Vibrant & Versatile Heart to Heart™ Caladiums
♥ What do I do with caladiums at the end of the season?
Do you love the tropical look of bold leaves in vibrant colors? Are you struggling to find something unique for your shade garden? Ready to add life to your windowsill with a few new houseplants?
Heart to Heart™ Caladiums are the answer!
These lush tropical plants are the perfect way to bring that “vacation vibe” to your deck or patio containers, garden beds and even your living room. Though caladiums traditionally thrive in lower light conditions, newer, more sun tolerant varieties can be grown alongside your favorite Proven Winners annuals like ColorBlaze® coleus, Sunpatiens® impatiens and Sweet Caroline sweet potato vines.
Heart to Heart Caladiums make unique and bold “thrillers” in container recipes paired with shorter, mounded to trailing plants. A container filled with lush caladiums is an amazing sight to behold. They’re also stunning when planted en masse in garden beds. See all of our caladium recipes here.
Depending on the look you’re going for and what kind of lighting conditions you are able to provide, you can choose from Fancy Leaf or Strap Leaf varieties.
|Fancy Leaf Caladiums tend to have heart-shaped leaves with their stem (petiole) attached near the middle of the leaf and an upright habit. They are generally more shade tolerant, but some cultivars can handle quite a bit of sun. Fancy leaf types tend to be a bit more sensitive to cold, so if you’re planning to bring them indoors for winter, do so before the temperatures drop below 60°F.|
|Strap Leaf Caladiums have narrower, arrow-shaped leaves with their stem (petiole) attached near the edge of the leaf and a mounded habit. They are generally more sun tolerant but also grow well in shade. Strap leaf types tend to be a bit more cold tolerant, so if you’re planning to bring them indoors for winter, you have a bit more time than with the fancy leaf types.|
HEART TO HEART CALADIUM GROWING TIPS
When to plant?
Wait to plant caladium bulbs and live plants outdoors until air temperatures are consistently at least 60°F. If you’re planning to plant them in the ground, wait until the soil temperature is at least 65°F. If you move them outside too early, the cool temperatures will greatly slow down their growth and delay their flourishing in your garden. It’s better to enjoy them indoors as a houseplant until it’s nice and warm outside.
Where to plant?
Caladiums grow beautifully in containers and in landscapes that have well-drained soil. If you garden in heavy clay, you’ll want to grow your caladiums in containers or raised beds. Fill your patio pots, window boxes and hanging baskets with the low maintenance, all-season color that caladiums provide.
How much sun?
All types of caladiums grow well in part shade (4-6 hours of sun). However, some varieties can tolerate full sun (6+ hours) in most parts of the country and others can tolerate full shade (<4 hours).
- 'Blushing Bride'
- 'Bold 'N Beautiful'
- 'Bottle Rocket'
- Burning Heart'
- Fast Flash™
- 'Flatter Me'
- 'Heart and Soul'
- 'Heart's Delight'
- 'Hot 2 Trot'
- 'Hot Flash'
- 'Rose Glow'
- 'Scarlet Flame'
- 'Tickle Me Pink'
- 'White Wonder'
- 'White Star'
Caladiums that prefer partial shade to full shade include:
- 'Caribbean Coral'
- 'Clowning Around'
- 'Dawn to Dusk'
- 'Lemon Blush'
- 'Raspberry Moon'
- 'Rose Glow'
- 'Snow Drift'
- 'Splash of Wine'
- Va Va Violet™
You’ll know your caladiums are getting too much sun if you start to see holes with brown edges appear on the leaves between the veins. We call this “melting”. If this happens, simply move them to a shadier spot.
Some sun will help to draw out brighter colors on your caladium’s leaves. If they look dull, move them to a spot with a bit more sun.
How much heat?
How much water?
When you first plant your caladiums, they’ll enjoy moist—not soggy—soil. The more sun they are growing in, the more quickly the soil will dry out, so you’ll want to keep an eye on them until they are established. Once they are rooted in and flourishing in your garden, they will only need average amounts of water. As is true with most garden plants, early morning is the best time to water caladiums.
Do I need to fertilize?
Caladiums don’t need as much fertilizer to stay happy compared to “hungry” flowers like petunias. When you plant them, mix some Proven Winners Premium continuous release plant food into the soil (follow package instructions for rates). Follow up with our water soluble plant food once per month. Though they may occasionally produce a flowerlike bud called a spathe, caladiums are grown for their colorful foliage.
What do I do with caladiums at the end of the season?
In most parts of the country, caladiums are grown as annual plants. They are enjoyed from spring to fall, and then discarded, similar to how you might grow petunias. Generally, we do not recommend storing bulbs for the winter and replanting the following spring. That’s because, other than in southern Florida, stored bulbs do not perform as well as fresh bulbs because there aren’t enough growing days to accumulate the carbohydrates (energy) necessary for storage and subsequent sprouting the following spring. If you don’t plan to try and save them, simply leave them in the ground and let them disintegrate.
If you live in zone 10 or 11 where the ground does not freeze, caladiums will be perennial for you and can be left in the ground over the winter. At the end of the growing season, their foliage will naturally go dormant and can be removed once it is all brown. Adding a thick layer of mulch over them for winter will help to insulate the ground and protect the bulbs. They will naturally re-emerge in spring.
Storing Caladium Bulbs
If you live in zones 2-9 and still wish to try and save your caladium bulbs over the winter, here are some guidelines to follow.
1. Wait until your fall temperatures are consistently falling below 60°F, then dig up your caladium bulbs with their leaves still attached.
2. Knock the bulk of the soil off of the bulbs, then set them in a dry, ventilated space for a week or so while they dry.
3. Once the leaves shrivel up, cut them off about 1” above the top of the bulb.
4. When the bulbs feel dry to the touch, they are ready to be stored. Keep them in a warm (60°F+) well-ventilated area over the winter.
5. Replant outside the following spring when the soil temperature reaches 65°F and nighttime air temperatures are consistently above 60°F. Planting too early will stunt the bulbs and can cause them to rot.
Keeping Caladiums Growing as Houseplants
Potted caladiums can be moved indoors in early fall and kept actively growing as a houseplant for a month or so until they will naturally enter a resting period. They will need bright light and humidity indoors to thrive. Set the pot on a saucer filled with pebbles and water to keep the humidity up around the plant.
When the leaves begin to fall over, you’ll know the plant is ready to go back to sleep for the winter. At that point, stop watering and allow the plants to naturally dry out, removing the shriveled leaves as they go dormant. Once all the leaves are spent, the bulbs can either be stored in the dry soil in the container or removed and stored in the manner described above. In the spring, when the nighttime air temperatures are consistently above 60°F, the plants can be moved back outdoors.