Bring Color & Texture to Your Shade Garden with Caladiums

Bring Color & Texture to Your Shade Garden with Caladiums

North Florida is arguably the perfect area to maintain a shade garden. The large pine and Live Oak trees create a high canopy that lets through filtered light, just enough for many leafy green plants. The shade garden can be a great outdoor space of retreat in the heat of the summer; but it can also be a struggle to bring color into the shade garden, as most blooming plants need lots of sun - until you learn to utilize the humble Caladium!

Kaelin Kane

Versatility is one of the wonderful aspects of Caladiums. They can be planted in mass or as accent plants in a flower bed. Need a bold option for a container on a shaded porch? What about low-growing plants to add the finishing touch to a tropical garden? They’re perfect for adding to your flowering hanging baskets, and they mix well with ferns, too! They do not grow very large. Most varieties grow 1-2 feet tall, making them easy to mix into the landscape. Shady gardens do not have to be without color thanks to these wonderful members of the Arum plant family.

Florida Moonlight Variety

There are so many varieties of caladiums! There are two main groups, Lance-leaf (or strap leaf) and Fancy-leaf (or heart leaf) in which there are plenty of variations in colors, size and sun tolerance to choose from. Brightly colored red, pink, and white varieties are particularly desirable for a shady area.

“Florida Moonlight” is a bright white variety that will seemingly glow in the shade garden!

How to for Caladiums

Caladiums do very well in our zone – 8b, and can thrive in more tropical areas as well. Originally from tropical regions in South America, in colder climates they must be dug up every year to protect the corms from the freezing weather. In zones 8 and higher, however, they can remain in the ground throughout the winter. They will lose their foliage in the fall and stay dormant until they pop up in the Spring.

Most varieties of Caladiums don’t just tolerate shade, they prefer it! Typically, they will thrive with 2-4 hours of sunlight. Some varieties can take more sun than others, but most will have larger, more vibrant leaves when grown in the shade, rather than the sun. Good drainage and evenly moist soil is necessary to grow healthy Caladiums. Little fertilizer is required to keep them happy. Mulching around plants is a good way to keep the soil moist and slowly provide nutrients.

How to Caladium Bulbs

To plant caladium bulbs, wait until the soil has warmed to about 60-70 degrees. In North Florida, the best time to plant is typically from April through September. Plant the bulbs about 2 inches deep with the eyes of the bulbs facing up. Space plants at least 8 inches apart. If planting caladiums from already sprouted plants, simply plant the root ball at the same depth as the soil was in the pot. Once planted, just wait in anticipation for your caladiums to pop up and bring some stunning color and texture to your garden!

Extra Planting Tip!

Most caladium bulbs have one or more dominant eyes. If these dominant eyes are removed, the plants will have more leaves and will be somewhat shorter and fuller. To de-eye a caladium bulb, carefully use a sharp, clean knife and dig out the terminal buds or "eyes". Be cautious not to cut deeper than 1/8 of an inch. While not necessary to grow caladiums, de-eyeing is a simple practice that can be beneficial if you prefer stockier, fuller plants.

For more information on growing Caladiums in North Florida visit: gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/caladiums.html



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