Caladium is a popular foliage plant native to South America. They have heart-shaped leaves that range in size from a few inches to a few feet. Caladium is a tuberous plant that comes in various shades of green, white, red and even lavender. Because of their colorful and large and decorative leaves caladium works well in annual gardens, in pots or along walkways. However, some caladium enthusiasts grow these tropical plants indoors as houseplants. As a houseplant, caladium adds color but because these plants typically go dormant in the fall, they should be stored until spring.
There are many different types of caladium cultivars. However, most can be placed in one of two different and distinct classifications, fancy leaf and lance-leaf. Fancy leaf are often the most commonly found types of caladiums with broad, heart-shaped leaves these caladium cultivars give a punch of color and foliage to any type of floral landscape. However, for additional texture lance-leaf cultivars offer more in the form of increased foliage that is often more slender or scalloped along the edges.
Since caladium is a tuberous plant they can often be purchased in tuber form during the off season. According to Botany.com, an online plant encyclopedia, growers begin to start caladium tubers during February and March. These tubers are often composed of one large central tuber surrounded by smaller tuberous. The more small tubers, the more foliage the plant will produce but often this will also result in smaller leaves. In general look for large tubers to produce large foliage and smaller tubers will produce smaller foliage. Many nurseries and greenhouses also offer caladium plants as potted plants. These can be transplanted like any other annual.
Caladium is by nature a tropical plant but they do not tolerate full sun. For the best in both color and growth caladium plants prefer warm, moist conditions as well as protection from the direct sunlight. This generally makes caladium a great option for window boxes, potted plants shaded from the direct sunlight or a sunny region of the house. For gardeners, growing caladium from tubers make sure the ground is warm before planting. Cool soil temperatures will cause the tubers to rot prematurely. Although caladium is generally grown for their foliage, they do bloom occasionally. Trim the blooms back to preserve the plant's energy sources for longer-lasting foliage
Harvesting and Storing
Caladium tubers can be stored for reuse from one season to the next. However, because these are tropical plants, it is important to dig up the tubers prior to the onset of chilly weather. As temperatures drop to 65 degrees F and below, it is important to get them out of the ground before rot sets in. Wash the tubers thoroughly and dry in a warm and dry place. Try to keep drying temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees F. Once the tubers are dried, store them at approximately 70 degrees F in a dark and dry area. In the spring once the ground soil has reached 65 degrees F or more the tubers can be planted directly into the ground.
According to Guide-to-houseplants.com, caladium plants grown indoors need winter rest as well. During the fall, allow caladium houseplants to die back. Gradually decrease water until the plant goes dry. At this time, store the plant in a dark and dry area such as a garage or ventilated closet.
Rot is a common problem causing caladium plants to fail. Inspect tubers for any sign of rot prior to planting. In addition to rot damage, caladium may be susceptible to root aphids and mealy bugs. Generally both of these infestations occur during tuber storage and should be addressed prior to planting. Other insects may attack the foliage including mealybugs, mites and whiteflies. However, although these pests may leave unsightly holes in the foliage, the turnover rate of caladium leaves is so abundant that the majority of pests will be gone with death and removal of infested foliage.