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Caladium, flashy colorful leafage


A fragile plant that is difficult to grow, Caladium enlivens houses and gardens with its unique foliage.

Key Caladium facts:

Name: Caladium
Common: elephant ears
Family: Araceae
Type: indoor plant

36 to 40 inches (0.8 to 1 meter) indoors, 13 feet (4 meters) in the wild
Exposure: Very well-lit       –       Soil: soil mix       –       Foliage: evergreen

Planting and repotting a Caladium plant

Upon purchasing, if the pot is too small, proceed to repot the plant so that it may grow adequately.

Container caladium: how to re-pot it:

Planting caladiumAfter the first planting, every 2 or 3 years and preferably in spring, repot your caladium in a pot of a slightly larger size.

  • Caladium roots hate having too much water.
    Double-check that the pot has a hole in the bottom.
    Increase drainage with a layer of gravel or clay pebbles along the bottom of the pot, to make water flow through more easily.
  • Good soil mix is needed.
    Caladium, when it lives indoors, needs soil mix because that is the only source for the nutrients it feeds on.

Where to place your Caladium at home

Caladium exposureThe best place to set up your caladium is near a window that lets a lot of light through, but isn’t in overly direct sunlight, especially during the warmest hours of the day.

  • It is vulnerable to excess sun that might dry the plant up.
    The more light a caladium receives, the nicer its foliage.
  • Absolutely avoid setting it near heat sources such as radiators, because moisture is what this tropical plant needs most.

Ideal temperatures are around 68 to 70° F (20 to 21° C).

Propagating Caladium

Caladium rootsMultiply your caladium by dividing the clump. This is best done during the dormant season, in winter.

Make sure to break the clump apart without wounding the tubers if you want to propagate more than one new plant. Indeed, roots form tubers from the base of each leaf cluster.

Some Caladium varieties, like taro, are edible when prepared correctly! Most aren’t, however.

Trimming and caring for Caladium

At the end of winter, if your caladium has lost many leaves, feel free to cut the foliage back entirely, this will stimulate the sending of new shoots and will rejuvenate your plant: you’ll have lush, fresh leaves again.

Remove damaged leaves regularly by snipping them off at the base.

Watering your Caladium

Watering caladiumCaladium is a greenhouse plant that appreciates heat and moisture. Regular but moderate watering is thus called for.

All year long, and especially during summer, spray water on the leaves to recreate the moisture levels of its natural habitat.

Watering in spring and summer

Keep the soil mix a bit moist and check that water drains properly.

Add leaf plant liquid fertilizer every 8 to 15 days during the growing phase.

  • Spray the leaves on a regular basis with calcium-free water.

Watering your Caladium in fall and winter

Reduce watering and wait for the soil to be dry before watering again.
Stop adding fertilizer.

Typical Caladium diseases

Most diseases impacting the plant are those usually infecting indoor plants, like red spider mite, aphids and scale insects.

Learn more about the Caladium plant

Varieties of caladiumThere are two main types of Caladium plants:

  • Strap-leaf: dense clumps, shorter overall, slightly more cold hardy. Leaves are narrower and sharper.
  • Fancy-leaf: taller growth, with heart-shaped leaves that grow quite large if well fed and watered (12 inches or 30 cm!)

Both have beautiful cultivars. For instance, the Fancy-leaved “Candidum” is white with greenish veins, and the ‘Pink Gem’ is a short, salmon-colored strap-leaved variety.

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Did you know that indoor plants can clean out air pollutants?

Smart tip about caladium

A fabulous indoor plant, caladium is nonetheless poisonous. The entire plant from root to leaf is toxic both if ingested and in case of prolonged skin contact.

It must be handled with gloves to avoid risking intoxication.


Images: adobestock: Chase d’Animulls, CC BY 2.0: Maurits Verbiest, CC BY-SA 2.0: Rietje Swart; Pixabay: Sandid
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  • Joy wrote on 3 July 2021 at 14 h 55 min

    Something is eating the caladiums leaves that are indoor. Will soapy water kill whatever is eating it.

    • Gaspard wrote on 6 July 2021 at 5 h 08 min

      Depends on what it is. Small insects like scale insects or thrips will die with soapy water. Most small caterpillars will, too. But larger caterpillars might still survive, for those it’s easier to find them and pick them off. If ever you can’t find what’s eating your plants in the daytime, then try looking for them during the night or early morning. It might be slugs and snails, again for these it’s easier to pick them and throw them out.

      • Joy wrote on 10 July 2021 at 16 h 05 min

        I didn’t find anything like that but I did find a sticky cobweb. So I put sevin powder and it seems to have done the trick. 🤞🤞🤞

      • Gaspard wrote on 12 July 2021 at 2 h 38 min

        Well, that’s also a solution! It might have been red spider mite, then. They also tend to make weird webbings.