Looking for bold color and pattern in your summer garden? Try caladiums.
The large heart-shaped leaves light up shady spots throughout the summer in shades of pink, red, green and white.
The solid deep red and green bring weight to an arrangement of annuals, and the brighter leaves with veins shot through in pink or green add texture.
And just when you think you’ve seen it all, caladiums show up with sprinkles of confetti, small kisses of color dotting the foliage.
How to Grow Caladiums
Caladiums are easy to grow from tubers, found in the Garden Center with summer-blooming tropical bulbs in spring.
Tuck the tubers into a container of potting mix, water regularly and fertilize every couple of weeks.
Later in spring, you will find nursery-grown caladium plants in the Garden Center. Plant these in containers or in a garden bed.
How to Plant Caladiums in a Container
- Start with a large planter, at least 18 inches wide and deep, with drainage holes in the bottom.
- Pour in an inch thick layer of small rocks.
- Add an inch or two of pine bark mulch or other well-draining filler material.
- Pour in potting mix up to within 2 inches of the rim of the container.
- Gently remove the caladium plant from its nursery pot. Shake the roots loose and trim them if they’re long. Make a well a few inches deep in the center of the planter and tuck in the caladiums.
- Add additional flowers such as begonias and petunias. Fill in with potting mix, and water the plants in.
Caladiums like filtered sun — no more than four hours a day. Some will take more sun, just be sure to check the plant tag when selecting varieties.
This is an advantage of container planting: You can move the pot in and out of the sun until you get the right amount of light.
Caladiums are not winter hardy in most of the country. If you have a knack for indoor gardening and enough light in your home, try overwintering caladiums as houseplants.
If that’s not an option, take care of the plants up until a few weeks before the first frost and then cut back the caladium foliage.
Shake the soil off the tubers and let dry. Store in a labeled paper bag in a dry place.
When it’s time to plant in late spring, bring out the bags. Toss out any tubers that appear withered or moldy. Tuck the good ones into containers of potting mix, fertilize and water, and enjoy another summer of caladiums.
Caladiums play well with other shade-tolerant annuals like begonias, impatiens, salvia and petunias. Use the bold colors of the annuals to contrast with the patterns of the caladiums. It’s like matching patterned shirts and ties.
Annual Companion Plants for Caladiums:
Perennial Companion Plants for Caladiums: