The scientific name for the fancy leaved caladium is Caladium x hortulanum. It is a member of the Araceae (Arum) family of plants and is native to South America.
Fancy leaved caladiums are treasured for their beautiful heart-shaped leaves. Their flowers are hardly even noticeable when in bloom. Caladium leaves vary in color and come in mixed shades of white, green and red, with most leaves displaying all three of these colors. If your caladium plant gets too much shade, the green color will be most dominant.
Certain varieties change color as the plants mature and some fertilizers, such as Miracle-Gro, will affect the colors of your caladium leaves. The acidity of your soil will also help to determine the color of your caladium leaves. A high acid level will cause the darker colors to be most dominant.
How to Grow a Fancy Leaf Caladium Plant
Growing fancy leaf caladium bulbs is not difficult. Fancy leaved caladiums thrive in a tropical setting and are only considered hardy in zones 9 and 10 but can be planted in other regions with a bit of extra care.
Fancy leaved caladium plants grow to be about twelve inches tall and should be planted approximately 4 to 6 inches apart, depending on the variety you’ve chosen. Larger bulbs will produce more foliage than smaller bulbs. You can make up for this by planting smaller bulbs closer together.
Plant caladium bulbs when the weather is very warm in the spring and only after all danger of frost has passed. They do best in a partially shaded area in well- draining soil.
Caladium bulbs should be planted with only two inches of rich soil above their heads. There is no way to plant your caladium bulb the wrong way, as the plant will right itself while growing unless your caladium bulb is already growing a shoot. Plant all bulbs already growing in the direction of the shoot.
Care of Fancy Leaf Caladiums
Caladium bulbs need to be kept warm and moist in order for them to germinate and grow. Water them consistently but not to the point where they are left soggy. Feed them with a light fertilizer about every six weeks during the growing season.
When it comes to caladiums, the hotter the temperature, the better, and the faster they will grow. In cooler parts of the country, caladium is treated as an annual plant, but by carefully digging up the bulbs before the first frost date in your area, you can store them and replant them the following spring when it starts to get hot again.
Make sure all the caladium foliage has died back naturally before removing your bulbs from the soil. If you cut the leaves off, be careful not to damage the bulb in any way. Keep your stored caladium bulbs over winter some place where there is good ventilation and the temperature doesn’t drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 C.).