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How to Grow Caladium Plants

Some people know Caladiums as a houseplant. Others recognize Caladiums as a colorful, leafy plant that brightens up the shady areas of their yard. However you recognize them, these plants are popular among home gardeners indoors or out.

Growing Caladium plants is easy. They are tropical plants, native to the Amazon river area of Brazil. So, it's no surprise that these plants love a warm, shady, humid environment. Caladium is grown as an ornamental plant for it's colorful leaves. The leaves come in a variety of combinations of green, with white, pink or red. It grows to it's full height of 12" to 30" in one season. Caladium are perfectly comfortable in a pot or container, resulting a very popular houseplant or deck plant.

Did you know? While it is native to Brazil, Lake Placid, Florida claims to be the Caladium capital of the world. Nurseries in this area grow a wide range of Caladiums on thousands of acres.

Poisonous Plant: All parts of Caladium plants are toxic. See Poisonous Flowers

Plant Propagation:

While people talk about Caladium "bulbs", they are really grown from a tuberous root. In the fall, the tuberous roots are dug up, cleaned and separated. Make sure to have some buds on each divided section of root. Store the  roots in dry soil, or spaghnum moss in a dry, dark location until ready to use next spring. Storage temperatures should be at least 40 degrees.

The largest tubers will produce the largest plants. Many people prefer to start with new roots each year. Many home gardeners find the roots produced by their plants are smaller, and turn to commercial growers who know how to produce the biggest roots for the best plants.

How to Grow Caladium:

It's best to give your Caladium plants a head start. Roots can be started indoors 6 weeks before the last frost date. We recommend individual containers. 4" to 6" peat pots work well for transplanting later, with minimal transplant shock.

Plant roots, round side up, 1 1/2"- 2" deep, in rich starter soil, peat moss, or vermiculite. Roots should have a few buds on them. Water well the first time, then keep the soil moist. The plant needs warm soil to sprout.

If planting as an indoor houseplant, plant roots directly into the container they will grow in.

The plants are susceptible to drafts and sudden drops in temperature.

Tip: To promote more leaves, remove the largest bud in the center of the root.

Being native to the tropics, Caladium does not like cold weather. Wait to transplant them outdoors until all danger of frost has past, and the soil has warmed.

Select a location that is shady, or does not receive direct sunlight. Caladium likes rich soil. The soil needs to be kept moist, but should be well draining. If the soil is poor, add generous amounts of compost and manure.

Caladium grows well with little care or attention. Fertilize outdoors once a month with a general purpose fertilizer. Indoors, use a liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks. During the growing period, remove any dead or damaged leaves.

In the fall, dig up the roots for storage.  The roots will survive over-wintering outdoors only in the warmest areas of the country.  

Insects and Disease:

You should experience few problems with your caladium. Use insecticide or fungicide only if a problem occurs.


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