Perennial Bulbs Overview: Caladiums


Discover how to grow Caladiums with instructions on starting seed, transplanting, site selection, care and maintenance, water and fertilization requirements, and  pests and diseases.

Caladiums Stats at a Glance

Botanical Name: Caladium bicolor

Height: 1-2 feet

Soil Conditions:  Well-drained, damp soil

Sun: Partial shade/full shade

Soil pH Conditions: 5.5-6.2

Planting Instructions

When Do I Plant Caladiums?

Caladiums are cold sensitive and should not be planted until after the last frost and the soil has reached at least 65°F.  They will germinate much more quickly in warmer soil.  You can hasten the warming of the soil with black plastic mulch.

Soil Temperature: 65°F


Where Do I Plant Caladiums?

Caladiums plants perform best in fertile, slightly acidic, damp soil that is well drained. Incorporating several inches of organic matter into the soil when preparing the bed will improve growth and development.

Soil Conditions:  Well-drained, damp soil
Sun: Partial shade/full shade
Soil pH: 5.5-6.2


How Do I Plant Caladiums?

Caladiums can be propagated by direct planting or division.

Direct planting.  To plant tubers directly in the garden, dig a hole 6” deep.  Plant one tuber per hole with the eyes facing upward.  Cover with a few inches of soil.

If you overwintered your bulbs from the prior year, you will want to start them indoors 6-8 weeks prior to planting out of doors.  Once you retrieve your roots from storage, discard any rotted or damaged sections.

You will need to cut the tubers into sections that contain one healthy root and one healthy eye.  Let these new pieces dry out for a day before planting.  Give each root its own container.


Can I Start Caladiums Indoors?

If you want earlier blooms, start your Caladiums indoors.  Caladiums require fertile soil, moisture, good drainage, and plenty of room to grow, so choose your planting container accordingly.

Choose a pot that is at least 6” around and has plenty of drainage holes.  Line the bottom of the pot with pebbles and place on a saucer.  Fill the pot with a fertile commercial soil. Water thoroughly allowing any excess water to drain into the saucer.  Move to a warm, sunny location.  Keep the soil moist by watering from the bottom through the saucer.

Fertilize at least once with a 10-10-15 fertilizer.


How Far Apart Do I Plant Caladiums?

To ensure good air circulation, space Caladiums 8-12” apart.

Caladiums Plant Care and Maintenance

How Often Should I Water Caladiums?

The key to watering Caladiums is to maintain a consistent moisture level. The soil should be moist to a depth of 6”.  Allowing the soil to dry out between watering will result in a shallow root system.

Water the soil around the plant. Overhead watering will encourage disease.  Drip irrigation is best.

Mulch around the plant will help to lock in moisture.

If you live in an area where Caladiums overwinter, withhold water during the dormant season.


Should I Fertilize Caladiums?

Fertilizing decisions should be based on a soil test.  If a soil test cannot be obtained, your caladiums may benefit from a light fertilizer that is high in potassium (10-10-15 for example).  Fertilize once when the plants begin to sprout followed by weekly feedings for caladiums planted in the sun and every other week for those planted in the shade.

Fertilize the soil around the plant at least 6” from the plant base. Irrigate into the soil.


Additional Care Instructions

Remove dead foliage.

Can Caladiums Overwinter

As a tender perennial, Caladiums will not survive cold harsh winters.  Caladiums can usually only overwinter in the warmest climates (zones 10-11). If you live in a climate with harsh winters and you want to save your flowers to replant next year, you will need to dig them up and store them for the winter.  When the foliage begins to die back following the first frost of the season, cut back the stems.  Gently loosen the soil around the clump of roots and remove from the soil.

Place the unwashed roots in a mesh bag filled with moist (not wet) peat moss and hang it in a dark, warm location (60°F).  Pack them lightly so that they receive good air circulation.  The peat moss should not be allowed to dry out or freeze during storage.

Caladiums Diseases

The most common diseases associated with this plant include bacterial leaf spot, fungal leaf spot, southern blight, and tuber rot.

Caladiums Pests

The most common pests associated with this plant include aphids, root knot nematodes, and spider mites.



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