When Should I Plant My Caladium Bulbs?

March 20, 2024

When Should I Plant My Caladium Bulbs?


Getting the Most from Your Caladium Bulbs

Known for their showy, often dramatically colored leaves, caladiums can bring exciting tropical flair to gardens and landscape beds. Native to South America, these beauties thrive as annuals in temperate regions or perennials in warmer subtropical zones. While caladiums are incredibly low maintenance once established, proper planting techniques make a world of difference in how they perform. Follow this guide on when and how to plant caladium tubers to set them up for success.

When’s the Best Time to Plant?

Caladium bulbs require warm soil to break dormancy and begin actively growing. Bulbs planted too early in still-cool soil may rot before sprouting. As a general rule of thumb, plant caladium tubers outdoors, after all danger of frost, and when the soil temperature reaches about 70°F. In cooler climates, you’ll get a head start by planting in containers inside until they sprout and waiting until late spring to transplant into the garden after any remnants of winter have passed.

Where Should I Plant Them?

Site selection is key to growing vibrant caladiums. Choose a spot that receives filtered sunlight or light afternoon shade. While they love shade, some tolerate full sun. Their most dramatic colors emerge with about four hours of dappled sun per day. When possible, shelter shade varieties from hot midday sun exposure, however, which causes fading or sun scorch damage. Well-drained, organically enriched soil amended with compost or peat moss provides an ideal growing medium. Space bulbs 8 to 12 inches apart.

Planting Tubers Correctly

Proper planting depth and orientation of the tubers makes a difference. Begin by digging a hole or trench two to three inches deep. Place the tuber with the buds or sprouts facing up. Classic Caladiums makes orientation easy by painting the tops of the tubers. Cover lightly with one to two inches of soil, taking care not to bury too deeply. Deeper plantings delay emergence or may prevent sprouting altogether. 

Caring for Caladiums

Caladiums grow rapidly once sprouted. Apply a balanced fertilizer upon emergence and reapply every 4 to 6 weeks. Provide supplemental water during dry periods for lush growth, but take care not to overwater as tubers may rot, especially in heavy clay soils. 

Mulch around the base of plants to help retain soil moisture and suppress weeds. Organic mulches like pine straw or shredded leaves also maintain even soil temperatures. As long as basic care needs are met, caladiums happily continue pumping out gorgeous foliage all season long with little fuss!

When cooler temps arrive in fall, the show is over. Leaves yellow and plants die back as the bulbs prepare for dormancy. At this point, dig up caladium tubers and allow them to dry in storage over winter at temperatures above 65°F. The tubers can be saved and replanted next year.

Follow these tips on when and how to plant your caladium bulbs properly. A little attention on the front end goes a long way towards success with these tropical beauties!


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