Caladium foliage is celebrated by the warm-climate gardener as well as houseplant enthusiasts from all climates. This South American native thrives in warmth and shade, but newer types, known as strap leaved caladium varieties, can tolerate some sun. Whether you’ve been enjoying caladium in shade beds for some time or are new to this plant, try the strap leaf to fill out sunnier spots. You can also grow the plant indoors.
What is a Strap Leaf Caladium?
Caladium plants are known for striking foliage. The large, heart or arrow-shaped leaves come in a range of colors and patterns. Native to the subtropics, these plants generally thrive best in warm and shady spots.
Varieties that can tolerate more sun are called strap leaf caladium. If you admire these gorgeous plants but have little shade, try one of several strap leaf varieties. Like the fancy leaf varieties, they look nice in mass plantings, around trees, and they pair well with begonias, ferns, and impatiens.
Aside from sun tolerance, there are a few factors that differentiate strap leaf from fancy leaf varieties:
- Strap leaf foliage is a little smaller and pointier at the tips
- Strap leaf varieties grow shorter but with more spread
- The strap leaf plants grow more slowly but usually last longer
- Strap leaf varieties tolerate cold a little better
Strap Leaf Caladium Care
Caladium grows from bulbs, so you can purchase bulbs to plant or buy plants at a local garden center. Caladium is notorious for having viruses, so choose your products carefully. Even reputable growers cannot necessarily eliminate all viruses.
Even for strap leaf caladium, choose a spot that gets no more than six hours of sun per day. Morning sun is best. They grow well in beds and also in containers. Strap leaved caladium varieties are especially well suited to container growing indoors.
The soil for growing a strap leaf caladium should be loose and rich in organic material. Don’t use too much fertilizer, as it can damage the bulb and change the color of the leaves. Watering is important and soil should remain moist, but avoid overwatering and standing water, which can cause rot.
If you have colder winters, you can grow these in the summer in beds or pots. Treat them as annuals or dig up the strap leaf caladium bulbs to store indoors for the winter. Let them dry out until the leaves brown and drop off before storing. Replant them in spring for another round.