Caladiums are my favorite summer plant here in Houston. I put them in my annual beds that border the sidewalk just out front of my fence. This bed has a dwarf yaupon hedge and a border of pink rain lilies. I usually plant the traditional red caladiums with green centers and leaf edging. I love red and green foliage, I posted about that and you might enjoy reading more about the color theory behind it. This year I decided a mix of red, white and pink would be fun. I am so happy with the result! What do you think? Which do you like better?
Caladiums do come in a variety of color combinations and even leaf shape and size. Finding flowers that will last the summer in my annual bed is challenging because it is pretty shady. Most flowers don’t like shade and those that do really don’t like our hot humid summers. I like to have a bit of WOW out front for all the walkers to enjoy! To me caladiums are a great and rewarding choice for any shady area. Because they are originally from South Americas they thrive in our heat and humidity.
“Caladium /kəˈleɪdiəm/ is a genus of flowering plants in the family Araceae. They are often known by the common name elephant ear (which they share with the closely related genera Alocasia, Colocasia, and Xanthosoma), Heart of Jesus, and Angel Wings. There are over 1000 named cultivars of Caladium bi-color from the original South American plant. The genus Caladium includes seven species that are indigenous to Brazil and to neighboring areas of South America and Central America. They grow in open areas of the forest and on the banks of rivers and go dormant during the dry season. The wild plants grow to 15–35 inches (40–90 cm) tall, with leaves mostly 6-18 inches (15–45 cm) long and broad.” – Wikipedia
The foliage of this traditional southern plant nearly glows and adds brilliance to our summer shade gardens. Mine get dappled light and a few hours of hot sun so I have to make sure the soil never dries out completely. Right now as I write this post we are having one of our wonderful thunder storms…and even though it slows our landscaping work down I am so happy for all the plants!
Caladiums are so easy to grow. I like them best planted from tubers (often called bulbs but they are actually tubers). The can also be bought in flats like you do other annuals. They are perfect for new gardeners because you just plant them and water them and voila nearly instant beauty. The only food (fertilizer) I use is an all-purpose organic fertilizer that is actually feeding the soil. We also put down compost prior to planting and then covered it will a layer of mulch. It took about 3 to 4 weeks before we saw sprouts and then you could actually watch them grow on a daily basis. I left my pansies till mid-April this year because we had such a mild spring. Then I planted the caladiums a week later.
To plant from a tuber you put the pointed side up and planted it about 2” deep. How far apart you plant them depends on the variety you are planting and their full grown size. I over plant mine, at about 6 inches apart, because I love the full look and I know that I will be removing them in the fall.
And look they even flower!
I ordered my caladium tubers from Easy To Grow Bulb company. The Caladium Shady Lady Colorful Dozen Mix