Caladiums perenializing???

haley45(7b)April 17, 2009

Hi everyone, I'm usually a lurker and have decided to come out of the "shadows" :)

Has anyone ever had caladiums come back after being left in the ground over winter? I thought that they were tropicals that only liked soil that is warmer than like 70 degrees. The reason that I'm asking is because just down from my office, in the middle of a bed of purple pansies in the median at 20th Street N & 1st Avenue N in Birmingham (in front of the old Bromberg's for those familiar with the area), there are a bunch of mostly red caladiums that have come up, and I'm 99% sure are the same ones that were there last there ain't no way that anyone decided to plant red caladiums in the middle of purple pansies :). I just got a kick out of it and wondered if anyone else had ever had a similar experience. Maybe it was just a fluke where the soil stays warmer since they are planted in the road median.

Anyways, I'm bummed because I was hoping to get to meet some of ya'll at the Spring Swap in a few weeks, but I won't get to make it because the family is celebrating my Grandma's birthday...and as much as I love plants and gardening, celebrating another birthday at her age is a true blessing and I wouldn't miss it for the world! Looking forward to the fall swap though!

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Hi, Haley!

Caladiums are warm climate perennial tubers, and can come back year after year with some coaxing. However, it would sure be a surprise to see that happen when planted outdoors in Birmingham, I believe. They are quite apt to rot and freeze when subjected to anything but a dry, warmish dormant period.

Let's see if others have experiences to the contrary?

By the way, red and purple has become quite the popular color combination of late. All they need is to add some orange.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 1:01PM
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I believe it is as you suspect - the concrete soaking up warmth by day and slowly releasing it at night has created a little "micro-climate" that allows the caladium tubers to survive.

I planted bedding begonias 11 years ago along a retaining wall in my front yard. The next year one came up from seed just underneath the wall, and has continued to come back year after year for almost 10 years now. The wall soaks up and retains enough heat to protect the begonia during winter. Sometimes Mother Nature likes to throw us a curve ball!


    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 1:41PM
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tedevore(7b Al)

Even its not not swap time, some of us who live close keep in touch and meet and trade stuff or give away overgrown divisions, whatever, during the year.
And when I try to make room after the swap, you could get some stuff from my garden! I keep getting neat plants that I would never have thought of growing that I love. But the people are the best part of the swaps.
Gardeners, birders, and such are my kind of folks.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 7:27PM
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tedevore(7b Al)

Oh-one caladium related item that sort of makes me crazy every year:
The Univ. landscaping crews fill huge planters outside my building each year with caladiums, and then towards the fall I seem them pulling them up and throwing them in the truck to be thrown away. When you ask them, they will tell you they HAVE to be thrown away as part of their contract (which is probably a zillion dollars) with some big supplier.
Of course they may not even know you can store them.
Just in case you thought govt. waste hadn't crept into the the pretty plant arena.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 7:45PM
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My late wife was a Birmingham Police officer. She used to bring home plants all the time. She worked the beat down Hwy 280 and said that a couple of the landscapers told her where they "dumped" the plants. Trouble is, she never told me where.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 9:32PM
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rhizo_1 - thanks for your response! I generally don't mind red/purple together, but these just look a little out of place since they are just randomly popping up in the middle of a sea of purple pansies :)

Nelson, that's funny about your begonia. I was visiting with one of my neighbors a couple of weeks ago, and most of her plain old bedding begonias that she planted in her backyard last summer were comming back! The surprising thing with hers is that they aren't against a brick wall or anything that absorbs heat!

Todd - That is so generous of you to offer to share some of your divisions! I would really appreciate that. I know that I have some irises that I can share, if you're interested, and also some baby perennial salvias and who knows what else. I don't know the name of the iris because I inherited them, but they are bearded and mostly a pretty blueish purple color (a few are yellow). Also, doesn't that just kill you that someone contracted to just throw away all those plants?! I'm interested to see if the city's landscape crew leaves them there when they rip out the pansies in a couple of weeks. I have a feeling that the caladiums will come up with the pansies...I guess we'll see!

sundog7 - I have always wanted to ask the landscape crew what they do with their plants when they dump them...if I find the secret dumping plant, I'll let you know! :)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 1:08AM
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Several years ago, I used black crossties for edging a flower bed. I had these caladiums "Christmas Cheer" planted just behind the timbers. I was surprised when they came back the next year, indeed yes. They were planted where they got good protection and lots of winter sun. They only lasted through that one winter to have a fine showing the second summer. By the next summer, only a few came up.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 11:52PM
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It is mostly going to depend on how mild the winter is. A mild winter and caladiums in a protected mini-climate where the soil is warm and drains well, probably will result in some caladiums coming back. If we have one of those weeks in December or January where the temps don't rise above 40, the soil is wet from rain or a snow, and the ground actually freezes, then you will probably lose them. Mocassinlanding is in Mobile and she has related how her caladiums came back only one year and winters are a lot milder in Mobile than in Zone 7b.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 8:40AM
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I guess that I was so amused with them because I'm still a newbie (I just started gardening after we bought our first house in May 2007). So while I probably would not have even noticed it or thought twice about it a year or two ago, it just caught my eye because I knew that they weren't supposed to do that.

As an update, I was so upset to see where the landscaping crew ripped them out last week along with all the pansies. What a waste! Whenever they get around to planting the summer annuals, I have a suspicion that they will just be planting more caladiums to replace those that they just ripped out!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 4:34PM
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