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
Size 2 (1-1.5 inches)
Size 1 (1.5-2.5) these are really as small as you want to start with
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)
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
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.