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What Am I Doing Wrong with My Caladium?

Posted by MollyLou (My Page) on
Sat, Aug 20, 11 at 20:35

I got this caladium a couple of months ago from a nursery that kept it outside in shade. It's now sitting next to a covered window in an apartment that is kept at 73 degrees. It is only watered when the soil feels dry, but it did get a white fuzz growing on top of the soil. I sat it outside in the shade for a couple of days and scraped out the white fuzz, but then even more of the leaves started wilting and dying off, so I brought it back in the house. I noticed that all of the new growth that is coming in does not have the red that the plant originally had. I took the plant back to the nursery I got it from to see if they could help. The lady said it was a healthy plant and I just needed to trim all the wilted leaves back to stimulate new growth. She also said that the reason the leaves were growing in without the red was because there were 2 different type of plants in the pot. At this point I figured she didn't know what she was talking about because when I first bought the plant it was full and there were no plain leaves. Can someone tell me what is going on with this plant and is there anyway I can bring it back? Is it not getting enough sun, am I over watering it, or is it just getting used to the new environment? Please help!

What it looked like when I first got it.

What it looks like now.

All of the red leaves have wilted and died.

New growth is coming in without color.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: What Am I Doing Wrong with My Caladium?

I guess that the lady at the nursery didn't mention that Caladiums, like other plants that grow from bulbs, corms, or tubers, have a limited time to show off how pretty they are.

You cannot stop the die-back's normal. When any Caladium has been in full foliage for a number of weeks or months, it will expend all of the available energy stored in their tuber. They die back to enter dormancy. If your plant was sitting at the nursery for several weeks before you purchased it, it was already reaching that stage.

Most people treat Caladiums as annuals. They can be stored for the winter...dark, dryish, clean, and coolish (never under 50 degrees) and brought back again in the spring...for several months. I've never seen one that ever returned to it's original glory, though.

If you do a bit of googling about Caladiums, you'll find out how to prepare the tubers for a long winter's rest should you be interested. You should have been told when you took the plant in for help that these were temporary plants, much as if you purchased a pot of daffodils or tulips.

RE: What Am I Doing Wrong with My Caladium?

Interesting explanation Rhizo,

I thought maybe it was due to growing them indoors.

Tho' on reflection, I remember my College Sweetheart used to winter these over dry as bulbs in a paper bag in the closet in Buffalo. He'd take 'em out & re-start them in about March & he & the plants would BOTH perk right up!

RE: What Am I Doing Wrong with My Caladium?

@ Rhizo

Thank you so much for that detailed explanation. That explains what happened to mine, now I don't feel so bad about my failure to keep that plant happy.

RE: What Am I Doing Wrong with My Caladium?

Pirate Girl...I love the way you used capital letters for your College Sweetheart.

RE: What Am I Doing Wrong with My Caladium?

Mollylou, depending on where you are, Caladiums are perennial. There is one in my yard that was here when I moved in 4 years ago. Most websites will say they are hardy down to zone 9 or 10.

If you were wanting a year-round houseplant, look for a syngonium, which is a trailing plant with Caladium-like leaves, although I don't think they come in that beautiful reddish/pink color.

Caladiums need some sun and especially like morning sun. If your plant has been inside for months, that's not enough light. Color and variegation commonly fade on plants that are not getting enough light. If you have a place outside where it can get some sun before noon, you can leave the plant there until light frosts cause the leaves to drop. Knowing where you are would make storage (or possibly perennializing) advice easier. As mentioned, it's natural and normal for them to go dormant for the winter.

The white fuzz is probably related to decomposing organic matter in the soil and will probably go away if you let the soil dry out more fully before watering. With so little light and such cool temps, the bulbs are probably using very little water.

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