sperrittApril 26, 2012

I'm somewhat of a gardening newbie and I have had trouble finding good in depth info for Caladiums. So I have decided to post my experiences this year from start to finish so that maybe someone will find it useful.

I have a backyard area with a few ferns, one hydrangea and alot of daffodils for springtime color. Every year the heat of our TN summers leaves nothing but the hydrangea and some grass so I looked around for a big impact plant that could stand up the to heat and shade, what I found was Caladiums. They are a summer bulb (really a tuber) with huge colorful leaves that lasts throughout the summer June-Sept. Here are some inspiration photos that sold me on caladiums.

This variety is Fannie Munson.

This is what I want for one area, solid white. I think these are Candidum Jr. or Moonlight

Thats all well and good but how do you get such beautiful plants I thought. So I began my endless googling of caladium growing information. Here is the best I found from the LSU Ag Center, University of Florida Ag (finally something worthwhile from UF for a Vols fan), Dallas Botanical Plant Trials, NCSU, and Auburn Ag.

Here are the basics

bulb sizing:

Size 2 (1-1.5 inches)

Size 1 (1.5-2.5) these are really as small as you want to start with

Jumbo (2.5-3.5)

Mammoth 3.5+

soil conditions:

1) 5.5-6.5 pH (add peat moss to make soil more acidic if needed)

2) High Nitrogen fertilizer (22-10-10) will increase the green in the leaves

3) Good Fertilizer = Slow release like Osmocote only once, or 6-6-6 fertilizer q 6 weeks

4) Caladiums like phosphate and potash (use bone meal)

Shade/Sun Tolerance:

1) Sun Tolerance depends on the variety (see links above)

I have read alot about the sun/shade leaf coloration and it seems kinda complicated. Here is what I infer before growing them myself.

> Too much shade can cause less color, more green

> More sun will cause more green in some varieties

Bulb Spacing

For landscape mass planting:

Various resources have differing advice on spacing. Some say to plant 2 size #1 bulbs together then leave 12-18" between groupings. Others say for a full coverage to plant size #1 only 4" apart. This is one major reason I am making this post. I dont know how big or how many leaves a size 1 will produce and I cannot find examples (photos) of this anywhere. I will keep track of my spacing and post photos of the results.


If you de-eye the leaves are smaller so for landscape planting you usually want the largest leaf possible, therefore I will not be de-eyeing.

I have two beds one will be pink and one white. I decided to buy from two online caladium sellers to compare and thought I would include info about the quality from each.

I wanted a solid pink leaf so I chose Fannie Munson for my shadiest bed. For the all white bed I went with Moonlight.

I ordered 25 Size #1 Fannie Munson caladiums from caladium depot aka Rainbow Acres. They did not have a big selection but they had the best pricing. I ordered on Saturday and received them on Wednesday. The sizing was accurate and there were 30 bulbs in the package. Most of them already have the main bud beginning to emerge. It is April 25 so maybe that is normal?

Have a look for yourself (see pic).

I am happy with the quality so far, now to get them started and see how they grow. It has been in the 70's and 80's but the ground is still about 65 degress so I am starting them in pots. I plan to transfer to the ground in about 2 weeks. The pots are peat moss and a little (1/2 teaspoon) bone meal.

Now they are covered with about an inch of peat, watered, and sitting in the sun.

I ordered 50 size #1 Moonlight from caladiumbulbs4less. They are in the mail. Thats all for now.

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sun_worshiper(FL 9b)

Ooh, very pretty! Thanks for the inspiration photos & for starting a journal of results. This is my first year trying them too. In FL, strawberries are grown as annuals. Plant in October, yank around April. So I need something to fill in the rest of the year. I selected a caladium variety (from local big box store) that was rated for full sun. I started them indoors in pots in February. They were big enough to plant out in April, and they are in ground now. I am very curious to find out if they really can take full sun. So far, they are showing a bit of sunburn on the leaves that emerged indoors, but the new leaves seem to be doing fine! I'll post a pic when I get a chance.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 10:07AM
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Quick post

I just received my Size #1 Moonlight caladium bulbs in the mail. As I am unpacking them they are totally different than my Fannie Munson Size #1. The Fannie Munson bulbs were one big bulb with one bud. These are 2-8 small bulbs that are grown together in a clump plus alot of small loose #3 sized. I wonder if this is because they are a different variety or maybe these were de-eyed in previous years. Kinda concerned since the FM were big fat bulbs and these are so different. Pictures to follow in next post. If anyone knows if this is normal for Moonlight or a result of de-eying please let me know.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 1:42PM
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Ok so here is what I got from Caladiumbulbs4less. I ordered 50 Size #1 Moonlight.

They are quite different than the Fannie Munson size 1 from caladium depot. The large tubers were many small bulbs that were grown together. This may be the way Moonlight grows or it may be the result of de-eyeing. So there were about 35 large size clumps (1.5-3.5inches). None were a large individual bulb with one bud. See the comparison photo, the left is moonlight and right is fannie munson.

The rest were small bulbs, between 1/4 inch to about 1.5 inches.

If you separated the large clumps you would have these. There were about 60 or so of these small bulbs. The box was labeled 50 Moonlight #1. I believe that a single bulb that has one bud will produce larger leaves, so I think these Moonlight will produce smaller leaves. Not sure whether to contact the company about these or not. Maybe this is normal. I got alot of bulbs but it was more of wide variety of sizes, as some sites sell by the bushel of small/medium.

I went ahead and got these started in pots same as above.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 9:49PM
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Today I ran across a 2 places that have Moonlight labeled as a dwarf variety. I was unaware of this fact, as it is not listed as dwarf in the lsu ag trials or the uf literature. Maybe that is why the tubers have smaller bulbs. The leaf size in the trials was listed as 21 to 24 inches, however the websites that have moonlight labeled dwarf say leaf size is 12-18. So maybe there is a dwarf moonlight and a large fancy leaf moonlight.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 8:50PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I love Caladiums, too, and although I've grown them many times, I've not examined the bulbs closely. Please keep us posted on the progress of your bulbs! My favs are the white ones and Carolyn Whorton. I'm pretty sure one of the ones that's come back this spring is a FM. They are all so pretty!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 8:56AM
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It has been 12 days since I planted the FM caladiums in pots. They were outside in the sun most days and brought in in the evening. Daytime temps were in the 80's. Here is what they look like now.

I decided to plant them in the ground today since some of the bulbs were crowded together in a big shallow pan and I did not want the roots to grow together. I dug a hole for each about 6 inches deep and 8 inches wide. The bulbs were spaced about 10-12 inches apart, so 2-4 inches between each hole. I filled the hole with peat moss, lime, bone meal, and covered with pine bark mulch. I applied Preen on the entire bed and watered thoroughly.

Now for the Moonlight Caladiums. Today I saw that two of the pots have a small bud emerging.

I expected the bud to look green or white since that is the color of the leaves, but they are pink just like the Fannie Munson. It has been 10 days since they were planted. I will wait for more growth before putting them in the ground, and I dont have their bed prepared just yet. More updates to come.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 11:10PM
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I have been trying to find out if I can use Preen in the caladium beds. Anyone have experience with Preen (trifuralin) and Caladiums?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 3:21PM
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Another update. First here are some pictures to show the spacing of the Fannie Munson bed.

Here is a closeup of the leaves emerging from the shoot.

The Moonlight Caladium bulbs are emerging. I will need to plant them soon. I am still concerned about their leaf size as the shoots are much smaller than the FM shoots.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 8:11PM
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Sperritt, how did it all turn out?

I am a beginner container gardener and just bought and re-planted a couple of these. Thanks for your nice summary in the first post and the photo-log - very useful and interesting.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 9:54AM
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