Caladiums are commonly referred to as Angel Wings, Heart of Jesus and/or Elephant Ear. There are more than 1000 different cultivars of the Caladium.
Native to the Amazon River, Caladiums are a tropical plant that is loved for its spectacular color combinations. While all the varieties have green leaves you can find them splashed with white, vivid red and pink. Aside from the color combinations, Caladiums are available in either fancy leaved or strap leaved. Generally regarded as an outdoor plant, Caladiums can also be grown indoors if the right conditions are maintained.
While most Caladiums reach a height of between 18 and 24 inches, the dwarf variety only reaches from 8 to 12 inches in height. Although a few varieties can tolerant some direct sun, most Caladiums thrive in a partially shaded area with bright light. Well draining soil should be kept consistently moist during the growing season. And, during spring and summer the plant should be feed every two weeks with a liquid fertilizer that is high in nitrogen at half strength.
While Caladiums are very easy to grow they do require a little extra attention, they love humidity. A humidifier will provide the best results. But, you can place the pot on a tray filled with small stones and water. Misting on a daily basis with water that is at room temperature will also help. During their growth period they prefer a warm temperature ranging from 70 to 85 degrees.
Planting Caladium Tubers
When you plant Caladium tubers you want to place the tuber in the soil with the knobby side facing upward. The leaves of the plant grow from the knobs, or eyes of the tuber. If you have already planted your tubers and aren’t sure if they are planted correctly, don’t worry. The Caladium will still grow and find its way to the surface it will just take longer for the leaves to appear.
Caladiums should be planted in soil that is rich and has very good drainage to prevent the tubers from rotting. Dig the hole large enough so that the top of the tuber is about two inches below the surface of the soil and place tubers at least six inches apart. Give the tubers plenty of water and keep them in a warm area and you should start to see the sprouts emerging through the top of the soil within 4 to 6 weeks.
Storing Caladium Tubers Through The Winter
Whether Caladiums are grown outdoors or as a houseplant they still go dormant during fall and winter. The tubers can be left in the ground if you live in an area that stays warm year round. If you live in an area that has a cool or cold winter you will need to dig the tubers up and store them. Plants that are in pots can remain in pots through the dormant season. Allow the soil in the pots to completely dry and remove all the leaves and store indoors until spring.
When the temperatures start reaching around 50 degrees at night reduce watering and let the leaves die and fall off. If the plants haven’t lost all their leaves before the weather gets really cold you can cut them off about 1/2 inch above the tuber. After you dig the tubers up allow them to air dry for about a week.
Caladium tubers should be stored in a warm area at 55 degrees or more that is well ventilated. Place them in a mesh bag or box and cover them with vermiculite or peat moss. Periodically you will need to check them and remove any tubers that have started to rot. If the tubers start to shrivel you can give them a small amount of water. Be careful not to over water. You can check them the next day and if they’re still shriveled add a little more water.
Propagating Caladium Tubers
While you have your tubers out of the ground it’s the ideal opportunity for propagation. Caladium tubers are very easy to propagate. You need to use a sharp, sterile knife and slice the tubers to make more plants. For the best chance at success make sure that each section you slice off of a tuber has at least two eyes.
Written by Connie Corder for HousplantsForYou.com, Copyright 2011