luv2gro(z3a AB)April 4, 2006

OK, so I've got a bag of 18 caladium. Now what?

I know that I have to start them ahead of time but the information on when is all over the board. There are people in Texas not starting them until late May when the soil warms up to 80°F - this must be directly planting them. But then I read somewhere that these take 2 months to sprout. Somewhere else - zone 4, I think, was saying that she starts hers in early May for planting out June 1st.

What do we do here? I really don't want to start 18 of them too early, believe me. Between the vines, the elephant ears and now the castor beans, I'll be hard pressed to find room for a tray of tenders in my indoor setup, if I'm not careful.


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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Shauna, I planted mine 3 weeks ago and there are no signs of sprouts yet. They have been in pots on top of my dryer where is quite warm, and kept damp at all times. I don't know what's going on under the soil but they seem really slow to me. So I don't have an answer for you but you should likely allow at least that amount of time.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2006 at 12:29PM
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luv2gro(z3a AB)

Thanks, Gil. Looks like they're going into pots today. The dryer sounds like a great spot, except mine are the under counter style. So I won't get that much heat off of it.

I guess it's downstairs to the greenhouse. Can I start them in 3" pots? They should be fine in those until they go into the ground, wouldn't they?

Speaking of the dryer, I was pipedreaming about my outdoor greenhouse with DH the other day and we were contemplating making it right beside the house and running a vent from the dryer to the greenhouse to utilize the extra heat and moisture. Anyone tried this?


    Bookmark   April 4, 2006 at 12:56PM
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Shauna...I started my caladiums as soon as I got them...I planted the ones that would fit...into one of those really large 6 paks...the larger ones I planted in 2 1/2 inch pots and 4 inch pots.

They are on the heat around 70...wasn't seeing any top growth at upped the heat mat to around 80. This morning I investigated and dumped a pot to see what was happening.......there were two or three tiny pink buds they are starting.

I too checked out all the info I could find on here....Its very very confusing......running to each end of the my guess is....that they need to stay warm at least until they get going.

Oh ya and because I couldn't tell which was the top or bottom on some of them...I planted them sideways.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2006 at 1:25PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

I was wondering how yours were doing Sierra. Good to hear you've got bugs. ;0) I might have to dump mine out when I get home... haha. I hope it's warm enough on my dryer, it's not on all the time but at least it's a warm room. I was feeling generous and planted all mine in 6" pots - but I'm sure 3" is more than enough. I couldn't tell which way was up on any of mine - they were perfectly round. With peat moss stuck to them they looked like Tim Bits, they were lucky I didn't eat em. LOL.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2006 at 1:54PM
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Gil, on the home and garden website it said that even if you plant them upside down they will still grow. Hee hee I don't have room for 6 inch I plant in the smallest containers possible. And ya I was happy to see those little pink bugs haha.

Is anyone else having problems finding the regular size 6 paks tray inserts, this year? I ended up having to buy 9 paks, instead. I find if more difficult to get the plants out of the 9 paks at planting time...


    Bookmark   April 4, 2006 at 2:52PM
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Shauna, I am not in your zone or anything, but I thought I might put in my advice for the Caladiums, as I have learned to grow them from making all the mistakes! I currently have 400 Caladiums, have purchased 100 more (they wont ship them to me until late spring)for this year, and just bought 120 more bulk Caladiums from a garden shop, and that is not counting all the "babies" that I start also. Last year, I almost lost every one because I started them in an unheated room and set them out too early.

Caladiums should not be exposed to temps below 60 degrees, and I found this out the hard way last year, so dont even be tempted to set them outside until then. Also, if you pot them up in 4 inch or larger pots, and then dont provide any bottom heat (or a heated room), all that moisture in that pot will cause the soil temp to drop below 60 degrees. If your Caladiums sprout at all in these temps, they will just SIT THERE for weeks on end without growing at all, that is if they dont rot first.

The very best Caladium advice I ever got was to use a standard flat with moist peat moss and put your Caladiums in there, barely covered. Put this flat on a heat mat, or definitly in a heated room. They do not need any kind of artificial lighting, just regular light will be fine. About once a week, root through the flat and see if your Caladiums have sprouts or roots or not. If you see that they do, then it is time to pot them up. I use 4 inch pots exclusively (nothing larger) for large bulbs, and smaller pots for smaller ones. You may even want to wait until you see roots coming out before potting them up. You should only just barely cover the bulbs when you have potted them up.

The issue of how long it takes. Well,I can say from experience that newly purchased bulbs can take several weeks to sprout, whereas "dug up and stored" bulbs will sprout almost immediately. I store my Caladiums in my unheated but still room temperature basement in flats, after making sure they are bone dry all winter. I planted my Caladiums a month ago, and I already have 4 or 5 flats with their first couple leaves opened up. I think I read somewhere that newly purchased Caladiums have been dehydrated and that is why it takes so long.

So, if you have a spare heat mat (yeah right, at this time of year!), or a regular heating pad then your Caladiums should do great! Just dont let them dry out.

I have never posted on your Far North forum but I come here frequently becuase you all have the best photos on Gardenweb! Who would've thought that such great gardens would come from the Canada area! Keep up the GREAT work!!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 12:51AM
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luv2gro(z3a AB)

620+ Caladiums - WOW! And to think I'm worried about 18. LOL

I know that I am not alone in my many thanks to you for the terrific instructions. These are, by far, the best I have seen and they make so much sense. Thank you, thank you, thankkkk youuu. I didn't get a chance to pot them, yet, so I will put them into a flat in the morning.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 2:06AM
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luv2gro(z3a AB)

I decided that they just couldn't wait until morning, so I planted them up in ice cream buckets, in about 1" of soil. That way, I can move them around the shelves a bit, if need be, until they are ready to pot up.

There were two that had well developed roots and a shoot about 1/2" long. I potted those up into 4" pots. Many of them had tiny shoots and roots visible, so I managed to get those ones right side up. I think there were 3 or 4 that I couldn't tell. They, like yours, Gil, ended up sideways.

Now, we'll see how long they take to sprout up. The next problem will be in identifying each of them.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 2:57AM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Ellen thank you for joining us at the Far North to share your experience! I like your idea of the peat moss then planting, perhaps I will try that next year. I dumped out one of my caladiums just now to see what was happening, and it had a large root system and a 1"+ sprout just about to break the surface. I guess it just takes a little time. I am definitely going to be conservative about when to plant outside. And they will be going out in pots so I can bring them in if it gets cold.

BTW mine actually was facing the right way Shauna ;0) Just a lucky guess.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 10:51AM
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Shauna, if yours have sprouted already then you are off to a good start! As long as you keep them warm enough, they should take off quickly, though it may be a few weeks before you see the leaves unfurl. I think that is the fun of it! I never mark mine when I store them for winter, because I like the process of wondering which one they are going to be in their 4 inch pots. The Carolyn Whorton ones are always the first to open up, and you probably have some of those in your mixture.

I like to "know what I have got" to go in my garden so I have never tried planting them directly. I like to have proper spacing and to know exactly what kinds I have going where.

I am posting a picture that I took at the Missouri Botanical Garden last year of a shade garden with lots of Caladiums. I sure do wish I could take credit for these but they are not in my garden! But, maybe the photo will give you a bit of inspiration for mixing them with ferns and other shade plants.

One last note: I find that Caladiums in display look much nicer if you have three bulbs planted together, whether it be in containers (6 inch) or in a bed. This can get quite expensive if you are buying specialty Caladium, which sell for about $2 to $3 EACH.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 10:55AM
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Oops, I posted the wrong photo. This is the one I meant to post. It was impossible to get the entire bed into the whole picture, but I took this photo so I have a guideline for proper spacing of these plants for my own bed. I am attempting to do this same kind of display in my new courtyard this year.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 11:01AM
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abgardeneer(Z3, Calgary)

About running a pipe from your dryer exhaust to the greenhouse...
I can't really see using this as the primary heating system in a greenhouse, if that's what you are pondering...and I doubt it would make much difference even as a supplementary heating system. (And as far as adding humidity, believe me, there is no need to ADD humidity to a greenhouse, LOL!) It would be a lot more practical to just use some heaters in the shoulder seasons or during cold rainy weather when extra warmth is needed. Electric heaters, interior car warmers, etc. work well enough for this, whereas you'd pretty much have to run a dryer all night to be effective...especially when you consider how rapidly heat is lost in trying to pipe that heat/exhaust any distance. Even if your greenhouse is a lean-to type built directly over your dryer vent, I really can't see it being practical as the main heating system... when it's -10 C outside, you really need HEAT in that greenhouse, and running the dryer won't do it.
Just an opinion... based on many years of greenhouse experience, though.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 12:35PM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

My caladium growing experience is pretty similar. I started them in late March/early april last year. They went outdoors in the shade during the warmer days, though had some cool days as well. In late May they had one or two smaller leaves but I figured I may as well plant them outside (In a planter, spot with morning sun.) When I removed them from their pot (actually, a plastic 'beer cup'), I was surprised to see how much of a root system they had developed. You wouldn't know that from the sparse few leaves they had. Not only that, there were signs of new leaves about to emerge.

So I planted them and they actually did fairly well, even with the occasional cloudy cool day and occasional 5c/41 f night. It wasn't until the nights were consistently cool in mid September that they started to look 'ratty', the leaves got more brown spots. Each of my plants never had more than 6 leaves perhaps, but they did make a nice impact in a pot combined with other plants.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 2:39PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Caladium update - Out of 6 I planted, I have 3 with large shoots now, one with lots of roots and a shoot coming, and 2 with no roots but small pink buds. (yes I dumped more out) They all appear to be alive.

How's everyone else's doing? Sierra I believe you were complaining of rot?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 7:37PM
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luv2gro(z3a AB)

I've got 7/18 sprouted. No signs of rot yet, but I'm counting on losing a few. I forgot to punch holes in the icecream buckets for drainage. That is now rectified but the poor babies sat in quite moist soil for about 3 days. I couldn't figure out why they weren't drying out a bit. But, I didn't give them too much water to begin with. Just enough to see it on the sides of the bucket. Maybe they'll be ok.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 7:43PM
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Hey Gil, Yes some of my Caladiums have rotted. :-( I think they were planted to deep and I kept them in dampish soilless mix...but the temp was cool when I planted. Then I put them back on the heat mat and turned the heat up to 80 in hopes that would speed them up.......nope didn't work. I have a few that have the little pink buds and one with as I mentioned in what ever thread this morning....I replanted them like begonias with the buds showing on top of the soil. They are under lights as I now need the heat mat for other stuff. So we will see how they do.

Ohhh ya and not complaining here just reporting. Is there a photoshop cure for rotting bulbs? hee hee


    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 9:01PM
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Laurie_z3_MB(sw MB)

The bag of three that I picked up at Home Depot were already sprouting. That was a big bonus! So now they are in a little pot of peat moss on a heating mat and I'm hoping that'll get them growing fast.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 9:51AM
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relang7(Z6 SW PA)

Thank you everyone for the great info! I just picked up a package of 15 at Walmart yesterday, thinking they would look great with hosta and bishop's weed, that I have a profusion of. Glad to read the posts here, you probably saved their lives, I was going to put them in the ground this week! I soaked them in some water today, and they'll be going into a flat and on top of the fridge till I see some signs of life.
Thanks again, all who post their wisdom.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 4:09PM
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hunnerbun(Z-0b, Manitoba)

relang7 I just did the exact same thing....went to Wal-Mart...bought 9 caladium bulbs, came home, read this thread, potted them up and they are on top of my upright deep freeze. It gets pretty warm on top of it so I figured without heat mats this would be the best place for them.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 6:26PM
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north53 Z1b MB(zone 1b Canada)

This thread has me wanting caladiums, but there's none to buy in this town so I'm safe. LOL
I purchased some years ago from Vesey's with poor results so I've been reluctant to try again. Of course I didn't have all this expertise to rely on then.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 7:08PM
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luv2gro(z3a AB)

All was not totally lost on the weekend, despite my w/s'ing loss. I did discover these on Sunday evening, when I got home.

Two gorgeous caladiums in leaf

The size surprised me

More on the way

I've now got 14 of 18 sprouted. I'm so excited!!!!
(Sorry about the picture size. I just couldn't size these down without losing the effect.)


    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 4:30AM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Ooooh Shauna I looove them! I wish I bought more different colours now! LOL

Here are mine, one has leafed out with a huge leaf and some are producing smaller leaves first. I bought red ones and white ones - I think the red team is kicking butt don't you? There's just one little white leaf at the centre left. But there's a large shoot coming on another white one. They seem slower.

I know I would have killed my caladiums without the good advice here too.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 9:02AM
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Absolutely gorgeous!

I've got one that I've been growing as a houseplant for the past 4-5 years or so. The leaves are waaaay smaller though. Now I'm wondering if I re-pot it and set it outside for the summer if it would be much happier? Worth a try anyways!


    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 10:22AM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Thought this might be of interest - someone on the Roses Gallery is growing caladiums, presumably in full sun, in front of their roses!

Thought they liked the shade - can't argue with these results tho...

BTW that is the same as one of the cultivars I chose this year - hope mine look half as nice!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Caladiums and Roses

    Bookmark   May 2, 2006 at 1:20PM
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I bought a bag of caladium bulbs @ Wal-Mart. Planted the 6 clusters of 6 (3 bulbs fused together) and they are growing wonderfully. I have the dark red-magenta ones with dark green outer edges. I think they are at a foot tall right now some are at a foot and a half. Just beautiful to look at. I have a question about them? I HAVE 3 BLOOMS ON 3 DIFFERENT PLANTS AND WAS WONDERING IS THE BULBOUS PART HOLDING THE BLOOM A SEED POD? IF SO, WHAT DO I DO WITH THE SEED POD AFTER THE BLOOM HAS DIED?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 6:11AM
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I also bought a bag of caladiums from walmart, I live in NY, and was wondering has anyone had success growing them in my zone. They're beautiful and I want to add them with my hostas this year.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 8:29AM
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Just tried this one (Forgot the name) for fun. Turns out to be a real Show-stopper.... Lots of very interesting foliage (After lots of interesting bloom). First try. I'm looking forward to getting this one through Winter here in Chicago....

Here is a link that might be useful: Caladium cv.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 9:52PM
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So who is starting caladiums this year???? They sure are beautiful plants.

This will be my first year with caladiums. I bought some bulbs today and after reading this forum I know I have to start them soon. However I have some other questions.

When do you plant them out??? Here in Edmonton we always can have a cool night in the summer. So when is best. Late May or mid June???

Also can caladiums take full sun up here in the far north??? Where do you grow them? Containers or flower beds?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2010 at 4:22AM
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So is anybody going to grow caladiums??? Come on people the days are longer and I got spring fever!!!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 9:32PM
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I'm going to be trying Caladium bulbs for the first time. I'm glad I read these postings because there were some good tips. I have grown them before but purchased them as potted plants. They really like a warm temperature so I don't think I would put them outside in May. Mid or even late June would be better. Even up here (Alberta) they need to be in the shade. I planted mine in containers. I used to live in Coronation which has a similar climate to Edmonton, but quite drier. I now live in Strathmore and might be able to put them out sooner because of the warmer climate. I'm going to be very cautious though!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 11:30PM
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hykue(2b Saskatchewan)

Lois Hole (of Edmonton gardening fame) says to put them out after the soil has warmed and all danger of frost has passed, and notes that growth is checked below 15 degrees celcius. Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 5:08PM
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I am new to Caladiums and could use some help. I have ordered for March deliver about 95 bulbs split evenly between Jumbo and Mammoth bulbs. I want to do all my planting in containers. My question is, how many bulbs per container. I'm hoping to us 12", 14" and 16" containers. Does anyone out here have any experience with this?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 6:56PM
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