How to Grow & Care for Caladium Flower Plants

Overview

Known for their brightly-colored foliage and low maintenance requirements, caladiums (Caladium hortulanum) are cold-sensitive tropical plants that are native to Central and South America. Growing from tubers, caladiums are commonly grown outdoors in landscape beds or indoors in containers. In non-tropical regions, caladium tubers are often dug up and stored during the winter months, and then replanted in spring. Caladiums come in a wide array of varieties, with large leaves that range in color combinations.

Outdoor Caladium Instructions

Step 1

Remove all grasses, weeds and other debris from a planting site that receives full to partial sun and has moist, well-draining soil. If you live in a hotter climate, select a location that has direct sun in the morning but some shade in the afternoon. If your soil is sandy, mix into the soil some peat moss, organic compost or well-rotted manure.

Step 2

Plant the caladium tubers in late winter or early spring, after all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up to about 70 degrees. Plant the tubers 2 inches deep into the soil with the pointed ends facing up, spacing the tubers about 1 ½ feet apart.

Step 3

Water your caladiums deeply and thoroughly two or three times per week to keep the soil moist and prevent it from drying out. Don't overwater especially before the tubers sprout to prevent them from rotting.

Step 4

Feed your caladiums about four to six weeks after planting the tubers and once every two months afterward while the plants are actively growing. Feed each caladium plant ½ tbsp. of a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 NPK fertilizer.

Step 5

Dig up the caladium tubers in the fall before the plants' leaves have drained of all their color and before the soil temperature has become colder than 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, if you live in a non-tropical region. Let the tubers air dry for one week, and then cut away the dried foliage from the tubers and brush off the soil. Store the tubers in dry peat moss with the tubers not touching one another, keeping the caladium tubers in a spot where temperatures will stay above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Indoor Caladium Instructions

Step 1

Plant your caladiums in a container that has drainage holes in the bottom and that's filled with well-draining organic potting soil. If you're planting the caladiums from tubers, select several smaller tubers to plant in the container.

Step 2

Keep your caladiums in a bright, sunny area in your house, preferably beside a south-facing window. During the warmer summer months, you can set the potted caladiums outdoors in a sunny spot during the day.

Step 3

Water your potted caladiums once every two or three days to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Discard any excess water from the drainage dish after watering the caladiums.

Step 4

Feed your indoor caladiums once each month while the plants are actively growing with a water-soluble fertilizer made for foliage houseplants. Follow the dosage instructions on the fertilizer label

Tips and Warnings

  • Watch out for tuber rot fungal disease, which occurs when storing caladium tubers. Prevent tuber rot by storing the tubers in a dry, airy location with low humidity and air temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but no warmer than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Garden trowel
  • Organic compost, peat moss or well-rotted manure
  • Garden hose
  • 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 NPK fertilizer
  • Planter pot
  • Well-draining organic potting soil
  • Water-soluble houseplant fertilizer

References

  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Caladiums for Florida
  • Clemson University Extension: Caladium

Who Can Help

  • NC State University Extension: Caladiums for the Home Landscape
Keywords: caladium care, grow caladiums, plant caladium bulbs

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.