Cultural Landscape

All Caladium varieties may be used for landscape purposes. However, certain varieties are more suited to certain landscape conditions than others (see table). The following guidelines will aid the commercial landscaper to successfully incorporate caladiums into stellar landscapes.

Planting Time
Caladium bulbs may be successfully planted in the landscape throughout the tropics, subtropics and temperate climates of the world. In subtropical and temperate regions caladiums should be planted after the last frost in the spring when night temperatures are greater than 55 F. To jump-start the effect of the overall display, landscapers may choose to transplant either pre-finished or finished caladiums into their displays. When doing this make sure that the plants have been grown under the proper light conditions to avoid excessive stress and sunburning in the installation.

Bulb Treatment
No special treatments are recommended. Proper variety selection appropriate to the site of installation is key (see below).

Growth Regulators
No special treatments is required. Proper variety selection appropriate to the site of installation is key(see below).

Planting Depth
Bulbs should be covered with at least 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches of soil. This will ensure adequate soil moisture around roots as they emerge from the top of the bulb.

Soil Conditions
A well-drained soil is very important, as performance will be severely hampered in saturated soil or compact clay conditions.

Caladiums like water therefore be sure they are planted in an area that receives adequate irrigation so that they are kept uniformly moist. Water preferably during the morning hours.

The most common diseases are Fusarium and Pythium. The main symptom is root rot. Use fungicides such as Medallion to control Fusarium and Subdue to control Pythium. A fungicide drench should be applied 1-2 weeks after planting to control these fungal pathogens.

Stunted Growth
Make sure that bulbs are not stored at temperatures below 60°F (16°C), or above 90°F (32°C). Injury due to temperature exposure manifests itself in stunted (sometimes very slow) erratic growth even though the bulb does not show any injury at all.

White and pink cultivars that have been grown during cloudy, early spring days and are suddenly exposed to high light intensity might show brown blotches on the leaves. In landscape plantings, we recommend keeping beds adequately moist to stimulate growth and leaf expansion and to reduce sunburn.

Leaf Spots
Leaf spots may occur that are caused by a bacterial pathogen known as Xanthomonas. To prevent damage due to Xanthomonas, be sure plants are well spaced, that they receive plenty of air circulation and keep the foliage dry at night. Improper nutrition can also cause spotting of the foliage.

A pH higher than 7.0 is also known to cause brown spots. A regular soil test is beneficial.

Other Foliage Problems
Pink areas in white cultivars like White Christmas usually are a stress related symptom. High temperatures (>100°F) can induce this symptom, but cannot always be avoided in certain regions of the country.

Light Intensity
Caladiums can tolerate a wide range of light intensities. Some varieties perform quite nicely under continuous full sun conditions while others should be planted in partial (2-4 hours of full sun/day) or full shade. In the northern climates (temperate climate) caladiums can stand more sun than in the south because of cooler night temperatures and less light intensity.

In order to get continual growth after sprouting, caladiums should be fertilized. In sandy regions of the country, such as much of Florida, a good slow release complete fertilizer (Osmocote, Nutricote or other slow release) seems to work best.

Insect Control
Caladiums are rarely damaged by insects or related pests. Occasionally worms can attack foliage. Dipel works well. Aphids occasionally appear near petiole bases and newly emerging leaves. Avid, Seven Dust and a number of other aphidicides work well.

All caladiums are useful in the landscape; however, some are more heat and sun tolerant than others. The following fancy leaved varieties can withstand full sun for the entire day: 

Aaron Fire Chief Carolyn Whorton
  Postman Joyner Elise
  Red Flash  


When designing landscapes the natural growth habit of varieties is significant. Whereas most fancy leaved varieties have a relatively tall habit, certain strap leaved varieties make excellent border plants due to their height and mounding habits including:

White Ruffles Red Frill Pink Gem
White Wing Red Ruffles Sweetheart
White Knight   L. Whorton


The dwarf varieties, Gingerland, and Miss Muffett and most all strap varieties have an intermediate habit and should be used in foreground plantings. The variety Gingerland will sunburn if exposed to full sun all day (1-3 hours of full sun should not be a problem).

Please Note
Mention of pesticides, growth regulators etc. are by way of illustration only not an endorsement. The label is the law, therefore growers must follow label directions with all regulated materials. Furthermore, different cultivars respond differently to treatments therefore try a small percentage of your crop before applying a treatment to the entire crop. Mention of one product does not preclude the use or benefit of other similar products. Remember read the label and follow it.

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