Caladiums for color in shade or sun

Caladiums for color in shade or sun

I’m amazed at the variety of colors available in caladiums these days. There are outrageous combinations of red, pink, super hot pink, white, chartreuse and shades of green. This plant is a classic. Its leaves have a translucent quality that seems to make them all glow brilliantly in the sunshine.

Caladiums have been known to gardeners forever and used in the shadier areas of your yard to brighten up spots under trees, bushes and overhangs. Nowadays there are such new brilliantly colored caladiums for those shady spots and new varieties that can take more direct sun.

Our good friends at Wikipedia remind us that other names for caladium are Heart of Jesus and Angel Wings, with over 1,000 named cultivars of the original South American plant. Caladiums are found growing on riverbanks and open areas of the forest in India, Africa, Central and South America. Look for the caladiums to have either lance shaped leaves or heart-shaped leaves. Most of the varieties grow to about 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide.

Savvy gardeners know that the caladium planted before Mother’s Day will likely not do too well. With all of the heavy rain before early May, the plant bulb will likely rot. So we are now in the most perfect time for caladium planting.

You can buy a small plant but can also be very successful and thriftier if you plant the “corns” available in area nurseries. Save even more money by dividing the tubers of established caladiums and propagating more plants with minimal labor or cash.

How do you grow caladiums? Well, since they come from South America, they like warm weather. They grow without too much care once established, as does their cousin the elephant ear. Most varieties of these beauties like filtered sun, while some varieties can be planted in direct sun. Check the planting instructions carefully because the shade-lovers will just sunburn and die when exposed to too much sun. They like well-drained, organically rich soil. Water them regularly and keep the soil slightly moist. Add mulch to conserve moisture. A slow-release fertilizer is a good idea.

Plant caladiums like the pros. Buy and plant one entire area with matching caladiums. This color punch will give your yard a visual boost. You can get great caladium planting ideas with inspiration from the annual Caladium Festival in Lake Placid, Florida, the last weekend in July. The area is home to a majority of the world’s caladium fields. Every July since 2003, Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, Florida, has presented the Florida Caladium Showcase. This is largest indoor and outdoor display of caladiums around. It might just be worth a trip.


Joette Reger is an avid gardener and prides  herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. She can be reached by e-mail at joreger [at] msn [dot] com and on Facebook at “Gardengate with Joette Reger.”