FAQs on everything Caladiums
Caladium bulbs should be planted with the eyes up, “hair to the air”, with approximately 1 ½” – 2” of soil on top of them because the roots emerge from the top of the bulbs. Caladiums will grow well in all soil types; however well drained high peat soil is optimal. If you feel your soil is not ideal, you can incorporate some good potting soil, leaf mold or peat moss into your own soil prior to planting.
Landscape Planting: The chart below gives our recommended bulb spacing if you wish to have a nice full planting or full border with a mass of continuous color. For a large bed, we recommend that you plant your bulbs in rows at the distances indicated below and “zig zag” the bulbs to optimize their leaf coverage.
|1 ½” – 2 ½”||6″ – 8″ apart|
2 ½” – 3 ½”
|10″ – 12″ apart|
If you prefer your planting to reveal clumps of color rather than a mass of color, or you wish to plant them among other foliage, plant 3-4 #1 sized bulbs or 1-2 Jumbo sized bulbs in each area. These clumps should give you nice sized pops of color in your landscaping.
Helpful hint for planting around trees: It is natural for us to want to plant caladiums around large beautiful trees. Often these trees are surrounded by lots of roots and not much soil. In this instance, lay the bulbs on the ground around the tree in the spacing you prefer and then place soil on top of the bulbs. Remember to make sure there is 1 ½” – 2” of soil over them.
Planting in Pots and Containers: Caladiums are beautiful in pots, hanging baskets and containers. As in landscaping, you will need to have 1 ½” – 2” of soil over the bulbs. The soil depth below the bulb will not need to be deep as the roots emerge from the top of the bulbs. The chart below shows our recommendation for the number of bulbs to plant in various container sizes.
|Pot Size||Number of Bulbs|
|6″||3 #1 or 1 Jumbo|
|8″||4 #1 or 2 Jumbo|
|10″||5 #1 or 2-3 Jumbo|
|12″||6 #1 or 3 Jumbo|
Starting Pots Indoors: For areas in the north where summer temperatures arrive later in the year, you may wish to start your caladiums indoors in pots and then move them outside once the temperatures have warmed up. The pots should be kept in a very warm area 70° F or above to encourage them to come out of dormancy. The warmer the temperatures you are able to provide, the more quickly they will grow. Once the leaves emerge, make sure they are in an area that gets optimal sunlight until the temperatures are right to move them outdoors.
As indoor plants, caladiums will tend to grow long “leggy” stems as they reach toward sunlight. For this reason, we do not recommend them as ideal indoor plants. However, we have lots of customers who are happy with their indoor results.
Helpful hint for those who plant in pots and containers: If you start your bulbs in pots, these pots could be planted or sunk right into your landscaping. This will allow you to easily harvest the bulbs in their pots when fall arrives. After the first cold spell knocks back the leaves, you will be able to pull up the entire pot and store it in a warm area, above 65° F, for the winter. The pots could be stacked and put out of sight, out of mind until you bring them out the next summer and start watering them again. The same storage tactic can be used for any containerized caladium plantings.
Water sparingly at first to prevent deterioration. Once the leaves emerge, water freely taking care not to allow them to sit in saturated soil. They do not like to be in soggy soil. Typically, watering every couple of days will be ideal. Since the leaf mass is so large, it is usually apparent when the plant requires water, because the leaves begin to look droopy.
We recommend watering your caladiums in the early morning or evenings to prevent the leaves from sun burning. Water droplets on the leaves during the hot part of the day could be magnified by the sun’s light and essentially burn holes in the leaves.
Caladiums are not “heavy feeders” and do not require a lot of fertilizer. If you wish, you can fertilize at the time of planting with a balanced fertilizer such as 6-6-6 or 8-8-8 or a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote or Nutricote. Miracle-Gro also works well. Do not fertilize too often, as this can result in the discoloration of your leaves or the possibility of holes in the leaves. The ideal soil Ph is 5.5 – 6.5.
We recommend giving your caladiums a second fertilization late in the summer after you have started cutting off the “tired looking” and dead leaves. This will often encourage a second healthy growth of leaves before the fall dormancy.
We do not recommend the use of manure as fertilizer for caladiums. The ammoniacal form of nitrogen that results from the degradation of the manure can increase the plants’ sensitivity to certain soil diseases, such as Fusarium.
Each order is graded by hand, hand-counted, and hand packed by experienced staff who have been with our family business for decades. We only pack the highest quality caladium bulbs.
We primarily offer quality #1 sized bulbs to our retail customers and sell Jumbo-sized caladiums if available. All our caladiums are of high quality, sized bulbs. Number 1 sized caladiums range from 1 ½” to 2 ½” in diameter. Jumbo-sized bulbs range from 2 ½” – 3 ½” in diameter. Jumbo-sized caladiums are typically in short supply and sell out rapidly.
Caladium bulbs are much like potatoes in the respect that they produce leaves wherever there is an eye. The larger bulb surface of Jumbo bulbs allows them to have more eyes. The greater number of eyes, the greater the number of leaves per bulb. Jumbo bulbs do not necessarily give you larger leaves or taller plants. The variety you choose will determine how large your leaves will be and how tall the plant will get, not the bulb size.
* If your miss the Jumbo specials, don’t let this worry you. Planting 2 #1 sized bulbs will give you the same beautiful display as 1 Jumbo sized bulb.
At the end of the summer and early fall, when your night temperatures start to cool, caladium plant leaves will start to whither and dry up as they prepare to go into dormancy for the winter. In areas outside of Florida, you will need to dig up caladium bulbs prior to the first frost. Allow the leaves to remain intact when you dig them. Dry the bulbs in a warm ventilated area and then remove the dry dead foliage. Store the caladium bulbs in a tray, onion sack, paper bag or open box in a ventilated area above 65° F. Do not close them up in a plastic tub or plastic bag or store them in the refrigerator.
In Florida and other areas where there is no chance of the ground freezing, you can leave the bulbs in the ground until next summer. Heavy mulching over the bulbs will help insulate them from the cool winter nights. We also have a blog on Winterizing your Bulbs with even more details on storing your caladium bulbs.