Keeping good company with Caladiums!

Caladiums are a breeze in the summer! Commonly known as ‘Angel Wings’ these shade-loving and carefree plants will add bursts of bright colors to your shade garden. Tropical, broad leaves shoot up from tubers within a month of planting for pink, green, white, and red foliage that lasts all summer long.

Here at the Conservancy, we love using Caladiums in Charleston’s parks because they are an inexpensive and effective way to provide long-lasting color and texture. They require minimal fertilization, and have very few pests. Caladiums are grown for their attractive foliage rather than their flower bloom. (See Picture #10)

All about Caladiums:
– There are four types of Caladiums that we use: Whites, Pinks, Reds, and Mix.
– Caladiums come in three different sizes: Jumbo, #1, and #2.
– Jumbo sized Caladiums should be planted 1 per square foot, #1 sized Caladiums (which is what we commonly use) should be planted 2 per square foot, and #2 sized Caladiums should be planted 4 per square foot.
– All Caladiums love shade. When provided enough water, many Caladiums can even thrive in sunnier locations as well.
– It’s important to water Caladiums at the base and not the leaves. Water droplets left on the leaves will cause sunburn and damage spots in the hot summer sun. (See Picture #11)
– Caladiums prefer to be watered in the early morning and late evening.
– Caladiums are the perfect summer plant and will thrive in a shade garden as long as soil temperatures are above 60℉.
– We plant our Caladiums after May 1st. We celebrated Cinco de Mayo this year by planting Caladiums throughout Marion Square’s garden beds!
– If left in the ground during winter, Caladiums become dormant. Many will return when the temperatures rise the next summer. However, they tend to come back smaller and weaker than when they were first planted. (See Picture #8)
– Because Caladiums grow stronger and larger when their tubers (See Picture #2) are removed during the winter, our staff have planned a “Caladium Dig” in October. In an effort to save the plants for the next summer, we remove the Caladiums from the parks where we planted them and then we dry the tubers for 10 days or so and store them at temperatures between 65℉ to 75℉ during the winter.

Conservancy’s Caladium Collection:

1) Miss Muffet Caladiums found at Chapel Street Fountain Park, under the park sign.
2) A Caladium tuber, removed from the soil.
3) Aaron Caladiums are at Chapel Street Fountain Park along Elizabeth Street. Aaron Caladiums are an all-time favorite of our horticulturalist, Paul Wentz.
4) Moonlight Caladiums also at Chapel Street Fountain Park. These ghostly looking Caladiums are ideal for lining walkways and garden paths. At night, their leaves are illuminated in the moonlight and serve as natural night lights!
5) Raspberry Moon Caladiums can be found at Hazel Parker Playground. Here we show the changes of the foliage over time. The full red coloring of the younger Caladium becomes more splotchy and irregular as the Caladium ages.
6) Sweet Carolina Caladiums, also found at Hazel Parker Playground. These can tolerate more sun and their color nicely complements the Japanese Maple Trees we planted at the park. Here you can see the variety of coloring that can be found in the same plant.
7) A close up of Caladium venation.
8) Kathleen Caladiums, here is a great example of how the Caladium looks when left in the ground to recover after winter. This particular plant is two years old and much smaller and has less dense color than its fellow Caladiums.
9) Fannie Munson Caladiums at Marion Square. As these plants age, you can see that they become more colorful with shades of pink!
10) Summer Pink Caladiums, also at Marion Square, grow slightly larger and have more white in their leaves than Fannie Munsons. Here you can also see a Caladium flower bloom!
11) Apple Blossom Caladiums can be found at Tiedemann Park and Nature Center, planted along the border on Elizabeth Street. These and the hydrangeas get along beautifully there!
12) Caladium sunburn, occurs when water collects on the leaves and magnifies in the summer sun. Avoiding sunburn is crucial. We all can relate to this poor Caladium in the summer!

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