Create Your Garden

Caladium (Angel Wings)

Unleashing the Beauty of Caladium: Tips for Growing and Caring for these Colorful Foliage Plants

Caladium, Caladium Plant, Caladium Care, Caladiums, Shade Plant, Shade loving plant, Shade Garden

What is Caladium?

Caladiums are tropical tuberous perennial plants known for their striking, colorful, heart-shaped foliage. They belong to the family Araceae and are native to South America, primarily Brazil and neighboring countries. There are numerous cultivars with a wide range of colors and patterns, including combinations of red, pink, green, white, and silver.

Growth habit: Caladiums grow from tubers, with leaves emerging directly from the tuber on long petioles (stalks). They have a clumping growth habit, producing multiple leaves that fan out from the tuber.

Size: Caladium plants typically reach a height of 12 to 30 inches (30-76 cm) and a spread of 12 to 24 inches (30-61 cm), depending on the variety.

Foliage: Caladium foliage is the main attraction of these plants. The heart-shaped leaves come in various colors and patterns, often with contrasting veins and backgrounds. The leaves can be smooth or ruffled, depending on the variety.

Flowers: Caladiums do produce flowers, but they are small, inconspicuous, and often hidden by the foliage. The flowers are not the main attraction and are sometimes removed to encourage more vigorous foliage growth.

Hardiness: Caladiums are hardy in USDA zones 9-12. In colder climates, the tubers should be dug up and stored indoors during the winter months, then replanted in the spring.

Uses: Caladiums are popular for their stunning foliage, and they can be used in various ways, including mass plantings, mixed borders, container gardens, and indoor plants. They are ideal for adding color and interest to shady areas of the garden or home and can also be used as ground cover, focal points, or in tropical-themed gardens.

Toxicity: Caladium plants are toxic to humans and pets due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals. Ingestion of the plant can cause irritation, a burning sensation in the mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal tract, and difficulty swallowing. Keep caladiums out of reach of children and pets.

What is Special about Caladium?

Caladiums are special for several reasons, making them an attractive choice for gardeners and plant enthusiasts:

Striking foliage: The most notable feature of Caladiums is their stunning, colorful foliage. The vibrant colors and intricate patterns can create a visually striking display in any garden or indoor space.

Shade tolerance: Caladiums are one of the few plants that thrive in partial to full shade. This makes them an excellent choice for brightening up shady areas of the garden where other plants might struggle to grow.

Tropical appearance: The large, heart-shaped leaves of Caladiums give them a tropical appearance, adding an exotic touch to your garden or home. They can help create a lush, tropical-themed garden or serve as an eye-catching focal point in a mixed planting.

Low-maintenance: Caladiums are relatively low-maintenance plants, requiring only consistent moisture, partial to full shade, and occasional fertilization. They do not have many pest or disease problems, making them an easy choice for gardeners of all skill levels.

Versatility: Caladiums can be used in various settings, including mass plantings, mixed borders, container gardens, and as indoor plants. Their ability to adapt to different environments and uses makes them a valuable addition to any plant collection.

Deer and rabbit resistance: While no plant is completely deer or rabbit-proof, Caladiums are not a preferred food source for these animals. Their toxicity makes them less appealing to deer and rabbits, so they are less likely to be damaged by these garden pests.

Guide Information

Hardiness 9 - 12
Heat Zones 4 - 11
Climate Zones H2
Plant Type Bulbs, Houseplants
Genus Caladium
Exposure Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Loam
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Tolerance Deer, Rabbit
Landscaping Ideas Beds And Borders, Hanging Baskets, Patio And Containers
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Mediterranean Garden
Caladium ‘Aaron’ (Angel Wings)
Caladium ‘Candidum’ (Angel Wings)
Caladium Heart to Heart® ‘Bold ‘N Beautiful’ (Angel Wings)

Popular Caladium Varieties

Caladiums are popular tropical plants known for their colorful and eye-catching foliage. They are native to South and Central America and come in various shapes, sizes, and color combinations. Some of the most popular Caladium varieties include:

Caladium ‘White Christmas’: This variety features large, arrow-shaped leaves with white centers and green veins and edges. It’s perfect for brightening up shaded areas in the garden.

Caladium ‘Miss Muffet’: This compact variety has smaller leaves with chartreuse centers and deep pink speckles, which make it a great choice for containers or smaller gardens.

Caladium ‘Red Flash’: This variety showcases large, dark green leaves with red veins and striking red spots. The vibrant colors make it a popular choice for adding contrast to your garden.

Caladium ‘Carolyn Whorton’: This cultivar has large, heart-shaped leaves with vibrant pink centers, green edges, and striking red veins. It is a popular choice for adding color to shaded areas.

Caladium ‘Candidum’: This variety features large, white leaves with green veins and edges, making it an excellent choice for creating a sophisticated, monochromatic look in your garden.

Caladium ‘Moonlight’: This variety has pale, almost luminescent white leaves with subtle green veins. It is perfect for brightening up dark corners in your garden.

Caladium ‘Gingerland’: This cultivar has unique, lance-shaped leaves with white centers, green edges, and red speckles. It’s an excellent choice for adding visual interest to your garden or container display.

These are just a few of the many Caladium varieties available. When selecting the perfect Caladium for your garden, consider factors such as the desired color palette, the size of the plant, and the amount of sunlight your garden receives. Caladiums generally thrive in partial to full shade, so they are an excellent choice for brightening up shady areas and adding a burst of color to your landscape.

Caladium ‘Carolyn Whorton’ (Angel Wings)
Caladium ‘Florida Moonlight’ (Angel Wings)
Caladium ‘Gingerland’ (Angel Wings)

Garden Design with Caladium

Caladiums can add a vibrant touch to any garden design thanks to their striking and colorful foliage. They are particularly effective in shady or partially shaded areas where other plants may struggle. Here are some ideas to incorporate Caladiums into your garden design:

Mass planting: Plant Caladiums in groups or drifts to create a bold and eye-catching display. This works particularly well in shady borders or beneath trees, where the bright foliage will stand out against the darker background.

Mixed borders: Combine Caladiums with other shade-loving plants, such as ferns, hostas, and astilbes, to create a diverse and interesting border. The different textures, colors, and shapes of the foliage will provide visual interest and contrast.

Container gardens: Caladiums work well in containers, either as the main focal point or mixed with other plants. Combine them with other shade-loving plants, such as impatiens, begonias, or coleus, for a stunning and colorful display. Containers can be placed in shady spots on patios, balconies, or even indoors near a bright window.

Ground cover: Use Caladiums as a ground cover in shady areas where grass may struggle to grow. They can create a lush, tropical carpet of color and texture that will fill in gaps and help suppress weeds.

Tropical theme: Incorporate Caladiums into a tropical-themed garden alongside plants like cannas, elephant ears, and bananas. Their exotic appearance will help create an inviting and vibrant atmosphere.

Focal points: Use Caladiums as a focal point or specimen plant in your garden design. Their eye-catching foliage can draw attention and provide a stunning visual element in the landscape.

Edging: Plant Caladiums along garden pathways or as an edging to define borders and create a colorful, attractive boundary. The vibrant foliage will stand out and guide the eye through the garden.

Vertical gardening: Use Caladiums in hanging baskets or wall-mounted containers to add a touch of color and interest to vertical spaces. This can be particularly effective in small gardens, balconies, or patios, where space is limited.

Underplanting: Plant Caladiums beneath taller plants or trees, where their bright foliage will provide a contrast to the surrounding greenery and add visual interest at the lower levels of the garden.

Indoor gardens: Caladiums can also be grown as indoor plants, adding a splash of color and life to your home. Place them in a well-lit spot near a window that receives bright, indirect light.

By incorporating Caladiums into your garden design in creative ways, you can make the most of their stunning foliage and brighten up shady areas. These versatile plants can be used in a variety of settings, both indoors and outdoors, to create an eye-catching and vibrant display.

Caladium ‘June Bride’ (Angel Wings)
Caladium ‘Kathleen’ (Angel Wings)
Caladium ‘Miss Muffet’ (Angel Wings)

Growing Tips

Growing Caladiums can be relatively easy and rewarding, with their vibrant and colorful foliage providing a stunning display in your garden or indoor space. Here are some tips to help you grow healthy and beautiful Caladiums:

Sunlight: Caladiums prefer partial to full shade, with some varieties tolerating more sun than others. Generally, white and green varieties require more shade, while red and pink varieties can handle a bit more sun. Protect them from the harsh midday sun to avoid scorching the leaves.

Soil: Caladiums prefer rich, well-draining, slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Amend the soil with organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, to improve drainage and fertility.

Planting: Plant Caladium tubers in the spring when soil temperatures have warmed to at least 70°F (21°C). Place the tubers with the knobby side (eye buds) facing up, about 1.5 to 2 inches (4 to 5 cm) deep and 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) apart, depending on the size of the tubers and the mature size of the variety.

Water: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Caladiums have a low drought tolerance, so regular watering is essential, especially during hot, dry periods. Be careful not to overwater, as this can cause the tubers to rot.

Fertilization: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer at the time of planting and every 4 to 6 weeks during the growing season, following the manufacturer’s instructions. This will help promote healthy growth and vibrant foliage.

Mulching: Add a layer of organic mulch, like bark chips or shredded leaves, around the base of the plants to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and maintain a stable soil temperature.

Pruning: Remove any yellowed or spent leaves to encourage new growth and maintain a tidy appearance.

Overwintering: In colder climates (USDA hardiness zones lower than 9), Caladium tubers should be dug up and stored indoors during the winter months. Allow the foliage to die back after the first frost, then carefully dig up the tubers, let them dry for a few days, and store them in a cool, dark, and dry location until it’s time to replant in the spring.

Pests and diseases: Keep an eye out for common pests like aphids, spider mites, and thrips, and treat them promptly with insecticidal soap or neem oil. To prevent fungal and bacterial diseases like leaf spot or root rot, ensure proper watering practices and good air circulation around the plants.

By following these care guidelines, your Caladiums should thrive and provide a burst of color to your garden, containers, or indoor spaces throughout their growing season.

Caladium ‘Pink Cloud’ (Angel Wings)
Caladium ‘Red Flash’ (Angel Wings)
Caladium ‘White Christmas’ (Angel Wings)

Frequently Asked Questions

What are common problems with caladiums?

Caladium common problems include root rot, fungal diseases, spider mites, and aphids.

What is the secret to growing caladiums?

The secret to growing caladiums is to provide them with moist, well-drained soil, partial shade or filtered light, and regular fertilization.

What is a fun fact about caladiums?

A fun fact about caladiums is that their leaves are often described as “heart-shaped” due to their unique, symmetrical form.

What conditions do caladiums like?

Caladiums prefer warm, humid environments and thrive in temperatures between 70-85°F (21-29°C) with high humidity levels. They also prefer soil that is slightly acidic and rich in organic matter.

Recommended Companion Plants

Hosta (Plantain Lily)
Begonia
Impatiens
Astilbe
Coleus scutellarioides (Coleus)
Helleborus (Hellebore)
Compare All Caladium (Angel Wing)
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While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 9 - 12
Heat Zones 4 - 11
Climate Zones H2
Plant Type Bulbs, Houseplants
Genus Caladium
Exposure Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Loam
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Tolerance Deer, Rabbit
Landscaping Ideas Beds And Borders, Hanging Baskets, Patio And Containers
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Mediterranean Garden
Compare All Caladium (Angel Wing)
Compare Now

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