How to Grow, Care for and Propagate Caladium hortulanum

Caladium hortulanum commonly called Caladium, Elephant Ear, Angel Wings or Heart of Jesus Plant bear striking arrow-shaped, paper thin and beautifully marked leaves.

The common colors are white, pink and red. This dazzling Caladium foliage only lasts a short time from late spring to early autumn.

Thereafter, the Caladium foliage dies and the plant goes dormant which is a natural characteristic of this plant.

Heart of Jesus Plant grows from tubers (bulbs) which can be saved after the foliage dies to be replanted in the next year to propagate new plants.

Caladium hortulanum, Heart of Jesus Plant

Botanical name: Caladium hortulanum
Family: Araceae
Common names: Caladium, Elephant Ear, Angel Wings, Heart of Jesus Plant


Caladium genus comprises of about 7 species which are native to South America and Central America and naturalized in India, parts of Africa and various tropical islands.

In their native habitat, Heart of Jesus Plants grow in the open areas of the forest and on banks of rivers and go dormant during the cold season.


In the wild Caladiums can grow to a height of 1-2 ft, while the leaves can be 6-18 in. long and broad.

There are over 1000 named cultivars of Caladiums. In cultivation most cultivars grow to about 24 in. high and 24 in. wide, although there are dwarf varieties in cultivation now. Caladiums are amongst the best large-leafed plants that create a spectacle in any space.


All parts of Caladium hortulanum (Heart of Jesus Plant) are toxic to both humans and pets if ingested as outlined by ASPCA.

If ingested, they may cause burning in the mouth and throat, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pains.

Contact with the sap may cause skin dermatitis in sensitive skin. Therefore, always wear gloves when handling Caladium.

Where to Buy

Caladiums bulbs (tubers) are readily available online at Etsy.

Caladium hortulanum Care Indoors

Caladium hortulanum grows best in medium to bright, indirect light, warm and humid conditions and moderately moist, well-drained soils coupled with regular feeding during the growing season.

Caladiums require regular pruning to keep them neat and discourage pest and disease infestation. Repotting is not need as they undergo dormancy during the cold season. Replace the soil at the beginning of the growing season. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.

Caladium, Heart of Jesus Plant


Water Caladium liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 2-3 in. to dy out between waterings to maintain the soil moderately moist.

Do not water during the cold season as the Heart of Jesus Plant is in the dormancy stage.

Make sure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting of the tubers.

Light Requirements

Caladium grows best in medium to bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight as direct sunlight can scorch the leaves.

Newer varieties of Caladium with narrower leaves have been developed which can tolerate some direct sunlight.

Caladiums can also be grown under grow lights where the natural lighting is not adequate. Check out these full spectrum grow lights on Amazon.

Temperature and Humidity

The best temperature for growing Caladium indoors is an average warmth of 15-260C during the growing season. The warmer the temperature the better the growth of the plant.

Heart of Jesus Plant cannot tolerate cold as they can signal dormancy which can cause the leaves to die. Therefore, keep the plant away from cold drafts.

Caladiums require a humid environment inorder to thrive. To increase humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier. Check out these techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Regularly clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and also discourage pest and disease infestations.

Potting Soil

The best soil for Caladium should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.

Multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal for Heart of Jesus Plant. Buy quality potting mix from Amazon.


Caladium needs adequate nutrients for optimal growth. Therefore, regular feeding during the growing season is required.

Feed the Caladium with a slow release fertilizer at planting time or apply a balanced, liquid fertilizer once a week during the growing period.

Do not feed a Heart of Jesus Plant that is in dormancy as it can lead to fertilizer burn and death of the plant.


Repotting Caladium is not necessary as it lasts only a few months and then goes into dormancy in the cold season. However, replace the soil with fresh soil at the beginning of the growing season.


Pruning Caladium is simple. Remove yellow and dry leaves to maintain the plant neat and reduce chances of disease and pest infestation. Remove the dead foliage from the bulbs when growth is over.


Caladium hortulanum propagation is done at the beginning of the growing season (early spring) by use of tubers (bulbs).

Heart of Jesus Plant grows from tubers (bulbs) which can be saved after the foliage dies to be replanted in the next year to propagate new plants.

Store the tubers in sand or sawdust at a temperature of between 15-320C .

Temperatures outside this range will cause damage to the tubers which will result in stunted growth of the plants.

The tubers can also be allowed to remain in the same pot until the next growing season.

Keep the pot dry; do not water. When the temperatures become warmer (early spring), resume watering and new growth will emerge after which you can begin routine care.

How to propagate Caladium from tubers (bulbs)

Large Caladium tubers (bulbs) can be divided into several sections. Ensure each section has at least a node (growing point) from which new growth will sprout.

Bury the tuber sections about 1 in. deep with the growing point side up in moist, free-draining soil.

Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.

Place the set up in a warm place until growth emerges in the tuber section.

Allow the new Heart of Jesus Plant to be well established before transplanting after which routine care can begin.

Caladium, Caladium hortulanum

Caladium hortulanum Growing Problems

Caladium hortulanum (Heart of Jesus Plant) has few problems which include sunburn, dormancy, pests and diseases. Keep reading for more on these problems, their remedies and solutions.

Brown leaf blotches

Brown leaf blotches in Caladium are sunburn marks due to exposure of the plant to direct sunlight. Protect the plant from direct sunshine or move it to a shaded spot as it grows best in medium to bright, indirect light.

Plant dying

The death of Caladium is a natural characteristic of Caladiums as they go into dormancy during the cold season.


Common pests in Caladium are aphids and caterpillars. Regularly inspect the plant for ragged leaf margins which is an indication of the presence of pests.


Caladium is prone to fungal diseases emanating from dormant tubers. To prevent these diseases, treat the tubers before storage or before planting as follows.

Immerse the tubers in water heated water to 500C for about 30 minutes to destroy any fungi present.

Thoroughly dry the tubers before storage to avoid rotting.

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