Caladiums -- Classy, Colorful, and Carefree

Posted by @Bubbles on
If you're looking for a splash of color in a shady garden area, try Caladiums. Even the beginner gardener can grow these tubers with minimal skill. Dig a two-inch hole, drop in a tuber (eyes up), give it a little water and a slow release fertilizer, and cover it up. You're on your way to success!

Caladiums can be grown in pots and baskets, as well as in the garden.  Once the soil temperature is about 65°, they can be planted in the ground and usually will sprout within a week and be up and growing within a few weeks. Dig holes 2" deep and 6" apart to create a garden border.  Make sure they are not in an area that will have any standing water, as they are prone to rot when overwatered. 


If you want to get a head start, you may consider starting them indoors in pots earlier in the season. You can easily transplant them into the garden when the soil warms up.

Caladiums also do well in pots if space is at a premium in your garden, or if you'd like to be able to move your pots around on the patio.  As long as they are kept watered, but not soggy, they will do just as well in pots.  If you live in an apartment, they will provide splashes of vivid color indoors or on the balcony.


Baskets of Caladiums are a little more labor intensive.  You really have to monitor the baskets to make sure the soil doesn't dry out. Plastic hanging baskets may keep the soil more consistently moist, but coir or coconut fiber liners allow you to add a few tubers around the outside of the basket to create a fuller presentation. 


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  Florida Sweetheart    
In Shade In Sun At Night

For a really full basket, cut slits in the coir liner, evenly around the outside of the basket and about half way down.  Fill the basket to the level of the slits with soil, then place the Caladiums with the eyes facing out of the slits.  Cover the top of the basket with soil and dig in the rest of the Caladiums around the top of the basket.  The tubers in the slits will be a little behind the others coming up, but will catch up quickly. 


Most caladiums like a shady spot, but there are newer varieties that can take more sun.  I hesitate to suggest planting in full sun because full summer sun in Illinois is certainly not as intense as full sun in Texas.

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     Gingerland Caladiums

Mixed Caladiums

If you have tropicals, Caladiums are great as companion plants.  They also look good with Impatiens.   

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Caladiums and Water Pot Aerial View!

Caladiums are nearly pest and disease free. A couple of diseases, Fusarium (chalk rot) and Pythium (root rot),  can affect Caladiums. The biggest problem is leaving the bulbs in standing water.  A little slow release fertilizer every few weeks during the growing season keeps Caladiums happy.  

Caladiums give the garden beautiful, continuous color from early spring through the summer and into fall when the temperature drops to near 60° and the plants’ leaves begin to droop.  At this time you need to make the decision to save the tubers or discard them and start over in the early spring. If you want to save them, you should dig them up, trim the foliage off, and dry them.  Then you can place the tubers in a flat box, not touching, and let them sleep until spring in a cool garage.  I prefer to walk into the garden, thank them for a wonderful summer show, tell them goodbye, and look forward to ordering new varieties in the coming spring.  I will say, I have had stragglers pop up in pots that were stored during the winter.  Those are nice surprises, but not something consistent to expect in the coming spring.

I do have my favorites, such as Miss Muffet, Florida Sweetheart, and Gingerland.  This year, however, I am looking forward to White Wing putting on a show here also.  

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 Gingerland wins a First Place Ribbon and Miss Muffet wins Queen of the Show at The  Garden Club of Austin Flower Show 

Comments and discussion:
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
More bang for your buck! by Kansasks3 Jun 8, 2014 8:04 AM 2
A lot of bang for your buck by flaflwrgrl Jun 6, 2014 5:26 PM 17
Photos that didn't enlarge found here by Bubbles Jun 5, 2014 9:01 PM 3

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