STEP 1 - KNOW
START WITH A BETTER BULB
It’s easy to see the difference in a quality caladium when you compare two plants side by side. Caladium tubers are graded by size. A #1 tuber measures 1.5 to 2.5” in diameter. Tubers graded #2 or #3 are smaller. The size of the tuber is important because a larger tubers has more growth points, or "eyes". Each eye produces a sprout, and the more sprouts, the larger and fuller the plant. Healthy caladium tubers are plump and firm, not soft or bruised.
STEP 2 - PLAN
PLAN FOR SUCCESS
SHADE AND SUN: Caladiums are ideal for shady yards and gardens. In southern areas, they grow best in full to partial shade. In northern areas, most caladiums can also be grown in the sun as long as they get enough water and their leaves are shielded during the hottest part of the day.
ZONE: Caladiums are winter hardy in zones 9-11. In these warm climates, the tubers can be left in the ground all year round. In zones 3-8, caladiums are grown as annuals, planted in the spring after any danger of frost. Not sure about your zone? Check out our zone map HERE.
WHEN TO PLANT: Caladiums are tropical plants that like warm soil and hot weather. If the tubers are planted into cold soil, they will not grow and may rot. Wait to plant your caladiums until the nights are warm and soil temperatures are at least 65-70ºF. In cooler climates, you can give your caladiums a head start by sprouting the tubers indoors 4-6 weeks before planting time. Plant the tubers shallowly in pots or seedling flats. Keep them warm (70°F) and barely moist to encourage sprouting.
WHERE TO PLANT CALADIUMSCONTAINERS, PATIOS, AND DECKS: Decorate your outdoor sitting areas with beautiful foliage. Caladiums grow well in pots and planters and are the perfect solution for brightening a shady porch or a covered deck.WINDOW BOXES: Strap leaf caladiums grow beautifully in window boxes and hanging planters. They will wrap your home in color from summer through fall.
ENTRYWAYS AND BORDERS: Use fancy leaf caladiums to soften a walkway to your front door, edge a shady garden bed or line a path beneath shade trees and shrubs.
MAILBOX GARDENS: Surrounding your mailbox with pretty foliage is a great way to increase your home's curb appeal and create a charming "mini-garden" at the front of your home.
COMPANION PLANTS IN THE GARDEN: Depending on which varieties you choose, caladiums can be bright and flashy or cool and sophisticated. The pinks, greens, and whites pair beautifully with other soft colors, and the red-leaved varieties will hold their own when combined with hot-colored begonias, coleus or impatiens.
STEP 3 - GROW
PLANTING IS AS EASY 1-2-3
1. Dig a hole 3" deep.
2. Set the tuber in the hole so it sits 2" below the soil surface.
3. Replace the soil and water as needed.
PLANTING TIPSWait to plant your caladiums outdoors until after any danger of frost has passed. It's actually best to wait until the nights are warm and the soil temperature has reached 65-70°F.
STEP 4 - AFTERCARE
CARING FOR YOUR CALADIUM AFTER THE GROWING SEASON
Growing Caladiums in Hardiness Zones 4-8
Caladiums will not tolerate frost or cold weather, so in most of the U.S., the plants are grown as annuals. After the first frost, simply leave the bulbs where they are (by spring they will have disintegrated). Alternatively, you can dig up the entire plant and add it to your compost pile.If you want to keep your caladium bulbs from one year to the next, the tubers can be dug up and stored indoors for the winter. Do this before the soil temperature drops below 55º F. Leaving some foliage attached to the tubers will make it easier to label the plants for next spring.Spread the tubers out in an area that's protected from rain, cold and direct sunlight. Allow the plants to dry for at least a week and then cut the foliage away from the tubers, keeping like varieties together. Place the tubers in mesh bags or pack them lightly in dry peat moss. Store in a cool, dark place where the temperature will not fall below 60ºF. Replant in spring.
Growing Caladiums in Hardiness Zones 9-11
Caladiums are dormant in the winter. This means that even in frost-free climates the plants will lose their foliage for several months. At the end of the summer when nighttime temperatures start to cool down, the plants' leaves will begin to droop and eventually wither away.At this point, you can simply leave the bulbs in the ground where they are, and wait for them to re-emerge in spring. As long as the soil is well drained and does not freeze, the tubers will return to give you another great show next spring.