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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, August 6, 2011

To De-Eye or Not to De-Eye

When planting caladium bulbs, especially into a container, there is a procedure called de-eyeing(which you can learn more about here) that can help or "force" each bulb to produce more leaves. The finished habit turns out a slight bit shorter and remarkably more full. I experimented with de-eyeing for the first time when planting some varieties of caladium bulbs this spring.

Feeling inexperienced and a bit shy with this process I admit I was hesitant to try my hand at de-eyeing. If executed incorrectly I could dig out too much of the flesh of the bulb and damage the sprout altogether. But I was determined to give it a whirl. I used the tip of a Phillips head screwdriver to gently release and remove the central growing point or "terminal eye". It popped right off and turned out to be not as scary as imagined. Following this the bulb should be left to heal over or "cure" as disease can enter the open wound. I actually forgot about this step and held my breath that each de-eyed bulb would emerge.

In 2 containers of equal size, (5) #1 size (1.5"-2.5") bulbs were planted in each and placed in the same partially shady conditions with each receiving the exact same irrigation. The comparisons featured below speak for themselves.

Raspberry moon is a recent hybrid introduction by Dr. Bob Hartman of Classic Caladiums. It is a brightly colored lance leaf variety of chartreuse and 'raspberry'. It is sun tolerant growing from 18- 24" in height.

Above is the container planted with the bulbs that were NOT de-eyed.

And above is the container planted with the bulbs that WERE de-eyed.

Side by side visuals clearly indicate the fuller habit, more leaves, and brighter colors in the container planted with Raspberry Moon caladium bulbs that WERE de-eyed.

I'm a believer. I will take the time to de-eye caladium bulbs that are planted into containers from now on.

This whole fun experience has my curiousity up ... is this a method you've heard of or tried?

Disclosure ***Dr. Bob Hartman and Mike Woods of Classic Caladiums generously gave me (10) Raspberry Moon bulbs during my tour (which you can read about here) of their facility in February. They did not require anything in return. 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. It isn't too late to plant caladium bulbs. If you want to place an order Classic Caladiums still has a few specials being offered at great values and prices.


  1. A fascinating process. I've never heard of it before, but it definitely seems to have great results. Now if only I could get some fabulous Caladiums like yours in my part of the world! Unfortunately they're hard to find.

  2. Meems, you have the best caladium designs i've seen, they are very beautiful even the old posts showing them in the garden. I haven't heard of de-eyeing, but that is logical, because with dicots we cut the apical meristem to induce branching especially the trees coming from seedlings and not grafted. That is a very useful information, i might as well try it, as we have lots of caladiums growing voluntarily in the property. We just leave them there as they shed leaves during the dry season and come out to life again after having the first rains. Hmm, thanks for the info.

  3. Something new to try next year. I had heard of de-eyeing, but had not seen the results. Seeing the containers side by side really showed the difference.

    Thanks for sharing with us!

  4. Good morning Meems ~ I've never heard of that process either, but it sure looks like it worked. There is a huge difference in the two pots.

    I planted the caladiums you sent in containers, do I have to dig them up during the winter, even down here in s.e. FL?

    Thanks again for another great post, full of info and lovely pics.

    Have a great weekend ~ FlowerLady

  5. I've never heard of this process before, very interesting. And obviously the results speak for themselves! I will have to try this experiment myself next season. :)

  6. Looks like a lot of us will be trying this Caladium tip next year.

  7. I had read about this,but have been afraid to try it.What if I killed the poor bulb?I'll try it next year.The article I read said you should try it on older bulbs,too.

  8. Good job! Another excellent website on the de-eying technique:

    Jacksonville, FL

  9. I have heard of de-eyeing before but have never purposefully tried it, other than if I accidentally knocked an eye off when I was planting. I will have to read up on the process, but I thought you could just knock the sprout off. Do you really have to dig it out with a screwdriver? But the results are pretty remarkable, I have to admit. I'll have to try it next year. Usually what I do to get a full container is just cram the bulbs in there really close together, but with this method it looks like I could use less bulbs and get the same full look. Thanks for the info.

  10. Wow! I have heard of de-eyeing but was way too afraid to try it. Your side-by-side is very impressive. AND I now need to add Raspberry Moon to my growing list of caladiums to order next year. I saw it in ChrisC's blog post and now in yours - I'm in love. Really impressed how the raspberry came out more in the de-eyed pot.

  11. I have never heard of such a treatment. Of course around here I purchase my caladiums already potted.

  12. Meems...have read about de-eyeing caladiums but was scared to try until I read your post. I will definitely give it a go next year...the results were really stunning and looked like they were worth the effort. Thanks for great info and pictures.

  13. Never heard of it so very impressed you gave it a the results, sounds like surgery but definitely worth it!

  14. i had just read about this process a few weeks ago. i am so happy you tried it and it worked out so beautifully. i love this new variety...i know we both love red and it is lovely.
    hugs to you.

  15. Bernie,
    I would think caladiums would be easy to find in your part of the world. They would be beautiful in your garden.

    What a nice thing to say... it is very logical but not very practiced.

    Siesta Sister,
    It was just TIME to give a try and I'm so glad I did. :-)

    You do not have to dig up your caladiums but you certainly can if you want to be sure to store them and replant them. I never do it... I just wait to see if they return.

    It was certainly worth the few extra minutes of effort it took to get these great results.

    Let me know if you give it a try.

    I was afraid, too. It was an unknown and a risk but now I'm glad I did it.

    Thanks so much for additional information. I think you were the first one to tell me about de-eyeing. :-)

    It isn't really 'digging out' that much but as you actually do it you can tell when all the plant tissue is gone and the flesh of the bulb is left. That's what you want ... which forces the other "eyes" to sprout. I did exactly what you describe... cram lots of bulbs in one pot for lots of leaves. This way we can have less bulbs producing more leaves!

    Raspberry Moon is a really nice combination of color... it would look great with Blood Leaf Iresine.

    You may even have caladiums up there that came from Classic Caladiums! They ship all over the world.

    It does seem like we all were a little hesitant to try this... I'm so glad I did. I hope it helps you for next year.

    A little surgery goes a long way...

    I'm loving those colors!

  16. Meems, your caladiums are like eye candy! I had heard of that before, but never tried it. They are surprisingly hard to find here in Australia for some reason.

  17. I have read about de-eyeing before, but it's a miracle this lazy gardener even manages to get bulbs in the dirt before they shrivel up and die (haha).

    'Raspberry Moon' is quite stunning. I need to visit Classic Caladiums someday. I wonder why we do not see their bulbs or potted caladiums for sale in our local nurseries/garden centers.... Do you know of any CF retail nursery that sells them?

  18. Yes, I heard about de-eyeing when browsing caladium website. So glad that you posted side by side comparison. I will try some myself next year. Thanks!

  19. Hi Meems...My mom taught me this process awhile back. It definitely does make a difference, but it is hard to cut out the little eyes. I have read that some varieties should not be de-eyed but can't remember which ones they are. I like the raspberry caladium.

  20. I've never heard of such a thing but the difference is clearly evident. I can see why it has made a believer out of you. Beautiful display!

  21. Meems - you are a fearless pioneer in my book! Thanks for sharing your experiences, experiments and knowledge.

  22. What a great experiment, Meems! I should try that next time. Like you were at the start, I'm worried I might do more than just "de-eye". Your side by side comparison is enough incentive though.

  23. Meems: How do you store your bulbs if you don't want to plant them this early (Mid March)?

    1. Hi Jane, I just make sure they are spread out so they get air. You want to be sure they don't get too hot or too cold also. Keep them out of the sunlight.

  24. Hello! I'm a new reader and love your gardens! This year (2016) was my first trying caladiums in a large pot on a protected deck (zone 7a) and am now hooked. Forgive me if you've already answered this question, but I didn't pick up an answer in what I have already read. My question is regarding WHEN to de-eye. Do I: 1) lift, de-eye, cure and store; 2) lift, cure, de-eye, dry, store; or 3) de-eye before re-planting in the spring (with time for the wound to dry prior to planting? My guess is answer #2, as it would seem to offer less opportunity to spread disease. Or does it even matter? Thank you!

    1. In your zone you would lift, clean, dry, store and de-eye before replanting, Nancy.


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