Caladiums (Caladium hortulanum) are members of the Araceae family and they originated in the Amazon basin in Brazil. It is therefore very important to keep them warm. When your bulbs arrive it is important that you unpack them immediately, as they are live plants. Store in a warm room with good air circulation until ready to plant--(70 to 80 degrees F) for long-term storage, 70 degrees is optimal.
For the beginning grower we offer these suggestions for pot plants:
Red: Freida Hemple, Postman Joyner, Poecile Anglais, Fire Chief, and John Peed.
Whites: Candidum, White Christmas, White Queen, Aaron.
Pinks: Fannie Munson, Carolyn Wharton, Pink Beauty, Kathleen.
Dwarfs: Miss Muffet, Gingerland, Candidum, Jr.
Strapleaf: All are good for pots.
The Dwarf Caladiums are more compact and bushier than the Fancyleaf. The Strapleaf Caladiums are short and bushy with elongated leaves. These are recommendations, but any variety looks good in pots.
4" pot - 1 #1 or 1 #2
4 1/2" pot - 2 #2 or 1 #1
6" pot - 5 or 6 #2, or 3 #1, or 1 Jumbo
10" pans or hanging baskets - 10-12 #2 or 5-6 #1
For most cultivars in pots, de-eyeing is recommended. It is very important, when de-eyeing, to stay within the diameter of the bud and cut no deeper than about 1/4". It helps to dust with a fungicide and dry and heal the cut with good air circulation before planting. De-eyeing will delay the forcing time by up to 2 weeks, but growers generally agree that it produces a better product. Any well-drained potting mix that contains considerable organic matter will work fine. The bulbs should be covered with 1 1/2" of soil, and the soil kept moist until sprouting. The most important factor is temperature. The soil should be kept at least 70 degrees with the optimum range being 75-78 degrees in the presence of high humidity (90% relative humidity). The night time air temperatures should stay above 65 degrees. Earlier plantings (January-February 15) will require longer forcing times than later plantings For earlier plantings expect 8-10 weeks. For later planting, like April and May, expect finished product in 4-6 weeks.
Many growers are successful without fertilizer, however we recommend a general fertilizer be used. This is more for customer satisfaction as it gives the plant longevity and more vigor. Growers have achieved success with from 20 to 60% shade.
Although diseases such a Fusarium and Pythium is not all that common, some growers drench with such products as Medallion or Subdue to prevent these problelms.
Xanthomonas, or leaf spot, could occur if the plants are not spaced properly or the leaves stay wet to much. Air circulation and spacing are important. Improper spacing could also cause "leggy" plants. Another potential problem is "greening", especially with the white varieties. To prevent greening, be sure that the tubers are properly stored before planting--(70 to 80 degrees with air circulation in an open tray) Be sure that they are de-eyed properly, staying within the terminal bud. If pots are stacked, be sure the white varieties are on the top and not in the dark. Do not cover the white varieties with plastic to increase the temperatures. Over-fertilization can also cause greening. Caladiums are rarely damaged by insects or other pests. Many of the above problems are really uncommon and Caladiums are easy to grow and be successful with. We are always available to answer any questions that you may have. If we don't know the answer, we will do our best to find it. Our business depends on repeat business year after year, so your success is the key to our success.