How to Grow Caladiums

The colorful foliage of caladium. image by Caladium, o0o0xmods0o0o/morguefile.com

Overview

Caladiums have large, colorful leaves that are either heart or lance-shaped. The leaves may be mottled or splotched with green, pink, red or white, and sometimes feature veins or borders of different colors. They may be two-tone, or any of several color combinations. Caladiums are tropical plants that thrive in moist, shady conditions. The plants grow well outdoors in the summer, and also make excellent houseplants.

Grow Caladiums Indoors

Step 1

Plant caladiums indoors for beautiful colored foliage displays. Tubers will range in size depending on the variety of caladium; they may be 2 to 3 inches long, or twice that size. Purchase caladium tubers that have the firmness of a potato. Tubers should not be shriveled or wrinkled. Buy two or three tubers for an 8-inch pot, or 5 to 6 tubers for a 12-inch pot. Look for tubers with eyes, like potato eyes, which will sprout.

Step 2

Fill a pot or container with general-purpose potting mix to 2 or 3 inches below the rim. Sprinkle 1 to 2 tbsp. of bone meal on the soil and mix it in. Place the caladium tubers on the potting soil with the eyes up, and cover them with 1 to 2 inches of potting mix. Water the pot and place it in bright, indirect light.

Step 3

Keep the pot watered, and never allow it to become completely dry. The temperature should range between 65 and 75 degrees F. The sprouts should appear in 7 to 10 days.

Step 4

Place a layer of gravel in a tray if your home air tends to be dry, as caladiums prefer high humidity. Pour water 1/2 inch deep in the gravel, and set the pot on it. The evaporating water from the tray humidifies the plant.

Step 5

Fertilize your caladiums once a month with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer.

Grow Caladiums Outdoors

Step 1

Plant caladiums outside in a shady location. Direct sunlight may fade the foliage's color or dry out the plant and kill it. Plant tubers outdoors after the soil has warmed to at least 65 degrees F. Prepare a planting bed that is tilled at least 8 inches deep. Mix 1 tbsp. of bone meal in each planting hole and plant tubers at a depth of 2 inches with the eyes up. Cover them with fine, loose soil.

Step 2

Water the beds after planting. Keep them moist, but do not allow standing water or the tubers will rot. Mulch around the plants to keep weeds down and to retain soil moisture. Sprouts should appear in 7 to 10 days.

Step 3

Nip off any small, greenish flowers to prevent the plant's energy from being focused on seed production.

Step 4

Fertilize your caladiums once a month with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer.

Step 5

Withhold water as the foliage begins to die back at the end of summer to force dormancy. Before frost, trim away the dead leaves, dig up the tubers and brush off the soil. Store the tubers over the winter in a plastic bag with holes in it in a cool, dark place. Keep them from frost or freezing.

Things You'll Need

  • Bone meal
  • Pots
  • General purpose potting soil
  • Gavel tray (optional)
  • Shovel or tiller

References

  • Planting Caladiums
  • Caladiums Indoors

Who Can Help

  • Grow Caladiums
Keywords: grow caladiums, plant caladium tubers, caladiums in shade garden

About this Author

Fern Fischer is a freelance writer with more than 35 years' experience. Her work has been published in various print and online publications. She specializes in organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family articles. Fischer also writes about quilting and sewing, and she professionally restores antique quilts to preserve these historical pieces of women's art.

Photo by: Caladium, o0o0xmods0o0o/morguefile.com