Check Out These Pages, Too!

"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.

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.


  1. I don't have one single caladium in my garden. How'd that happen? ;0) I like the bright (light) green variety, but fear I don't have enough shade to grow 'em. Maybe on the west side of the house?

    Can't wait for the tour of the caladium growers!

  2. So glad you were able to go there and meet with my friend of 35 years, Dr Bob Hartman. Amazing place and amazing breeding to improve on the antique varieties and bring them back to their original vigor. His new breeding will benefit gardeners for generations.

  3. Meems, I never planted the caladium bulbs you gave me last summer -- when should I be planting them for maximum impact in my garden for this summer? Is it six weeks before they appear out of the ground, or six weeks till they look their best?
    - A concerned gardener looking at six more weeks of winter..

  4. Caladiums are certainly some of my favorites. I've been growing them since I was in my early 20's. Love 'em. My favorite way to plant is mixed in with amaryllis, since they *usually* leaf out after the amaryllis do their thing. Our 'Festiva' caladiums starting rising from the ground this past week. : ) Definitely not complaining about that!

  5. I'm sighing, Meems ... oh so lovely! I well remember your awesome drifts of caladiums, a feast for the eye. I am thankful my potted caladiums do well and can't fathom warm weather without them.

  6. Very beautiful these caladiums, nice colours in the garden
    My french blog is

  7. Daisy,
    There are some good varieties for sun these days. Just have to be sure you do the homework to get the right ones.

    Dr. Hartman and his employees are quality people. What they are doing with caladiums is innovative and you are right... will benefit the industry and gardeners!!

    Hi Jim,
    I saw caladiums in containers that looked really nice at some of the gardens we visited while in Buffalo. All they need is consistently warm soil to emerge from the ground. If the soil is warm they come up fast and look good fast. The six week reference was for Florida gardeners. If you are putting them in containers the soil will warm faster than the soil in the ground. For you that is probably May or June???

  8. FG,
    Your Festiva are coming up early. None here yet. With the unusually hot late-winter we are having I might have to put bulbs in the ground earlier than I planned. The earth is warming up very fast.

    It does me good to dream of summer caladiums. They are the glory of my shady garden in that warm weather season. And you are a fellow lover of container grown caladiums. I pop them into almost every existing container to complement whatever is already growing. So fun.

    Thank you.

    They are so versatile and varied. There are so many options with caladiums.

  9. As always those pictures of your summer caladiums are spectacular. I just planted some more in my shady garden. I haven't seen any of the ones from last year appearing yet but I just couldn't wait to get more in some other spots. You have inspired my caladium addiction:) I have red flash, white christmas, Carolyn Wharton and Freda Hemple. So far I've only bought from Sam's Club. Next year I'll have to branch out and order from the growers. So many more varieties to choose from!

  10. Hey Meems...Your caladium displays are beautiful. They are one of the easiest plants I've found to grow and they seem to love the Florida climate...the perfect plant for the shady garden.

  11. I too adore caladiums. Never thought of ordering them online before -- great idea and probably one that offers more choice of colors too. I once had an older caladium variety called Painter's Palette that looked like it was dotted with splotches of pink and white paint. I will see if that is available by mail order.

  12. Kay,
    Do you find the Sam's Club varieties are true to packaging. They are definitely the best deal going as far as $$$. But last year I bought a couple of boxes and my box of White Queen was all kinds of crazy mixes. :-(

    All those factors make me wonder why more people don't use them in abundance. They are just so easy packing so much punch for the dollar.

    Ordering online makes it very convenient. There are so many wonderful and new varieties these days. It's kind of hard to make choices. Painter's Palette is not one I'm familiar with but it sounds very pretty.

  13. The ones I got last year from Sam's were all true to pkg. I sure hope that's so this year! Especially since I'm holding some back to fill in if needed. (I have had that problem with amaryllis bulbs from the big box stores.)

  14. You are the Caladium Queen Meems. That was ONE of the first things I envied about your gardens when I started reading your blog. I haven't purchased Caladiums in a couple of years...might just have to after reading this.

  15. Kay,
    I have friends that have had very good fortune with Sam's boxed varieties as well.

    Go ahead and treat yourself and your garden. You have plenty of room for them and they would work so well worked into your beds.

  16. My Master Gardener Assn is taking our order for caladiums this week that we order from your great caladium growing state! I am ordering almost 1500 bulbs for myself and clients. White Queen is my all-time favorite. But I also like Miss Muffet and the Carolyn Whorton, too. I too cram those bulbs in closer together so that I can get a big show instead of a leaf here and there. I use mine mostly in pots, but do some in the garden as well. They never return here, though. How wonderful that would be!!

  17. Just wanted to say that I love your blog and have been reading over the past year or so when time permits. Excitedly last month I ordered Miss Muffet, Gingerland, Gypsy Rose and Moonlight to try in my small South Florida garden. The Gingerland have already been planted and other others will follow shortly. Meems you are an inspiration!


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway