Caladium plants are stunning, multicolored heart-shaped leaves that come from the tropics. The most popular shade-loving leafy plant species is Caladium bicolor, also known as Heart of Jesus. The colors of Caladium leaves range from pink, green, red, and white. Summer annuals or spectacular houseplants, caladiums are simple to grow.
The species Caladium bicolor is the source of most caladium cultivars. From South America, this tropical plant comes. The vibrant, colorful heart-shaped leaves are commonly described by the common names of Caladium bicolor cultivars. ‘Florida Red Ruffles,’ ‘Red Flash,’ ‘Strawberry Star,’ and ‘White Dynasty’ are just a few examples of colorful caladiums.
Caladiums are attractive houseplants, and you’ll discover expert advice on how to keep them happy. You’ll also learn about caring for caladium plants in a summer garden.
How to Care for Caladium Plants
Grow uncommon tropical foliage plants in a shaded area to look after caladium plants. A bright, rich, well-draining potting medium that is uniformly moist is ideal for growing caladiums. When the earth feels dry, water the plant. During the growing season, fertilize caladiums every two weeks.
Caladiums require a minimum temperature of 65°F (18°C). Grow colorful foliage houseplants like Caladium bicolor in chilly conditions. Alternatively, store caladium bulbs from your garden in a cool, dry location for replanting the following spring. Dig up the bulbs and store them in a safe place.
Facts About Caladium Plants
The genus Caladium belongs to the Araceae family of tropical flowering plants. Heart-shaped or arrowhead-shaped leaves characterize caladiums. Caladiums are grown for their beautiful crimson leaves, despite the fact that they bloom with flowers that resemble calla lilies.
Caladium bicolor plants are commonly known as Heart of Jesus. Bicolor plants are often sold under the scientific name Caladium x hortulanum. also known as “elephant’s ear” and “angel wings.”
Caladium plants in pots reach a height of around 24 inches (60 cm) and a width of about the same. If you’re looking for a compact houseplant with smaller leaves, you may also find dwarf Caladium bicolor cultivars.
Plants in the genera Alocasia, Colocasia, and Xanthosoma are connected to caladium plants because they share the common name ‘elephant ears.’ So, looking at the botanical name is a good way to understand what you’re purchasing.
USDA zones 10 through 12 are ideal for caladium plants. Caladium species grow on the shady rainforest floor in their native habitat of Brazil and South America. Warm, humid, and shaded is their natural environment. As a result, in colder climates, caladium plants are often grown as perennial or annual houseplants in pots.
Caladium flowers are little white blooms that belong to the Araceae family of plants. They are shown in close-up photographs. A small flowering spike called a spadix is found at the base of the flowers. A spathe, which appears to be a white curled leaf, surrounds this.
Caladium blossoms are also known as spathe blossoms. Annual or perennial houseplants seldom bloom while Caladiums are growing as annuals or perennials. There’s nothing to be afraid of, though. Any lack of blooming on a caladium plant is made up for by the stunning color combinations on its pointed, heart-shaped leaves.
Caladium leaves come in a variety of gorgeous hues, making it one of the most stunning foliage plants. Leaves are heart-shaped with a pointed tip and a large, rounded base. Or they may be narrow, with arrowhead-like or lanceolate leaves, for example.
The leaves of all caladium plants are lush and multicolored. Caladium leaves come in two shapes, which are shown below.
- Fancy leaf caladiums. Fancy leaf caladiums are characterized as those with broad, long heart-shaped leaves that have a petiole (leaf stem) near the middle. Caladiums with ornate leaves thrive best in the shade, as a rule.
- Strap leaf caladiums. These caladium leaves are known as strap leaf caladiums and are narrower with tapered ends. Petioles connect the base of strap leaf caladium leaves. Brighter growing conditions are more forgiving of caladiums with strap leaves.
Caladiums have stunning foliage in all colors. Color splashes, prominent veins, or speckled vividly colored dots might appear on the caladium leaves. Dark green and bright pink, white and green, or red and light pink and lime green are some of the caladium leaf colors available.
The color combinations and leaf patterns, however, are virtually endless because there are thousands of Heart of Jesus (Caladium bicolor) cultivars.
Tuberous roots known as corms make up caladium bulbs. The bulbs are planted a few inches deep in the soil and the caladium leaves develop right away. The bulbs of caladium aren’t frost or cold tolerant. You’ll need to dig up the bulbs and overwinter them indoors if you grow caladiums as annuals.
After the leaves on caladium bulbs start to yellow in the fall, carefully dig them up. Leaving the caladium bulbs’ foliage intact is critical. Place the tubers in a dark, cool area for three weeks. Caladiums go dormant during this period. Remove the leaf stems, brush off loose dirt, and store them in a dry location at 50°F (10°C) over winter after the bulbous roots have dried.
How to plant caladium bulbs
Plant caladium bulbs outdoors If there is no danger of frost, it’s best to leave them outside. The ideal soil temperature ranges from 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 21°C). Planting caladium bulbs outdoors will need to wait until late spring or early summer in some areas. In a shaded area in your yard, plant the caladium tubers.
Around six to eight weeks before you want to move your caladiums outdoors, plant them indoors. Even if you decide to cultivate the plants as an indoor houseplant, planting caladium tubers in the spring ensures that they develop quickly.
Caladium bulbs should be planted with the rough or knobby side facing upwards to prevent them from being upside down. They should be about 2” (5 cm) below the surface when you press them into moist potting soil. To get the plant to grow, place the bulbs in a bright area with a temperature of at least 70°F (21°C).
Caladium Care Guide
Where to Plant Caladium Bulbs
In your garden, filtered sunlight or shade is the finest location to grow caladium plants. Wind protection should also be checked. In strong winds, caladium leaves are vulnerable and breakable.
How to Grow Caladium Plants Indoors
Indoors, tropical perennial plants such as Caladium bicolor flourish. The plant pot should be placed in a location where it won’t get direct sunlight. Heart of Jesus plants also thrive in warm, humid environments. All caladium species, however, go dormant in the winter and die back. It’s important to recall this. You may preserve the bulbs for reuse the following year when this occurs.
Light Requirements to Care for Caladium
In the shade or in partial shade, caladium plants flourish. It’s crucial to protect delicate caladium leaves from direct sunlight while growing outdoors or indoors. The leaves may be scorched by the intense midday sun, dulling their beautiful hues. Different Caladium bicolor cultivars, on the other hand, may tolerate a range of lighting situations.
Fancy leaf caladiums are typically more shade-loving. In direct sunlight, their big, wide leaves are prone to damage. A strap leaf caladium cultivar is the best choice for growing angel wings plants in a sunny spot. More sunlight can be handled by plants with thinner leaves. Bright sunlight tolerance is common in many new caladium cultivars.
The Best Soil for Growing Caladium Outdoors and Indoors
Caladium thrives in rich, well-drained soil. One part peat moss, one part houseplant soil, and one part perlite are used to make the perfect potting soil. The addition of perlite improves drainage and retains enough moisture in this potting mix for angel wings. It’s beneficial to work in peat moss and gravel or perlite for drainage when preparing the soil to grow caladium bulbs in your garden.
When growing caladium plants, the most important care advice is to keep the soil from becoming waterlogged. If the soggy soil sits in the caladium tubers for too long, they begin to rot quickly.
How to Water Caladium Plants
To avoid the soil from drying out, water caladium plants on a regular basis. If the soil dries out fast in hot weather, you may have to water caladiums every day. It’s time to water your indoor caladium plant if the potting mix feels dry to touch. A layer of mulch around the caladium plant’s roots may help to regulate moisture levels if you’re growing caladiums in your yard. On watering caladium plants, here are some helpful hints:
- Before watering, check to see if the top 1″ (2.5 cm) of soil is dry.
- Water the ground around the bulbs as often as you need to in order for it to be evenly wet.
- You shouldn’t water the bulbs when the caladium plants go dormant during the winter.
Temperature Range for Caladium Care
Warm, tropical temperatures are optimum for the Heart of Jesus plant. Caladiums should be kept between 70°F and 75°F (21°C and 23°C) during the day, and 60°F to 65°F (15°C to 18°C) at night, within or outdoors. Cold temperatures don’t treat plants from the Caladium genus well. Angel wings plants may be cultivated outdoors throughout the year if you reside in USDA zones 10 and 12. In temperate regions, you may likewise cultivate caladium bulbs indoors and bring them outside when it gets warm.
Humidity Requirements for Growing Caladium
Caladiums need a lot of humidity. To avoid the showy leaves from curling and browning, maintain indoor humidity at least 50%. Using a room humidifier or placing the caladium pot on a pebble and water tray can help boost air moisture.
Caladium leaves can be sprayed with a fine mist. Misting may not be enough to maintain tropical plants in the appropriate moist environment due to their high humidity requirements.
Top tip when growing caladium plants indoors: To encourage humidity and keep the leaves from drying out, grow plants together. Tropical plants prefer to grow in mildly humidified air.
How to Fertilize Caladium Plants
During the growing season, Angel wings plants appreciate frequent fertilizing. Every one to two weeks throughout the summer, repeat a diluted houseplant fertilizer at half strength. Stop fertilizing when the caladium starts to die back and the leaves turn yellow.
Repotting Caladium Houseplants
Every spring, caladium houseplants must be repotted. Caladium bulbs should typically be overwintered in a dark, cool, dry area. Early spring is the ideal time to repot winterized bulbs. The pointed tip or the bumpy side on the caladium bulb is where to put it in order to plant it optimally.
The corm’s uppermost section should be pointing skyward. In a loose, porous potting mix, place the caladium tuber 2″ (5 cm) deep. Gently water the ground to eliminate any air pockets before putting in plants.
Top growing tip for planting caladium bulbs: Planting caladium bulbs upside down is no problem. Just after a few weeks, the plant usually gets out of the pot and starts to grow.
Propagating Caladium Plants
Caladium bulbs may be divided in the most effective manner to spread caladium plants. Look for bulbs with at least one eye or knobby bit before replanting in the spring. On each portion of the tuber, split it so that there is at least one eye. Leave the wound to dry for a day or two. After that, place the bulbs as usual.
Snip off the stems at the soil line to prune dead or decaying leaves from caladium plants. Caladium flower buds may also be removed as they emerge. After the plant has died back and you’ve removed the corms from the ground or potting mixture, you may prune off dead leaves.
Pests Affecting Caladium Plant Growth
Insects have a low impact on caladium plants. Aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites could all be a problem if growing conditions aren’t ideal. The bright, vibrant caladium leaves may also attract caterpillars, grasshoppers, or snails.
By using a neem oil solution, you can get rid of pests. Add 2 tsp. of salt to the mix. 1 tsp. of neem oil is added to the mixture. A quart (1 liter) of water with liquid dish soap. Once a week, mix up a spray bottle of caladium spray and wash away pests and larvae by spraying the leaves.
Diseases Affecting Caladium Plant Growth
By watering the plant correctly, you may avoid diseases from killing a tender caladium perennial. Caladium bulbs can begin to rot if they are overwatered or have poor drainage. Soon, the root will be eaten away by fungal infections, resulting in the stunning leaves to turn yellow.
It’s preferable to dig up the plant or remove it from the pot if you suspect fungal tuber disease. replant the tuber in moist soil after removing any mushy root sections. Remember to only water caladiums enough to keep the soil damp, but not wet.
Are Caladium Plants Toxic?
Humans, as well as cats and dogs, are poisonous to caladium plants. According to doctors, all parts of the Caladium genus, including Caladium bicolor, may be poisonous when consumed or chewed. Skin rashes and severe itching may occur after exposure to the plant. Elephant ears plants, including Caladium species, are poisonous to dogs and cats, according to the ASPCA.
FAQ About Growing Caladium Plants
Why are my caladiums drooping?
Caladium leaves that have wilted and begun to droop are most often due to underwatering. Caladium plants should be watered sufficiently often to ensure that the soil remains evenly moist, but not soggy. To help the plant recover from its death, you might give it more water.
Why are my caladium plant leaves turning yellow?
Caladium leaves turning yellow is frequently due to a lack of humidity. If the roots are decaying, too much watering might also cause yellowing leaves. As a result, it’s crucial to check how well you are caring for your tropical plant.
Caladiums die back before winter, and their leaves turn yellow, so it’s a good idea to remember that. It’s time to dig up the bulbs and winterize them, ready for planting the following spring, when yellow leaves on a caladium growing outside indicate it’s time.
How do you revive a caladium?
During the winter, caladium bulbs go dormant. You can bring back your bulbs before putting them in your garden if you overwinter them. You should start planting the caladium bulbs in your garden around eight weeks before you want to bloom.
Make sure that the bulbs are planted 2 inches below the soil’s surface in a light, moist potting medium. The bulb should begin to regrow after approximately three weeks.
Species of Caladium Plants
Heart of Jesus Caladium (Caladium bicolor)
The primary Caladium bicolor species is the Heart of Jesus. The heart-shaped, thin, papery leaves of this colorful leafed caladium are large. The leaves of Heart of Jesus cultivars are varied in color and pattern. Some heart leaves have green borders and seem to be completely pink.
Others have green skin with white dots and striking crimson veins that resemble a big spider. Green leaves with the appearance of pink, white, or red paint splashed on them are seen in certain Heart of Jesus cultivars.
Moonlight Caladium (Caladium bicolor ‘Moonlight’)
Moonlight Caladium is a beautiful leaf plant with large, bright white leaves with green margins and veins that may reach 6″ (15 cm) in length.
White Dynasty Caladium (Caladium bicolor ‘White Dynasty’)
A sun-tolerant caladium with bright, creamy-white leaves and green borders, the magnificent ‘White Dynasty’ is a must-have.
Green, pointed arrowhead leaves with distinctive creamy-white veins resemble those of an African mask plant, and the striking Caladium lindenii has them.
Florida Sweetheart Caladium (Caladium bicolor ‘Florida Sweetheart’)
A strap leaf caladium with rosy-red, bi-color leaves and green borders is known as the stunning ‘Florida Sweetheart.’
Caladium ‘Red Flash’ (Angel wings ‘Red Flash’)
Olive-green, heart-shaped leaves with deep red veins and pink speckles decorate the stunning ‘Red Flash’ caladium, which has olive green leaves.
Caladium ‘Florida Red Ruffles’
The Florida Red Ruffles is a strap-leaf caladium with wavy borders and pointed tips on its bi-colored red and green leaves.
Caladium ‘Strawberry Star’ (Caladium bicolor ‘Strawberry Star’)
The ornamental caladium plant ‘Strawberry Star’ has stunning white, virtually transparent leaves with green veins and splashes of pink color.
Caladium ‘Carolyn Whorton’ (Caladium bicolor ‘Carolyn Whorton’)
The big, heart-shaped leaves of the sun tolerant caladium ‘Carolyn Whorton’ are pink, red, and green in color. Pink leaves with crimson veins in the center are surrounded by dark-green edges.