Caladium is a popular ornamental plant famous for its large leaves of interesting, striking colors. Also known as elephant ear, caladium is native to South America. Because of this, it is used to hot temperatures and needs special treatment during winter in cooler climates. Keep reading to learn more about storing caladium bulbs and how to care for caladium bulbs over winter.
Winter Care of Caladium Bulbs
Caladiums are winter hardy to USDA zone 9, meaning that they should be able to survive the winter outdoors. Even in these areas, though, a heavy mulching of 3 inches (7.5 cm.) is the recommended winter care for caladiums to keep them from dying in the colder temperatures.
In USDA zones 8 and lower, winter care for caladium bulbs involves digging them up and bringing them inside to go dormant.
Storing Caladium Bulbs
Once temperatures begin to fall and stay below 60 F. (15 C.), dig up your caladium bulb with the foliage still attached. Don’t try to remove any of the dirt from the roots yet. Place your plants in a cool, dark area for 2 to 3 weeks. This process will cure the bulbs and cause them to go dormant.
After a few weeks, cut the tops off level with the soil line. Brush away any loose soil, cut out any rotted areas, and apply a fungicide.
Storing caladium bulbs is easy. Store them at 50 F. (10 C.) in a dry place. It helps to keep them in sand or sawdust to prevent them from drying out too much.
Keep them there until the spring. You should plant caladium bulbs outdoors after the last chance of frost, but you can start them indoors earlier in areas with short growing seasons.
Caladiums can also be grown and stored in containers over winter. Limit watering to once monthly (to prevent them from drying out completely in soil) and keep them in a somewhat dark location. Once warm temps and longer days return in spring, the plant should begin regrowing, at which time you can give it additional light and resume normal care.