Mature caladium leaf up close.
image by Forest & Kim Starr: commons.wikimedia.org
Caladium are a family of tropical perennial plants that are popular for their dramatic leaf structure and colorations. Caldium leaves grow on slim arching stems that connect from the underground tuber up through the soil to the center of each leaf without a trunk in between. The leaves have prominent veining in one color with the balance of the leaf made of a second or even third color. They are hardy in USDA zones 9a through 11 and low maintenance in care though they do demand warmth, shade and moisture to perform well in the landscape.
Select a planting location for your caladium that affords morning sun and afternoon shade, constant light or dappled shade throughout the day. The stronger the sun and heat in your climate, the more your caladium will welcome shade.
Till up the planting bed so that the soil is light and loose. Amend the soil with a few pounds of compost if the soil is lacking in nutrients, and till it in well. Prepare a planting hole for each caladium tuber that is 2 1/2 inches deep and at least 8 inches apart from the next tuber.
Place the caladium tuber down into the hole so that the sloping points or eyes are facing up towards the sun. Cover over with 2 inches of soil and water in the tubers well until the soil is saturated, but still drains. Add a bit more soil to compensate for any settling after watering.
Mulch over the tuber with shredded bark or cocoa hulls to hold in moisture and prevent any weeds from growing. Mark the planting location, if desired. Pale shoots should begin to be visible within days to two weeks. Water the plant as needed to keep the soil evenly moist, but not soaking wet, throughout the growing season, and never let the soil become dry to the touch.