Caladium Plant Problems – Caladium Plant Pests And Disease

Colorful Caladium Plants
(Image credit: Licec)

Caladiums are foliage plants, grown for their showy leaves. The leaves have incredible color combinations including white, green pink and red. They are shaped like arrowheads and can get up to 18 inches long. Caladium plants are native to Central and South America. They are very popular houseplants but they are not without their share of caladium plant problems. Read on to learn about caladium plant pests and other problems with caladium.

Problems with Caladium

Like other plants, caladiums can have problems. Caladium plant problems range from those caused by improper cultural practices to diseases and pests.

Cultural Practices

In order to start preventing caladium problems caused by improper cultural practices, learn how to take care of your plant. Caladiums grow from tubers that look like bulbs, and if the tubers are injured in storage, the plants can be stunted. Carefully stock tubers in a garage or porch at temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 32 C.). Colder or hotter temperatures will create stunted growth in the plants. Caladiums like sunlight, but not suddenly. If your cultivars were grown during cloudy weather and suddenly are faced with bright light, they may get sunburned. You’ll see brown blotches on the leaves. If this happens, just increase the plant’s shade. Too much water or fertilizer near the plant tubers can also create caladium plant problems. Take care with irrigation and fertilization and you’ll be preventing caladium problems.

Caladium Plant Pests

Caladium plants are not typically troubled by insects, but sometimes caladium plant pests nibble their leaves or cell sap. Caterpillars and aphids can be problems. Your best defense against caladium plant pests is vigilance. If you see ragged margins on foliage, look for the creatures and hand pick them off the plants. If the infestation is out of control, use Bacillus thuringiensis, known as "Bt," that’s made for caterpillar control. Aphids can be bothersome, although they generally do not pose real threats to the plants. Wash them off with the hose or, if necessary, use horticultural soap or neem oil to control them.

Diseases of Caladium Plants

Caladium grow from tubers and the diseases of caladium plants are those that attack the tubers. Usually these diseases are caused by fungal pathogens, such as Rhizoctonia and Pythium species. Sometimes, these are present in the dormant tubers. If you want to start preventing caladium problems from fungus, immerse the tubers in hot water – water heated to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 C.) prior to planting or storing. Leave them in for 30 minutes to kill harmful fungi. Make sure the tubers thoroughly dry.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.