Caladium Info and Care
With lavishly colored palm-sized leaves resembling artistic masterpieces, caladium is a plant that evokes indulgence and attracts attention whenever you place it! Sometimes, it is hard to believe it is a living plant due to the gorgeous beautiful patterns and colors on its leaves!
Still, no matter how unreal it may seem, caladium is a plant that, with a bit of experience and knowledge, you can grow in your home or even garden!
What is Caladium
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Caladium is a herbaceous perennial native to the humid and warm tropical forests of South America. This small genus of plants from the Araceae family has only a few species, and the most famous is Caladium bicolor.
The cultivation of this species resulted in numerous hybrids with an almost endless combination of colors and patterns on the foliage. So the Caladium you notice on sale is a grower’s creation and not a plant you can see in nature!
Thin, and delicate Caladium leaves grow directly from the tubers on erect stems one to three feet long. They are heart-shaped, often with slightly curled edges, and the size and color depend on the type of cultivar.
They can be palm-sized or larger, pink, cream-white, reddish, or green, in various combinations, with the pattern or border, sometimes with a monochromatic background, and pronounced veins in a contrasting color.
How to Grow Caladium
Indeed, Caladium is not the easiest plant to grow, so if you want to keep it for at least a few seasons, here are some facts to keep in mind and tips that can help you with that.
Whether you grow Caladium as a houseplant or a garden plant, it will shed its leaves at the end of the season and be dormant until spring, when a new growth cycle begins.
So, regardless of the conditions you provide, you cannot enjoy the beauty of its leaves in the winter months. Like hostas or peonies, the plant forms the leaf mass only in the part of the year with long daylight and elevated temperatures.
Caladium grows best if placed in a bright but shaded place without much direct sun. In the house, it is an ideal position on the east window where it can enjoy two to three hours of mild direct sunlight.
You can plant it in the garden where tall plants or treetops will protect it from the direct midday sun.
Since it comes from humid Brazilian forests, Caladium requires air humidity of at least 50%. Open windows in the hottest part of the year will provide this value without additional humidification.
You should keep in mind that Caladium is a hydrophobic plant! Its leaves have a protective layer that prevents the penetration of water, so the drops just slide and accumulate in the recesses along the central nerve.
That’s why spraying the leaves doesn’t make much sense because the accumulated water will eventually spill out of the leaves!
So if you want extra moisture instead of spraying, place a pebble tray under the pot with Caladium.
Since it is a heat lover, Caladium grows best at 60 and 80 F. In the spring, it needs a temperature of at least 70 F to wake up from hibernation.
The lower limit it can withstand is 45 F but only for a short period because as soon as the temperature drops below 60 F, it will start to shed leaves.
Only in USA zones 9 and more without additional protection can you overwinter in the soil.
This painted-leaf beauty is a thirsty plant that needs frequent watering at least once a week. Moist soil is crucial for its growth, and that can be challenging because too much moisture causes the tubers to rot
In addition, thin leaves have accelerated transpiration, so if the plant is thirsty they will hang quickly, reminding you that it is time for watering!
The best soil for potting Caladium is a mixture of two parts coco humus, one part perlite, and one part sphagnum or other moss.
The soil should be airy and nutritious but also well-drained so that it does not retain water longer than necessary.
Caladium likes acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.2, so you can add peat to the garden soil if it is too alkaline.
RELATED: Gardening Soil Types
When the aboveground part of the plant withers, dig out the tubers, clean them from the ground and leave them to dry. Then put them in a paper bag and place them on a shelf in a room whose temperature is 60 F day and night.
Plant the tubers again in the spring when the temperature rises and the day becomes longer. You do not have to remove the Caladium in the pot from the soil.
Instead, before the end of the season, stop watering and when the leaves wither, cut them off and store it in a warm room in a closet or other dimly lit area.
You should not water the plant during the winter dormancy. Let it stay in a dark and warm place until the second half of March when you can bring the plant to light and start watering again.
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