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Publication #FPS83

Caladium x hortulanum Caladium1

Edward F. Gilman2

Introduction

The distinctive arrow-shaped foliage of caladium is available in a large array of color combinations and heights, allowing a profusion of landscape applications (Fig. 1). Most effective when massed together, caladium displays a neat growth habit and a multitude of beautiful leaves emanating from a single tuber. This plant draws attention when mass planted as a groundcover or edging. It also looks great planted in a container in a shady spot.

Figure 1. 

Caladium.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Caladium x hortulanum
Pronunciation: kuh-LAY-dee-um x hor-too-LAY-num
Common name(s): caladium
Family: Araceae
Plant type: perennial; ground cover; herbaceous
USDA hardiness zones: 8 through 11 (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: container or above-ground planter; ground cover; edging; border; accent; suitable for growing indoors
Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range

Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Description

Height: 1 to 2 feet
Spread: 1 to 2 feet
Plant habit: upright
Plant density: open
Growth rate: fast
Texture: coarse

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: most emerge from the soil, usually without a stem
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: undulate
Leaf shape: ovate; cordate; saggitate (arrow)
Leaf venation: palmate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 8 to 12 inches
Leaf color: purple or red; green
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Flower

Flower color: white
Flower characteristic: summer flowering

Fruit

Fruit shape: unknown
Fruit length: unknown
Fruit cover: fleshy
Fruit color: unknown
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not applicable
Current year stem/twig color: not applicable
Current year stem/twig thickness: not applicable

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in the shade
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; acidic; loam
Drought tolerance:
Soil salt tolerances: poor
Plant spacing: 6 to 12 inches

Other

Roots: not applicable
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Growing best in partial shade, caladium is tolerant of full sun conditions when provided with rich soil and sufficient moisture. Tubers should be set 3- to 5-inches-deep in loose soil. Plant on 8- to 12-inch-centers for a thick ground cover effect. Mass plant in the front of a shrub border to accent an area. It grows nicely in the shade of existing trees.

Except in USDA hardiness zones 8b through 11, caladium tubers need to be dug and stored each year before frost. Even in locations where caladiums may be left in the ground, the tubers seem to perform better when dug and protected from wet winter soils. Water should be gradually withheld as the leaves naturally start to yellow in fall, then the tubers dug, cleaned of soil, and left to dry in semishade for about 10 days. The tubers should be dusted with an insecticide-fungicide prior to being stored in dry peat moss or vermiculite at temperatures between 50°F to 60°F. This helps prevent rot.

A few of the many popular caladium cultivars available include: 'Frieda Hemple', lush solid red leaves with a green border, 18 inches tall; 'Carolyn Wharton', large bright pink leaves with rose veins flecked with green, 24 inches tall; 'White Christmas', white leaves with green veins, 24 inches tall; and 'Little Miss Muffet', compact growth, lime green leaves dotted red, 8 inches tall. There are many others.

Propagation is usually by division of the tubers and rarely by seed.

Problems include mealy bugs, slugs, snails, caterpillars, mites, and grasshoppers. None are normally very serious.

Pests and Diseases

Tubers are susceptible to fungal diseases.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FPS83, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.