Caladium Leaves Brighten Summer Gardens

Caladium are still plentiful in big-box garden centers and other retail garden centers. Just make sure you purchase those with leaves still emerging.

Caladiums are still plentiful in big-box garden centers and other retail garden centers. Just make sure you purchase those with leaves still emerging.

Here caladiums are mixed with flat leaf parsley in a large pot.

Here caladiums are mixed with flat leaf parsley in a large pot.

This formal use of white caladiums with boxwood brighten a shady garden.

This formal use of white caladiums with boxwood brighten a shady garden.

When the heat starts rising in July and August, few plants can look as fresh as caladiums. Their colorful foliage varies from nearly all white to various pinks to almost all red and every type of colorful variation in-between. While some will take sun, most of the ones available for purchase now like part sun to filtered shade. If you want to add some to your garden, they are available in larger size pots. In late spring and early summer you can buy pots of these plants and divide them, but I would not do that if you are buying them now and adding them to your garden. The main thing after planting is to keep them watered (not wet) and apply a light fertilization (5-10-10 or similar analysis) around the plant about 10 days after you plant them. Their colorful foliage should add beauty to your garden until early fall. While many folks save the tubers when they die back in fall, if you do not have a cool dry place to store them over the winter, don’t waste your time.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

One thought on “Caladium Leaves Brighten Summer Gardens

  1. Hey John. When I first started in business caladiums were available in white, pink or red. With much hard work by breeders there is now a fabulous array of foliage suitable for any garden. These heat seeking plants should never be planted before soil temperatures are warm; mine go into the ground or pots the same time as okra which is around the 15th of May. You haven’t lived until you smell a rotten tuber of caladiums exposed to cold. It used to drive me crazy when people brought in a tuber they had planted at Easter asking why it smelled so bad!
    Their flowers ( which are insignificant and resemble a new leaf) need to be removed as they appear so the plant can put all the energy into foliage.
    Regarding wintering over: I stop watering them in early October and allow the foliage to die back. I cut off the dead foliage and stack the pots in an unused bathroom. When stable weather is a certainty I place the pots outside and begin watering. And a little miracle occurs–new growth begins sprouting. I have done this for years on end and it never fails.
    I hope you find this information helpful.
    With highest regards…
    Libby

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