it was love at first sight when i saw gorgeous caladium plants when visiting my good friend, diana, in jaco, costa rica during march 2018. once i got back from my trip i knew i needed to have one in my plant fam because they’re so beautiful and as a reminder of my friend who i missed a ton (she’s since moved back to toronto, yay!) i love the colours on my caladium hortulanum! when it arrived at my home the leaves looked as though they had been hand painted. a couple progress photos are shown below with more available on instagram at #jmcaladiumhortulanum

history

caladiums are native to south & central america and have been introduced to india, africa, and tropical islands. they are sometimes called elephant ear, which is confusing because so are other plants they’re related to, such as alocasia and colocasia. while i was in costa rica, a gentleman working at a nursery i visited told me they call caladium corazon de jesus or heart of jesus.

did you know?

➰ the commercial production of caladium plants has been primarily through tuber division? approximately 95% of caladium tubers used in the world are produced in florida.

another fun fact: cao & colleauges (2017) found that a single gene controls the background colour of caladium leaves & it is related to the genes that determine leaf main vein colour, spotting, & rugosity (wrinkling of the leaves).

care tips

  • bright, indirect light from an east-facing window where it gets a bit of direct am sun which isn’t so harsh
  • in general, this plant does not like being placed in direct sun for long periods as it will damage the leaves
  • caladiums need humidity to thrive
  • water moderately to make the potting medium moist
  • reduce watering when the leaves start to die down
  • propagate by detaching small tubers from the parent plant 
  • outside of their natural habitat, these plants go dormant over winter. please see below for how to care for this plant during dormancy.

caring for caladiums during dormancy

i’ve summarized info from a few gardening articles on how to store caladiums once the season is over. i hope this helps! this is my first time with caladiums so i’m learning as well. if i’ve missed something or something looks wrong, please comment & i’ll update this post.

in my dreams, my caladium will live foreverrr but let’s be real – these guys need a winter rest period for their overall health. without adequate rest, the tubers use up their carbohydrate reserves. caladiums are grown from tubers that resemble stones. they are not winter hardy in the northern hemisphere so they need to be stored over winter.

🌱 caladiums grown in outdoor gardens

  • lift the tubers from the ground each fall
  • let them dry & store them in peat moss in a breathable bag
  • tubers must be stored indoors at 65f or 18c
  • plant them once spring has arrived & frost has passed

🌱 caladiums grown in containers indoors

  • keeping them indoors is tricky as they need high humidity, an environment resembling the rainforests from which they hail
  • they are likely to die back shortly after bringing them in for fall/winter
  • when the leaves are dead, cut them off & store the tubers
  • you can lift them & store them as described above or keep them in their container
  • if kept in their container, water very sparingly about once a month or not at all

💫 when spring returns

  • when they show signs of growth, either repot the stored tubers in fresh soil or begin watering the potted tubers
  • move the plant to slightly brighter light while protecting new shoots
  • once the caladium has fully sprouted, gradually reintroduce it outdoors until fall
  • repeat the process again at the end of summer

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