How to grow and care for Caladium Indoors

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Caladium Care, Caladium hortulanum Care

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

Caladium Description

Caladium commonly called Elephant Ear, Angel Wings or Heart of Jesus 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.

Caladium grows from tubers which can be saved after the foliage dies to be replanted in the next year to propagate new plants.

Caladium Origin

The 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. They grow in the open areas of the forest and on banks of rivers and go dormant during the dry season.

Caladium Size

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.

Caladium Care, Caladium hortulanum Care

Caladium (Caladium hortulanum) Care Indoors

Caladium Light Requirements

Caladium grows best in partial to full shade and away from direct sunlight. Newer varieties of Caladium with narrower leaves have been developed which can tolerate some direct sunlight. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

How to Water Caladium

Water Caladium liberally during the growing season to maintain the soil moist at all times and never allow the soil to dry out. Read more on how to water houseplants.

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


Temperature for Caladium

The best temperature for growing your Caladium indoors is an average warmth with a minimum of 150C during the growing season. The warmer the temperature the better the growth of the plant.

Caladium cannot tolerate cold therefore protect your plant from cold draughts. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity for Caladium

Caladiums require a humid environment inorder to thrive. To raise humidity for your Caladiums, set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Regularly clean the leaves of your Caladiums by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust. Read more on how to clean houseplants.

Caladium Fertilizer (Feeding)

Caladium needs to be provided with adequate nutrients for their optimal growth.

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

Do not feed a Caladium that is in dormancy at it can lead to fertilizer burn. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

How to Repot Caladium

Repotting Caladium is not necessary as it lasts only a few months and then goes into dormancy.

How to Prune Caladium

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 Caladium bulbs when growth is over.

Caladium (Caladium hortulanum) Propagation

Caladium grows from tubers which can be saved after the foliage dies to be replanted in the next year to propagate new plants.

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

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

The Caladium 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), watering can resume, new growth will emerge and normal routine care can continue.

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

How to propagate Caladium from tubers

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

Bury the Caladium tubers 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 on your Caladium tuber section.

Allow the new Caladium plant to be well established before transplanting after which routine care can begin.

Caladium Care, Caladium hortulanum Care

Caladium (Caladium hortulanum) Problems Indoors

Why does my Caladium have brown blotches on the leaves?

Brown blotches on the leaves of Caladium are sunburn marks due to exposure to direct sunlight.

Protect your Caladium from direct sunshine or move it to a shaded spot as it grows best in partial shade to shade conditions.

Why is my Caladium dying?

The death of Caladium is a natural characteristic of Caladiums. Caladiums go into dormancy after a few months of growth.

Caladium Pests

The common plant pests in Caladium are Aphids and Caterpillars.

Regularly inspect your Caladium for ragged leaf margins which is an indication of the presence of pests.

Caladium Diseases

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

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

Thoroughly dry the Caladium tubers before storage to avoid rotting.

Is Caladium toxic?

All parts of Caladium (Caladium hortulanum) are toxic to both humans and pets if ingested.

Ingesting Caladium may cause burning in the mouth and throat, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pains.

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

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