Caladiums

White Caladiums - mlm c@

Florida Sunrise

Some of my  caladiums (Caladium X hortulanum) have been getting far too much sun, and need to be moved. I began relocating them this spring, and will finish that job as soon as the weather turns cooler. Some of those not yet moved  drooped for a while in the heat of summer, but now that temperatures have relaxed a bit, they are perking up again, and sprouting new growth.

Here in central Florida (Zone 9-A), caladiums usually awaken from their winter’s sleep in mid-to-late May. This year due to earlier than usual hot weather, their little spear-like sprouts were peeping up at me in late April. I was thrilled, because they are one of my favorite foliage plants. In less than a week, those gorgeous multi-colored gems were unfurled and showing off their faces for me and anyone else who cared to take a look.

Red Flash - mlm c@

This one is called Red Flash. I have really enjoyed its brilliant colors. I have a lot of these — plenty to share. If anyone around here would like some, just let me know.

Farther North Than Zone 9, Caladiums Must Be Dug in the Fall, Replanted in Spring

Living here, I have delighted in being able to plant caladiums and leave them in the ground forever. When living in Zone 7 (Birmingham, Alabama, and Charlotte, North Carolina) I had to plant them in the spring after the danger of frost had past. Then, in autumn, before the first chance of frost, I had to dig them up, and store them for the winter. We could leave dahalia, gladiolia, and elephant ear bulbs in the ground over the winter, but not caladiums or begonias.

As I grew older, and arthritis attacked my knees and, eventually, I stopped planting caladiums and begonias. They were simply too high-maintenance for me. For several years, I really missed that dazzling colorful foliage that I had loved since childhood. Now, I can have them again because, once they are in the ground, I don’t have to worry about them ever again. I can just sit back and watch them multiply each year.

White Dynasty

White Dynasty - mlm c @

White Dynasty

So, you’d prefer to buy bulbs instead of potted caladiums?

When to Plant:  Caladium plants or their bulbs can be planted anytime after nighttime temperatures remain above 65 degrees Farenheit.

How Deep to Plant:  The bulbs should be no more than 2 inches below the surface of the soil.

I have actually seen them lying on the ground and doing just fine. This was one time when I planted some bulbs and overlooked one. Later, when it had put out some leaves, I noticed it just sitting there on the ground! It had sent roots down into the soil. I was amazed it survived. Of course, I planted it immediately. I doubt it would have survived the summer heat even in North Carolina, where we lived at the time.

Which Side is Up?

There are usually little “eyes” similar to those seen on a begonia bulb or a potato. That is the side that goes up. If you don’t see any eyes, just put it in the ground. Unlike some bulbs, it will take care of itself and perform very well for you.

Pink Gem - mlm c@

This is Pink Gem. It hasn’t completely unfurled yet.

I don’t have any of White Dynasty or Pink Gem. I saw them at a garden center, and later went back to buy some. Of course, they were gone. You know what they say, “You snooze, you lose”.

Did You Know Caladiums Have Flowers?

Flower Bud - mlm c@The flower buds are not there one day, and appear like this the next day. It’s interesting to me that the flower buds have a shape similar to the unfurled leaves, but with the little “lump” at the base.

 

 

Flower - mlm c@This is one of the open flowers. It reminds me a lot of a peace lily flower, in some ways of a calla lily, and in many ways of the flower of elephant ears. They are in the same family, you know.

 

 

Here’s an enlargement of an open caladium flower.

Flower Enlarged - mlm c@

Gingerland

Gingerland - mlm c@

Gingerland

This is an interesting caladium. It has an elongated heart shape. It seems to prefer filtered light and afternoon shade, but can take some morning sun. I began with only one of these. It was mixed in with a group of Florida Sunrise.  It has multiplied very slowly. Now I have two. Hmm, this may take a while.

I have to leave you now, and get busy transplanting those caladiums.

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