Friday, December 14, 2007

Caladium Cultivation


Humid tropical climate are the best site to plant Caladiums. They are very easy to grow because they are easily adapt with the environment. They will go dormant when dry, and will grow when it’s wet. They will go dormant too in cold weather, and will grow when it’s warm. If the soil is humid and the weather is warm, they will never go dormant. Growing Environment : Growing media, Actually Caladiums can grow anywhere. To get maximum growth, use highly aerated media, adequate water retention, good drainage, and pH within the range of 5.5 to 6.5 or slightly acidic. Because of the acidic needs, organic media is very suitable. But be aware of highly acidic organic media, too much acid will slow down the growth and the leaves color tends to be darker. Dolomite should be used to adjust the pH to a range of 5.5 to 6.5, and 5 pounds per cubic yard of single superphosphate should be incorporated into the soil. These amendments provide sources of calcium, magnesium and sulphur, create a favorable pH for nutrient availability and reduce problems of iron toxicity associated with low pH. Media mix used by nurseries are vary according to their local supplies of the media. The key is always the same : pH between 5.5 to 6.5, good aeration, water retention, and good drainage. Irrigation : Always keep the media moist but not too wet, don’t let it dries or the plant will stop growing and go dormant. When dormant we have to wait for a certain time since they do not re-sprout quickly. In the wilderness Caladiums dormant in dry season, and re-grow in wet season. Light intensity : Most caladiums do not like direct sunlight. Each cultivars have their own needs in light. Some cultivars have better color in brighter light, some will scorch. Most cultivars do not develop proper color unless they are grown under 2500 to 5000 footcandles of light. Light intensities lower than 2500 footcandles will cause undesirable stretching of petioles, oversized leaves for small pots, and unsightly plants which fall over when handled. There are exceptions since some cultivars require light levels lower than 2500 footcandles for optimal coloration including: the white cultivars Candidum, White Christmas, June Bride, and White Wing; the pink cultivars Kathleen, Fannie Munson, and Lord Derby; and the red cultivars Frieda Hemple, Postman Joyner, Poecile Anglais, and Dr. T. L. Meade. In addition, the dwarf cultivars in the tissue- cultured Honey Bunch series perform best at 1500 to 2500 footcandles. Some cultivars perform well under light levels of 5000 to 10,000 footcandles. Among these are the white cultivars Candidum Junior and Seagull; the pink cultivars Carolyn Whorton, Rosebud, Mrs. W. B. Haldeman, Pink Gem, and Lance Whorton; and the red cultivars Fire Chief and Red Frill. In easy way, just put caladium in tree shade or terrace with no direct sunlight. Temperature : Tropical climate with temperature of 70-90 F is very suitable for caladium. Although a night temperature of 55°F for a few hours over several days can be tolerated, longer durations of cold temperatures or colder temperatures may damage the plants. Re-growth may occur but will be slow and usually of poor quality. Day temperatures above 90°F are not favorable, since the rate of emergence can be reduced. Humidity : Caladiums like high humidity. With high humidity, the growth will be optimum and the leaf will be more colorful. Thai growers use mini greenhouse to keep the humidity very high (90% to 100%) for the best growth. Nutrition : Caladiums require a moderate level of fertility. Many types of fertilizers may be used including organic materials incorporated prior to planting, granular fertilizers, slow-release fertilizers, or liquid fertilizers. Regardless, a balanced fertilizer such as 14–14–14 or 20–20–20 is satisfactory. Plants grown in warmer climates and on sandy soils will require higher fertilizer levels than plants grown in cooler climates or on organic soils and may need supplemental applications throughout the growing season. Too much fertilizer will make the plant produce too much chlorophyll so the laves tends to be greener. Be careful of newly planted tubers, if fertilizer applied it may damage the tubers because of minerals release.

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