Pot Shots: Caladiums and Lady Fern ‘Queen of Green’

Caladium ‘Starburst,’ with white veins, and Caladium ‘White Delight’ share this pot with a hybrid lady fern, Athyrium filix-femina ‘Victoriae.’  Both of these new hybrid Caladium varieties can take full sun.  The fern can take partial sun.  This is a shady spot for most of the day; bright shade, and I expect them all to be very happy here until at least the end of October.


I have been looking for a good pot for an  A. ‘Victoriae’ lady fern and some Caladiums, still waiting for their permanent spot.

I was delighted to find this green pot, that had room for both a fern and several Caladiums, at The Great Big Greenhouse this weekend.  The Great Big Greenhouse is my favorite source for beautiful and interesting pots of all shapes and sizes.



I started several hundred Caladiums this spring and still have some in nursery pots.  I ordered several new varieties, and also had great success saving Caladiums that grew last summer.

Part of the fun of trying new Caladium hybrids is to observe as each develops its full colors and patterns.  Each leaf is unique, but the leaves change as they emerge and grow, their colors becoming more intense with age.  I have grown C. ‘White Delight’ for the last few summers, appreciating its tough, beautiful leaves that last well into the fall.  I am trying C. ‘Starburst’ for the first time this year.


Caladium ‘Starburst,’ a Caladium for full sun that was developed by Dr. Robert Hartman at Classic Caladiums.


In addition to the pot, the GBGH also had a lovely Athyrium filix-femina ‘Victoriae’, also called ‘Queen of Green’ lady fern, which has divided tips on each frond.  I have been holding another A. ‘Victoriae’ in its original nursery pot since last fall, waiting for the right pot to transplant it out of its nursery pot into something more permanent.

I was very glad that I had picked up the additional ‘Queen of Green’ fern on Saturday, which fits this more shallow pot;  because the other’s roots were deeper than this little green pot allowed.



This unusual lady fern is sometimes hard to find.  I first noticed it on Tony Avent’s Plant Delights site several years ago, ordered one, and lost it within its first year.  I am always happy to buy larger plants of interesting cultivars, locally.


The larger A. ‘Victoriae,’ that I kept in a nursery pot over winter, ended up going into a pot where a Helleborus had been growing.


I ended up switching the larger lady fern out with a Helleborus that can spend the rest of the summer in a plain plastic pot, while it rests and gets ready to bloom next winter. 

The lady ferns, hardy to Zone 4, can stay in their ceramic pots through the winter.  They are deciduous, and so will go dormant as winter approaches.  The Caladiums will need to go dormant too.  Hardy only to Zone 10, the Caladiums will spend the winter inside.

I can fill out their spaces in the pots with spring bulbs, pansies, Italian Arum, hardy Cyclamen, or even ivy.  These will be ‘four season pots’ with the lady ferns as anchor plants that remain in place year round.


C. ‘White Delight’


Even at the end of July, I am still planting out new arrangements and switching out plants in older ones.  We still have a good three months of good growing weather here in Williamsburg.

Spring planted pots may be looking a little tired by now.  After the intense heat earlier this month, most pots and baskets need a boost to see them through until fall.


The displaced Hellebore will have a chance to recover for the next few months in deep shade. They really don’t like our summer heat…


If your pots are looking a bit tired and shabby, please don’t give up in the face of August.  Sometimes a good pruning, a foliar feed of fish emulsion, and attention to hydration is all a potted plant needs to bounce back.

Other times, you know its time has come and gone.  Just dig it out and replace it with something fresh and interesting.  This is the time to find some excellent deals at your local garden center.



Late July and early August are still great times to plant.  Just keep an eye on those pots during our remaining hot summer days, site them carefully, and enjoy the many pleasures these plant treasures will give.


Woodland Gnome 2019


This is one of our Tiger Swallowtail butterflies feeding on a Zinnia at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden.  Enjoy the Butterfly Festival at the Garden this coming Saturday and Sunday, 9-4.


About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

9 responses to “Pot Shots: Caladiums and Lady Fern ‘Queen of Green’

  1. As much as I like the caladiums, they are starting to remind me of the arums that smell so badly when they bloom. They are getting to be rather bothersome and prolific here. I wish caladiums did so well!

    • Well, Tony, both are Aroids. We don’t have smelly Arums here, except maybe the native skunkflower, which I don’t grow. Caladiums have no fragrance, but they certainly do brighten things up while staying neat and clean. I like them better than flowers for so many reasons 😉

      • Yes, they are pretty sweet. The tolerate a bit of shade too, which would be useful here under the redwoods. They prefer a bit more humidity though. They can do well down in riparian situations, but do not naturalize like the other unpleasant arums do. I really don’t know what to do with the other arums. They pull up easily, but they leave pups behind. I just wrote about them last Wednesday.

        • Tony, you are a great writer and always make me laugh….while I learn something useful! The plant you describe reminds me of the Italian Arum we grow here through the winter. I never noticed the fragrance of its flower; but then we have a house cat. Maybe I am nose-blind. Arum is a useful winter plant and not invasive here. I let ours make seed. You have the solution to remove the flowers as they appear to address the stench and the proliferation.. I remove Caladium flowers because they distract from the display and wouldn’t produce true anyway. Love your tales of geriatric trees. I went to a lecture yesterday about lawn trees for our region, and heard more reasons why ornamental cherry trees are problematic. Such a shame, as they do catch ones eye in early spring.

          • Thank you.
            Italian arum and another similar arum are naturalized here too, but I have never noticed if they produce an objectionable fragrance. The objectionable one is a different species that was only noticed here a few years ago. The deeply lobed foliage is quite pretty, but I will not be planting any. They are just too prolific and difficult to kill. I used to dislike the Italian arum, until I noticed that other people appreciate the more. They are impossible to kill once established, but not too terribly invasive. New plants are easier to dig out if they show up where they are not wanted.

            • Thanks for the additional info, Tony. All good to know. Can you find out the proper name of the smelly Arum you dislike so? Italian Arum is a good winter groundcover here and helps hold the ground against erosion in winter rains. It is considered invasive in Northern VA, but not in coastal VA. They are very pretty and a welcome, fresh green during the dreary winter months. I just sent a link to your blob to a Master Gardener friend who heads up our Tree Stewards organization. I know she will find your posts very interesting. I am keenly looking forward to taking the Tree Stewards class next time it is offered here.

              • We have tried to identify what we know as the death arum. Someone else told me what he considered them to be, but it was obvious that they are something else when I researched it. (He is not horticulturally oriented.)
                I believe that arboriculture is taken more seriously in the East than it is here. I am somewhat involved with trees in public areas in a few municipalities, but I find it too frustrating to get too involved. It is all more political than concerned with the actual trees.

  2. I’m kicking myself for not planting the bags of caladium bulbs I bought earlier in the year. In my area, we probably have 2 months plus some left of the growing season unless early frost comes. Would you plant the bulbs or do you think I should just wait until next year. How do you overwinter yours? Oh and the fern is so pretty, I’ve not seen that one around my area which is southwestern Indiana (zone 6b)

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