Caladiums, named commonly Angel Wings, or Elephant Ears, are tropical tuberous plants in the arum (Araceae) family. They are native to Central and South America regions that have pronounced wet and dry seasons. Caladium species are often cultivated as houseplants for their brilliant, translucent foliage and their showy shapes. In general, they can come in different sizes and different leaves colors. Leaves can be heart-shaped, arrow or lanceolate with color combinations of red, pink, white, yellow, green and also colored midribs with contrasting backgrounds and borders. Indeed, they can give you the visual impact of flowers while only being foliage plants. On the other hand, the flowers of these plants aren’t very showy compared to the decorative foliage. It will be better to remove the flowers to promote the development of the foliage.
Caladiums are perennial plants, but when it is impossible to provide them with the growing conditions they need, they can be cultivated as ephemeral plants (annuals) that are thrown away when the foliage wilts.
Be careful, Caladiums are completely toxic. So keep them away from children and pets and touch them with gloves.
How to grow Caladium?
Caladiums are generally grown from tubers. For propagating Caladiums, you have to keep tubers from the previous seasons but don’t keep them too long. Choose only tubers of three or four years to have plants with bright colors. Also, you have to choose large tubers that have more buds for good production. Then, put them in a pot near to a heat source (22 to 24°C) to promote the vegetation. Make sure to keep the soil always moist, but without exaggeration, because tubers can rot quickly.
As known, Caladiums are tropical plants which means they need heat and humidity to thrive. They also suffer and can be damaged in cold conditions. However, if you give them the appropriate conditions they will thrive and make you enjoy their beauty. So Caladium care requires these following conditions:
Caladium is a plant that appreciates shade or partial shade. However, to make the most of its pretty colors (pink, red) and brighten up the darkest corners, the plant needs a few hours of sun. Avoid the direct sun during the hottest hours because it can burn the leaves.
Water frequently and thoroughly. Keep the soil evenly moist to touch but not saturated. You can also add mulch, such as pine straw, to help retain soil moisture and conserve water.
Caladium is a tuberous plant that doesn’t like excess water or clay soils. Put it in well-drained soil, rich in humus, moist but never soggy (to avoid plant rot).
Temperature and humidity
A constant temperature between 20 and 25 ° C is preferable. Moreover, avoid drafts and dry air, which adversely affects the foliage, which will then tend to curl up. You can also spray the plant with water to create a warm, humid atmosphere close to its original habitat.
Fertilize the plant every two weeks during the growing season (from March to August) with liquid fertilizer or use slow-release pellets.
Pests and diseases
Caladium can be attacked by common parasites including aphids, red spiders, cochineals and soil flies. If your plant is attacked, spay it with an insecticide.
Furthermore, some variations can indicate that your plant needs more attention. For example, if the leaves turn brown, it means that you have to raise the temperature. If the Caladium leaves dry out, the atmosphere is too dry or the plant is drafty. Check if the soil is too dry and protect the plant from drafts.
The whole plant is poisonous, handle it with gloves. Also, ingesting it can cause burns, allergies or suffocation.
Popular Caladium species and varieties
Of course there are many Caladium types, but those are the most popular:
- Caladium bicolor
- Caladium Red Flash
- Caladium White Queen
- Caladium Florida Moonlight
- Caladium Fiesta
- Caladium Candidum
- Caladium Strawberry Star
- Caladium Miss Muffet
- Caladium Rose Bud
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