Basic Info & Care
Caladiums are tropical perennials that have colorful, heart-shaped leaves and make gorgeous houseplants. I mean a plant with giant leaves that are multiple shades of pink? Need! But they’re definitely finicky plants that require a little extra care. They are also poisonous to animals and humans (not fatally just real bad food poisoning symptoms) when digested so make sure to place on a high shelf away from children & pets. Beauty comes with a price what can I say
Indoor Caladiums require a medium light area with protection from midday sun, which will scorch the leaves. A northern or eastern window is usually the best exposure. Humidity is crucial, and mimicking humidity inside may be done with misting and by placing a saucer filled with pebbles and water under the container. The evaporation will moisten the ambient air and provide the humidity necessary. Keep your plant away from heating vents & drafty windows or doors.
Caladiums are seasonal plants even in the tropics, where gardeners plant them in the spring and summer months when they’ll thrive in the heat and humidity. Even under the best conditions, caladium foliage lasts only a few months before the leaves start to die back and the plant goes dormant again. This is okay—they’re supposed to do that
Caladiums are grown for their foliage, but they do have flowers, which start in the form of spathes, or spikes. Cut off any spathe as soon as it appears to ensure all of the plant’s energy is used for its gorgeous leaves. When leaves appear on the plant, water as needed to keep the soil evenly moist. Never let the plant dry out.
There are literally too many varieties to keep track of – you can find them in multiple shades of green, red, pink, white, and orange. One website I found had at least 40 varieties of caladiums listed. You can pick pretty much any color combination as they all require the same care.
Caladiums break the rule that all foliage house plants are decorative year-round. They die down in fall and remain dormant through the winter. That fact, together with the need for high temperatures and high humidity, leads to many of these plants being tossed out after their first growing season.
However, keeping plants till the next year is easy. When the foliage dies down in the fall, allow the pots to dry out. Cut off the dead leaves & stems down to the dirt, then store the pots at 65-70°F/18-21°C in a dark place. Generally your basement or the back of a closet. In spring, repot the bulbs in fresh potting mix and continue with care. You can do this for a few years before they deteriorate in quality. If the leaves are few and/or smaller than normal, it’s time to replace them.
I kind of love the fact that they’re still seasonal as indoor plants, because my ADD makes me want to change up my indoor jungle all the time.