Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Bouquet of Leaves

I'm growing increasingly fond of caladiums.  They don't need to flower to look good, they come in many shades of color, and they grow wonderfully in deep shade where little else does.  This year I bought several bags of the bulbs just to try out again and see which ones I like.

This huge leaf of White Queen is a standout in the bed.  This variety will definitely stay on my list of favorites.

Caladiums love moist, rich soil such as can be found in the understory of jungles.  They need the ground warm to grow.  That means don't plant them before April in Louisiana!  Stores in our area start selling the bulbs much earlier than that and the temptation is to put them in the ground too early. Usually, this just makes them rot before they get a chance to grow.  You must plant them in pots if the soil is still cool.

I've read in some places that you will get more leaves and a bushier stand if you break off the first leaves that come out.  I did not do that this year, but will try it in the future.

Caladiums are great companions to hydrangeas because they both like the same conditions.  They also do well around azaleas.  These tender plants cannot take a freeze.  They will die to the ground with the first frost. If you dig the bulbs up, you can store them through the winter and replant them the next year.  Sometimes they survive the winter in my part of the country, but not dependably.  They make fine shade annuals or container plants anywhere in the country once hot weather comes in.


sherryocala said...

Davy, your caladiums are wonderful. Ours start looking bedraggled in late September, getting tired, I guess and by the end of October they're done. But last year they surprised me, and some were still looking good into December. One even looked fine after our first freeze in mid-December. I really hate to see them go, but ours always come back, fuller every year.

Ila said...

I planted them last year. I think I got four to come up. I also planted other bulbs at the same time. None of those came up. According to the holes we found, apparently the squirrels got them.

Will try again next year.