The ornamental deciduous houseplant Caladium is a member of the Aroideae family. Under natural conditions, this plant can be found in the tropical latitudes of India and South America. It is very popular among florists because of its showy greenish leaf plates which are decorated with a variety of spots, stains and patterns of contrasting colors. Because of its original shape and color, it is commonly called the "Heart of Christ", the "Wings of an Angel", and the "Elephant's Ears". The leaves tend to be root-like and may be heart-shaped or arrow-shaped.
The flower is very demanding in its care and growing conditions. The plant has an average speed of development and growth. During the growing season, 10-12 new leaf plates are formed on the bush. The height of the domestic caladium can vary from 0.3 to 0.
6 m, and in wild conditions the plant can reach up to 5 m. Under room conditions, flowers on the bush appear very rarely.
If you decide to decorate your home with a caladium, then you need to remember that at the end of the growing season, it begins a dormant period. At this time, the bush has all the leaves falling off and its development is suspended. Because of this, the indoor caladium is most often cultivated as an annual plant.
You should be extremely careful when working with the caladium. The fact is that if the sap in the foliage gets on the mucosa, it can lead to the development of irritation or a burn. And the reason is that the sap contains oxalate crystals. In severe cases, the plant can cause laryngeal edema, itching or food poisoning.
- Temperature Regime.
During the growing season, the flower should be kept warm (at least 20 degrees Celsius). With the onset of the dormancy period, it should be moved to a cooler place (no warmer than 5-8 degrees).
- Air Humidity. It needs a higher air humidity. It is necessary to moisten the bush systematically and often with a sprayer.
- Lightness. Grows well in a little shade. A window sill facing west or north is best for the caladium.
- Pouring. The potting soil is moistened as soon as the top layer dries out.
During the winter watering is reduced to a minimum, but the ground must not be allowed to dry out completely.
- Fertilizer. A mixture of peat, slightly acidic garden soil and sand in a 1:3:1 ratio is excellent.
- Fertilizer. Fertilizing is carried out once every one and a half weeks, using a mineral complex for this purpose.
In winter, fertilizer is not added to the substrate.
- Potting. The bush is transplanted only after its roots become cramped in the pot.
- Propagation. Popular methods - by cuttings and division of the rhizome, less often - by seeds.
- Specialities of care. Large species and varieties can be grown in the open ground. They are planted in shaded areas under shrubs or trees.
Caladium care at home
Home caladium needs constant attention from the florist as well as proper care and suitable growing conditions. If done correctly, the bush will be lush and its foliage bright.
Remember that the plant reacts extremely negatively to direct sunlight, so you need to make sure that they do not fall on its foliage. It is also important to pay attention to watering as well. Remember that the caladium reacts equally negatively to stagnant moisture in the soil mixture, which can lead to rotting of the root system, and to an acute lack of moisture. Water regularly and moderately.
For the shrub to grow lush and showy, you need to have a warm room all the time.
Like most tropical plants, a draft or cooler temperature during the growing season can harm the caladium. The flower feels best when the temperature is between 20 and 25 degrees. With the beginning of the dormancy period the plant is moved to a rather cold place with an air temperature of about 8 to 10 degrees. Remember that the bush should not be moved from the heat to a cold place right away. The plant needs a gradual decrease in temperature.
In the tropics, it is not only warm but also humid. This is why the plant needs increased humidity in room conditions. Under no circumstances place the shrub near a working heating device. In order to achieve the necessary level of humidity, you can use a special household humidifier. Don't forget to regularly moisten the bush with a sprayer and also occasionally clean the surface of the leaflets with a wet tissue paper.
If you want a very deep and showy foliage, then choose a spot with bright diffused light. However, this exot grows well in shade as well. In this regard, it can be decorated with a western or northern window. Make sure that direct sunlight does not reach the leaves as this may cause burns.
Remember that improper watering can severely damage or even kill your Caladiumum.
Therefore, it is important to pay special attention to moistening the soil mixture. During the hot summer months it needs plenty of watering. Water at least once or twice every 1-1.5 weeks. This can cause the leaf plates or even part of the root system to die off.
Specialists advise to moisten the soil mixture in the pot only after its surface has dried to a depth of 10-20 mm.
In winter, when the caladium is at rest, it is watered rarely and with a small amount of water. The main thing is not to let the ground become too dry at this time, as this may cause the flower to die.
Best for planting a caladium is a narrow but tall pot. When choosing a pot, it is worth paying attention to the fact that its diameter should be 1/3 larger than the volume of the plant.
At the bottom of the pot should be holes for drainage.
Specialists recommend, choose a clay pot for such a plant. Its walls are air permeable and can absorb excess moisture from the soil mixture.
Free and light soil mixture, which should not be too acidic, is excellent for the plant. If you like, you can make the substrate yourself by combining sand, peat and garden leafy humus (1:1:3).
Instead you can buy ready-made potting soil for house plants at a specialist retailer.
Fertilizer with calcium is good for caladium. It should be fertilized twice or thrice a month and watered at the same time. In autumn fertilize the plant less often than in summer. During the winter months, do not fertilize at all.
Potting out caladiums
Potting out after the dormant period ends, i.e. in the last days of February or first days of March. This will help the Caladium to wake up from its dormancy. First remove the bush from the pot and examine the tubers.
If roots have grown on the tubers then cut them off with a sharp tool such as pruning shears or scissors.
Place the tuber in the previously prepared pot, making sure to make a drainage layer at the bottom. It should be planted to a depth of at least 50 mm. If you wish, several tubers can be planted in the same pot at once.
In the fall, the bush stops growing new leaves and there is a complete halt in development and the plant itself. The dormant bush is moved to a cool place and watered very infrequently and sparingly. During the first few winter weeks, remove all foliage and take the plant to a suitable location for overwintering (temperature no higher than 8-10 degrees).
For the plant to produce flowers, it should be given optimal growing conditions.
However, flowering of the indoor caladium is very rare.
White, pink and sometimes yellow flowers appear on the bush during flowering, which are gathered in not very large cobs. Compared to the spectacular foliage, the flowers look rather unsightly and are of little decorative value.
Caladium is rather quick and easy to propagate at home.
Propagating caladiums with tubers
The most common way to propagate caladiums grown in home conditions is with tubers.
You can buy them at a flower store. If you already have a mature plant, you can propagate it by dividing it.
Before planting the tuber, examine it. You should be alert to signs of disease or pests, as well as the presence of mold or decay. An adult shrub usually forms baby tubers, which are small tubers that can easily be separated from the parent plant.
These are usually used as seed.
If there are no offspring, then the parent tuber can be divided into several parts. But note that there must be two or three buds on each partition. Do not forget to make sure to treat the cutting points with charcoal powder, this will prevent the appearance of rot. In a pot filled with a mixture of peat and sand, carefully lay out the dividers, with the place of the cut should be turned down.
Then fill them up with the same substrate so that they are 40-50mm deep.
How to grow Caladiums from tubers?
Growing from seed
Seeding Caladiums can be found at your local specialist store. The last days of February or the first days of March are best for sowing. Take a low, wide container, fill it with a loose, light mixture of soil that needs to be moistened beforehand. Submerge the seeds in it.
It should be done so that the thickness of the layer of soil mixture over the seeds was equal to their size. To ensure optimal humidity and temperature, cover the seeds from above with transparent glass or film.
The seeds should be placed in a place where it is not colder than 23 degrees to make seedlings appear. Generally, the first sprouts appear 20-30 days after sowing. As soon as this happens, remove the cover from the container.
Don't forget to moisten your crops systematically with a sprinkler, and the water temperature should be close to room temperature.
Rather demanding to care and growing conditions, the tropical plant caladium quickly reacts to unsuitable care, sudden changes in room temperature and also to failure of the substrate moistening regime. With the caladium flower grower can have problems such as:
- Twisting leaf plates. The bush is cold. Move it to a place with a suitable air temperature for it.
- The foliage edge turns brown and withers. The plant is experiencing a severe lack of moisture. Reconsider the watering regimen.
- Mold has appeared on the surface of the leaf plates. Water stagnates regularly in the substrate.
Sometimes this is because aphids have settled on the bush.
- Foliage wilting. The humidity in the room is too low or the caladium suffers from too little light.
- Leaf plate wilting. This process is natural and should not alarm you.
Once the old leaves have died off, a few new ones will form. But if the leaves are dying off en masse, fertilise with a Nitrogen complex mineral.
- The leaves will fade. The plant feels a severe lack of light.
- Yellowing and desiccation of the leaf plates.
If this occurs during the growing season, then the problem may be due to an acute lack of nutrients or irrigation failure. If this happens in the fall, it means the shrub is getting ready for its dormancy period.
- The leaves are drying out at the edges. This could be due to inadequate location, direct sunlight or poor watering.
- The leaves are fading or the growth of the shrub is stunted.
Take the shrub to a location with plenty of sunlight and also pay attention to a fertiliser suitable for the foliage plant.
- Tuber rot. Tuber rotting is seen when the soil mixture in the pot is not properly moistened. Remove the bush from the substrate and carefully inspect its tubers. If they become yellowish and soft, it is no longer possible to save the flower.
- Pests. Caladium is not highly resistant to pests. The most common pests are aphids, spider mites and mealybugs. To save the bush, it is recommended that it be treated with a suitable insecticide.
Caladium species with photo
There are many species and varieties of caladium, more than 15,000 to be exact.
However, only a few of them are grown at home.
Caladium bicolor (Caladium bicolor)
This species is the most popular in indoor culture. Its bright green foliage is decorated with stripes, veins, and spots of red hue. At the same time, the edge of the leaf plates have a dark green hue.
Humboldt's Caladium (Caladium Humboldtii)
This species is easiest to propagate and better able to withstand irrigation disturbances or drastic changes in growing conditions.
Thin leaf laminae can vary in color intensity. The dark green foliage is most often decorated with stripes and spots of silver or white color. The bush is compact. If it is given optimal light, it will enjoy its spectacular foliage even in winter time, without beginning its dormancy period.
Caladium Schomburg (Caladium schomburgkii Schott)
The spectacular red foliage is decorated with a silvery shade pattern.
The underside of the leaf plates has a more faded coloration. The oval, elongated leaves are somewhat heart-like in shape. They are quite large: about 12 centimeters wide and about 15 centimeters long.
Caladium is an allowable luxury for every florist. Декоративнолиственный красавец.