Caladiums are plants that are native to South and Central America and are known for their colorful leaves that are heart-shaped. These plants are tropical to sub-tropical perennials and grow in wet and dry seasons. These plants belong to the Araceae family. Other common names for Caladium include angel wings and elephant ears. This plant dates back many centuries and is used for many years due to its colorful foliage that is truly eye catching. Its cultivation started in the 1700’s in Europe. Mostly, these plants are used as house plants or summer bedding plants.
Table of Contents
Features of Caladium Flowers
The leaves of the Caladium plant have distinguished midribs with contrasting margins and many different types of patterns like veined or striped. They can be found in many shades of green, pink, white, and red. This plant is known to have no stems. The leaves are borne on elongated petioles that rise directly from underground tuber. A noteworthy fact about these plants is that blooming is not very common for them. If planted in favorable locations, these plants do tend to produce some flowers but only small ones.
These flowers are arum type flowers that are greenish pink and white towards the center. Caladium plants have their own different charm and also smell very pleasant. There are conflicting views on these small caladium flowers. Certain people believe that these flowers should be pinched off in order to help give more energy to the tubers whereas others believe that the small blooms should be left there as they have no effect on the whole plant.
These plants love the shade and can burn if they are planted in areas where there’s a lot of sunlight. Well-drained soil is ideal for the growth of these plants, especially in winter. This plant thrives in the warm season and tends to get dormant as soon as the weather becomes chilly.
Types of Caladium Plants
There are mainly two different types of Caladium plants:
Fancy Leaved Caladium Plants
The first one is the fancy leaved plant that has large heart shaped or semi heart shaped leaves on long petioles that are approximately 12 to 30 inches in height.
Strap Leaved Caladium Plants
The second type is characterized by shorter and narrower leaves that are strap or lance leaves with ruffled edges and are borne on short petioles. These have a height of less than 12 inches typically. This second type has more leaves that the first time per tuber, which gives the plant a fuller appearance.
It is best to plant caladiums in warm and humid areas and in hardiness zones 8 and 9. The tubers should be planted directly into the ground in the spring season. The growing time for these plants can be saved by transplanting potted plants that are already growing. In order to make the fertilizing and watering process simpler, it is best that three tubers are planted in 6 inch pots and they are watered up to their rims in the beds. This helps to hold and store the water, which can stave off invasions and thirsty roots, making it easier for the tubers to lift up.
Caladium Plant Care
Regular fertilizing of these plants is needed to keep them healthy and growing, owing to the fact that this plant is basically all leaves. In order to keep new leaves coming up, it is essential that the plant is fed with a balanced soluble fertilizer around two to three times a month. These plants need supplemental water in order for the soil to be moist enough, especially in the hot summer months. If the Caladium is pot grown, they can be moved around to keep them warm. In the chilly weather, these plants should be kept near a sunny window till the leaves start withering. When they start withering, it is best that they are left to dry out completely. In order to save some space, the tubers should ideally be collected and stashed in an old hosiery or mesh bag and kept there for up to 5 months. If they are stored at over 60 degrees Fahrenheit, they can be planted the next spring, and be just as fresh.
There can be pest problems with these plants, specifically in the northern areas. By proper storage and proper planting procedures, tuber rot can be avoided to quite a good extent. If fertilizer is left on the leaves for too long, the leaves can burn.
There are a lot of different Caladium varieties or cultivars in the world. A few of the popular ones are mentioned below.
This is a fancy leaved cultivar that is whitish towards the center and has deep green margins. It can grow up to a height of 12 to 18 inches and can tolerate the sun only slightly. The average size of the leaf is medium to large and the leaves take around 20 weeks to grow fully. This is a very versatile and popular Caladium cultivar. These sometimes allow other red and pink varieties to grow too. This plant was initially developed by a pioneer of caladium breeding, F. M. Joyner. He later went on to develop a lot of other Caladium breeds in the late 1930s.
This cultivar is characterized by fancy leaves that are pink in color and have bright reddish veins and margins in shades of green. The leaves are in size large to extra large. These plants can grow really tall; up to a height of 18 to 30 inches are can tolerate some sun. It takes 23 weeks for the leaves of this cultivar to grow to the maximum. This cultivar has been a staple in many gardens and is used extensively in planters, baskets and pots.
In the summer, this plant can have calla type flowers, but these are not usually visible since they are hidden by the leaves. This type is disease and pest free and does not require a lot of maintenance either. If these are being planted in spring, they require warm soil in order to grow well and thrive. The hardiness zones are 9 to 12 for his cultivar, whereas the heat zones are 4 to 11. These require an average amount of water to grow well and are tolerant to deer.
This cultivar is fancy leaved with the leaves having white and green veins. The size of the fancy leaf is usually medium to large and this variety can tolerate the sun a lot more than the others. This plant approximately reaches a height of 12 to 24 inches and it takes 21 weeks for the leaves of this cultivar to grow to the fullest. The advantage of this cultivar is that it is easy to grow and is good for containers. It requires half sun and half shade for ideal growth. It is best that 5 bulbs are planted per square foot. These require little maintenance and are usually pest free. The hardiness zones for this cultivar are 9 to 12 and the heat zones are 4 to 11. These are deer resistant too. Moist but well drained soil can ensure ideal growth.
This is a strap leaved cultivar and is characterized by leaves that are large to extra large in size. The leaves are white with dark green veins. These grow to a height lesser than that of Candidum; around 12 to 16 inches and hence the name junior. These typically have a spread of around 14 inches. These can tolerate only some sun and require 21 weeks for the leaves to completely grow. These too require little maintenance and are usually free of diseases. However, they might sometimes attract slugs and snails. The hardiness zones for this cultivar are 9 to 12 and the heat zones are 4 to 11. The flower and fruit borne by this plant are not significant for any purpose. This cultivar can is best for accent, mass planting, hanging baskets and container planting.
This cultivar is a fancy leaved one. The leaves are in shades of pink with red colored veins and light green margins. The leaves are large to extra large in size. This cultivar can tolerate some sun and can grow up to a height of 18 to 30 inches. It takes 23 weeks for the leaves of this cultivar to fully grow. This cultivar is a very popular landscape favorite for a lot of people. Clay or loamy soil that is well drained soil is ideal for the growth of this plant. It should be planted 3 to 4 inches deep and there should be 4 bulbs per square foot. The flowering season is late spring or early summer, with a medium growth rate.
This is fancy leaved cultivar that has dark red centers and green margins that are very wide. This one can grow up to a height of 12 to 24 inches and the leaves are medium to large in size. In addition to that, this cultivar can tolerate the sun and it takes 18 weeks for the leaves to grow fully. This cultivar is an excellent choice for those who want to add more color and texture to shady areas.
For efficient growth of this plant, lots of water is needed, alongside high humidity and heat. Acidic soil is preferred for this plant to grow, alongside part to full shade. Strong winds can uproot this cultivar; hence they need to be protected. These are mostly grown as house plants. These plants can have problems of the likes of tuber rot and leaf spots. Spider mites and aphids can also infect them.
This bicolor Caladium is characterized as strap leaved and has a pinkish red center with edges that are different shades of green. The leaves are broad and are of a small size, and the time they take to grow fully highly differs. This plant can grow up to a height of 6 to 12 inches and can tolerate only some sunlight. The hardiness zones for this type are 9 to 11. Well drained or moist soil is best for the effective growth of this variety. This cultivar requires a medium amount of water and the growth rate is moderate. The advantage that this one has is that it is not susceptible to diseases and insects.
This is a strap leaved Caladium that is creamy white in color and has green margins. The white colored area is dotted with red speckles throughout. The leaves are small to medium sized. This cultivar can also tolerate full sun. It can grow up to a height of 8 to 14 inches. These caladium bulbs give a very festive look and they are very good for containers. Adding to that, the hardiness zones for this cultivar are 2 to 10. It is ideal that 4 bulbs per square feet are planted so that they have enough growing space. There is no specific bloom time for this variety as this is an all season foliage plant. These can thrive in warm soil that is moist but well drained. An ideal use for these plants is in window boxes.
This cultivar is fancy leaved. The leaf is white and green in color. The size of the leaf is medium to large and this one can grow up to a height of 12 to 24 inches. It can tolerate some sunlight and it usually takes 19 weeks for the leaf to grow to full size. Fertilizer should only be used sparingly if you want this type of plant to grow well. Too much fertilizer can cause the leaves to be more green than white. This plant should be spaced 10 to 12 inches apart and should be planted in part sun or partial shade.
Caladium flowers are tropical plants with colorful foliage that can add a touch of color to any dull place. Caladiums have served as house plants for a very long time and are continuing to do so in the modern age too.
Home Stratosphere is an award-winning home and garden online publication that’s a result of our talented researchers and writers who work directly with hundreds of professional interior designers, furniture designers, landscape designers and architects from around the world to create helpful, informative, entertaining and inspiring articles and design galleries.