Crazy for Caladiums

Our Caladium garden on June 7, 2014

Our Caladium garden on June 7, 2014

Caladiums are one of my favorite plants for the summer garden.   So easy to grow, they are  strikingly beautiful.

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Caladium, "Florida Sweetheart"

Caladium, “Florida Sweetheart”

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I enjoy the intricate patterns etched into their huge leaves in bright tropical colors.  Each leaf is a little different from all of the others.

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Caladium, "Miss Muffet"

Caladium, “Miss Muffet”

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Had you been sitting with me and helping as we unpacked this year’s Caladium order, you might have thought me certifiably crazy….  crazy for Caladiums, that is.

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Caladium, "Florida Fantasy"

Caladium, “Florida Fantasy”

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When I begin looking through a catalog of Caladiums, it simply isn’t possible to select just one.  So some friends and I combined our orders for Caladiums from a grower in Florida.

And since the best prices are had when Caladium tubers are purchased in lots of 25 or more, I needed a lot of gardening  friends to share the bounty from such a gargantuan purchase.

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Caladium, "Red Flash" ordered for a friend who wanted all red Caladiums. This variety can take more sun than most, and grows into a vigorous, large plant.

Caladium, “Red Flash” ordered for a friend who wanted all red Caladiums. This variety can take more sun than most, and grows into a vigorous, large plant.

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So enough of us banded together to purchase six different varieties, plus a lot of 25 mixed tubers, just to see what we would get.

Do the math:  that is 175 large Caladium tubers spread out across my dining room table.

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The final Caladium plants came out into the garden on June 7. This final hypertufa trough also holds the Saxifraga

The final Caladium plants came out into the garden on June 7. This final hypertufa trough also holds the Saxifraga stolonifera we found at Forest Lane Botanicals this weekend and some Begonia semperflorens.

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Although one or two friends wanted their Caladiums all the same, most of us were interested in a mixed batch.  And so based on the preferences each friend expressed, the tubers were divided up and delivered in early April.

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May 29 2014 after the rain 024

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Caladiums must have warmth. 

Even dormant tubers must be kept consistently warm.  They won’t survive a freeze, and may be damaged if kept below 50 degrees for any length of time.

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May 29 2014 after the rain 028

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That is why our order was delayed by several weeks.  The dealer, Bill Kurek,  waited for a long enough stretch of warm weather in Virginia before he shipped the order.

Some of us waited to plant the Caladiums outside once warm weather settled in for good.  But I planted ours in plastic boxes of potting soil within just a few days of receiving them.

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May 25, 2014 garden 018

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 I’ve been bringing the Caladiums outside, a few at a time, over the last few weeks.  Believe it or not, one of those boxes was  still over half full of tubers, just beginning to send up their first leaves,  a week ago.

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Caladium, "White Christmas"

Caladium, “White Christmas”

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Given the warmth of sunshine on their soil, those outside are growing far more quickly than those left inside, waiting their turn.   All these plants will  require, for the next five to six months, is consistent moisture.

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Calaldium, "Red Flash" on top, with C. "Gingerland" below.

Calaldium, “Red Flash” on top, with C. “Miss Muffet”  below.

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Grown for their leaves and not their flowers, Caladiums aren’t heavy feeders.

They’ve already been fed with Osmocote, a time release fertilizer, and were given  a good drink of Neptune’s Harvest when transplanted.  Minerals in the Neptune’s Harvest help the Caladiums  establish by supporting new root growth.

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May 25, 2014 garden 020

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Caladiums prefer partial shade.  Newer cultivars have been selected to tolerate more sunshine than older Caladium varieties  can tolerate.  Any Caladium with “Florida” in its name is a newer hybrid and can take at least a few hours of sun each day.

Given warmth, light, and moisture Caladiums will grow indefinitely.  Perennial in Zones 10 and south, these lovely plants won’t survive a Virginia winter out of doors.

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May 29 2014 after the rain 030

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They are true tropicals, and their huge lovely leaves lend a tropical summertime flair wherever they are planted.

Even though they can go directly into the ground after the soil warms, I still prefer to plant mine in pots.  It is much easier to bring them inside as cold weather approaches.

 

May 29 2014 after the rain 026

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All parts of the Caladium are poisonous, another reason we grow them in abundance.  They won’t be grazed by a hungry Bambi who happens to find its way into the garden.

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May 29 2014 after the rain 019

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Caladiums are purely ornamental in our summer garden.   They won’t feed birds or give them shelter.  They won’t attract hummingbirds or butterflies.

Pure eye-candy, we grow them for their beauty.

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May 29 2014 after the rain 029

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With minimal effort from us, they give maximum pleasure for the rest of the summer.

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June 7, 2014 garden 041

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All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

21 responses to “Crazy for Caladiums

  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE caladiums — nearly every south Louisiana garden has some … only a few in TX (at least around where I live)! I haven’t seen the Florida Sweetheart before … ooooh, I wish I had some. Must remember to order early enough next year! 😀

    • You can still order this year, Becca, and you can probably enjoy them a few more weeks into the fall than we can. Florida Sweetheart is one of my favorites with the gorgeous pink veins. Why aren’t they popular in TX?

      • I have no idea … caladiums usually make me homesick … but since I’ve spent so much time with my mom over the past year — I am able to enjoy my “spring and summer” flowers/foliage as they emerge.

        I DID order a catalog … I didn’t see a search box for specific — so I sent an email request for a catalog. Thanks for the grower’s link. 😀

        • Becca, on the sidebar of Bill’s main page, where it says, “pinks” or “whites” click and you’ll see what is still in stock. He has removed the photos of the tubers he has sold out of, I think, from looking through the photos yesterday to build the post. He is a very nice guy- we had several phone calls back and forth over my order- and very helpful. Isn’t it interesting how plants can evoke memories and feelings just like aromas and music? I hope you’ll grow at least a pot of Caladiums to always remind yourself of home and loved ones. Hope your mom is doing well- and Ben also. May the doctors determine what is going on and correct it for him soon. My heart is with you-

          • I will return and investigate more — 😀 Thank you for the idea reminder of “always having a pot” — I will make a note to remind myself of it each year — so I don’t forget in the frenzy of everyday life.

            Alas, my mom is end-stage cancer patient – and is in hospice. She has held on much longer than ever expected; her spirit is strong but her body is beyond the exhausted stage. I pray she departs in her sleep — quiet, peaceful and with dignity. Thank you for your kind words. Namaste ~~

            • Then we join our energy with yours that you mother may pass peacefully in her sleep, with dignity, and surrounded by love. It is a wonder with all you have going on with loved ones that you still find time for such beautiful blog posts, and for correspondence. hugs, Namaste

              • It is part of the reason, my posts have shifted towards photography — rather than micro-poetry or other. Fortunately for this week, my sister is taking my week – and giving me a break. Many of my posts are done in batches and scheduled. My ability for answering comments comes “hit or miss”. Thank you ~~

  2. I love your caladiums, they are beautiful! 🙂 I planted mine in the garden beds and they are just now starting to leaf out!

  3. Does anyone outwork you? LoL 🙂 The most fascinating leaves on the planet here! Me LIKE!!!

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