Caladium care is easy with a few tips. These unique tropical perennials are also called Angel Wings. Their almost unparalleled foliage are arrowhead-shaped and come in a striking array of colors and patterns. Combinations of green, red, pink, and white don the paper-thin leaves. They can easily give you the visual impact of flowers while only being foliage plants. Angel Wings are very desirable house plants and are equally delightful outdoors.
Always water caladiums regularly. Keep the soil slightly moist.
Indirect light (indoors), full to part shade (outdoors)
Requires moist air (around 50% relative humidity or higher)
75-80°F/24-27°C is ideal, but will tolerate a range of 70-85°F/21-29°C
Rich, well-drained potting mix
Heavy feeders so need regular fertilization during the growing season. Use a low-nitrogen or balanced formulation
Mature plants can grow 12-30 inches tall and 12-24 inches wide
Purifies the air
Green, Pink, Purple, Red
Caladium bicolor, syn. Caladium x hortulanum
Angel Wings, Elephant Ears, Heart of Jesus
Aphids, mealybugs, thrips, and whiteflies
Toxic to both dogs and cats, chewing on Caladium causes extreme irritation and swelling of the mouth, tongue and throat as calcium crystals cause soft tissue injury.
Buy potted caladiums ready to plant, or grow them from tubers. They are sometimes referred to as bulbs, although they are really tubers. Plant tubers point side up about 1 to 1 1⁄2 inches deep. Space them 8 to 14 inches apart. This depends on the ultimate size of your plants that is listed on the plant tag.
Always water caladiums regularly. Keep potting mix constantly moist (but not soggy) throughout the growing season. If you have caladiums in full sun, don’t let them dry out. Check on them often as Caladiums can drink a lot.
Caladium plants prefer bright, indirect light. Direct morning sun is fine. But, keep out of direct afternoon sun because it will cause leaf sunburn. Some newer selections, like Caladium Strawberry Star, can take more sun. Several hours of light each day will produce the biggest, showiest leaves.
Even indoors, caladiums will enter dormancy after a few months. When their leaves start to die back, stop watering. Allow the plant to rest. Resume watering once new growth starts again in spring.
Caladiums prefer a high-moisture environment. Around 50% relative humidity or higher is preferable. Use a cool-mist room humidifier to increase moisture levels. Frequent misting can also help boost humidity.
Caladiums thrive in the hot and humid conditions of summer. But, it will start to droop and lose leaves as temperatures cool. This South American native prefers warm temps from 75-80°F (24-27°C). Protect Caladiums from drafts, cold air, and AC vents. They can also be grown outdoors in USDA zones 9 to 11. In cooler climates they should be grown as annuals, and brought indoors in cooler months.
You can also dig up the Caladiums tubers (bulbs) at the end of the growing season. Store them for winter season. Remove most of the soil and allow the tubers dry in a warm shaded area for 5-7 days. After a week cut off any remaining leaves and roots and store in dry peat or sphagnum moss. Or, in a mesh bag under mild conditions (50-60ºF) for up to five months.
Tubers in containers can be brought inside and left undisturbed in pots for winter. Allow the growing medium to dry out as the leaves die back. Containers can be kept in bright or dark conditions. However, the temperature should never be below 55ºF. Begin watering again when new growth appears in spring.
Plant in a moist, rich, well-drained soil amended by compost or other organic matter.
Caladiums are heavy feeders and prefer regular fertilization during the growing season. Especially container-grown caladiums. Feed every 2 weeks with a slow-release fertilizer during the growing season. Keep in mind, that too much nitrogen can affect the leaf color.
Propagate caladiums by dividing the tubers in spring, before potting them up. First, cut the tuber into pieces that contain at least one eye or knob. Second, allow the cut pieces to dry for a few days to callous over before planting. Third, put each tuber in a 4 inch (10 cm) pot. Finally, plant them 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep. All parts of the plant are poisonous if enough is ingested. And, handling the plants can irritate the skin of sensitive individuals.
Caladiums have few problems. Tuber rot typically occurs under cooler temperatures. It can generally be avoided with proper storage and planting procedures. Leaf sunburn typically occurs on thin-leaved cultivars from too much sun, not enough water, or fertilizer sitting on the leaves.
Insects such as aphids, mealybugs, thrips and whiteflies may affect caladiums. These insects pierce the plant and feed on their sap. Damage may occur from these pests. Yellow leaf sections and dead patches on leaves are common signs of pests. Insecticidal soap and neem oil can discourage these insects. Read more about pest eradication here.
Are Caladiums Toxic?
Caladiums are toxic to both dogs and cats. Chewing on Caladium causes extreme irritation and swelling of the mouth, tongue, and throat. Calcium crystals cause soft tissue injury to these areas.
There are hundreds of Caladium varieties to please just about everyone. Some popular cultivars include ‘White Christmas’. It has striking white foliage with green veins. ‘Florida Cardinal’ is a stand-out with vivid red leaves. ‘Pink Beauty’ is a perennial favorite among gardeners. Stunning ‘Rosebud’ adds a pop of dramatic color in container gardens. ‘Thai Beauty’ or Pink Symphony is one of the most spectacular varieties around. ‘Miss Muffet’ is a cute dwarf variety with red spots. Learn more about different Caladium varieties here.
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