By Keri Byrum
The sight of new caladiums poking through the ground is one signal that summer is ready to start in Florida and the Gulf Coast region. Planting caladiums is easy, and rewards you with carefree color for many months to come.
Traditionally considered shade plants, new caladium varieties tolerate sun. Although all caladiums grow in shade, only some grow in sun. Check plant labels carefully to make sure your plants are labeled for sunny locations.
For shady areas I recommend planting white or light-pink caladiums. These lighter colors glow in the shade, adding depth and making your yard look larger. To really amplify the effect, try planting larger masses of 10 to 12 caladiums.
You can purchase caladiums as plants or bulbs. I like to buy plants when I want instant color or just a few plants of a single variety; bulbs are great for saving money and planting in bulk. You can easily plant caladium bulbs (technically they’re tubers) 1½ to 2 inches deep, and tuck them in among other plants, tree roots, and tight spots.
Trouble areas under large trees aren’t well suited to growing a lawn, but they are great places to plant caladiums. In this situation I simply lay the bulbs on the surface of the soil, and cover them with 2 inches of mulch. The caladiums grow well and provide color all summer.
Caladiums grow best in moist soil, and they have very few pest or disease issues. Most plants grow through September before beginning to go dormant for the winter. As the leaves begin to fade, it is best to let them die naturally so the plant can store energy for next spring.
Caladium varieties’ wide range of colors and sizes means you’re sure to find a perfect match for your garden. Planting caladiums this year rewards you with unbeatable color for several more.