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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Caladiums Are My Day Lilies

You know how some folks just adore day lilies and grow them in so many varieties and how they just can't get enough of them?

That's how we feel about caladiums at Hoe and Shovel.

All the many colors and faces are a mainstay in my summer Florida garden. When the heat and humidity is too much for so many delicate annuals, the cheery and bright hues of caladiums sail right through the intense climate of July and August.

I'll take you on a little walk around the garden to see some of what's coming up from the uncomplicated bulbs placed in the ground in early summer. Thebulbs will stay in the ground all year long and will return again next summer as soon as the ground turns warm. The first of them starts to sprout right around Easter. Every year I order more to plant in June so they will give us continuous color right through September.

Mixtures in the Front Garden

Typically my favorite design is to plant the same variety of bulb in single color mass plantings for impact. However, the front bed to the north of the driveway has turned out to be a mixture. I'll bore you with the names just in case someone wants to get some for their own garden.
Visible above in the close-up are Carolyn Wharton, Miss Muffet, White Queen, and Red Flash. Caladiums should be planted according to their height and width habits with the taller variety placed in the rear of the shorter variety just like any gardener would do with a perennial or annual.

Carolyn Wharton popping up between the Xanadu.
These Are The White Varieties
In the front bed the June Bride came back this year so I didn't add any more. There are a few stray White Queen and Red Flash poking their heads out as well. White shows up really well here in between all the green and variegated shell ginger.
June Bride close up. It is a very large leaf and almost papery in appearance. I love the faint pink and green veins.
In the back garden a planting of smaller Jackie Suthers and larger Aaron --each variety is white with green edges.

Although if you look closely (click on any photo to enlarge) you will see the ever so small red center on each Aaron leaf.

In the distance another combination planting of white ... June Bride, Jackie Suthers, and Aaron. This grouping at the far back side of the garden drawing one's eye with the contrast of light caladiums and dark palmettos and mexican petunia in the background.
More Favorites

Scarlet Pimpernel (above)
First off I love the name itself but the lime green leaf with the deep pinkish-red veins goes so well with the solid red of Red Flash (below). Both considered fancy leaf varieties with large leaves growing 18-20" tall. These are bulbs I planted several years ago. Somehow they manage to survive all my digging and keep returning year after year ... much to my delight.

There are several of these planted in container pots as well. I will feature container pots in another post. It is so easy to pop any of my favorite bulbs into existing containers adding a new vibrance of color and form for the summer display.

Focus on Miss Muffet

If one could choose a favorite the delicate lime green and magenta speckles of Miss Muffet would be mine. It is named in the lance leaf variety with a small to medium leaf and height of 8-14 inches. It works very well in a border or in containers. For this post I've left out containers and only shown you what's actually in the ground.

White Queen

Another fancy leaf variety with a small to medium leaf and 12-24" height. The bulbs viewed in the above photo both in the foreground and the background planting turned out to be very pink all over this year. It is said that fertilization can effect the coloration of these caladiums. Before I discovered Miss Muffet this variety was my favorite and still runs a very close second for overall useability.
The above photo features the standard coloration. Stark white with vivid deep red veins this beautiful leaf makes a striking display against dark greens and mixes well with pinks, whites, or reds. I prefer the standard leaf color to the pinky way the new bulbs this year turned out. I fully intended for the design of the bed with all white impatiens to have this leaf clustered in front of them for the summer. Oh well. That's the way of a garden. Sometimes things turn out as expected and ... well, you know.

In the above photo you can see some of last year's very white mixed with some of this year's too-pink-for-me White Queen. It does make me happy how they all blend in with the xanadu, variegated schefflera, all manner of pink shades of impatiens standing 2-3 feet tall, bromeliads, and variegated liriope.
There are so many more clusters of caladiums here and there... but you get the idea... I'm a little wild about them. They are easy to plant from bulbs, easy to care for and easy on the eyes. They add so much pizzazz to my tropicalesque garden I just can't get enough of them.
Hope you like them a little too. Or maybe you love them as much as me. Thanks for letting me ramble on and on about them ... happy gardening... Meems.


  1. They are lovely Meems. I love their texture, pattern and colors. What a wonderful collection you have in your garden.

  2. They are lovely! I never knew there were so many different kinds! I have a hard time growing them. Maybe I will do some research and see what I am doing wrong.

  3. Flowers or not, you always have color in your garden.

  4. You paint with caladiums the way I paint with hostas, Meems. Your garden is stunning.

  5. I also like to plant my caladiums in large sweeps of the same variety. This year much of my garden is a construction zone so when my boxes arrived from Caladium World, I passed them on to my daughters. One interplanted Postman Joyner (red) and Scarlett Pimpernel - the effect is absolutely breathtaking! I hope I remember to get a picture so that I remember it next spring when I sit down to order bulbs. Thanks for sharing yours with us, Meems.

  6. I wish caladiums came back each year up here in TN. They are great plants and you've done a fine job illustrating that in your garden!

  7. I can see why you adore your caladiums Meems. They are gorgeous. I will have to plant some more of them next summer. We don't have so many varieties here since they are annuals for us but I sure love them in our shady back garden.

  8. perennial gardener: Thank you... the patterns and shape of the leaves makes them quite unique.

    sheila: Thank you. There are many more kinds but because I like to group them in mass and buy them in mass, I have chosen my favorites to repeat each year.

    mother nature: color contrasted with the greenery and variegated foliage helps out a lot in a semi-tropical type garden. The colors of caladiums are nicely vivid.

    joey: and if only I could paint with hostas... you know I would... they are wonderful but can't stand our heat.

    Mary Beth: I can see how joyner and pimpernel would be a fabulous duo.maybe your daughter would let you post HER caladiums on your blog?

    dave: there are some down sides to living in such heat down here but leaving bulbs in the ground is definitely a plus! I can tell you I'd be too lazy to pluck them all out if we couldn't leave them.

    Lisa: Thank you. You know you could order the bulbs too... like I do. Surprisingly if you were to go to the garden shops they don't carry so many varieties of the plants even here... AND they are expensive (compared to bulbs). I get all of mine from

  9. Thanks for the informative post Meems! You certainly great effects with those long sweeps and large groups of caladiums.

    Based on your pictures, I think I have Carolyn Wharton, White Queen, and June Bride. I have some others I'm still not sure about, but it's nice to know the names of a few of them now!

    Daylilies of course, have their place in this climate, but caladiums put on their show for much longer, and are as pretty as any flower I can think of. I love them in containers here in our climate.

    I'm determined to figure out how to overwinter them so they come back larger and stronger than the ones I overwintered last year. Then I can go on building on my 'collection' instead of replacing them each year! :)

  10. Thank you so much for your tip how to make last the Poinsettias in a vase.)
    I can understand that you are enchanted with Caladiums. How you have planted borders and matched them to your plantings is great. You have so many different ones and each is special. You have such a nice garden, meems; it is always a pleasure to return and visit.

  11. I knew you had a bunch of them and remember a post way back when that had you planting a big order. I will check out Caladium World. Your beds are stunning and I have always admired them.

    Please share what soil you use in pots. I tried growing them this year at my new home but they are so small. I know it's the soil in the containers. What is the best condition for them. How often do you fertilize them and with what? I want to get started on these cause they are worth the effort. I'll have to store them in my greenhouse in the containers but look at the wow factor.

  12. Your caladiums are gorgeous and these photos showed your beautiful garden. I never get tired of looking at it. Do the slugs like caladiums as much as they like our hostas? If I ever see any I might be tempted just as a small bit of your lovely garden in a pot - now that would be a nice idea for a container next year. A mini hoe and shovel would just finish it off!

    Thank you Meems for a great post. Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  13. I have a new favorite with each photo I see...June Bride, Scarlet Pimpernel and then Miss Muffit. I have never been a fan of the white caladium but you've won me over! They are all good looking and at home in your Florida garden. BTW, great photos!

    I went to Sligh Junior was a very sweet school when I was there (7th grade 63-64)...I do remember the school hadn't AC! I have a photo of our house was sort of mid-century modern with terazzo floors! I do recall that we had a strange freeze that year. I went to another elementary school.


  14. I'm thinking Caladiums would like nice at the church. What do you think? So lush and colorful and apparently, quite hardy! Of course, I'd need a gardener to plant them. :o)

  15. I am curious...who is this "we" you talk about?

  16. They look great in your garden, I planted some in containers for the first time this year and I am very happy with the results. I agree with you the Miss Muffet is also my favorite.

  17. Meems, they are soooooo beautiful. You have a lovely collection, and the way you've planted them is lovely. I wish I could grow them here and leave them in the ground (in Maryland). Alas, I cannot, and I'm a lazy gardener. What I loved most about today's post is that it made me think of my dad. He loved caladiums so much, so my mom always had some in the garden for him.

  18. titania: I hope the poinsettia cuttings work for you- I always have great luck with them. Thank you for making another visit, I'm glad you stopped by to see all the different faces of caladiums.

    Anna: Thank you for all your glorious review!You are making my head swell. :-) As far as the soil in my pots... It is hit or miss.Just this year I started being a little more particular with any new ones I potted up and only used a really great airy mixture from a nearby garden center they make exclusively. I remember reading your potting recipe a ways back and it should work just fine. I think the mistake people make with caladiums is planting them too soon. They really like it when the soil is warm in the daytime and at nighttime.I'd suggest you wait until next year to get started. Order early and you can request a mailing date from caladium world (I always do it this way for best selection and choices). But then make sure about the soil being warm like I mentioned. Of course the soil in pots gets warmer before the ground so if you are only going to put them in pots then you can judge that for yourself. Hope that helps and if I forgot anything just let me know.

  19. Sylvia: I always imagine your English accent when reading your comments and it is oh, so lovely to hear... I would be so honored if you tried caladiums in a pot from inspiration at Hoe & Shovel! The slugs do bother the caladiums sometimes when they are first unfurling their prettiness. Not as much as they mature. But what's worse are those awful grasshoppers who can devour and gnaw up the leaves in a fast hurry. Grrrr!

    Gail: I guess I'm a fan of 'white anything' so I fall for the white caladiums too. I like to mix the varieties of whites to cluster them in all the varied heights.They actually end up holding each other up when you plant them tightly together.

    Wow... Sligh Jr. High... that probably means (had you hung around) you would have gone to Hillsborough High School... that's where I graduated.Such a small world.It didn't have a/c either... hard to believe we survived. :-)

    S/S/M: They probably would work there. Although I prefer them grouped with other plants... we'd have to talk about it and I have a feeling you could find a 'gardener' to help out with planting them. :-)

    Nancy: Thank you. They are really at their peak right now. We are getting a good amount of rain too which they cherish.

    mjm: You make me laugh. Welllll, it sounds better than saying "I" all the time don't you think?

    glorv1: Thank you and thanks for visiting.

    Rusty: For the first time? Don't you think they are so tropical with their wide expanse of foliage? I have a feeling you won't want to be without them now that you've tried them.

    Kim: How sweet of your mom that she knew your dad loved them so she kept them in the garden for him. It's interesting how gardeners think to associate plants with people... I do the same thing. Thanks for coming by again and for your kind words. BTW, congrats on winning the gloves from Garden Rant.

  20. Your caladiums are beautiful, and your landscaping is just lovely. However, I don't seem to have the right type of thumb for caladiums! It's okay because there are so many other varieties of plants from which to choose. But, I do continue to admire them. :-)

  21. I'm very fond of caladiums and they are so perfect for your garden.

  22. Your gardens are lovely! Such colors, sizes and textures. I never knew there were so many varieties. Planting them as you have shows them off so well. I am envious that you can plant and forget them. Here we have to dig them up. My fe planted in containers this year turned out so well and now seeing yours, I am going to get more for next year. Thanks for the tour and for the website. I feel an on line order coming on.

  23. Your gardens are very lovely. And the Caladiums are outstanding. I have just started to collect them. Some of the ones I have are Moonlight-white/green edge, Sweetheart-pink/narrow green border, Gingerland-Creamy white, edged in deep green & splashed with green & red spots.
    White Christmas-Sharpe white & Christmas green in symmetrical pattern.
    Carolyn Whorton-Large bright-pink leaves with rose veins flecked with green. I would like to add to my collection so I will check out the site you mentioned.
    Thanks so much for sharing.

  24. Wow, I am sure you are accustomed by now to that reaction from visitors to your blog. Your garden is a dream. I am fairly new to gardening, only taking it up about 2 years ago after my Mom died. It's been an interesting journey for me, learning about plants, pest, and peat moss. It is hard for me here where I live in St. Kitts to get the variety of plants that I would like to have but I make due with what I can find along the way. Although my garden is no where near as beautiful as yours, you can check it out and learn a little about my island home at

  25. Nice layout and plenty of colorful flowers. Not quite the same here in Ohio.

  26. Shady Gardener: I know what you mean about not having the right kind of thumb... it seems mine doesn't have the right touch for day lilies... that's how I came up with the title.

    No matter... we can oogle over someone else's victories in these areas!

    Robin: We seem to have lots of the same taste. :-) Glad you stopped by for a glimpse of one of my faves.

    Beckie: Ordering on line makes it so easy doesn't it! You can choose from so many varieties too. Can't wait to see your additions next year.

    lola: I have not had moonlight here unless it goes by another name (it isn't on the caladium world website). The 'sweetheart' you mention is sold as 'Florida Sweetheart' which (the name)is a good selling point for me. I've planted them in mass in the past. They don't come return as well as some of the others. although I do love them, I end up having to start over with them. Consequently it has been a couple of years since I've planted them.

    Gingerland has much the same look as Miss Muffet... but I am tempted every year to try Gingerland just for fun. White Christmas and Candidum - I've used a lot in the past. Carolyn Wharton is in the front and back beds ... some featured in this post. Have I said already how much I love them?

    Vix: Welcome. oooohhhh... an island home... sounds like my kind of place. Have had some trouble with the Internet over the last 24 hours but I will gladly be over to check out your 'new' garden. Gardening is a marvelous way to spend your time. I hope you are encouraged by other gardens. They all take time. Don't forget I've been working on this one for 24 years.

    Abraham Lincoln: Welcome and thank you!

  27. Meems, what zone are you in? The "Moonlight" is for 7-11. It should work for you there. I want to try Pink Symphony & White Wing although White Wing is for Z 9-10. A tad south of me but worth the try. Also Red Ruffles & Freida Hemple- will have to research the zone for Hemple. It does like a little more sun. Have you seen any of the Thai Caladiums? Only 2 I know about---Vi Marn Mek, Ma Had Thai good for Z 9-11.

  28. lola: Sorry... didn't mean to leave you hanging for so long. I am zone 9b or 10...depending on which map you look at... I've planted all the varieties you've listed except Red Ruffle and was happy with all of them. I've not heard of or seen the Thai caladiums but you've got my curiosity up now... I will do some research. Thanks for your input... hope you are staying cool in this heat.

  29. I love your photos and your Florida garden. I have a ton of reasons for not wanting to live in Florida, even though I have lots of relatives and some friends there, but your year-round garden is one good reason to want to grow one there.

  30. I am blow away by the beauty of your property. It is obvious you respect and adore the plants. I will read your blog more regularly as I learned alot in only one reading.
    I have a question that I can't find the answer to. A landscaper allowd me to dig up caladiums this week when he changed out for fall, but they had no bulbs, only roots??????How do I store these for winter? and why???

  31. church lady: Thank you for coming by and please do come back regularly. To try to answer your question: The only time I've seen only roots on my caladiums are on the very smallest ones. I don't dig up my bulbs for winter storage but I don't think you could save the ones that have roots only. The bulbs I believe are to kept in a cool dry place.

  32. I found your blog while searching for info on Caladiums... and I must say, your gardens are stunning! =)


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