- Caladiums are great for brightening, shady areas.
- Caladiums are ideal for containers, including windowboxes.
- Caladium foliage adds drama to cut flower arrangements.
Caladium Common Pest and Cultural Problems
Bacterial Leaf Spot: First signs are small translucent spots with a broad yellowish edge that slowly enlarge and become angular or irregularly circular with a reddish center. It thrives in cooler temperatures. Burpee Recommends: Remove infected plants and do not plant in the same location next year. Avoid overhead watering. Do not work around plants when they are wet.
Fusarium Wilt: is one of the most damaging plant diseases because of its spread during periods of hot weather. The first symptom of fusarium is the appearance of a few yellow leaves or a slight drooping of the lower leaves. Caused by a soil-borne fungus, the fungus enters through the roots and passes up into the stem producing toxic substances. Burpee Recommends: Destroy affected plants at the first sign of fusarium and rotate crops.
Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps who feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.
Caterpillars: There are various caterpillars that feed on caladiums making holes in the foliage. Burpee Recommends: Pick off and destroy or collect for birds.
Slugs: These pests leave large holes in the foliage or eat leaves entirely. They leave a slime trail, feed at night and are mostly a problem in damp weather. Burpee Recommends: Hand pick, at night if possible. You can try attracting the slugs to traps either using cornmeal or beer. For a beer trap, dig a hole in the ground and place a large cup or bowl into the hole; use something that has steep sides so that the slugs can’t crawl back out when they’re finished. Fill the bowl about ¾ of the way full with beer, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, the bowl should be full of drowned slugs that can be dumped out for the birds to eat. For a cornmeal trap, put a tablespoon or two of cornmeal in a jar and put it on its side near the plants. Slugs are attracted to the scent but they cannot digest it and it will kill them. You can also try placing a barrier around your plants of diatomaceous earth or even coffee grounds. They cannot crawl over these.
Sunscald: Leaves are bleached and faded, often turn white with brown crispy edges. There are no signs of pests and diseases. Plants were usually recently moved. The bright light and heat from the sun break down the chlorophyll which leads to death of the leaf. Burpee Recommends: Transplant caladiums to a spot that has more shade in the afternoon. Do not place caladiums in a south or south-west exposure.
Caladium Frequently Asked Questions
Do caladiums produce flowers? Yes, but the flowers are usually hidden by the colorful foliage. Many gardeners remove them to keep the strength in the plant.
Can I start caladiums inside? Yes, caladiums tend to emerge fairly late in spring, even early summer, when planted directly in the garden so many gardeners prefer to start them early indoors. Start them about 6 weeks before last frost. Plant one inch deep in pots large enough to accommodate the bulbs, use a good quality potting soil. Keep the soil barely moist but not wet. A heat mat can make them emerge more quickly.
Why are my caladiums short? Stunting can occur if the bulbs were stored in a cold place. Make sure the bulbs are stored above 60 degrees. Never allow bulbs to freeze.
Why haven’t my caladiums emerged? I planted them four weeks ago. Caladiums tend to emerge late because the soil must be thoroughly warm, which can take a long time because they are planted in the shade. Sometimes they may surprise you by emerging in summer. Another reason could be that they were planted upside down. The flat side should go down, knobby side up.