Tips For Growing Fancy Leaf Caladiums

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Fancy leaf caladiums are a great addition to the often all-too-green shade garden. With well over a dozen cultivars, ranging from white through pink to deep, dark red with contrasting edges and veins, fancy leaf caladium bulbs offer enough variety to satisfy the fussiest gardener.

About Fancy Leaf Caladiums

These caladiums, as with others, can be used as single specimen accents or planted in groups for a dramatic-looking tropical display. The 12 to 30 inch (31-76 cm.) heart shaped leaves will retain their color throughout the summer and into the early fall if treated properly. Before you decide to grow fancy leaf caladiums though, there are a few things you should know about them and their care.

Fancy leaf caladiums or Caladium x hortulanum originated in Peru and around the Amazon Basin in Brazil. Outside of the tropic zones they are usually grown as warm weather annuals. In northern climes, they’re used both as bedding and potted plants for display in the garden or on the porch.

In the spring, you can buy these gorgeous plants full grown from the nursery or florist, but it’s much more economical and, in this gardener’s opinion, much more fun to grow fancy leaf caladium bulbs on your own.

Planting Fancy Leaf Caladiums

With such lush tropical results, you might think these beauties were difficult to grow. In fact, it’s easy to grow fancy leaf caladiums once you know how.

The tubers can be found in nurseries and garden centers or on several internet sites that specialize in the species. Tubers come in four sizes:

  • Mammoth- 3 ½ inches (9 cm.) or larger
  • Jumbo- 2 ½ to 3 ½ inches (6-9 cm.)
  • No.1- 1 ¾ to 2 ½ inches (4.5-6 cm.)
  • No.2-1 ¼ to 1 ¾ inches (3-4.5 cm.)

The larger the tuber, the larger the number and size of the leaves.

Regardless of size, each tuber has a larger central bud surrounded by two or more secondary buds. Now here’s the thing that makes new growers wince. Take a sharp knife and cut out the large central bud from your fancy leaf caladium bulbs before you plant them. This will encourage the growth of the secondary buds and give you a fuller but just as colorful plant.

Fancy leaf caladiums require loose, slightly acidic soil for good root growth and are heavy feeders. Before planting, dig in plenty of peat or pine bark to take care of the first two requirements and add a good dose (1 tbs/plant) of 10-10-10 fertilizer. Follow that with a 5-10-10 or similarly heavy potash and potassium fertilizer every four weeks until fall. Plant your tubers 2 to 8 inches (5-20 cm.) apart, depending on size.

A fancy leaf caladium’s tubers need warm, about 70 degree F. (21 C.) soil to grow. If the soil is too cool, the bulbs tend to rot. Therefore, many growers choose to start their tubers indoors in shallow pots or flats filled with peat moss or light potting soil. Place the tuber bumpy side up and cover with about 2 inches (5 cm.) of soil.

Be patient, as it will take three to six weeks for leaves to emerge. The bulbs can be moved outdoors anytime thereafter as long as the outdoor soil is warm.

Water well and make sure the ground never becomes too hard and dry during the season. Water thoroughly when the soil is dry to the touch.

Fancy leaf caladiums are perfect for those heavily shaded areas of your yard and their bright colors and broad leaves offer a perfect complement to ferns and hostas. If you must plant them in an area of direct sun, make sure it’s the gentle morning kind. Keep them well watered and fertilized and they will reward you with a colorful tropical treat.

1. Aaron Caladium

Height & Spread: 12-18 inches

This fancy-leaved cultivar has a white center and veins, with deep green margins. It can withstand the sun to a certain extent. Also available in red and pink shades.

2. Carolyn Whorton

Height & Spread: 18-30 inches

The fantastic looking foliage of this cultivar has pink hues with bright red veins and margins in green color. It can tolerate some sunlight.

3. Candidum

Height & Spread: 12-24 inches

Candidum is another fancy-leaved cultivar with medium to large white and green-veined leaves. This variety can tolerate more sun as compared to other caladiums.

4. Candidum Junior

Height & Spread: 12-16 & 11-14 inches

This is a strap or lance-leaved cultivar with large foliage. The elegant white leaves are patterned in dark green veins.

5. Fannie Munson

Height & Spread: 18-30 inches

It comes in shades of pink with red-hued veins and green margins. Leaves are large to extra-large in size.

6. Freida Hemple

Height & Spread: 12-24 inches

Another fancy-leaved cultivar, it shows off medium to large leaves with a dark red center, having light green smudges and green margins.

7. Florida Sweetheart

Height & Spread: 6-12 inches

This strap-leaved variety has broad and small-sized leaves with a pink-red center having green ruffled edges.

8. Gingerland

Height & Spread: 8-14 inches

This strap-leaf caladium variety has creamy-white small to medium-sized heart-shaped leaves adorned in green margins. The foliage is beautifully designed in pink or red splotches.

9. June Bride

Height & Spread: 12-24 inches

The pure white leaves of this plant have delicate green veins. It grows best in partial shade.

10. Miss Muffett

Height & Spread: 10-14 inches

It features small-shaped lime-green to chartreuse hued leaves flecked with maroon or deep red and usually, red veins—a good option for indoor gardens.

11. Pink Beauty

Height & Spread: 12-24 inches

This variety has dramatic foliage with medium to large green leaves, having pink splotches and red veins.

12. Pink Gem

Height & Spread: 6-12 inches

It is a strap-leaved cultivar showcasing pink center, green margins, and white streak between veins. This variety can tolerate some amount of sun.

13. Pink Symphony

Height & Spread: 15 inches

This beautiful strap-leaved cultivar has graceful pink leaves with deep green veins. It can withstand some amount of sun exposure too.

14. Postman Joyner

Height & Spread: 12-24 inches

‘Postman Joyner’ is also a strap-leaved variety with medium to large-sized leaves and a wide red center running through the medium green margins.

15. Red Flash

Height & Spread: 18-30 inches

Red Flash has striking dark large to extra large red leaves, embellished with pink spots and wide, dark green edges.

16. Red Frill

Height & Spread: 6-12 inches

As the name suggests, its red shading leaves are very frilly with green tips and edges. The plant cannot tolerate sunlight.

17. Rosebud

Height & Spread: 12-24 inches

A fancy-leaved variety, ‘Rosebud’ features beautiful large leaves with a pink center, surrounded by white splotches and green margins.

18. White Christmas

Height & Spread: 12-24 inches

The bright white leaves of this fancy variety are patterned with dark green veins and edges. It cannot tolerate bright, direct light.

19. White Queen

Height & Spread: 12-24 inches

It’s one more outstanding cultivar with elegant white leaves textured with thin green and bold red veins!

20. White Wing

Height & Spread: 18 inches

A strap-leaved variety, the small white-colored leaves have curly green stiped-edges and can stand bright light to some extent.

21. Apple Blossom

Height & Spread: 18-24 inches

The leaves of this stunning plant feature pink centers with prominent pink veins and green margins. The slightly frilly foliage can tolerate 4-6 hours of sunlight.

22. Blushing Bride

Height & Spread: 10-12 inches

Exclusive strap pink cultivar, it displays bright dark pink splotches, green borders on heart-shaped leaves. The veins become whiter depending on the growing conditions.

23. Candyland

Height & Spread: 12-18 inches

It has slightly ruffled green edged leaves with pink blotches and white-pink veins. This cultivar thrives well in both full sun to full shade.

24. Party Punch

Height & Spread: 18-24 inches

A fancy-leaf pink cultivar, it offers beautiful green leaves with deep pink veins and white spots.

25. Peppermint

Height & Spread: 18-24 inches

This white strap cultivar displays a deep pink center with light-pink spots and bright green borders.

26. Radiance

Height & Spread: 12-18 inches

It is a recently introduced variety with glossy green-edged leaves, deep pink veins, and pink splotches. It develops a deep crimson blush with maturity.

27. Splash of Wine

Height & Spread: 12-14 inches

The white-pink leaves have deep green veins and cranberry-red splotches, which makes it one of the most striking patterned caladiums.

28. Starburst

Height & Spread: 12-18 inches

‘Starburst’ is a beautiful strap pink cultivar with white veins that contrast amazingly with pink smudge and green margins.

29. Sweetheart

Height & Spread: 12-18 inches

Sweetheart offers bright and strong pink heart-shaped leaves. It prefers full to partial sun and looks great in hanging baskets and pots.

30. Tickle Me Pink

Height & Spread: 12-14 inches

It has a clean pink shade with a mottled white area at the center and green borders. It can withstand both sun and shade.

31. Bombshell

Height & Spread: 12-18 inches

With very attractive foliage that displays red centers surrounded by white smudges and blue-green edges. It can be a great addition to your home!

32. Dawn to Dusk

Height & Spread: 15-20 inches

It features slightly ruffled green leaves with irregular white veins and deep pink blotches that look more like a maroon shade.

33. Freckles

Height & Spread: 12- 18 inches

This full sun tolerant caladium has dark green leaves patterned with pink splotches and can be a great addition to planters and containers.

34. Heart’s Delight

Height & Spread: 12-14 inches

The large, light green leaves of this variety have pink middle veins and white spots. It does well in both sun and shade.

35. Lemon Blush

Height & Spread: 18-24 inches

Lemon Blush features rose-red center and wide chartreuse borders. It can be an outstanding border plant too!

36. Raspberry Moon

Height & Spread: 18-24 inches

The plant showcases light green to yellow foliage covered with dark green and raspberry pink to red blotches.

37. Mesmerized

Height & Spread: 15-20 inches

This fancy leaf cultivar creates a beautiful contrast with red, green, chartreuse, and orange-red hues on ruffled leaves.

38. Carousel

Height & Spread: 18-24 inches

Introduced in the year 2015, it has one of the most intense and attractive foliage with red veins filled, white splotches and green margins.

39. Celebration

Height & Spread: 18-24 inches

Introduced in the year 2013, this variety shows its beauty through deep crimson veins with white blotches over bright green foliage.

40. DayDreamer

Height & Spread: 10-12 inches

Recently introduced, this fascinating caladium has a combination of white and pink center over green leaves with pink spots.

41. Red Glamour

Height & Spread: 12-24 inches

Strap red cultivar, it sports dark green ruffled edges with mottled green veins over thick, shiny, and flat-leaf.

42. Bottle Rocket

Height & Spread: 15-20 inches

The plant has a bright red center vein with white panes and green edges. Provide it bright indirect light, and it can be an excellent tabletop plant too!

43. Rosemary

Height & Spread: 18-24 inches

This lance or strap leaf rose-red variety exhibits mottled light to dark green borders, red centers, and primary veins.

44. Scarlet Flame

Height & Spread: 10-12 inches

A strap leaf red variety, its leaves are heavily patterned with pink-white splotches and veins having green margins.

45. Tiki Torch

Height & Spread: 10-12 inches

Showcasing a gorgeous display of red hues, it has scarlet red leaves that have beautiful intense red veins and chartreuse margin.

46. Heart and Soul

Height & Spread: 15-20 inches

Flushed with a beautiful shade of pink, it sports a white center, green margin, and red spots.

47. Monument

Height & Spread: 12-18 inches

Fancy white variety, the luminescent white leaves have deep green veins. The leaves are frilly, thin, and translucent.

48. Snow Drift

Height & Spread: 12-14 inches

If you love white foliage, then it’ll amaze you with its ruffled white leaves with deep green veins and edges.

49. Summer Breeze

Height & Spread: 18-24 inches

Showcasing large mint-tinged white leaves with electric pink primary veins and green margins, it looks gorgeous in landscapes or containers!

50. White Diamond

Height & Spread: 18-24 inches

A sun-loving specimen, its lanch-shaped white leaves have dark green borders with beautiful patterns of white and green veins.

51. White Dynasty

Height & Spread: 12-18 inches

This beautiful strap white cultivar has a creamy-white center and veins with prominent green borders.

52. White Pearl

Height & Spread: 12-18 inches

A sun tolerant variety, its large lance-shaped leaves have frilled deep green edges and white center with pronounced white veins.

53. White Wonder

Height & Spread: 12-14 inches

As the name suggests, it has a fantastic looking white foliage with distinct green borders, white panes, and a splash of pink on large frilly leaves!

54. White Star

Height & Spread: 12-18 inches

‘White Star’ is a beautiful strap leaf variety with large white-green leaves and pronounced pink veins.

55. Chinook

Height & Spread: 15-20 inches

Sporting a unique shade of pink, the plant has prominent pink veins and green borders. Looks great with other dark foliage plants!

56. Berries N’ Burgundy

Height & Spread: 18-24 inches

It’s a sun-loving multicolor variety with a unique bronze background, pink-white center, and bright pink primary veins.

57. Bold N’ Beautiful

Height & Spread: 12-14 inches

This strap-leaf variety is famous for distinct color patterns. The leaves are pink-orange with olive-green margins.

58. Burning Heart

Height & Spread: 16-20 inches

This fancy leaf cultivar is patterned with pink to orange spots. Its unique leaf shade makes it stand out among other caladiums!

59. Caribbean Coral

Height & Spread: 15-20 inches

It displays white spots on a coral background with elongated, slightly ruffled leaves, which gives it a tropical look.

60. Desert Sunset

Height & Spread: 18-24 inches

Fan of bold foliage with very prominent veins? This variety will amaze you with its salmon-pink leaves, adorned in copper-colored veins.

61. Flatter Me

Height & Spread: 15-20 inches

This fancy-leaf variety has a unique center that exhibits a distinct color pattern, with speckled light and dark green background.

62. Just Saucy

Height & Spread: 14-16 inches

It has a patterned, creamy-white to slightly yellow center with primary veins. The leaves also have rusty-orange splotches with green margins.

63. Va Va Violet

Height & Spread: 12-18 inches

The leaves of this variety have a bright violet-pink shade with deep pink veins and green borders. Looks best in pots and hanging baskets.

64. Rose Glow

Height & Spread: 15-20 inches

This hybrid has medium green leaves with a bright flamingo pink center and frosty white halo. With maturity, leaves develop primary white veins.

65. Iceberg

Height & Spread: 12-28 inches

An easy to grow specimen, it has attractive marbled foliage in green and white hues. Some of its leaves can also turn up completely white!

66. Pretty Pink

Height & Spread: 12-15 inches

One of the most beautiful pink plants to grow. We also added it to our list of pink houseplants, which you can see here.

How to Grow: Caladiums

Sun Requirements
Bright indirect light and part shade is best, but some newer selections can take more sun.

Bloom Period and Seasonal Color
Caladiums are mostly grown for their colorful leaves and rarely flower.

Mature Height x Spread
1 to 3 feet tall and wide, depending on the variety.

Caladiums are subtropical bulbs that produce colorful leaves. The plants can reach to 3 feet tall, but most selections are between 1 to 2 feet tall and wide. Caladiums are hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11. Like dahlias and canna lilies, these bulbs can overwinter in the ground in frost free climates, but in most areas you’ll need to dig up and store the bulbs for winter.

Caladiums make great additions to shade gardens and containers. Because you don’t need lots of sun to induce flowering, and caladiums grow best with shade, these bulbs brighten up a foliage garden with their colorful leaves. They also grow well in containers and hanging baskets that are placed on a deck or patio to be enjoyed close up.

There are a number of varieties with different colored leaves and different sized plants. Most varieties have more than one color to the leaf. Many have red, pink, white or burgundy colored leaves edged in green or white. Like coleus, the color patterns change by variety with no two varieties, or even plants, looking exactly the same. While the fancy leaf varieties grow best in filtered sunlight, the taller strap leaf varieties are more sun tolerant.

When, Where and How to Plant
Plant caladiums bulbs in late spring after all danger of frost has past and the soil has warmed up to around 60F and dried out. Cold, wet soils can cause caladium bulbs to rot. Plant bulbs in a filtered sun location on well-drained soil. If the soil stays too wet, consider building a raised bed to plant or plant in containers.

Plant bulbs in groups about 2 inches deep and 8 to 12 inches apart. Caladiums like a moist soil, so amend the soil with organic matter and keep well watered. Taller varieties with big leaves should be protected from summer winds by planting near a building, wall or other plants.

When planting in containers or hanging baskets you can plant earlier in moistened potting soil and closer together since the container will be warmer and you’ll be fertilizing more regularly than in the ground.

Growing Tips
Caladiums like part shade, moist soil and warm air temperatures to grow their best. They are particularly adapted to the warm, humid Southeast. Fertilize caladiums in the ground monthly with a balanced organic product such as 5-5-5. In containers add a diluted fertilizer with every watering.

Deadhead yellowing leaves. If you have many leaves yellowing, the soil might be too wet in that location. You can also pinch healthy leaves to use in flower arrangements.

Keep caladium soil moist, but not wet. Add mulch in sandy sites to maintain soil water levels.

Come fall, once the temperatures start going consistently below 60F and the leaves start dying back, dig up your caladium bulbs and store them for winter in all but frost free areas. Let the tubers dry for several days out of direct sunlight in a warm room. Then store them in a cool, 35F to 45F degree room in bags or boxes filled with slightly moistened peat moss.

You can also grow caladiums indoors in containers as houseplants in winter. Move them outdoors in summer to rejuvenate the bulb.

Plant Care
Caladiums are relatively carefree plants if not growing in harsh, sunny and windy conditions. Caladium disease problems are usually related to poor soil water drainage. Fix that and the problems often don’t occur.

Some insects and animals may enjoy your caladiums as well. Aphids, caterpillars and slugs may feed on the leaves. Spray insecticidal soap to kill aphids, Bacillus thuriengensis (Bt) to kill caterpillars and beer traps and organic slug baits to control slugs and snails. In containers, use copper flashing around the container edge to thwart slugs from entering the pot.

Deer and rabbit will sometimes feed on leaves as well. Fence out these critters or spray animal repellents that contain garlic, rotten eggs, dried blood and cayenne pepper that discourage their browsing.

Companion Planting and Design
Caladiums are great shade garden plants and beautiful additions to containers. In a shade garden pair them with other shade lovers such as begonias, hosta, ferns, astilbe, elephant ears and coleus.

In containers, mix different caladium varieties together for a colorful combination. You can also mix in painted ferns, asparagus fern, impatiens, Rex begonias and coleus to compliment the caladium leaf colors.

There are hundreds of different caladium varieties available to grow. Try ‘Carousel’ with green leaves splashed with white and red that grows 18 inches tall. ‘Puppy Love’ has red, strap-like leaves on a short plant. ‘Red Hot’ is another red variety with green leaf edges. It grows well in sun or shade. ‘Allure’ has white leaves and green veins. ‘Sweet Carolina’ has red, green and white leaves on plants that stand 3 feet tall.

Quality Caladiums for Home and Garden.

Why Happiness Farms Caladiums?

  • Grown in Lake Placid, FL the Caladium Capital of the World
  • One of the original pioneer Caladium grower families
  • Family owned and operated for over 50 years
  • Top Quality Hand-packed bulbs
  • Superior customer care

Happiness Farms, Inc. is a family-owned and operated caladium farm that grows approximately 200 acres of caladium bulbs serving the wholesale and retail markets. Happiness Farms is located in Lake Placid, Florida, the Caladium Capital of the World. We grow, harvest, and ship our caladium bulbs directly from our farm and packing house on Lake Istokpoga’s shores to your doorstep. Happiness Farms ensures the highest quality caladium bulbs by hand counting and hand packing our orders. The fantastic people who work with us and help pack our caladium orders have been with us for decades and take pride in providing superior quality caladium bulbs to you.


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