There are not so many decorative leafy pets among tuberous crops. And Caladium is a true star among the variegated inhabitants of interiors. Not everyone can decide to start a Caladium. This plant is demanding, and first of all – to care. But still, rumors about the extraordinary capriciousness of the Caladiums never justify. Attention and care allow you to avoid any difficulties. And a plant can almost always forgive small mistakes. The gorgeous shades of the leaves and the intricate patterns of charming, daring and at the same time so delicate caladiums can enchant anyone.
Caladiums are incredibly bright and moderately capricious. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Alex Mielnikau
Caladium – plant description
Caladiums are often referred to as some of the noblest indoor crops. Not having hard leathery leaves, but remaining thin-leaved and delicate, they are truly unique in their character, and in the choice of varieties, and in the impression they make in the interior. Caladiums are perceived as classic, but vibrant plants, real aristocrats with their own special disposition.
Charming representatives of the Aroid family are endemic to the flora of Latin America. All caladiums are found in humid forests, mainly in tropical, but sometimes subtropical climates. The popular nicknames of Caladiums are a vivid testimony to their beauty. This plant is known as Angel wings, elephant ears, heart of jesus и angel tubers.
Caladiums (aladium) – tuberous decorative deciduous herbaceous perennials. Rough, flattened, large, up to 10 cm in diameter, the tubers of the plant seem to be very massive. The adventitious roots are fibrous and small, develop evenly at the bottom of the tuber.
The height of the plant directly depends on the variety and ranges from 20 cm in the most compact varieties to 30-40 cm in most hybrids and almost 70 cm in the largest-leaved specimens. But all the same, caladiums remain compact enough, they never look massive and overwhelming. It is a fast growing, albeit special, plant that looks like a lush, bushy bush of leaves.
In the development of all caladiums there is a pronounced dormant period: the plant sheds its leaves and “hibernates” with one tuber. Caladiums develop somewhat unevenly: it usually takes almost two weeks for them to unfold the first leaf, but then the plants start growing much faster and turn into lush bushes with numerous leaves in a fairly short time.
Modern hybrids often release leaves from the soil throughout the year or have a shifted dormancy period. Traditionally, Caladiums shed their leaves in the fall and stay dry all winter. But plants, like any tuberous, can be driven out at other times.
Bright and large, very beautiful, whole leaves of Caladium are irresistible. Heart-shaped, with a very pointed tip and a very beautiful base, caladium leaves appear translucent and very light. They are not as dense as your favorite large-leaved indoor competitors. Leaves grow on very long and fleshy petioles.
The leaf shape can range from narrower and elongated to more rounded, but the heart-shaped base of the leaves makes it easy to identify the Caladium even from a distance. Leaf sizes range from 10 to 30 cm, while the width is almost always half the length.
The color scheme and flowering of caladiums
The luxurious, small, intricate patterns of caladiums are a trait without which this plant cannot be imagined. On, as a rule, a fairly light base color, contrasting veins appear – white, pink, red patterns. They resemble either marble or complex ornaments.
Caladiums have a limited range of colors, but no one would call it boring. It is believed that it is this plant that has the most original and varied colors among all perennial decorative deciduous stars. White-green or red-green combinations are embodied in different shades and unexpected contrasts. Bright scarlet, crimson pink, creamy, creamy, silvery white combined with all shades of medium and dark green highlight caladiums against any background.
Despite the status of a purely decorative leafy plant, caladiums bloom, and quite effectively, but rarely in indoor conditions. The peduncle of the plant begins to grow after the full disclosure of the fourth leaf. Caladiums produce ears of a light yellow tone surrounded by a white-light green blanket. The plant fades in a few days; when pollinated, spherical berries of the fruit quickly develop at the place of the cob.
Types of indoor caladiums
In room culture, caladiums are mainly represented by hybrid, varietal plants, in which even the original species are not always indicated. Most often on the shelves there are large-leaved, relentlessly releasing leaves almost all year round, famous for the marble contrasting patterns on the leaves, hybrid varieties of two-color caladium.
Caladium bicolor (Сaladium bicolor) Is a luxurious species with very large leaves, which the tuber releases tirelessly, without a long dormant period. Heart-shaped or arrow-shaped, large leaves up to 30 cm long sit on very long petioles and create surprisingly airy bushes that do not seem heavy even because of their leaf size.
All varieties of this caladium are characterized by a marble effect; contrasting dark patterns are found in modern varieties as often as ordinary white or red ones.
Luxurious leaves will not leave fans of Caladiums indifferent caladium Linden (Caladium lindenii) – like luxurious arrows, ideally symmetrical, they rise on long and thick petioles, conquering with luminous white veins, folding into unusual patterns.
Caladium Schomburg (Caladium schomburgkii) Is a plant with contrasting patterns between the veins and an elongated heart-shaped leaf, capable of growing up to 15 cm in diameter.
Caladium Humboldt (Caladium humboldtii) – once one of the most popular caladiums. Famous for its smaller arrow-shaped leaves. With a length of only up to 10 cm, the leaves of varieties of this species always flaunt with a light or white spot in the center, eroding towards the edges, and lighter radially diverging veins.
Growing conditions for indoor caladiums
Caladiums are not accidentally known as real sissies. They are so demanding on temperatures during the period of active growth, so cold-fearing that it is not always easy to provide them with a comfortable environment, even by lovers of other tropical exotics.
Caladiums pay the price for their extremely stringent temperature requirements with their ability to adapt to milder lighting conditions. But here, too, their unpretentiousness is very relative.
Caladiums must be grown very carefully: the plant is one of the poisonous, the juice can irritate the mucous membranes and skin. Any caladium treatment, including transplantation or hygiene measures, requires hand protection.
Lighting and placement
Caladiums are considered to be plants that adapt well to the place inside the interior. But they cannot be called shade-tolerant, let alone shade-loving. They do not lose patterns on leaves and growth rates only in partial shade or in diffused bright light, and in the depths of rooms they cannot develop normally.
Of course, it is not necessary to put them on the windowsills, but the lighting should still remain bright enough. When choosing lighting for Caladium, it is worth remembering that the more contrasting patterns and the more flowers appear on the leaves, the more light-loving the plant is.
The delicate, slender leaves of caladiums are hypersensitive to direct sun. They are instantly covered with burns and do not even tolerate midday rays. Lighting for caladiums should be diffused, and special attention should be paid to protection from direct sunlight on hot days. They are comfortable on the western and eastern windowsills, but not on the southern ones.
For caladiums that have entered the dormant stage and are outside or in the soil in a completely dry and warm wintering state, lighting is irrelevant. Pots of tubers can be placed even in a dark room. If the tubers are removed from the soil for a dormant period, they must be protected from light and kept in slightly damp sawdust or peat, paper bags, preventing the tissues from drying out.
Caladiums are ideal candidates for landscaping those areas where the natural environment is warm and high humidity. Bathroom and kitchen are great options for this culture. But only on condition of protection against temperature surges.
In living rooms, it is better to place caladiums separately: their leaves are much inferior in density to the chosen favorites, and against the background of other decorative deciduous plants, caladiums may look slightly inconspicuous.
Caladiums work best with plants with very small leaves and beautiful flowering, crops that tend to look sloppy and sprawling.
Temperature control and ventilation
Caladiums are one of the most thermophilic plants. Only temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius are considered normal for this culture. Even when dropping leaves and hibernating outside the soil, tubers should not be kept cool, the permissible minimum air temperature for wintering remains 18-20 degrees. At extremely high temperatures, the tubers dry out quickly and it is difficult for them to find the right storage conditions.
During the period of active growth, it is better to keep caladiums in a stable heat, but without heat. The ideal range for plants to fully reveal their decorative effect is 22-25 degrees Celsius.
Caladiums love stability. They are extremely sensitive not only to temperature extremes, but also to any drafts. The plant should be placed in a secluded, cozy place with an almost unchanging atmosphere.
Caring for Caladium at Home
Many gardeners find Caladiums whimsical, capricious and very difficult to grow. The thing is that they are extremely dependent on the indicators of air humidity and cannot develop normally in the dry air of living rooms. High humidity for them is mandatory and vital, while watering the plant, and feeding it too, must be very careful.
Watering and air humidity
Caladiums don’t like dampness. They are moisture-loving only in relation to air humidity. Overflows, wetting tubers for caladium are very dangerous. The uniform moisture content of the caladium substrate is maintained by frequent, but not abundant watering. The potted soil should dry out partially in the upper half, remaining slightly damp at all times. Drought, complete drying of the substrate stops the growth of caladium, therefore, it is undesirable to skip water procedures for this capricious plant.
After the leaves fall off the caladiums, watering is completely stopped. But it is better to cut them from the moment when the caladium stops growing and without waiting for all the leaves to drop. Watering is reduced gradually, making it increasingly rare. The resumption of watering is carried out immediately after transplantation.
Caladiums are lovers of high air humidity. The more stable these indicators, the better the plant develops and the more beautiful the leaves. Plants love spraying (subject to fine dispersion of droplets). They grow well when installing pallets with water, moss or expanded clay. Providing at least average humidity values, you can achieve much more decorativeness from the plant.
Top dressing and composition of fertilizers
For caladiums, fertilizers can only be applied during the period of active growth. For this plant, it is very easy to select the frequency and period of feeding: as soon as the growth of shoots resumes, standard feeding is included in the care program (2 times a month). But the amount of fertilizers is reduced in comparison with those recommended for the first 4–5 procedures.
Caladium starts feeding not when the first sprout appears, but after the first leaf has unfolded. In the first few weeks, the plant is quite content with the reserves of nutrients in the soil.
For caladium, you can use two types of fertilizers – special for Aroid or tuberous and bulbous, in extreme cases – fertilizers for decorative deciduous crops. If possible, it is better to choose complex, mineral-organic preparations or alternate fertilizing with mineral and organic fertilizers.
Caladiums love foliar feeding. After deploying more than 5 leaves, part of the dressings can be replaced with foliar procedures. The temperature and quality of water for foliar feeding should be carefully monitored: soft, warm water and a standard dose of fertilizers according to the manufacturer’s instructions will help to avoid mistakes and the appearance of spots on the leaves. For caladiums, solutions are sprayed from a long distance, preventing large drops of water from accumulating on the leaves.
Pruning and shaping caladium
The main mistake in growing caladiums is cutting off dying leaves. As with bulbous plants, in caladiums, the tuber absorbs nutrients from the leaves. And when they wither before a dormant period, it is worth waiting for them to dry out.
Containers and substrate
The substrate for caladiums is selected from among very light, permeable soil mixtures. For this plant, it is better to choose special substrates for caladium or for Aroids, in extreme cases – for bulbous and tuberous crops, be sure to add sphagnum to improve the structure.
If the soil is compiled on its own, it is advisable to use a mixture of peat and leafy earth with quartz or coarse sand and additives of ash and moss. It is better to sterilize non-potable soil mixtures. Soil pH values should remain within neutral values.
Caladiums prefer medium-sized, but deep enough containers. Their size is selected according to the size of the tuber, adding no more than 4 cm in diameter. Caladiums are traditionally planted one plant at a time, only small tubers are grouped during growing, leaving 2-3 cm between them for growth and development.
A high drainage layer is laid on the bottom – at least a third of the height of the container itself. It is better to add charcoal to any materials, but caladiums develop best when using expanded clay as a drainage layer.
Caladiums are transplanted annually. Regardless of whether the tubers were taken out of the soil and kept dry outside the substrate, or the tubers were left in pots, replanting in early spring – in March or late February – “starts” a new stage of development. If tubers are bought, they are first germinated, allowing the buds to “hatch”, and then planted. When digging up tubers, you should immediately separate the daughter plants.
A high drainage layer is laid at the bottom of the containers. Tubers that have been preserved outside the soil are carefully examined, removing dry roots and damaged tissues, treated wounds, soaked in a solution of fungicides of low concentration and first germinated in sand or perlite, in bright light and warm. And only then they are planted in the main container (in caladiums it is not always possible to determine the top and bottom of the tuber, and usually they wait for the buds to peck before planting).
When transplanting caladiums overwintered in the soil, the tubers are completely freed from the soil, cleaned and planted in light soil, trying to maintain the same level of deepening. Deep planting is contraindicated for caladiums: it is advisable to set the tubers strictly horizontally, buds up, leaving about 1 cm to the surface if you want to get smaller and thicker leaves, up to a third of the tuber height – for larger and fewer leaves. The standard planting depth is 5 to 10 cm.
Watering after planting is best replaced with gentle spraying of the soil for very light moisture. Since they wake up, the plants start to grow just after transplanting, the pots with caladiums should be immediately exposed to a sunny place and warm.
Removing the upper kidney can stimulate more even development. But under good conditions and without this procedure, caladiums grow lush leaves. Normal watering is resumed only after the beginning of the growth of the first leaf. Top dressing is introduced into the care program only after the first leaf has fully developed and the plant begins to actively grow.
Diseases, pests and problems in growing caladium
Caladiums are considered pest-resistant plants. The only pest that threatens them in indoor conditions is aphid, which simply adores the colored leaves of caladiums. Of course, with constant dampness of the soil, caladiums suffer from rot, which can only be dealt with by an emergency transplant with the removal of damaged parts and treatment with fungicides.
Reproduction of caladiums
This tuberous plant is easy to propagate vegetatively – by separating daughter tubers as independent plants. The separation is carried out when the tuber is excavated from the soil before a dormant period or transplant. It is advisable to plant each plant in a separate container; in the first days, conditions should be mild and optimal for fast and high-quality rooting.
If the tubers develop poorly, are very large, the number of children is unsatisfactory or they are not formed at all, you can also divide the large caladium tuber by cutting it into pieces with 2 or 3 buds in each. Processing of sections with charcoal, drying require accuracy and impeccable cleanliness. The plots are planted in light soil and rooted with very light substrate moisture.
Very rarely, but caladiums are propagated by leaf cuttings. Cutting is carried out at the very base of the cutting. Rooting is best done in water, keeping the temperature slightly warm. Cuttings can be planted in the ground only after the formation of tiny nodules. For the first period of dormancy, caladiums obtained by cuttings are sent only after the tubers grow to 5-6 mm in diameter.
The seeds of the plant very quickly lose their germination; when buying, you need to be careful and follow the dates indicated on the packages. Sowing is carried out in a standard substrate, under a hood or film. Caladium seeds can sprout only at temperatures from 25 to 30 degrees.
Despite the fact that caladiums sprout quickly, growing plants is not easy. Very high air humidity in combination with light soil moisture, the requirement to irrigate with warm and purified, soft water and extreme sensitivity to falling temperatures make you tirelessly care for young plants. Seedlings are planted after the formation of small, but full-fledged nodules.