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How to Plant Caladiums

Planting and growing our Classic Caladium bulbs is a breeze.

 These hardy plants just need a little warm soil and some occasional watering and fertilizer to provide vibrant colors all season long

Caladiums like well drained soil

    • If the area puddles after a good rain, you might want to look elsewhere to plant your bulbs. "Mound" an area for better drainage. Keep the newly planted bulbs moist - not soggy.

All Caladiums Varieties Thrive in the Shade

    • Where most plants don't tolerate shade very well - caladiums love shady areas! When your favorite flower will bloom for a week or two, caladiums will provide wonderful leaf color and texture all summer. Caladiums varieties like Debutante and Sunset Pink put on an outstanding show all season long in shady areas.

Sun tolerant caladium tip

    • Through Classic Caladiums breeding program, there are now more sun tolerant caladiums available. Caladiums planted in full sun generally require more watering, the length of exposure to sunlight is the determining factor. Overexposure results in holes with brown edges in leaves between the main veins. As a general rule, caladiums grown in the sun show more color than they would in the shade. Watering caladiums early in the morning or late in the afternoon helps eliminate sun burn. 

 When should I plant my bulbs?

    • Bulbs should be planted in the landscape in the spring after the last frost. The USDA temperature zone chart provides guidelines for your zone, however temperatures can vary in specific locales and from year to year therefore nothing substitutes for local knowledge. Generally, plant your bulbs with the soil temperatures warm to 60°F-70°F. If you are planting caladiums in northern climates, you can start the bulbs earlier in a warm, moist (not soggy) place inside and give them a head start.

 How do I plant my bulbs?

    • Plant right side up: Caladium bulbs have a rather smooth bottom side and knobby (these are actually the eyes or growing points) top side. Though they will grow no matter which way you orient them, planting with the top side up will provide you with the shortest sprouting time and the happiest plant.

    • Planting depth: Your bulbs should be planted deep enough to cover them with 1 ½” to 2” of soil.  A slow .  Water after planting. Mulching helps preserve soil moisture and provides some weed control.

    • Bulb Spacing: In your landscape, evenly space 4 each #2 bulbs, or 2 each #1 bulbs or 1 each Jumbo bulb per square foot  By multiplying the length by the width of your planting area you will know approximately how many bulbs to order.  For instance, if you have a 2 ft. by 10 ft. planting area you should multiply 2 X 10 = 20 sq. ft. and order accordingly; 4 X 20 = 80 #2 bulbs or 2 X 20 = 40 #1 bulbs OR 1 X 20 = 20 Jumbo bulbs. You would use similar spacing in a patio container.
       

Watering and Fertilizing

    • Caladiums like a little bone meal or 6-6-6 once a month or so - more for caladiums in full sun. Watering in early the morning or late in the afternoon seems to make them happy - you don't need to soak the ground. Again, caladiums in sun want more water too.

Bulb Size Tips - Planting Separations by bulb size

    • Bigger bulbs yield more foliage. Caladium bulbs are sold in various size grades based on the diameter of the bulb.  Generally the larger the bulb you purchase the better the performance as the bulb is the source of energy reserve for the plant. Therefore the larger the bulb then the larger the energy reserve thus the opportunity for better performance. Bigger bulbs should be planted farther apart - jumbo bulbs about 12"-18" apart, smaller bulbs, 6" to 8" apart, see spacing details just above.

 De-Eying Caladiums

    • If you notice several dominant "lumps" on your bulbs, you can cut them out and get a plant that has several even shoots (fuller habit) popping out rather than 1 or two dominant leaves and some smaller.

End of season

    • What to do with caladiums bulbs at the end of the season (go dormant)?

      • Caladiums should be treated as annual plants. We don't recommend storing bulbs for planting again the next season as they do not perform as well as fresh bulbs. This is due to the fact of fewer summer days ( north of south Florida) and doesn't allow the bulbs to build up carbohydrates (energy) necessary for storage and spring sprouting. 
      • If you would like to store your bulbs then we recommend the following guidelines:
        • Begin digging up your bulbs when temperatures begin to stay consistently under 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Dig up the caladium bulbs with the leaves still attached, shake off the soil, and let them dry in a well ventilated area for about a week.
        • Cut the leaves off about 1" above the top of the bulb and they are ready to store when the bulbs feel dry.
      • If your bulbs are planted in a container or pot then they can be moved inside until they start falling over. When this starts happening, simply stop watering and allow the container/pot to dry and remove shriveled leaves as they occur.
      • Once all the leaves are shriveled and removed, then you can store your bulbs in dry soil in the pot or dig them up as indicated above. 
    • Caladiums bulbs can be planted back in the landscape when temperatures in the spring are consistently above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Same goes for caladium bulbs planted in containers or pots.

 

Height and Color

    • Individual conditions vary greatly in the U.S. Caladiums in shade tend to have bigger leaves and want to be taller to catch the light as opposed to caladiums in direct sunlight that don't have to work so hard. Colors can vary according to sunlight and feed.