A tropical plant from South America, caladiums (Caladium bicolor) have multi-colored leaves in combinations of creamy white, brilliant green, soft pink, and deep red. Plants in deep shade tend to have more green than red or white, and plants in acidic soil tend to have darker colors. Caladiums need consistently hot weather-both day and night-and uniformly moist soil to perform well. Place containers of caladiums near a bed of hostas to add a tropical look to a shady garden.
Common name: Caladium, angel wings, mother-in-law plant, fancy-leaved caladium
Botanical name: Caladium bicolor
Plant type: Tuberous perennial
Height: 9 to 30 inches tall, depending on cultivar
Sun: Part to full shade
Soil: Humus-rich, slightly acidic, warm soil
Moisture: Evenly moist
• Mulch: Apply a thin layer of organic mulch to help keep soil consistently moist. Caladiums decline in dry soil.
• Fertilizer: Apply a balanced fertilizer once every six weeks. Use about a teaspoon per bulb.
• Pruning: None required until ready to store for the winter
• ‘Aaron' is white with green margins.
• ‘Freida Hemple' has red centers and green margins.
• ‘Pink Cloud' has pink leaves with green margins.
• ‘White Christmas' has white leaves with green veins.
• Plant tubers 1½ to 2 inches deep.
• Most cultivars need a shady location, although a few will take a couple hours of filtered sun. Don't place caladiums where direct sun will scorch the leaves.
• Hard winds will damage caladiums, so plant them where they're protected from harsh weather.
• To save tubers for the following summer, dig them up before the first frost in the fall and air-dry them. Cut the leaves close to the bulb and store in peat moss in a well-ventilated area where temperatures are about 55º F to 70º F.
• Bring potted caladiums inside in the fall-they make attractive houseplants.
Pests and diseases
• Root-knot nematodes may occur. If the soil is too cool, tubers may rot.
• Bacterial and fungal leaf spot may attack the plant.
• Divide tubers in spring.
All in the family
• The Araceae family includes two popular houseplants, Dieffenbachia and Philodendron, plus calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica), skunk cabbage (Lysichiton spp.), and Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum).