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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.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Not Too Late to Plant Caladiums in Florida

Every year it is sort-of challenging (fun, but challenging) to choose between all the many varieties of caladium bulbs available.

Then there's those all-important design decisions about where to plant them to best complement plants already established in the garden. These days there are myriads of choices of caladium cultivars. There are over 2000 named varieties. So many heights, colors, patterns, shapes... it is likely to make your head spin.

Over the years I've narrowed down my selections to a few preferred-picks. I tend to stick with these same ones over and over again. I guess you could say they are my favorites. For the most part I plant them en masse for continuity and an easy flow as the eye absorbs any one area of the garden.

You may or may not know this from past blog posts so it bears repeating; I typically wait until the end of May or June (and even later) to plant my (spring-ordered) caladium bulbs. Doing it this way means the soil has warmed to the appropriate requirement for caladiums as our night temperatures are steadily in the 70's. It also gives the bulbs left in the ground (from past seasons) time to sprout. Waiting to let existing caladiums sprout first gives me a good indication of where they are and how many have returned. Which in turn shows me where I want to plant MORE.

This spring I'm breaking out of my (caladium) box of planting the same familiar varieties. Not only have I ordered my favorites but this year I was gifted additionally with several new varieties by the fine team at Classic Caladiums. What a nice surprise that was. This past week I've been fervently siting these new-to-me bulbs and having lots of fun imagining the outcome.

I've carefully planned out where their new homes are as I'm keeping track of them on a spreadsheet. I've marked them as they go in the ground with labels so I can note their habits and performance in my garden. That will make it easier to determine which ones I like best. They should really start putting on a show in the next few weeks and ... here's just one thing I ADORE about caladiums ... they will last through the long hot, humid days of summer.

Speaking of Classic Caladiums, you can read more about their operation and the good work they are doing to rejuvenate caladium varieties here.

Also in case you are interested... they are offering some great specials on caladiums on their website this week. It's NOT TOO LATE to plant caladiums in Florida.

They are offering some good deals on mixed packages and some special packages. I just ordered 100 more of the mixed whites like shown above. Plant white in shady spots as they really stand out next to all the darker foliage.

Abundant writings extolling the virtues of caladiums in the Florida garden have been posted here. And there will be more to come as the season progresses.

As I wait for the **big show** of caladiums to pop out of the ground here are some descriptions and habits of my top choices that might be helpful to my fellow Florida gardeners.

Or if you garden elsewhere caladiums do very well during the warm summer months. They make great additions to almost any container plant, too.

Here we go:
White Queen (third photo from top) is one of my top two picks. The crisp white background (although it can emerge more pink or even red) with magenta veining creates a striking contrast against the foliage under my shady oak trees. While it contrasts well it doesn't 'fight' with all the other textures, forms, and hues that crowd around them.
~~Medium fancy leaf
~~12-18" tall
~~Suggest #1 or Jumbo bulbs for best show
~~Sun tolerant but (for me) does better in partial sun (or shade)

Miss Muffett
This one is tops on my list for its lime green background and random, deep magenta speckles. As busy as the pattern appears it blends well with almost any combination of plants.
~~ Strap leaf small to medium
~~12-18" tall
~~Sun tolerant but I find does better in filtered sun

Carolyn Whorton
Typically I don't lean toward the pink varieties but this one has a red central veining that makes the difference for me. I haven't planted this one in a few years but it remains one that I like.
~~Medium Fancy Leaf
~~18-24" tall (good for medium level in lush planting)
~~Does best in partial sunlight/dappled shade

One of the rare pinks in my garden. Classic Caladiums has bred a better variety that has the same habits by the name of Roseglow. I'll pass on the information on Roseglow rather than the weaker variety of Rosebud shown above. (I've planted Roseglow this year that will emerge in a couple of weeks).
~~Fancy leaf hybrid
~~12-18" tall
~~Sun tolerant

White Wing
This one has been a favorite for years along with Aaron (detailed later) as a sturdy white variety for use in my sunniest gardens. This one is supposed to do well in lots of sun but I never tested it for that. I adore the subtle, blushing central vein and the shape of the leaf.
~~Small to Medium Strap Leaf
~~12-18" tall (I find it stays on the shorter side)
~~Sun (In my garden it does well in partial sun)

Red Flash (photos labeled throughout post)
One of the largest caladiums I've ever grown. It works really well in the background with another layer of caladiums or plants in front. I'm a fan! Very tropical appearing (arent' they all!).
I really like this one paired with Scarlet Pimpernel (which I can't seem to find anymore) but it is shown in the 4th photo.
~~Large to XL Fancy Leaf
~~18-30" tall
~~Sun or filtered sun. (I noticed a few of mine burned last year in 3 hours of midday sun but never do I have a problem with them in filtered sun.)

Aaron (photo featured above)
Love this one again for the pure white leaf and green margins with the subtle red line where the heart-shape meets the petiole.
~~Medium fancy leaf
~~12-24" tall
~~Supposedly sun tolerant but I've only planted in filtered sunlight and it thrives there.

Gingerland (photo featured above)
A new variety a few years ago (probably more than I'm recalling). I know I'm writing about favorites but I have to say, this one did not turn out to be a favorite. It performed well enough but the color combination was not favorable. The creamy background with the less-than-bright spots appeared at its best when planted alone in containers or with a greyish-green foliage complementary plant. It was decided to stick with Miss Muffetts for their bright and cheery coloration.
~~Dwarf Variety fancy leaf
~~8-14" tall
~~Sun tolerant (mine were always in filtered light so I cannot attest to claim of sun tolerance).

In general:I suggest ordering #1 size bulb or larger. It didn't use to matter to me but now that is what I prefer. #2 would be the smallest I would order.

Sun tolerant caladiums are just that... tolerant. Unless you are diligent to keep them watered it is going to be difficult to keep caladiums in several hours of sunshine in Florida. Morning sun or late evening sun works well. I would avoid midday sun unless a drip system is installed.

Do you have a favorite variety you plant each year?

** Classic Caladiums provided me with some varieties of caladium bulbs to plant in my garden. They have not asked me to write a review or paid me for any services. Words of praise for their company and the good work they are doing are my own and I can say with all sincerity they are from my heart.

***All photos in this post were taken by me in my garden except for the Classic Caladiums tractor which I took while on site at Classic Caladiums Farm. Photos shown are not all current views (many are past views) used here for illustration purposes


  1. Meems, I always love your caladium reason is because you take the most beautiful pictures of your caladiums.

    You ordered another 100? Is that on top of the 700 that you are in the process of planting? It will be like Caladium Heaven!!!

    Do they usually get bigger every year? Seems like my old ones are larger than they were last year.


  2. Love these caladiums Meems. I didn't get any planted this year. The spring was too cold and wet. Now it is too hot and dry. Just not my year for them. The one in the first picture looks like a fancy elephant ear.

  3. I'm afraid I don't have enough shade for these beauties to do well. Enjoy yours!

  4. I loved those pictures of caladiums! This plants looks wonderful. Everything looks so fresh and perfect.

  5. Just beautiful Meems. I always look forward to your postings with your beautiful Caladiums in them. The Gingerland is a stunner.

  6. Siesta Sister,
    Caladium heaven sounds good ~~ I may borrow that for a post title. :-) I ordered the extra 100 Tuesday and got them Thursday... so they are included. Many of mine did not come back this year. It is my fault for all the digging around I do. Also I've found that if I mulch too heavily on top of them they don't emerge as well the next season. On the other hand in some places where I don't interfere they return every year. I have found that sometimes as the bulbs grows larger underground the plants will sprout bigger the next year. It may have to do with the variety as well.

    The one you refer to is a very large leaf which DOES indeed look similar to an elephant ear in some cases. I think you still have time to put some caladiums in a container... go ahead and give it a try.

    If you love them and just can't live without them (like me) you could always put them in a container and place them in a brightly covered area(the front door or maybe a back porch)!!

    They are a perfect plant for our hot and HUMID summers. Thank you.

    Do you ever grow them up there in the north? The Gingerland does look good all by itself. It doesn't mix as well with other patterns I find.

  7. O Meems, I love it when you do a post on your caladiums. I especially love those mixed whites. We dont get such a variety here in Australia, and here they seem to be year round. I might have a look at mail order catalogues an see if I can get some special varieties in for our wet season though.

  8. Thanks for the great blog Meems. Daisy, we are actively breeding and evaluating caladiums for full sun tolerance. The recent introductions White Pearl, Rosemary, White Diamond and Candyland performed well in this year's full sun trials at Disney. Our web site, has an article on sun tolerance which lists other full sun tolerant varieites. The key to sun tolerance is to choose the right varieties and be sure they are irrigated regularly. In FL usually the east or north sides of houses tend to be cooler and can often be used to grow caladiums when no shade is available for more sun sensitive varieties. Bob

  9. Meems, I am sitting on pins and needles, cant wait to see how beautiful they will turn out. I am very interested in moonlight. I have a straigt area at school with nothing planted in the area. Would you plant in a straight line? Janis

  10. Thanks, Meems. The few I put in last year are up again and I have added a few this year, but I would love more. I thought it was past time for them, so am happy to know that I can still put more in.

  11. africanaussie,
    Oh, how I would to be able to see caladiums year round. I hope you can find a resource to order some of your favorites.

    Dr. Bob,
    You've made my day! Thank you for the great advice!

    You probably already know what I'm going to say. :-) I would figure out a way to break up a straight line of 'anything'. Even if it meant adding some caladiums in containers to raise the height of some of them... just so your foliage is not all lined up like obedient soldiers. :-) Send me a photo of the area... we'll come up with something.

    You can plant as late in the summer as you like. As long as the soil temp is warm. Warm nights are the key.


Have a blessed day,

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