Mature Caladium bicolor leaf.
image by Jerzy Opiola/commons.wikimedia.org
Caladium is a tropical perennial plant grown for its dramatic variegated and colored foliage and stems. Grown from an underground corm, caladium is hardy in USDA zones 9a through 11 and thrives in sun to partial shade exposures. The leaves are typically in some combination of green, red and/or white, with prominent veining with an arrow or heart-like shape. Caladium is widely grown as a bedding or border plant as well as an indoor houseplant.
Plant caladiums in a location that receives several hours of morning sun each day and partial or full shade in the afternoon. In warmer, drier climates with intense sun, full shade is preferred to reduce the stress on your caladium and keep it from experiencing wilt or color fade. Give caladiums grown as houseplants bright indirect light daily.
Provide a planting soil that is nutrient-rich and amended with well-aged manure and compost that will hold moisture well. Feed caladiums with a water-soluble, general-purpose fertilizer once per month throughout the growing season. Alternatively, use a granular slow-release formulation once or twice a year as indicated on the manufacturer's label. Apply either over pre-watered soil to prevent burn and increase the absorption of nutrients.
Water your caladium corm or plants so that the soil is constantly moist but not consistently wet, as soaking-wet soil can readily rot the corm. Water deeply throughout the growth season and never allow the corm or its surrounding soil to dry out completely. Depending on your climate and time of year, watering frequency can vary greatly from every other day to once a week or less.
Dig and store your caladium bulbs when the plants begin to wilt and die back or immediately after the first frost in fall. Cut off the foliage tops, dust off any soil on the corm and lay it in the sun to cure for 2 to 3 days. Store in clean sand or peat moss in a dim, protected location with temperatures consistently between 65 and 80 degrees F. Return the corms to the garden in spring only after the ambient and soil temperatures are consistently above 65 degrees F.