11 How to Care for Caladiums A Growing Guide All About 2022

11 How to Care for Caladiums A Growing Guide All About 2022

Caladiums are known for their big, heart-shaped leaves that display amazing color combinations of white, pink, red and green. These are plants that thrive in hot, humid weather and that usually grow best in full to partial shade.

Caladium is a genus of flowering plants in the family Araceae. They are often known by the common name elephant ear, heart of Jesus, and angel wings. There are over 1000 named cultivars of Caladium bicolor from the original South American plant. 

  • Subfamily: Aroideae
  • Family: Araceae
  • Order: Alismatales
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Tribe: Caladieae
  • Genus: Caladium; Vent.
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Caladium is a beautiful tropical plant with large, colorful leaves. They come mainly from Brazil and Guyana and neighboring regions in South and Central America, where they grow in open areas of the jungle, their natural habitat. They say it is a complicated plant when grown as a houseplant, but it is not impossible with proper care. Today we will analyze the cultivation of this plant that can fill your home with color without the need for any flower.

2. Table of contents

  • 1 Characteristic of Caladium
  • 2 Caladium care
    • 2.1 Substrate
    • 2.2 Location
    • 2.3 Irrigation
    • 2.4 Humidity
    • 2.5 Light
    • 2.6 Fertilizer
  • 3 Rest period of Caladium
  • 4 Multiplication of Caladium


Caladium is a herbaceous plant with deciduous leaves that come out at the end of stems born directly from the tuber under the ground. They can reach 30 cm in height and have a very varied color where cream, pink, red tones stand out on a green background. In total, you can find up to twelve species, but the Caladium bicolor has more than 1000 different variations of tonalities. Although the plant produces flowers, they are not its main attraction, and it is difficult for them to appear outside their natural habitat.

Caladium can be grown as a houseplant in places where the temperature remains high and high humidity. You can feel comfortable in a greenhouse or a gallery dedicated to collecting plants, where the atmosphere is optimal. Still, in a living room or another room in our house, it is somewhat more complicated and requires a lot of attention.

I do not want to forget to say that, due to the shape of the leaves and their considerable size (up to 15 and 45 cm in length and width, respectively), Caladium is popularly known as ” angel wings ” and ” elephant ear .”If you look at the shape of the foliage, it may remind you of an Alocasia or a Syngonium, plants with which it is related within the Araceae family.



Choose a light, water-permeable substrate for Caladium. You can use a commercial mix specifically for bulbs and tubers to add moss to improve structure.

Caladium prefers a small but deep enough container. Select its measure according to the size of the tuber, adding up to 4 cm more in diameter at most.


The Caladium thrives in warm climates, so do what you can to simulate this condition. They need an average temperature of at least 18ºC (65ºF), but avoid placing them near air conditioners or heat radiators because they are very sensitive. Since they grow best in humidity, humid places like the bathroom or kitchen are good. They will also do better if they are grouped with other plants to increase the humidity levels. A pebble or gravel tray can also be helpful: fill a saucer large enough to hold the pot with pebbles and a little water. Keep the water level below the bottom of the pot to prevent root rot.


The soil must be kept moist but not soggy at all times. Water whenever you notice the top of the substrate dry. Pour water into the pot until it drains out of the drainage holes, let it drain a little, then add more. If you use a saucer or a cover pot, empty the excess water to prevent the root from remaining wet for a long time and to rot. Be careful not to splash water on the leaves when watering because it could cause stains on them.

11 How to Care for Caladiums A Growing Guide All About 2022


Although Caladium needs moisture in its environment, its leaves are very sensitive to water. It is not advisable to resort to spraying water on them. The best options are:

  • Place it in a room with high humidity.
  • Group it with other plants.
  • Put a plate with gravel and water under the pot.


Caladium is a plant that needs a lot of light. Some species can withstand direct sun, but it is better to avoid it. Put it near a window that provides bright light and prevents sunlight from shining on it. I have plants in front of a south-facing window, and I stop the sun from shining through the curtains when direct rays enter. It works well.


The fertilization of this plant is done only during the growth period. The frequency and fertilization period are simple: wait for the plant to unfold the first leaf before the first feed application fully. During the first weeks, the plant has a sufficient reserve of nutrients. After this first application, fertilize regularly every 15 days.

With Caladium, you can use two commercial fertilizers: fertilizer for bulbous and tuberous plants or fertilizer for ornamental deciduous plants. But whenever possible, use organic food with all your plants: worm castings are, in particular, a good nutrient for this species, and it is always advisable to alternate it with chemical fertilizers.


If you’ve been taking proper care of your Caladium and the leaves are starting to dry out and fall off, don’t worry. Caladium is a tuberous plant; it grows from a tuber and needs a period of rest every year. Once all the leaves have dried, remove them from the tuber and allow them to hibernate somewhere warm.

 You can keep it in the pot if you put it somewhere where the temperature doesn’t drop below 15ºC (60ºF), and water lightly once a month. You can also dig it up, let it dry, and store it in a warm, dry place for the winter. You can replant in the spring, and the Caladium will be reborn year after year.

Please don’t cut the leaves when they start to wilt; let them dry completely. As with bulbs, the Caladium tuber absorbs nutrients from the leaves. When they begin to decay before the rest period, you have to wait until they dry out.


11 How to Care for Caladiums A Growing Guide All About 2022
11 How to Care for Caladiums A Growing Guide All About 2022

Caladium propagation is done by dividing the tubers. To propagate Caladium, you have to divide the tubers in the spring. If you take them out of the pot in winter, you can take advantage of that moment to separate them. It would help if you kept them in a dry and warm room around 20ºC.

Loosen the soil around the plant until the tuber comes out, brush off any clinging dirt and trim off any dead or damaged foliage with scissors. Inspect the tuber and remove any damaged or rotten buds. Sprinkle with a fungicide to prevent infection on healthy tubers.

Select healthy tubers to replant the new season. Each tuber has several shoots surrounding a larger central one. To stimulate the growth of more shots and get more foliage, use a sharp knife to gently cut and lift the center shoot. It encourages more small shoots to grow, leading to a fuller, busier plant.

Caladiums are plants of tropical origin that are surprised by the beauty and color of their leaves. Its bulbs lose their leaves in autumn or with the drop in temperatures, and they need a period of rest to sprout the following spring strongly. They are grown indoors or outdoors, in the ground or pots.

How to care for a Caladium

Light and temperature

Caladiums are plants that can be grown indoors and outdoors as long as we know their light and temperature needs well and provide them. They develop without problems in sunny locations but direct sun, and in terms of temperatures, they do not support the cold.

In outside, for example, they grow smoothly in a garden in a warm climate, under the trees, or in a place where not receive direct sunlight. They can be raised directly in the ground, in pots, and in planters, where they would rest their time with the bulbs underground.

In gardens located in cold areas, it will be necessary to remove the bulbs from the ground or move the pots indoors

Indoors are not as demanding in light as other plants that we have already talked about on the blog, so it is not necessary to prioritize their position in front of a window. It grows without problems in spaces with natural light, and its beautiful foliage will add a touch of color to the decoration.

Regardless of their place of cultivation, the plants will lose their leaves with the first cold temperatures and could die at temperatures below 15ºC.

Substrate and transplant

Caladium leaves can grow to a considerable size and are heart-shaped.

Like any other bulbous, it welcomes well-drained soils that avoid waterlogging. To achieve that permeability, you can use a universal substrate and add some perlite or river sand to it.

They can also be grown directly in the soil, as long as the soil is not clayey or too compact. In these cases, it might be better to keep the Caladium in pots or transplant it to planters to keep the soil in optimal condition.


Caladium is a plant that requires more abundant watering than other bulbous ones. The quantity and the frequency should increase as the plant develops, avoiding wetting its leaves. The foliage does not stop growing during the summer, reaching a considerable size, so it is very important to prevent the plants from going thirsty.

The new leaves of the Caladium remain coiled during their growth, unfolding slowly to continue developing.

The leaves are supported on long stems that emerge from the bulb and can reach 1 meter in height. They tend to fold in on themselves if they lack hydration. Caladiums are from the same calla lily family, but the stems are not as thick. If the leaves are bent, the fibers are snapped and never regain their verticality.

Of course, the leaf remains alive despite this so that it can be trained with thin rods, similar to those used for orchids.

When the plant enters the resting period, the waterings must be suspended and wait for the temperatures to rise before watering again and restarting its growth.


11 How to Care for Caladiums A Growing Guide All About 2022
11 How to Care for Caladiums A Growing Guide All About 2022

As it is a plant that is cultivated for the beauty of its leaves, it is advisable to use a fertilizer rich in nitrogen, which favors its growth. A universal fertilizer or indoor plant is perfect for them, with a dose that will vary depending on the manufacturer. If you opt for a liquid one, it is usual to pay them once every fifteen days, throughout the spring and summer.

On the left, the Caladium flowers, nothing spectacular, although they also appear indoors. On the right, one more specimen of vibrant and colorful leaves.

As always, I end up sharing my personal experience with Caladiums after two years of indoor cultivation: I have achieved identical results extracting the bulbs from soil and keeping them in the same pot. They have all sprung again without problems in the spring and have gifted me a similar amount of foliage.

Of course, when the plant began to dry out, I cut the leaves (which made the plant ugly) and let the stems continue their natural drying process until they became brittle, and I was able to cut at ground level. At that point, I suspended watering, while another plant that I missed before it naturally dried out did not sprout with the same force the following spring.

It leads me to wonder if you have ever grown Caladiums. How about your experience? We would love to read your tricks in the comments to continue learning about these wonderful plants.

Is caladium a good indoor plant?

When grown indoors, they do best with lots of heat, bright but indirect light, and plenty of 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, which is normal

How do you take care of a caladium?

Caladium is a greenhouse plant that appreciates heat and moisture. Regular but moderate watering is thus called for. All year long, and especially during summer, spray water on the leaves to recreate the moisture levels of its natural habitat. Keep the soil mix a bit moist and check that water drains properly.

Is caladium an annual or perennial?

Caladium is often grown as a summer annual for the colorful foliage. Caladiums are tropical perennials with colorful, heart-shaped leaves native to tropical forests in South and Central America that have pronounced wet and dry seasons.

Do caladiums last all year?

Caladiums grow from bulbs and can come back each year. However, they are short-lived as perennials and do not survive cold temperatures, so they are often treated as annuals.

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