Picture: Tom MacCubbin
One plant giving lots of color is the caladium and
it’s not for the flowers. I am sure we all know the
foliage is the most spectacular part of the caladium
plant that has history deeply rooted in Central Florida.
History says a Dr. Mead in Oviedo and Dr.
Nehrling of Gotha, Florida each played a big roll in
starting the caladium industry that produces up to 98%
of the world’s supply of caladium bulbs. Actually this
is not a true bulb but a tuber which is a compressed
stem. We call them bulbs because they are bulb-like in
growth. The caladium industry is centered in the Lake
Placid and Sebring areas and Lake Placid is the
proclaimed caladium Capital of the World.
Caladiums are so popular because they are so easy to
grow. I feel they like a filtered sun spot the best but
they can grow in shade or full sun. Some seem to burn
more in full sun especially if they do not receive
I like to grow mine in
containers so I can move them about as needed. These
tubers often stay in the same container for several
years before being separated. I start with a good
potting soil and then add the bulbs.
Now here is
a trick to get more foliage. Remove the central bud on
the bulb. Remember what we call bulbs are actually stems
and if you remove the tip bud you get more shoots or
leaves. After removing the central bud let the bulb set
and hour or so to dry the wound and then you can plant.
Then they are kept moist and fertilized monthly.
Some potting mixtures contain fertilizer so you may not
need to feed these plantings for several months. Then I
like to use a slow release fertilizer like Osmocote or
the Miracle-Gro Shake’n Feed. Just follow the
Here is something interesting. The
earlier the bulbs start to grow or the earlier you plant
them the sooner they decline in late summer or early
fall. You can sometimes get them to grow later in the
season by delaying or staggering the plantings. All do
decline during the fall months and rest until early
spring when the weather warms.
available as bulbs and plants now at garden centers.
Just are just some of the fun plants to grow. My
caladiums started growth early this spring due to the
warmer winter weather