Placing an order online requesting specific varieties, sizes, and the number of caladium bulbs desired is so simple, affordable, and easy. They'll be delivered to our doorstep in a matter of days ready to go in the ground and produce so many months of lush, tropical foliage to brighten any summer garden.
This process has been common practice here for many years. Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows my obsession and fascination with caladiums which I've written about and photographed here extensively.
As the Florida humidity kicks up a thousand notches and summer's heat is never-ceasing caladiums decide it's there time to shine. Could there possibly be a better foliage plant for Florida?
My obvious answer is decidely no.
So you can imagine my exhileration when I was invited to meet the good people that manage and produce these wonderful beauties at Classic Caladiums.
Nitrogen fixing cover crop where crop rotation is implemented.
Good, honest, friendly folks who spent two of their valuable days to walk me through the production warehouse and farm where the caladiums are grown. Caladium bliss for little ole me!
My initial trip was in mid-November(2010)when the foliage was just beginning to wilt from that record-breaking dry and hot October we had in Central Florida. It was almost time for harvest which takes place in January/February.
You may already know that deep in the heart of Central Florida resides the caladium capital of the world. Approximately 1500 acres of caladium production with mostly family-owned farms are located in the muck-rich fields of Lake Placid, FL.
All production and farming is not equal.
What this aging stock produces are bulbs infected with dozens of pathogens and viral disease organisms that have not been cleaned up in all these years. The result is stock that is undependable and declining in quality and production.
These are important facts to note even for the home gardener. The President and CEO of Classic Caladiums, Dr. Bob Hartman, has modernized and transformed the world of caladiums by introducing the innovative method of tissue culture or cloning to caladium production.
This revolutionary breeding process is not new as it has been practiced in the flower growers industry for years. Dr. Hartman is an expert in this field with years of experience in tissue culture as an alternative production of good clean stock for crop production.
He began his work with this method as a PhD student while at the University of Florida. This reliable process takes years initially from the science lab to production in the harvest fields.
Why do you and I as consumers need to know this? Ultimately tissue culture rejuvenates antique varieties and makes them like new which Dr. Hartman explained to me is like you and me getting to start over genetically "as babies". Hmmm... I wouldn't mind some new baby skin and hair and renewing my aging process, would you? For caladiums it means improvement in branching, color, stem count, and temperature tolerance.
Unlike the muck-soil farms in Lake Placid, Classic Caladiums, founded in 2000, is growing disease-free certified caladium stock in Florida's sandy soil on raised beds covered with plastic sheeting and irrigated with drip lines in Avon Park, FL.
Not only has the tissue culture process brought some our old favorites like Candidum back to its original vigor free from diseases, but Dr. Hartman has developed and introduced brand new varieties with all-new colors, patterns, and habits. There are some really pretty and unusual new varieties.
The production facilities at Classic Caladiums were an eye-opener for this ordinary home gardener who happens to be in awe of caladiums.
Massive and organized and temperature controlled and machines and people-power and meticulous record-keeping for each step of the process to bring those glorious bulbs from the fields to my front door.
What Dr. Hartman has accomplished through tissue culture and rejuvenation of this much under-utilized tropical plant will benefit home gardeners for years to come. It will hopefully increase the market for caladiums as quality, clean varieties are more and more available improving the industry standards and raising awareness of this beautifully performing plant.
Classic Caladiums is selling quality,healthy bulbs. Thank you to them for two wonderful days of learning and inspiration. Meems
Don't forget to go over to their Facebook page and LIKE them.
Full disclosure ***Dr. Bob Hartman and Mike Woods have generously provided me with numerous caladium bulbs to test in my garden. I was not asked or required to write about them. I believe in what they are doing to improve the caladium industry and I LOVE caladiums so much I am honored if I have any small part in promoting the industry and specifically Classic Caladiums.