Caladium – Optimal Growing Conditions

The ornamental deciduous houseplant Caladium is a member of the Aroideae family. Under natural conditions, it can be found in the tropical latitudes of India and South America. It is very popular with florists due to its showy greenish leaves, decorated with various spots, dots, and patterns in contrasting shades. Because of its original shape and leaf color, it is popularly known as the 'Heart of Christ,' the 'Wings of an Angel,' and the 'Elephant's Ears.'

The leaves are very slender. The leaves are usually root-like and can be heart-shaped or arrow-shaped. The flower is very demanding in terms of care and growing conditions. The plant has an average speed of development and growth. During the growing season, 10-12 new leaf laminae are formed on the plant. The height of the domestic Caladium can vary from 0.3 to 0.6m, but in the wild, it can reach up to 5 m. Under room conditions, flowers are extremely rare on the shrub.


This ornamental leafy plant has a tuberous root system. The root leaves are very slender and heart-shaped. The flower is challenging to care for; beginner florists are better off training first on more unpretentious species. The stem and leaves grow at a moderate rate. About 12 adult leaf laminae are formed in a single growing season. Domestic species rarely exceed 60 cm in height. Some real giants grow up to 5 m tall in the natural environment.

Home flowering is challenging, so breeders raise the flower in greenhouses or unique aquariums. Once the plant is in active vegetation, it enters a dormant phase. The leaves fall off, and the caladium consumes much less water and becomes sensitive to sudden changes in surroundings during this period. Gardeners recommend the cultivation of elephant ears as an annual. This way, you can constantly control the planting size and save yourself the trouble of giving the flower an entire room. The leaf blades are extremely decorative and the varieties vary in shape and color.

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Grey, pink and silvery shades of foliage occur. In May, the inflorescence – an elongated yellow cob – sprouts. The cob has no particular scent and blossoms for only a few days. Immediately after pollination, spherical berries appear. Water as soon as the top layer of the substrate has dried out. If you have a perennial variety, carefully inspect the bulbs in the spring for mechanical damage. Discard the rotted and unusable parts and replant the healthy ones in fresh substrate mixed with charcoal. After planting, clean the soil generously and hide the bulb under a glass or plastic bag.

Taking Care of a Caladium at Home

The domestic caladium needs constant attention from the florist, as well as proper care and suitable growing conditions. If done correctly, the bush will be lush, and its foliage will be vivid. Remember that it reacts very badly to direct sunlight, and you should avoid direct sunlight on the leaves. Watering is also important. Remember that it reacts equally negatively to stagnant water in the soil, which can lead to rotting of the roots, as it does to severe water shortages. Water regularly and in moderation.

To make the shrub grow lush and showy, you must always keep the room warm. Like most tropical plants, a draught or cooler temperature during the growing season can cause damage. The flower feels best at a temperature between 20 and 25 degrees. At the start of the resting period, take it to a cooler place at a temperature of approx. 8-10 degrees. Remember that the shrub should not be moved immediately from the heat to a cold location. It needs a gradual lowering of the temperature.

Air humidity
In the tropics, it is not only warm but also humid. This is why the plant needs increased humidity in room conditions. Never place the shrub close to a heating device. A household humidifier can be used to provide the right level of humidity. Always moisten the shrub with a sprayer and wipe the leaves with a damp cloth.

If you want a lush and showy color, choose a spot with good, diffuse lighting. However, it also grows well in the shade. You can therefore decorate a western or northern window. Ensure that the leaves are not directly exposed to the sun, which can cause burns.

Remember that an incorrect watering regime can cause severe damage to the Caladium and even kill it. It is, therefore, important to pay particular attention to the moisture in the soil mixture. During the hot summer months, the plant needs plenty of water. Water at least once or twice every 1 to 1.5 weeks.

Make sure that the substrate does not become stagnant. This may cause the leaves or parts of the root system to die. Specialists recommend moistening the potting soil only after it has dried to a depth of 10-20 mm.

When the cultivar is dormant in the winter, it is watered infrequently and with a small amount of water. The main thing at this time is to prevent the root ball from drying out completely, which can lead to death.

Choosing a pot
A shallow but tall pot is best for planting a caladium. When choosing a pot, note that the pool' diameter should be 1/3 larger than the volume of the plant. The bottom of the pot should have holes for drainage.

Specialists recommend choosing a clay pot for such a plant. Its walls are air permeable and absorb excess moisture from the potting soil.

Potting soil
A loose and light potting soil mixture that is not too acidic is best for the plant. If desired, you can make your own potting soil by combining sand, peat, and garden leafy humus (1:1:3). You can buy ready-made potting soil for house plants at a specialist retailer.

Mineral liquid fertilizer with calcium is good. Fertilize twice or thrice a month and always water at the same time. Fertilize less often in autumn than in summer. During the winter months, do not fertilize at all.

For the plant to flower, it should be given optimal growing conditions. However, you will rarely see indoor plant bloom.

During flowering, white, pink, and sometimes yellow flowers appear on the shrub, which is not very large cobs. Compared with the spectacular foliage, the flowers look unsightly and have little decorative value.

Propagation Methods for Caladiums

Caladiums are easy to propagate at home. The young plants adapt quickly to new conditions. Florists recommend the tuber method as the most suitable for indoor plants. Plant breeders prefer to buy seed material in specialist shops or order it online. Caladium seeds have a relatively low germination rate. Success can usually be achieved by people with specialized skills, equipment, and conditions.

Propagation by Tubers

You can easily buy caladium tubers at a florist shop or harvest them from a mother plant. If you have an adult specimen, you can try dividing the shrub. Inspect the shrub carefully before planting. It should be free of root rot, mechanical damage, or pests. Such plants will not take root, and it is best to isolate them immediately. Adult plants quickly form offspring and can easily be detached from the parent plant.

The spot should then be immediately covered with charcoal to avoid infestation of the bush. It is the tubers that are used as planting material. In species without pronounced offspring, the parent tuber remains. Divide it into several parts so that each has 2-3 buds. Place all the material in a peat mixture, nutrient soil, and sand container. Ensure that the cuttings "look" down into the pot and do not remain exposed to the air. Then cover the tubers with the rest of the soil by 30-40 cm and ensure no empty spaces are left. The new leaf laminae should soon emerge.

Seed Propagation

Good seeds are challenging to find. Look closely at the packing date and ask the retailer about the variety. Some species simply can't grow at home, so choose a reputable supplier. Planting will usually take place during the last days of February. First, moisten a small container and fill it with the loose substrate. Submerge the seeds in it. This should be done so that the thickness of the layer of earth mixture over the roots is equal to their size.

Cover the seeds with clear glass or film to ensure optimum humidity and temperature. To induce the growing process, the seeds should be placed where they do not get colder than 23 degrees Celsius. As a rule, the first shoots will appear 20-30 days after sowing. As soon as this occurs, take off the container's cover. Remember to regularly moisten the seeds with a sprinkler and keep the water at room temperature. Filtered and tap water will hurt the health of the bush. The former contains too few nutrients and is rich in heavy metals and compounds.

Types of Caladium

There are many species and varieties of caladium, over 15,000. However, only a few are grown at home.

  • Caladium bicolor
    This species is the most popular in room culture. Its bright green foliage is decorated with stripes, veins, and spots of red. The edges of the leaf blades are a dark green shade.

  • Caladium Humboldtii

    This species is the easiest to propagate and can better withstand irrigation irregularities or abrupt changes in growing conditions. The slender leaf laminae can vary in color intensity. The dark green foliage is most often decorated with streaks and spots of silver or white. The bush is compact. If illuminated optimally, it will still look attractive in winter and will not begin its dormant period.

  • Caladium schomburgkii Schott

    A silvery design adorns the stunning crimson leaves. The undersides of the leaves are faintly colored. The oval, oblong leaves are slightly heart-shaped. They are quite large, about 12 centimeters wide and about 15 centimeters long.


Caladiums are seasonal and are active from late spring until autumn. In autumn, the leaves start to dry out and fall off – so it's time to put them away in a dark place until the following spring. Overwinter in a dark place – under your bed, in a dark storage room. But keep the caladium close enough – you should come across it from time to time so that you remember to water it. Dry soil is a sure sign that it's time to water your sleeping caladium!


What soil to plant Caladiums in?

Choose the suitable soil for the plant Caladium likes loose and airy soil. The substrate should be rich in nutrients. Important: it is not advisable to wipe the leaves of a caladium – they are very thin and wounded – it is better to spray.

How to propagate Caladiums?

Do you want more caladiums when you take your overwintered caladium out of its hiding place in March? Then do as follows: When the bulbs have sprouted a little, take the bulb and cut it into pieces so that each piece has an eyelet, the growth point. The cutting places should be treated with crushed charcoal and dry out in the open air. The tubers should not be watered immediately after planting.

What lighting is needed for Caladiums?

The caladium likes fairly bright but not direct sunlight. It is best placed on north-eastern and north-western windows. Caladiums strongly dislike direct sunlight and draughts. How to take flowers on a balcony Caladium is "frosty" – the temperature in the room should not fall below 15 degrees, so even in summer is not recommended to evict the Caladium on the balcony.