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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.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Perk Up Container Plants with Caladiums

Freida Hemple Caladiums with blazing red centers and a bright green border are striking in the summer heat.

Container plants are a creative way to express your gardening design imaginings. They are like mini-gardens within the garden. When creating them I kind of think of them the same as I do fresh floral arrangements only with roots and placed into soil instead of water.

Planter on back porch with Freida Hemple Caladium, variegated Liriope, Boston Fern and Palm.

In Florida our container plants flourish year round much like the rest of our garden. The Freida Hemple Caladiums above were planted over 5 years ago. They just keep coming back year after year. The fern seeded itself from my neighbor's massive planting of them. NTS: need to pull it out before it takes over.
White Queen and Red Flash Caladiums planted in a container (to the left in the photo above) raise up a level higher than the same Caladiums planted in the ground surrounding the container. Creeping Jenny and Purple Queen are spilling over the bottom of the container (14" container not visible).

If you have been reading this blog for any time at all you'll probably remember how this gardener is a big fan of placing container plants right smack in the middle of the rest of the vegetation in the garden. At times I like to blend them in the planting beds with like plants. Other times I'll use them as a contrasting mini-garden.

A closer view and a more straight forward angle ... notice the pot is hidden by the border of variegated liriope.

Click to enlarge any photo**
Behind that pot and situated in the center of White Queen and Red Flash Caladiums planted in the ground is a 16" pot with Cordyline 'Red Sister', Bloodleaf Iresine, Jewel of Opar Talinum paniculatum, Angel Wing Begonia, and White Queen Caladiums.

In the same planting bed but on the other side and next to a walk-through path is a container with Scarlet Pimpernel Caladiums (visible in the foreground of the above photo). It is grouped with self-seeded Impatiens that I love to hate. They grow like weeds and add spots of color around here but they are too thirsty for my liking.

My all-time favorite cultivar is 'Miss Muffet'. She has lime green, small to medium leaves, with strikingly contrasting deep magenta freckles and veins. She brightens up the scenery wherever she is planted. And she's been given much ground here at Hoe and Shovel.

It's so easy to bury a few bulbs in existing container plants no matter what is already growing in them. During the summer Caladiums add a bright and cheery element to almost any of the already crowded mini-gardens.

An absolute benefit of container plants is their move-ability (yeah- that's not a word). Until last month the pot, shown above, was in the vegetable garden. When it got too hot, causing it to droop daily, it was moved to a shady spot at the corner of the pathway and across from the Pagoda Flower. Whew... now it only needs to be watered every other day... what a break! :-)

The White Queen Caladiums above are shading the impatiens below in a container positioned in an empty spot between variegated Shell Ginger and Bromeliads.

Another angle reveals its place next to the flagstone pathway that curves its way through the large planting bed.

This year I tried a variety called Gingerland Caladiums. Never having seen them in person they intrigued me with their creamy background, deep green edges and rosy-red colored spots. I've got mixed reviews about this one. It's not that I don't like it. It's just that I don't really like it. Maybe it is too similar to my favorite Miss Muffet. Similar but ... not as pretty and not as distinct in its coloring. The Miss Muffet blends in better with her neighbors in my opinion.
Not knowing how I'd like Gingerland, I only ordered 20 of them. All of them went into containers and none in the ground.
Even though I know they'll return in the pots they're planted in now, at this writing, I'm inclined to say I probably won't order them again. But I've enjoyed experimenting with them this year.
There are six container plants situated in the above planting bed. Since the overly crowded plants spill over the pots and the plants in the ground squeeze into each other, the actual containers are not even visible. The effect is the tropical lushness we are trying to acheive in all our beds.

With over 50 container pots at Hoe and Shovel, you can see why it takes me way too much time dragging the hose around to each of them when we are lacking rainfall. (Like this week... sigh).

Even if Caladiums are not the main focus in some containers they make a nice accent. In the front bed is one of my favorite container gardens (above center). It is a shallow 38 inch bowl located in one of the front planting beds. Choosing to plant in the 12 inch deep pot rather than in the ground elevates the grouping and creates a garden, that can be micro managed, within the garden.

Alocasia Plumbea 'Nigra' is the beloved Taro towering in the center of the pot. (I love that plant). The Alocasia is accompanied by Lemon Lime Draceana (to the left), Lotus Begonia (in front), Anthurium (not visible), Persian Shield (in back), (self-seeded) Impatiens that I consistently pull out (water hogs), and White Queen Caladium squeezed in for a quick hint of summer brightness.

So dig some holes in your soil and pop in a few caladiums to make any container plant come alive. It works for me.
Happy summer dear readers,


  1. This week I have learned that my parents have not seen rain since May! On a completely different note, I think I may go ahead and plant some caladiums in my yard and just see how they do.

  2. Oh Meems... I love Caladiums. I have never seen that many varieties before. To me, they are the most beautiful plants in your yard right now... LOVE them!!!!! WOW!!!


  3. Hey, sweet thang! Do you have an ACE hardware nearby? I know they don't always have the same sales, but it might be worth a look. I just picked up a trunkload of plants for a quarter each! Granted most probably won't last the winter, but they sure look nice for now. I think my favourites were the coleus and begonias. At least the begonias can live inside. And DS's lantanas... well, we couldn't kill those if we tried, lol!

    Have a JESUS-filled day! ^i^

  4. I love the Gingerland caladiums,but it is hard to find things that look good with them,for some reason.So mine are in pots all by themselves.

  5. mjm,
    Yikes... a dry Texas summer. Yay... you're gonna give caladiums a go... My suggestion would be to put them in a container where the soil and moisture can be controlled a little better... can't wait to see.

    I think I love them too... can you tell? They are certainly the most prominent plant in the garden right now ... helping me get through this miserable humidity. Hugs to you.

    I LOVE Ace Hardware Stores. There used to be one right down the street several blocks... a loooong time ago. Now the closest one is miles away. They always have such great things.

    Hopefully I am all spent out on new plant purchases. Although I did find a great deal on ground orchids this week at Home Depot and couldn't resist. And the same story just goes on and on...

    My opinion: they are too busy. Each marking is distinct and so they are able to stand alone. Only I like to mix things together. Gingerland would look really good with Bloodleaf Iresine but I didn't know that when I planted them with the coleus that are equally as attention-getting as the Gingerland.
    File:Lessons learned.

  6. Just beautiful my friend. I so like what you say about the versatility of pots especially in our climate. I was just thinking about what to put in with the Miss Muffetts and now I know what to do with my new Taro. I have definitely turned into a caladium lover thanks to you. Keep inspiring us dear Meems!


  7. Your Caladiums are really eye-catching in the garden beds. I like the way you've combined them with your other plants. Your containers are so integrated, I wouldn't have known they weren't in the ground from your photos. I especially like Scarlet Pimpernel.

  8. meems,

    i had no idea you had so many containers...and i have been there looking. wow. we have had more than our share of rain...i wish i could send soome your way. i love not having to water...although i am not sure what the negative effect might be...other than some things are not meant to have wet feet. the tomato plants for example are still producing but they don't look pretty at all.
    i posted about caladiums too but i only have the one that i know they work in containers i will definitely add more. yours are such beautiful features in your gardens. i can see how it would become addicting. are you ready for august...the heat...whew!
    love you.

  9. Oooo those ar beautiful !


  10. Florida Sue,
    Nothing could be easier than caladiums in our climate. I look out my kitchen window to so much cheer and heart shaped faces looking back at me. A wonderful summer plant.

    Northern Shade,
    The Scarlet Pimpernel are especially nice in container plants. Most of the ones you see have been in the ground for lots of years and they just keep returning faithfully.

    I had no idea either until I started counting. Scary isn't it? Or maybe lunatic... it is a lot of watering. I remember last summer all the TN bloggers were talking about how very dry it was up there. I have to think rain is better overall. But like you say, some things don't like it. Ready as I'm gonna be for August. I don't think it's too much different than July... these are definitely the two hardest months on the garden. It sure is fun to swim in the pool at night though... just keeping it positive. :-)

    Thank you.

  11. Meems, that Freida is a real beauty! Wow! I must look around and try to find one somewhere. What a lot of varieties you grow!

  12. I fully agree about the Caladiums. I have a window box that is in a very shaded area and Caladiiums work so well there. I love looking at the leaves from inside the house with the little bit of sun that shines through them making them look like stained glass. You have so many more varieties to choose from than I do. I enjoy them anyway.

  13. Sunita,
    I stated that the Freida had been coming back in that pot for over 5 years... I found some photos from 9 years ago... pretty amazing considering the small amount of soil in that pot for so many plants. I do love that red!

    Oh, I love the way the sun shines through the leaves and all those veins and spots look like stained glass. I do admire your window box and I'm so glad you've grown caladiums successfully in it. Encouragement for other northern gardeners to try these beauties.

  14. Always a delight to come and see your caladiums, Meems. You have the most amazing collection! And what a great idea to plant them in pots and move part of your 'landscape' around:)Beautiful!

  15. Kanak,
    Great to see you! I've been so busy with the garden it is hard to get 'around the world' like I'd like to sometimes. LOL

    Moving the containers around works really well when the seasons change too. As the sun moves - so do some of the containers.


Have a blessed day,

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