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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 65°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 bit of bone meal would make your caladiums happy.  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

    • When the temps go below 60° and stay there (say the onset of fall/winter), harvest the bulbs & leaves. Caladium bulbs go dormant in the winter -  they like to take a nap.

      • In the Deep South (south of the I-10 corridor) usually heavy mulching (3”-6”) will allow the bulbs to survive the winter. 
      • In the North (north of the I-10 corridor) dig up the bulbs and leaves, let them dry for a week or so, trim off the tops and store the bulbs in a warm (60°F+) ventilated area for planting next spring.

 

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.