All Caladium varieties can be used as patio plants, hanging baskets and in the landscape. Fancy Leaf varieties produce large, broad, heart-shaped leaves, while Strap Leaf Caladiums produce lance-shaped leaves, are shorter in height and more compact. Following some simple guidelines will ensure success incorporating Caladiums into the season landscape including pots and planters.
In the landscape, Caladiums should be planted when the soil temperature is above 55°F to ensure vigorous growth and vivid coloration. The bulbs should be covered with at least 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches of soil to ensure adequate moisture as the roots emerge from the top of the bulb. Caladiums are water-loving and should be kept moist.
Even though Caladiums are often considered a “shade only” member of the landscape in the deep south, a range of three hours of full morning sun for Fancy Leaf and up to five hours for Strap Leaf varieties when temperatures reach 90°F or higher are not a problem.
Caladiums provide an ideal colorful contrast with evergreen shrubs and white varieties literally lighten up dark, shady areas. Caladiums provide a unique and reliable focal point for entry ways, patios, or around pools as they will last all summer with little maintenance. When considering a landscape design, the natural growth habit of varieties is significant. Most Fancy Leaf (large leaf) varieties have a relatively tall habit, which is very impressive, while Strap Leaf (narrow leaf) varieties are excellent border plants because of their mounding habit.
Strap leaf and dwarf varieties also work extremely well in hanging baskets. Vining plants can be added to create additional visual interest. For instance, Sweetheart pairs up well with Variegated Vinca major or with Ipomoea “Marquerite’ (Sweet Potato Vine). And Miss Muffet is striking when paired with Ipomoea “Blackie” (Sweet Potato Vine).
For patio pots with lots of movement and texture interest, include ornamental grass with your Caladiums. In the landscape, interplant Caladiums with some creative companion plants. In the shade Oxalis triangularis, or even Impatiens and Begonias, can add an impressive contrast or complement to your Caladium color choice.
Those colors can also extend to the indoors. Caladium leaves can be enjoyed as cut floral arrangements or as a unique addition to traditional arrangements. These colorful leaf arrangements will last for over two weeks in a water-filled vase.
With a few simple guidelines in mind, think Caladiums as you choose plants that will thrive and provide maximum visual impact. With the wide range of colors that Caladiums offer, they are one of the most versatile foliage selections for the landscape, patio and home garden.
Harry Hollander is the CEO of Abbott-IPCO, Inc. the largest supplier of Caladiums in the world. For more information visit ClassicCaladiums.com.