This Caladium plant care guide will help you get beautiful houseplants. Caladiums are tropical perennials that are native to South America. There are different varieties of Caladiums to choose from and are differentiated by the leaf patterns and colors. Some of the common varieties include Fannie Munson and Red Flush. Caladiums are easy houseplants to care for even for beginner plant owners. They can be grown as indoor plants, placed outside on patios, or as garden plants.
Caladium Plant Care
The Caladiums produce flat, broad leaves that look amazing. The leaves have different colors and patterns. The plant is also sometimes referred to as the Elephant Ear Plant because the shape of the leaves resembles elephant ears.
Best Soil for Caladium
When it comes to the soil mix, Caladium plants love a well-draining slightly acidic soil. If you have the standard soil mix you can make small adjustments to make it appropriate for Caladiums. If you only remember one thing from this Caladium plant care guide, it should be to use slightly acid soil. Most beginners miss this and end up feeling frustrated.
Add a little sphagnum peat moss to the soil mix which will help make it more acidic. I normally pot Caladium plants in a DIY soil mix. The soil mix consists of coir compost/orchid bark/ perlite/ sphagnum peat moss in the ratio of 60/10/20/10. They do well in the soil mix because it’s acidic.
Caladiums love when the soil is kept slightly moist. They don’t like the soil to dry out too much in between watering sessions. On the other hand, they also don’t like to sit in soggy soil.
When watering the indoor plants, you have to find a balance between overwatering and underwatering. Once you do, the plants will be happy and will grow, produce new gorgeous leaves, and thrive.
One of the ways of knowing that your caladiums are underwatered is droopy and bent stems. The stems also snap easily if they are not getting enough water. If you keep the soil consistently moist you will not have any of these problems.
It’s important to note that bending and drooping stems can also indicate a lack of sufficient light.
Caladiums can do well without any special fertilizer. I use the same fertilizer I use for all my other houseplants to feed the Caladium plants. I normally use a diluted liquid fertilizer. Fertilize the Caladiums once or twice a month during the growing season.
Best Temperature for Caladiums
The best temperature for caladiums averages around 210 C (70 0 F)or above during daytime and 150 C (600 F) or above during night time. The plants can also tolerate lower temperatures. However, they won’t grow as big or as fast.
Humidity Requirements for Caladiums
Caladiums can tolerate various levels of humidity. However, the higher the humidity the better they do. In general, the plants love a nice warm humid environment. High levels of humidity help prevent crispy tips.
If you can keep the humidity at around 50% to 60% you should be good. If you are having trouble keeping up the humidity levels in your home, you can get a humidifier.
Caladium Light Requirements
Caladium plants are super sensitive to light. They have very delicate, thin, and fragile leaves. The more transparent varieties are more sensitive to light compared to the less transparent varieties.
If you’re growing your Caladiums as garden plants or outdoor plants, provide them with filtered sun or shade. There are claims that some varieties can also tolerate direct sun when growing outside. I haven’t tried growing any of the varieties in direct sun, so I cannot recommend any.
If you’re growing Caladiums as houseplants, provide them with bright indirect light. They can also tolerate a little bit of morning and evening sun which is less scorching. If you have the transparent varieties, avoid direct sunlight.
It’s important to note that direct sun can damage the leaves and cause brown patches. Be careful not to get direct Sun on your Caladiums especially the ones with translucent leaves. Regardless of whether you’re growing them outside or indoor.
Another thing to watch out for when planting Caladiums outside is wind. Make sure they’re planted in a sheltered spot to avoid wind damage. Exposing the plants to wind can damage the fragile leaves as they get blown about in the wind.
Planting Caladium Bulbs
Caladium bulbs or tubers should be established with one and a half to two inches of soil on top. As discussed in the Caladium plant care guide above, use slightly acidic soil. Plant the bulbs in Spring when the frost has passed. If you’re growing them indoors, you can plant them in early Spring.
Water the bulbs sparingly until small shoots appear. After the bulbs shoot, you can a normal watering schedule depending on your environment.
Usually, it’ll take about four or five weeks for the bulbs to start coming up if the soil and the temperatures are is warm enough. It’s a bit of a waiting game after planting the bulbs and you have to be patient.
Overwintering Caladium Bulbs
Caladiums grow from bulbs that become dormant after the growing season. If you live in an area with a warm climate, you can probably leave your caladium tubers in the ground over winter. If they’re outside, wait until the leaves die back and mulch over them before the first frost.
However, if you’re in a cold place that gets lots of snow, it’s advisable to dig the bulbs up and store them above 15 0 C or 60 0 F. Remember to dry the bulbs after digging them up. Keep them out in the Sun for a couple of days or put them in an airing cupboard.
Before putting the bulbs in the storage paper bag, I always add a little bit of yellow sulfur which is optional but helps keep the bulbs from going moldy.
If you decide to leave your bulbs in the pot without digging them up, don’t water them. You should also make sure the pot is in a warm place. Watering or keeping the pot in a cold place will cause the bulbs to rot.
I have made this mistake before and was waiting eagerly for the shoots to emerge but nothing came up. It’s very frustrating, so I opt to dig them up and dry store them.
Caladium Pests and Diseases
The majority of the common pests will leave Caladium plants alone. When grown as both house plants and outdoor plants, Caladiums often grow to maturity without facing any pest or disease challenges.
However, they can still be attacked by aphids and mealybugs especially when growing in the same space as other infected plants. Keep an eye out for early signs of pests and control them using neem oil. If you notice twisting, curling, or stunted leaves it might be a sign of pests.
Caladium and Pets
The Caladium plants are toxic to both cats and dogs. The plant is poisonous and causes tongue and mouth swelling as well as irritation if ingested. If your pet chews on large amounts of the plant, it can experience vomiting, drooling, as well as difficulty swallowing.
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Caladiums produce spectacular foliage in different colors and shades. They are easy to grow and you can dig up the bulbs, dry store them ready for next year. Every plant owner should try these awesome plants either in pots or out in the garden.
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