Caladiums love warm soil, humidity and shade. While few blooming plants tolerate these growing conditions, caladiums provide flashy color for otherwise drab or difficult shady areas. Unlike flowering plants, these boldly patterned tropicals deliver a non-stop, dazzling display of brilliantly colored foliage all season.
Choose a very well-draining, brightly lit spot in partial or full shade for your caladiums after the soil temperature has reached 70 degrees F. These tropicals can’t tolerate cool soil or direct sunlight, which will scorch their tender leaves.
Cultivate the planting site well. Incorporate a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic compost, peat moss or well-rotted manure and a complete 8-8-8 fertilizer into the soil. Follow the packaging instructions carefully.
Plant the caladium tubers 2 inches deep and 12 to 18 inches apart. Position the tubers with the top, or knobby side, up.
Water the planting site thoroughly. Caladium tubers should not be allowed to dry out and foliage mustn’t be permitted to wilt. Keep the soil surface evenly moist, but not soggy or wet, throughout the growing season.
Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch to the planting area. This will help to conserve moisture and discourage weed growth.
Feed your caladiums 5-10-10 fertilizer four to six weeks after planting. Repeat applications every four to six weeks thereafter during the season. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Cut bloom spikes if they occur. Seed production is exhausting to plants, and will rob your caladiums' foliage of nutrients and other resources.
Dig caladium tubers in the fall when foliage dies back. Shake excess soil from the tubers and store them in a shady, well-ventilated spot for seven to 10 days.
Cut the foliage off of the caladium tubers and brush any remaining soil away. Cover the bottom of a cardboard box with 3 inches packing material such as peat moss or Vermiculite. Dust the caladium tubers with fungicide and arrange them on surface of the packing medium so that they’re not touching each other. Cover them with 3 inches of medium and store in a cool, dark spot between 50 and 60 degrees F until next spring.