Growing & Care

How to Plant Caladiums

How to Plant Elephant Ears

How To Plant Canna Rhizomes


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.

Elephant Ears

How to Plant

  1. When planting elephant ear bulbs, choose a pot that will be sufficient to support the plants water and stability needs. Elephant ears require large amounts of water, and the larger the pot the longer it will stay moist.
  2. Choose a good quality potting soil and bury the bulb completely in the soil with the neck sticking out. A good rule of thumb is the 2/3rds in the soil and 1/3rd out.
  3. Firm the soil around the bulb.
  4. Water in thoroughly. Depending on the size of the container and type of soil, it may take two or three times to thoroughly wet a large container. 

When to Plant

Like caladium bulbs, elephant ear bulbs should be planted in your landscape in the spring after the last frost. Temperatures can vary by location therefore nothing substitutes for local knowledge.

Sun to Partial Sun Works Best

Elephant ears are tropical plants and thrive on sunlight. Make sure to water often if your elephant ear plant is receiving full sun. 

Water Constantly 

Most elephant ear varieties are fast growers and be 6 feet tall or more. With this growth, they will require more water to sustain that growth. Keep the roots moist to avoid stressing out the plant.


Just like they need a lot of watering, elephant ears require food to grow. Apply a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote to keep your plant happy and growing.

End of Season

Just like caladiums, elephant ears will go dormant too. Hardiness zones 9-12 can do away with heavy mulch to protect the elephant ear bulb from cold night temperatures. For hardiness zones 3-8, it is recommend that you dig up your bulb. Begin by trimming off the top, dig up the bulbs, shake off the excess dirt and store the bulb in a cool dry area.

Canna Rhizomes

Cannas thrive in full Sun

In warmer, southern climates they appreciate some afternoon shade.

When to Plant Cannas

If planting in the landscape, wait until temperatures stay above 50 degrees. Canna rhizomes can be planted immediately in pots and brought outside as soon as temperatures stay above 50 degrees. Pots must have drainage holes.

How to Plant Cannas

  • Planting Depth: Rhizomes should be planted 2-3 inches deep or with soil above the top most eye (see picture below for example). Pack soil firmly around the plant.
  • Canna Spacing: In the landscape, plant separately about 2-3 feet apart. Cannas multiple rapidly and need room to grow. If planting in large pots or containers, space them about 10 inches apart. Cannas should be planted in 10 inch pots or bigger.

How to Care for Canna Plants:

  • Water: Cannas like moist soil. Water immediately after planting and a couple of times a week during the summer. Adding a layer of mulch helps retain soil moisture.
  • Fertilizer: 10-2-10 fertilizer applied two to three times during the growing season will give your cannas an extra boost. Classic Caladiums offers a controlled release fertilizer that meters plant nutrients over an extended period of time.
  • Pests: Leaf rollers, grasshoppers and other pests are the most common problem for cannas. If this problem occurs, apply a systemic insecticide containing imidacloprid such as BioAdvanced Complete Insect Killer, available at your local garden center.
  • Rust: In sub-tropic areas such as Florida, cannas can experience a leaf fungus called rust. It presents itself as yellow to tan spots on the plant's leaves and stems. Preventative fungicides sprays that contain chlorothalonil (such as one used for black spots on roses), will help if this occurs. Fungicides such as BioAdvanced Disease Control for Roses, Flowers & Shrubs is available at your local garden center.
  • Deadheading: When canna stems finish their life cycle, the older bloom stalk will start to die. At that time, the old stalk will be replaced by new ones.
  • What to Do With Cannas at the End of the Season - Cannas are hardy in zones 7-10. Cut back the foilage to the soil line as it turns yellow in late autumn.