Caladiums are striking plants with large leaves and strong, vibrantly-coloured veins. If you need reminding of what they look like, or want to buy your first caladium.
These plants add fantastic colour and foliage to indoor and outdoor spaces, but they are high maintenance, have no frost tolerance, and can be difficult to grow. For this reason, we’ve put together a caladium plant care blog, so you can enjoy these beautiful plants without worrying about damaging or killing them.
What Are Caladium Tubers?
As you are about to find out, understanding what caladium tubers are is essential to mastering caladium plant care.
Tubers are the underground stems that plants produce - they grow in the soil and store nutrients for the next season of growth.
You will need to do some research, look these tubers up and figure out what you should be looking for during certain stages of a caladium’s life.
Can You Grow Caladiums Indoors?
The short answer to this is yes. In fact, because caladiums hate the cold and frost, you will need to bring them indoors during the winter period. Caladium tubers are so sensitive to the cold that they will die if you don’t bring them indoors.
On top of this, caladiums will only produce leaves when the seasons are milder - from April to October. In the winter they can be bare and less-than-sightly. Many growers tire of the stark-looking stems during this rest period, and become impatient with these plants, preferring more hardy, low-maintenance species, which produce foliage all year. Keep reading to find out how to care for caladiums indoors, and how to master caladium care over winter.
Caladium Plant Care -How To Handle Humidity
If you wish to grow caladiums exclusively as indoor plants, there are certain conditions you can and must create for them. Caladiums traditionally grow in warm climates, so they require humidity. In the winter houses with central heating can be too dry for these plants to thrive.
If you want to simulate a humid climate for these plants, you could try using a humidifier, or mist the leaves frequently using a plant mister glass bottle. Alternatively, you can use a pebble tray (which you can make by simply filling a low tray with pebbles and water and placing it under or near your caladium plant pot). The evaporation of this liquid adds much-needed moisture to the room.
Try to keep your caladium away from radiators and heating vents, as these will just serve to further dry your plant out.
Caladium Plant Care - Getting The Right Amount Of Light
If you’re growing your caladium plant indoors then you will need to give it good access to sunlight, whilst ensuring that you don’t scorch the leaves by leaving it in the midday sun.
As you will learn, caladiums are goldilocks plants, they are highly sensitive. For this reason, caladium care over winter can be tough, as the sun is often low or the sky overcast. Consider buying an artificial sunlight lamp, which will enable you to control the lighting conditions the plant is exposed to - not too much, not too little!
Alternatively, ensure that you try putting your caladium plant in front of a northern or eastern window - as this will give it good exposure. In the unlikely event that there’s an uncannily sunny or “scorching” winter day, you can always move your plant temporarily, out of the sun's rays.
Caladium Plant Care - What To Do About Fertilizer
You should avoid the temptation to fertilize your caladium during the winter - it will only need fertilizer in the months it is growing - spring and summer. In autumn and winter you should treat your caladium as a hibernating creature, which won’t thank you for fertilizer and other soil additives.
However, you should still continue to water your plant over the colder months - check when the soil is dry. Don’t water your caladium if the soil is damp, as this could lead to overwatering, which may result in root rot and other issues that tend to plague plants when it gets cold and they are sat in too much moist soil.
Important Tips For Caladium Plant Care Over Winter
As a rule of thumb, you should try to keep your caladium in an area which is roughly 18 C in temperature. With this in mind, you should consider asking someone to look after your plant if you’re going away for a few weeks over winter and won’t be keeping the heating on - otherwise, you might come back to a dead plant!
Additionally, when the leaves begin to fall off and die during the autumn, you should allow them to fall away and die back and then, finally, cut off the shrivelled remnants. At this point, take the tubers, allow them to fully dry and then put them in peat or a sack. Alternatively, do nothing, leave the tubers where they are and then just stop watering your caladium until spring.
Once spring arrives, you should remove your tubers from their peat or sack and pot them. Otherwise, just start rewatering your old pot where the tubers have regrown.
Once you have your new season of tubers, make sure your pot is in a slightly better lit space, as it will require more sunlight during the first few months of regrowth.
If you want to keep your caladium outside in the warmer months, this is the time to do that - move the pot back outdoors until autumn and resume the whole process!
That’s A Wrap
We hope this has been a helpful guide outlining the ritual of caladium plant care, and how to implement caladium care over winter. As you may be thinking, caladiums are indeed a high maintenance plant species. However, their delicate, ephemeral nature is part of what makes them so special to care for. The joy you feel when this beautiful plant regrows, despite all the hardships of a cold, bleak winter, is truly incomparable.