Terminal bud removal or de-eyeing, is the most reliable way to produce a plant without several larger leaves crowding out over the rest.  Individual varieties respond differently to this procedure, with some showing no appreciable affect from the procedure. Any variety can be de-eyed.

Home-Made De-Eyeing Tool...
We have made de-eyeing tools using a wood dowel and nail which is ground flat and pointed (see picture)

To de-eye, cut out the terminal/dominant buds or sprout(s) (eyes) using a small knife or tool pictured above. Staying within the diameter of the eye, remove the entire eye by cutting about 1/8 - deep into the bulb. Remember, it is critical to stay within the diameter of the eye to eliminate damage to the small eyes (axillary or lateral buds) that surround the perimeter of the main eye. This is demonstrated first with a green bulb where the axillary buds are clearly visible. 


Visible auxiliary buds around atypical bud


 After de-eying, auxiliary buds still visible


green bulb after de-eying and curing 24 hours


Now to demonstrate it on cured bulbs:

    Cured bulb with 3 terminal buds
    Cured bulb after de-eyeing (notice yellow tuber tissue). Yes, you want to dig a little of the "meat" out - no need for surgical precision.
    Cured bulbs after de-eying

Experiments using a nail to puncture and destroy the terminal bud have shown good results. Remember in order to be effective, the de-eyeing method must remove or destroy the terminal buds. Please note however while proper de-eyeing increases the uniformity of your plant size, increasing the severity of the de-eyeing treatment, by excessive removal of tuber tissue surrounding the terminal eyes, leads to a less uniform plant size.

Cluster bulbs, those with four or five terminal eyes, generally do not benefit from de-eying. The caladium bulb, being a storage organ, is full of carbohydrates. A wet carbohydrate source invites disease problems, so it is best to let a de-eyed bulb dry and heal 10-12 hours before potting. Use a fungicide or Talc dust to aid in this process may be helpful. Good air circulation is very important to this drying (healing) process.

The apical (terminal) shoot (bud) is more mature than the axillary buds surrounding it. After de-eyeing, shoots/leaves from axillary buds may have a slightly different (more juvenile) look and color.

Although de-eyeing will delay the growing time briefly (up to two weeks), it will result in a fuller more compact plant. Therefore, we recommend that all bulbs used for pot plants, except as noted in the variety descriptions, be de-eyed.

Our favorite Blogger, Meems has a page on this with some photos on pots with/without de-eyed bulbs.

Classic Caladiums
1315 S.R. 64 West ~ Avon Park, FL ~ 33825
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