Caladiums – February 2016 Talk by Steven Wedd
They are tropical plants grown for their colourful foliage. They are frost sensitive and go dormant in winter. Originating in South America and Central America they grow in open areas of forest and on the banks of rivers. They go dormant in the dry season. Commonly known as elephant ear they are closely related to alocasia and colocasia.
The two forms most widely cultivated are the 'fancyleaved' (heart shaped) and 'lanceleaved'.
Caladiums can be grown in pots or as specimen plants or massed in beds. If grown outdoors they prefer a sheltered spot in a semi-shaded position. They like warmth and humidity and don't like to dry out. Use a quality potting mix or add organic fertilisers. We sprinkle a 6 month slow release fertiliser on top as well. Plant 23 cm deep with 'eyes' facing up. Liquid feed for stronger plants.
Caladium bulbs can rot in a cool, wet winter. Garden plants can be dug up and stored in peat. Pot plants can be placed out of rainfall.
After a couple of years the pot may get out of shape due to the bulbs multiplying. It's time to empty it and separate the bulbs (sometimes in layers) before replanting in fresh potting mix.