Caladium: easy-grow summer-bloom tuber
Looking to add summer color to a flower pot, window box, hanging basket or along a shaded walkway? Consider planting Palladium tubers in the spring. These plants are grown for their colorful unique foliage — fancy or lance-leafed shapes in “no two are the same” combinations of green and white to red and pink.
What's interesting is that instead of having stems, Caladium leaves sprout directly from the tuber on long petioles. The fancy-leafed varieties are heart-shaped with growth that can reach up to 12 to 30 inches. The lance-leafed types are narrow and elongated, growing less than 12 inches in height.
Caladiums like warm well-drained soil with adequate water when dry. If the soil remains saturated, the tubers can rot. However, once the plants wilt from lack of water or drought, growth is either stunted or ceases. I've discovered that potting soil works best for the dry heat of Vacaville. Also, these plants act more like annuals in my area, despite being listed as hardy to USDA zones 9 and 10. So, instead of lifting and storing the small tubers in the winter, I simply purchase more the next year when they become available.
In their native habitat of Central and South America, Caladiums grow in forested areas near river banks; and when the dry season comes, they enter dormancy. Wherever you decide to plant Caladiums, make sure they receive partial to full shade. During hot summer days, when little else is blooming, you'll be rewarded with beautiful leafed plants strutting a stunning array of “take me away to the tropics” color.
photos by Launa Herrmann
Flower pot with crysanthemum