By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
Growing caladiums is easy with proper caladium care. These tropical-like plants are commonly grown for their multi-colored foliage, which may be green, white, red, or pink. Caladiums can be grown in containers or clumped together within beds and borders. There are numerous varieties of caladiums found in either the fancy-leaved or the strap-leaved cultivar. All of which can make a dramatic statement in the landscape.
How to Plant Caladiums
Caladiums can be purchased as potted plants or dormant tubers. Their size depends on the variety. For the most part, each tuber has a large bud, which is often surrounded by smaller ones. To make it easier for these smaller buds to grow after planting caladium bulbs, many gardeners find it helpful to lift out the large bud with a knife. Of course, this is up to the individual and will not adversely affect the overall growth of your caladiums.
Planting caladium bulbs takes little effort. They can be planted directly in the garden during spring or started indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the average frost date. Soil temperature is an important consideration, as planting too early outdoors can cause tubers to rot.
These plants thrive in moist, well-drained soil and are generally happier in partial shade. When you plant caladiums, you should plant them about 4-6 inches deep and 4-6 inches apart.
If you’re growing caladiums indoors, keep them in a warm room with plenty of light until outside temperatures are warm enough to transplant. Caladium tubers should be planted about one to two inches deep with the knobs, or eye buds, facing up. While this may sometimes be difficult to distinguish in some varieties, those that are planted upside down will still emerge, only slower.
Caladium Plant Care
The most important factors in caladium care are moisture and feeding. Fertilizer will help strengthen the plants in order to produce adequate tubers for the following growing season.
Caladiums need to be watered on a regular basis, especially during dry conditions. In fact, watering them on a weekly basis is recommended. Caladiums that are grown in containers should be checked daily and watered as needed. Applying mulch around caladium plants will help to conserve and maintain moisture, even in containers.
Since caladiums are considered tender perennials, they must be dug up in the fall and stored indoors over winter in cold climates. Once their foliage yellows and begins falling over, caladiums can be carefully lifted from the ground. Place the plants in a warm, dry location for at least a couple weeks to dry out. Then cut off the foliage, place the tubers in a netted bag or box, and cover in dry peat moss. Store the tubers in a cool, dry location. Once spring returns, you can replant outdoors. If you are growing caladiums in containers, they can be overwintered indoors.
Now that you know how to plant caladiums, you can add these pretty plants to your landscape. Planting caladium bulbs is easy and with proper caladium care they will last for years.