Family: Araceae Origin: Tropical America Height: 12-30 inchLight: partial shade, shade Watering: Frequent watering Soil: moist but good drained Description: These tropical plants are native to South America and are grown for their beautiful foliage.
The size of the heart-shaped leaves may vary from 6 inches to 2 feet in length. The colors vary from green and white, green and red, white with red blotches or green veins and some have lavender spots. They like a warm and moist atmosphere with a minimum summer temperature of 75 degrees and a minimum winter temperature of 55 degrees. Cultivation: Caladiums are not hardy year-round, although it is possible to overwinter the dry tubers indoors. They grow to full size in one season. Caladiums need protection from full sun for best growth and color. Some newer varieties will tolerate full sun for a couple of hours daily, but all prefer dappled or moderate shade. Caladiums require a warm, moist soil to grow. Planting in cool soil results in slow growth or tuber rot. Soil temperature of 70 °F is preferred. Water frequently and thoroughly, keeping the soil evenly moist to touch but not saturated. Do not let caladiums sit in water if planted in a container. Fertilize caladiums regularly with a soluble fertilizer to promote strong foliage growth. You can grow caladiums from tubers yourself or buy already-started plants. Large tubers have more leaf buds than small tubers and, therefore, make larger and better displays. Each caladium tuber has a large central bud surrounded by several small buds. Most caladium varieties produce only a few colorful leaves if the large central bud is allowed to grow. Remove the central bud to allow the tuber to produce many more shoots and leaves. Use the tip of a sharp knife to lift out the large central bud, being careful not to injure any of the surrounding small buds. Save caladium tubers for planting next year by digging the tubers in the fall before the leaves have lost all color. Spread them out and allow them to dry for a week. Cut or pull the dry foliage from the tubers and remove all dry soil, then pack in dry peat moss or vermiculite for storage. Pack tubers so they do not touch each other. Store them where the temperature will not drop below 50F. Starting with new tubers each year may give better results since second year foliage is usually not as good as the first year. You may have better luck storing and regrowing tubers of white-foliaged caladiums than those of other types. In February or March you can start the new tubers. They are first shaken free of any old dirt and then placed in a flat of leaf mold or peat moss and covered. As soon as roots have formed, they are taken out of the box and potted in 4-inch pots. They are then placed in a warm, humid environment and kept out of direct sunlight. They need to be carefully watered until the pots fill with roots, then they need to be repotted in 5- or 6-inch pots, according to their size. The best compost to use is two parts loam, and equal parts peat, leaf mold and dried cow manure. In the morning and afternoon, sprits their leaves with water. Liquid fertilizer can be added twice a week, when the pots have been filled with roots. A few of the feeble or insignificantly colored leaves may be removed if the plant becomes overcrowded. Water is gradually withheld towards the end of the summer when the leaves begin to wither. Propagation: By dividing the roots after they have started to grow in the spring, you can produce more plants. The pieces should be set in sifted leaf mold or peat moss and kept warm and damp. When they have grown roots, they should be planted in 3-inch pots.Problems and diseases: - Tuber rot is a fungal decay of tubers in storage or during the growing season. Select disease-free tubers for planting. Store tubers properly to avoid high humidity and cool temperatures. Never store caladium tubers in the refrigerator. Tubers purchased in early spring should be held at room temperature. - Leaf spot causes lower leaves to develop light tan-to-brown spots. Remove diseased leaves as they appear. - Burning of the edges of older leaves and scorching of leaves usually are the result of fertilizer touching the leaves, watering during the hot part of the day or too little water.Varieties: C. humboldtii (argyrites); C. bicolor; C. schomburgkii; C. chantinii; C. hortulanum.