Mature Caladium bicolor leaf.
image by Jerzy Opiola: Commons.wikimedia.org
Caladium bicolor is a species in the caladium family of tender perennial tropical plants. These plants produce leaves of deep green and cerise, and are commonly and collectively known as Jesus heart. Caladiums are known for prominent veining in deep, cerise pink, which contrasts with the dark green leaf. Caladium corms can be started indoors in late winter or early spring in pots, or planted directly out into the garden soil.
Start bicolor corms indoors in the late winter or early spring by filling peat pots or nursery pots with a commercial potting mix and burying the corm 2-inches deep. Position the corm so that the roots face down and the sloping side faces up towards the sun. Water the corm in well at planting and keep in a warm, humid, protected environment with temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees F. Plant out in the garden when spring ambient and soil temperatures reach above 65 degrees F.
Plant caladium bicolor corms directly into the garden soil in spring when temperatures have warmed. Choose a partially sunny to shady setting. Prepare a well-tilled, loose planting bed for your caladium corms and amend the soil with compost and well-aged manure. Place the corms root-side down, 2 inches deep in the soil and cover over, tamping down lightly. Space the corms at 6-to-9 inch intervals and water in well.
Transplant bicolor corms started indoors into rich, well-drained garden soil that has been tilled and loosened. Dig a hole large enough to incorporate the entire peat pot or the entire soil ball from a plastic nursery pot, keeping the top level with the surrounding soil. The goal it to disturb the corm and roots as little as possible during planting. Back fill soil around the young plant. Tamp the soil down gently and water in well.
Mulch over your garden-planted bicolor corms with an organic material such as shredded bark, peat moss or cocoa hulls to prevent moisture loss to evaporation, and keep down competitive weeds. Lay the mulch down at least 1 inch thick and replenish each year as it degrades into the soil.