Planting caladium bulbs is a popular way to add color and interest to partially shaded areas of your yard. Caladium is grown for its heart-shaped or long, strap-like foliage and is available in varying mixtures of green, white, pink and red. Use them as specimen plants or mass them in beds for a shock of color. Or try planting caladium bulbs in pots and adding to your container garden.
Before planting, inspect bulb for any signs of disease or rot. Cut away areas that appear damaged and dust cut areas with fungicide. You can divide larger bulbs by cutting into sections containing several eyes apiece.
Planting caladium bulbs shouldn’t be done until all danger of frost has passed. While they can tolerate a variety of light conditions, plants may become straggly in the shade and full sun will bleach their colorful foliage, so part sun is best. Select a location that has well-drained, fertile soil and amend with compost and peat moss or a balanced slow-release fertilizer. Plant caladium bulbs, eye side up, one to two inches below soil surface. Water well and mulch.
To get a jumpstart on the season, start your bulbs indoors four to six weeks before your last average frost date. Plant as you would outdoors in fertile, well-draining soil mixture. Harden off by bringing outdoors on warmer days, then plant once danger of frost is over.
Caladium bulbs should not dry out, so be sure to water weekly during the growing season. For caladiums in containers, use a water soluble fertilizer every couple of weeks. In fall, once temperatures have cooled and foliage has begun to yellow and droop, gently dig up bulbs and place in a warm, dry area to cure. This should take one or two weeks. Cut off any remaining foliage, then store in a net bag or container filled with enough peat moss so that bulb is completely covered. Overwinter in cool, dry location until it’s time for replanting in spring.