens now; it's always like this in August. Things are looking a little ragged and brownish because it's so hot and dry. It hasn't helped that my energy level isn't up to par. But the black eyed susans look good, goldenrod and sedum aren't far behind, and the Rose of Sharon shrubs are always happy in August. If the crepe myrtle had survived the harsh winter, it would have been in bloom too.
No complaints from me; I'm just as happy with all these wonderful caladiums!