Caladium is a genus of plants of 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.
The genus Caladium includes seven species, which 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 creeks and go dormant during the dry season. The wild plants grow to 40-90 cm tall, with leaves mostly 15-45 cm long and broad.
Caladium plants are happiest when planted in warm, shady areas. The main colors are red, pink and white, and each different type of Caladium has its own unique and exciting color combination of two or more colors.
Caladium foliage grows in a variety of forms, from long and strap-like to heart shaped. Our caladiums are all fancy leafed types, with heart-like leaves in bright shades that provide an extremely long season of color that few flowers can match. Caladiums also bloom, but Caladiums flowers are inconspicuous, but are grown for its colorful foliage. Caladiums are very fast growing and provide landscape with instant color.
Facts About Caladiums
- Caladiums are tropical plants which come in a variety of colors and combinations. They are native to the banks of the Amazon River in South America. Grown for their spectacular foliage, rather than for flowers, Caladium plants originated in hot humid South America.
- Today's hybrids are the result of widespread breeding between tropical species.
- All parts of this tropical plant are poisonous, may irritate sensitive skin, so caution is advised especially for children.
- The Caladium Rose Bud, Caladium x hortulanum, a spring planted tuber, are grown for their long-lasting, colorful foliage and they are used in borders and beds.
- Caladiums grow from corms and can be propagated by dividing the tubers.
- Fancy and lance-leafed varieties are the two main types of caladiums. Fancy-leafed types have large heart-shaped leaves, grow best in semishade, and may reach a height of 12 to 30 inches, depending on variety and growing conditions. The lance or strap -leafed types have narrow, elongated leaves and perform best as accent plants in borders, in hanging baskets and in patio planters.
- Miss Muffett is a dwarf caladium.
- Caladium bulbs storage: As foliage begins to die down in the fall, reduce water, dig up and air dry bulbs for a week. Store in a dry location at 55 degrees or above.
Varieties of Caladiums
Selected varieties are Caladium bicolor (syn. C. marmoratum, C. picturatum, C. hortulanum), Caladium humboldtii, Caladium lindenii, Caladium schomburgkii
- Planting Caladiums is very easy.
- Plant the top of the bulb 11/2 to 2 inches below the surface with the eyes up.
- If the soil is sandy, mix in some peat moss to improve moisture retention.
- Mulch around the planting and keep moist throughout the season. Fertilize every six weeks with a 6-6-6 type fertilizer or slow release type fertilizer.
- Use about a teaspoon per bulb.
Caladium Plant Care
- Indirect or bright-diffused light outdoors is best.
- Moderately moist soil is preferred.
- Water thoroughly when just the soil surface is dry to the touch. Do not allow plants to stand in water.
- When used outdoors, Caladiums prefer partial or full shade in containers or ground beds, They prefer a rich soil.
- Caladiums planted outdoors should be dug before frost and will remain dormant over the winter.