Caladium is a tropical plant with multi-colored foliage that can add freshness to any dull place. Caladium is native to South and Central America and belongs to the Araceae family. Other familiar names for caladium are angel wings and elephant ears.
The exotic caladium plant can make a stunning addition to your house decor or summer bedding plants. Its colorful heart or arrow-shaped leaves seem to be hand-painted with a beautiful mix of green, white, red, and pink. With good treatment, caladium creates a magnificent display rivaling any other flowering plant.
Caladium is known to have no stems. The elongated petioles support the leaves and rise straight from the underground tuber. A unique fact about this plant is that blooming is not quite frequent for them. If planted in convenient locations, caladium tends to produce some flowers, but only small ones. The caladium flowers are the arum type that is greenish pink and white towards the center. Caladium also has a pleasant fragrance.
This tropical beauty loves the shade and can burn if they settle in areas with a lot of sunlight. Well-drained soil is excellent for the growth of caladium, especially in winter. This plant thrives in the warm season and tends to get dormant when the weather becomes cold.
The most popular caladium varieties
Generally, there are two different types of caladium plants. First, the fancy-leaved caladium plants that have large heart-shaped or semi heart-shaped leaves on long petioles, roughly 12 to 30 inches in height.
Second, the strap-leaved caladium plants. This type has narrower and shorter leaves with ruffled edges and short petioles, typically no more than 12 inches. Strap-leaved caladiums have more leaves which gives the plants a fuller display.
Here are some of the most popular caladium varieties or cultivars.
This fancy-leaved variety is whitish towards the center and has deep green borders. It can grow up to 12 to 18 inches and can only slightly tolerate the sun. The average size of the leaf is medium to large, and it takes about 20 weeks to grow fully. A pioneer of caladium breeding, F M Joyner originally developed this plant. He also cultivated many other caladium breeds in the late 1930s.
2. Carolyn Whorton
This fancy-leaved cultivar has a pink color, bright reddish veins, and borders in shades of green. The leaves are generally large-sized. This plant can grow tall up to 18 to 30 inches and tolerate some sun. It takes 23 weeks for the leaves to fully grown. This plant can have calla-type flowers in the summer. But they are not usually visible because the leaves cover them.
This type belongs to the fancy-leaved. The leaves have white and green veins. The size of the leaves is typically medium to large. This variety can tolerate the sunlight a lot more than the others. Candidum is easy to grow and suitable for containers. This plant requires half sun and half shade for ideal growth and needs a little maintenance. It is usually pest-free. Moist but well-drained soil can ensure growth.
4. Freida Hemple
This fancy-leaved variety has dark red centers and green borders that are very wide. It can grow up to 12 to 24 inches with leaves that are medium to large-sized. This type can tolerate the sun, and it takes 18 weeks for the leaves to grow to the maximum. This cultivar is a brilliant choice for those who want to give more vibrance and texture to shady areas. Therefore, this plant is usually grown as house plants.
5. Florida Sweetheart
This bicolor caladium belongs to the strap-leaved and has a bold pinkish-red center with green edges. Though they are small-sized, the leaves are broad. This plant can grow up to 6 to 12 inches and can tolerate only moderate sunlight. The advantage of this caladium plant is susceptible to insects and diseases.
How to plant caladium
Caladiums are seasonal plants even in the tropics. Gardeners plant them in the spring and summer periods when they will thrive in the heat and wet. As house plants, caladiums will do best with bright but indirect light, lots of heat, and high humidity.
Even under the most desirable conditions, caladiums will only last several months before their leaves start to wither and the plant goes dormant again. But you don’t need to be worried because the plants are just supposed to do that. It is why summer is the perfect season to use caladiums as a beautiful addition to your house decor or garden. When they wither back, preserve the tubers in a bag. Replant next year for another attractive display.
Caladiums thrive in warm and humid areas. In the spring season, plant the tubers directly into the ground. You can also transplant grown potted plants. For an easier watering and fertilizing process, plant three tubers in 6-inch pots. Water them up to their rims in the beds. It can help to store the water, making it easier for the tubers to lift.
How to care for caladium
To keep your caladium healthy and well, try to use these simple guidelines.
- Light – Caladium favors indirect light or medium shade indoors. The narrower the leaves, the greater the sunlight it can endure.
- Water – Always keep the plant regularly moist. Do not let it dry out. Since caladium is a tropical plant, keep the humidity at a high level.
- Temperature – A warmer environment is better for caladium.
- Soil – Choose a rich, well-drained potting mix since that is great for caladium.
- Fertilizer – Fertilize the caladium plant weekly throughout the growing season using liquid fertilizer or slow-release pellets.
Where to place caladium at home
The best place to place your caladium is near a window that provides enough sunlight but not too intense direct sunlight, especially during the hottest hours of the day. Too much direct sunlight can dry the plant. Avoid locating the plant near heat sources, such as radiators, because this tropical plant needs moisture the most.