Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Visions of Colorful Caladiums
It's hard to believe but this is the best time of year to plan for your summer caladium plantings. After all, spring is the season dreams are made of. While we are in the mode with spring designs dancing in our heads you will want to be sure to leave room in your thinking (and budget) for adding those fabulous, low-maintenance foliage plants we've come to love in this region.
Compared to the numerous and endless good characteristics they exhibit in Florida's climate, caladiums are still surprisingly under-utilized in many gardens. A mass planting of them can become a focal point and showcase your garden for many months. A smaller group serves to complement existing neighboring plants. And popped into container gardens they easily add color, height, and a tropical flair of their own.
Now is the time to order your bulbs. Notice ... I didn't say PLANT your bulbs... but, yes, order now for best selections.
I start thinking about which varieties I will want to plant in a couple of months and how many bulbs it will take to create the displays of all those luscious leaves I can't live without in my mostly shady garden.
When I place my online orders I request a delivery date for around May or even June. I know, it goes against the normal advice, but I would rather wait until the soil is good and warm during the daytime as well as during the nighttime before I plant my caladium bulbs. This timing varies each year depending on weather patterns obviously. And it will vary for you depending on your region.
Bulbs will sprout faster if you wait for the soil to be the correct temperature than if you plant them in March or April (when the soil is still cool at night). In which case, typically, you'll have to wait a good 6 weeks before they appear. In my experience delayed planting prolongs their crop time.
What about succession planting? We do it with our edibles and I've been utilizing this method with caladium bulbs the past few years. I have to say I'm completely happy with the results.
Here's how it works. I always leave my bulbs in the ground from year to year after they go dormant. It stands to reason, due to various elements at hand, that not all of them return the subsequent season. Most do, but some don't. So, for instance, where 'White Queen' are planted in a sweep of glorious brightness it will be at least June before I can see clearly where spaces are missing in the mass.
Where there are gaps is where I will fill in with new bulbs in mid to late June. Accordingly, those caladiums will last longer into the year offering a prolonged crop time overall. Often caladium plants continue to shine all the way into November. I practice this method with my caladiums throughout the garden.
Here's something else to consider. Plant them (the taller varieties especially) closer together than the recommended spacing. They will actually help hold each other up more uprightly.
Recently I've had the privilege of touring one of our local caladium farms. Florida happens to be the caladium producing capital of the world. Most of the farms are geographically located in the center of the state.
Being invited to see the production facility of Classic Caladiums turned out to be a remarkable learning experience. They generously sent me home with some beautiful bulbs to trial in my garden. But even if I had come home empty handed ... I can honestly say that after spending two days with the growers I can confidently highly recommend their bulbs for purchase.
The elements and growing conditions have been hard on the caladium industry the past couple of years. The result is low production and less choice for many of the growers. All the more reason to get your orders in as soon as possible.
In my next post I'll share the experience of my visit to Classic Caladiums.
Which variety of bulbs are you planning to plant this year?
***All caladium photos in this post except the last three were out of the caladium archives from past years in my garden. So nice to dream of summer's lushness.