Tip of the Week – Focus on Caladiums

caladium pinkno10Caladiums are one of the most breathtaking plants imaginable with its dreamy patterns and spanking bright colours. Yet they are not as fragile as they look if you keep a couple of requirements in mind. Caladiums are also known as Heart of Jesus and Angel Wings.


There are 7 different species from Brazil and nearby and at least another 5 species. The two most frequently seen species are Caladium bicolor and Caladium schomburgkii. However it is Caladium bicolor that has hundreds of cultivars all from an original group of plants!! In Brazil they go dormant & die back in the dry season while in areas with cool winters they fortuitiously go dormant in winter. Caladiums are aroids being from the Family Aracaea as are Alocasia, Colocasia, Anthurium,

Philodendrum,Spathiphyllum, Amorphophallus and

Xanthosoma….and more …104 genera all up.

Flowers & Breeding

Yes they have beautiful and variable white hooded flowers about 7 cm long….which produce viable seed and are an interesting study in themselves. The spadix within the flower willdevelop little berries that contain tiny pinhead seeds if the flower has been pollinated at the right time. (Look up caladium seed or pollination on the internet). You need to know what you are doing…but you can grow your own hybrids.

Growth Pattern

After the winter or dry season dormancy they bounce back from their tubers when 28oC+ days arrive in later spring. Amazing colourful patterned foliage emerges and the height of the stem and leaf depends on the cultivar. By early summer they will be flowering. When the weather cools in mid winter the foliage will drop off and the plant resumes its winter tuber state.The tubers can be lifted or kept dry in their pots. If you are in the subtropics you can retain in the garden but the conditions must be very well drained. Keep in mind you could lose them if wet and soggy over winter.

Caladium Care:

1. Caladiums need excellent drainage.
2. Usually few pests.
3. Keep moist when warm and never soggy.
4. Fertilise regularly
5. A good mix would be 50-70% commercial well drained potting mix 30% coarse 10-15mm pine bark (orchid mix). Some great minor additives are charcoal, 10mm blue metal, coconut fibre or sphagnum but only to 10%.

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