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Caladium x hortulanum Caladium

Edward F. Gilman, Ryan W. Klein, and Gail Hansen

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. 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.
Figure 1. Full Form - Caladium x hortulanum: Caladium 
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS 

 

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 (Figure 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

Invasive potential: not known to be invasive

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.
Figure 2.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.

 

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 5inchesdeep in loose soil. Space plants on 8 to 12inchcenters for a thick ground cover effect. Mass plants 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 semi-shade 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.

Publication #FPS83

Date: 7/25/2022

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      About this Publication

      This document is FPS83, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Revised July 2022. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.

      About the Authors

      Edward F. Gilman, professor; Ryan W. Klein; and Gail Hansen; Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

      Contacts

      • Gail Hansen de Chapman