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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, October 29, 2011

Caladiums Are Not All Created Equal

Lush foliage of caladiums has been filling the nooks and crannies of the garden since spring. That's when the soil warms and bulbs left in the ground from last year begin to sprout. I know you know this ... but it is October. Late October.

Are you as surprised (and excited) as I am that the caladiums in the front garden are still this perky? 'White Wonder' was first planted in the ground in May. They are located close to the street and in the sunnier part of the garden.

You're probably wondering about the 'Red Flash' next to them. They are looking pretty good, too, but weren't planted until July. That's why I plant later in the summer; making attempts to stretch out the growing season. 'Red Flash' has a relatively short crop time.

That's the story with the center container in the circle garden. 'Miss Muffett' and 'Florida Fantasy' were planted here in the midst of existing pentas (also ivy, vinca, blue daze) in the middle of August.

You must know I am overjoyed at the performance of all these caladium varieties that came from Classic Caladiums in Florida.

Ahhh... this is a lovely view. These are growing in the fields of Classic Caladiums farms. Rows and rows of 'Sweetheart' variety in production fields can take a girls' breath away.

(Photo taken with my cell phone)
A few weeks ago I trekked (well, I drove if we are being technical) across a few counties East and South to visit with the good folks at Classic Cladiums once again. It was a stellar morning on long, quiet roads before sun-up.
I always learn so much with each visit there. This beautiful day Dr. Hartman, the President and CEO of Classic Caladiums along with Mike Woods (warehouse manager) and I drove around each of the fields as they explained various aspects of the excellent work they are doing there. We discussed sustainability, biological controls, alternative fumigants, crop rotation, and breeding. Every tidbit of valuable information filling my little ears with more and more love for these plants. It was a day to hold dear. We spent the majority of our time in the 'trial' fields.

When I have the chance to be out in the wide-open spaces it DOES gets my blood pumping.

There is something about farmland and the equipment it requires and acres of growing fields that engages every part of me all at once. I'm pretty sure I was supposed to be a farmer ~~ but somehow as life would have it ~~ I ended up a city girl.
Oh, the faces of these fanciful heart-shaped beauties do make my heart pound. I surely hope you've discovered the numerous useful ways caladiums can fire up your gardens by now. These lively foliage plants will add so much color and easy-maintenance texture to your summer no matter where you live!

Dr. Hartman eagerly and passionately shares his remarkable wealth of knowledge and love for these plants. We walked through row after row of newly cultivated hybrids in the trial fields. There are 1200+ varieties in the breeding process; each being closely monitored by Dr. Hartman. He keeps tedious notes on each one throughout the growing season evaluating them for qualities like disease susceptibility, beauty, and yield.

According to Dr. Hartman this method provides a variety of environments for close observation and scrutiny and lasts for 4-6 years. Out of 300-400 of these possible new introductions added each year to the program only 3-6 new hybrid selections prove worthy to be introduced for sale to the industry each year.

New breeding under the watchful eye and expertise of Dr. Hartman sets Classic Caladiums apart in the industry. Pretty new faces with and without freckles, windows and transluscents within the leaf, intense colors, brand-new colors, tall and short stems, small and large leaves, frilly edges, puckering texture, bright and subdued hues, wide leaves, ribbon leaves and every other intriguing trait is possible. Some we have already seen introduced and so many yet to see on the market in the future.

As home gardeners it is extremely promising for us. Better choices. Better genetics. Better quality. Caladiums produced by Classic Caladiums offer longer lasting beauty (as is the case with 'White Wonder') and healthier specimens in our gardens.

Classic Caladiums will begin taking pre-orders for 2012 in November 2011.

***Dr. Bob Hartman and Mike Woods have generously provided me with numerous caladium bulbs to test in my garden. I was not asked or required to write about them. 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.


  1. What a wonderful excursion to Classic Caladiums. To walk those fields of caladiums would set my heart to pitter pattering a bit faster. They are all so lovely.

    My sweet Miss Muffits are starting to fade away, but I sure enjoyed them while they were growing their little hearts out. I look forward to seeing them again next year.

    Have a lovely weekend Meems.


  2. FlowerLady,
    I'm so happy you fell in love with Miss Muffett. Most of mine are fading, too. We'll look forward to her appearance next spring with great anticipation.

    Enjoy your weekend... hope you got some of this beautiful rain down there in the south.

  3. how wonderful for you to get to plant new bulbs to see how they will perform. it's what you love and now you are be blessed with even more of them to enjoy. we had our first frost this morning and i have yet to survey the damages. alas, winter is coming on fast, to fast.

    happy october dear sis.

  4. You are a lucky lady to get to experiment. I love caladiums but I don't like having to try to save them from year to year. Here of courese we have to dig them up etc. They always rot or don't do as well the following year. Hence I will enjoy them from afar.

  5. Florida gardening and caladiums go hand and hand, they add so much to our garden beds. In my garden I only have some moonlight left from Spring still looking good.Many of my Fall blooming plants are getting started, cant wait. Have a great weekend Meems.

  6. Because of your marvelous pictures and posts, I too have found the joy of caladiums. Yes, they are still thriving because I planted some late.

  7. Meems, what a treat to visit Classic Caladiums! I wonder what this farm looks like from the air? Must be breathtaking. How exciting to test new bulbs in your own spaces! I'm looking forward to seeing how they perform. Your gardens look spectacular, as always. They (and you) inspire me!

  8. WOW!! Wonderful pictures. You have been so helpful with info on caladiums. My daughter-in-law planted moonglow this summer and it really does it's name proud. they are still beautiful and really stand out. I must get some for myself.

  9. What a great post.

    I have just recently fallen in love with Caladiums but really don't know much about them. I DID NOT know they were bulb plants.

    I was sad to walk out our front door the other day and see the whole ring of caladiums we had planted around the base of the tree GONE.

    Do squirrels eat these?? I mean I can't find ANYTHING left of them. It's crazy!

    Definitely going to check out the web site.

  10. Wow. I love caladiums and am amazed that mine are still happy as clams in the garden. Those photos of the nursery are just fabulous! It must have been a rush to stand there in the middle of all that!

  11. Marmee,
    It was a load of fun having new varieties this spring. It forced me out of my comfort zone with the old stand-bys. Now I know the newer cultivars are performing better for me.

    It would be troublesome to dig up the hundreds of bulbs I plant. It just so happens caladiums love our humidity and warmth so it is an easy-peasy plant down here. You have some beauties I long for in your climate that I can't grow here. It's always the way isn't it!

    Moonlight is a beauty and does so well in your shady areas. I've a few strays hanging on but not many. Ejoy your week.

  12. Aunt Diane,
    Caladiums are must if you live in FL. I'm so glad you see the joy and relaxed nature of these marvelous foliage plants, too. Plant late... enjoy longer. Too easy. :-)

    Thanks, Kimberly... It has been a great experience for me to have the privilege of seeing the production of caladiums up close. Classic has done a remarkable work and will continue to further the industry that could have been greatly diminished if their breeding wasn't a part of the culture. I'm excited to see what else they come up with each season.

    Wondering Gardener,
    I'm learning, too... every visit a little more information soaks in and increases my love for caladiums. Moonlight is a bright spot in the shady garden. Yes, get thee some Moonlight! :-)

  13. Housewife,
    I've never had a problem with squirrels eating my caladiums. And we have LOADS of squirrels. Do you ever see deer around your property?

    You had such a dry summer... I'm glad to know your caladiums did well anyway. It is indescribable to stand there among all that beauty!

  14. Those fields of caladiums are spectacular. I'm always amazed to see them out in the full Florida sun. I know you thoroughly enjoyed your visit.

  15. Under the oaks, caladiums are a wonderful way to add color. You have me wanting to order some of those varieties not found in the local stores.

  16. Those scenes are breathtaking, Meems. I can totally understand your enthusiasm. I wonder if you can get the good doctor to work on frost tolerance. Maybe someday we northerners will be able to keep them in the ground all year. Until there is always your blog photos!

  17. Hi Meems, i am a Caladium lover too, but i don't buy them. We just content ourselves with old varieties, which has been on the ground for decades. Our newest though is also beautiful and looks like the dark pink first photo at the Classic Caladium. But each one of them is perfect. My only dislike of them in our property is their ability to scatter around, and now there are volunteers sprouting just anywhere. Gardeners without much time and space are constrained by this Caladium habit. I love those new Thai hybrids but expensive here yet.


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