Caladiums are among the most popular foliage plants used in landscapes today.
They are widely known for their elegant heart-shaped leaves that come in an array of colorful blends and mixes of green, red, pink, and white.
These are plants that are especially suited for low-maintenance areas and can thrive once established with little care or maintenance.
Though caladiums rarely flower, their stunning foliage makes them a favorite for shady areas where other plants struggle to thrive.
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Grow caladium in sun or shade?
Caladiums ideally should be planted in slightly to almost fully shady areas of your yard and gardens. In hot dry regions, direct mid-day sun is often too intense for the plants and can burn the leaves. In cooler more temperate areas these plants can handle morning or late afternoon sun and still thrive.
Where to Plant Caladiums for the Best Results
As mentioned above, it’s ideal to plant Caladiums in fully or partially shaded areas. Caladiums are generally considered to be winter hardy in zones 9-11 and will usually grow back again year after year.
In most of the other zones 3-8, the plants are treated as annuals and are dug up and replaced each year with fresh bulbs. Warmer zones usually require the plants to be given more share while the northern zones can safely provide more exposure.
But, there are a number of fun and innovative ways to add a splash of color with caladiums, especially in shadier areas of the landscape where other flowering plants may not be able to survive as easily.
It is easy to brighten up a patio, balcony, or deck with a pot or hanging basket filled with colorful caladiums.
When grown in a container, drainage is critical as the bulbs will begin to rot if they stay too damp for too long.
The colorful foliage of the caladium works well with other plants commonly used in window boxes.
They grow beautifully and can help provide your home with a bright splash of color from summer to the end of fall.
Borders and Fillers
Using some of the newer varieties of fancy leaf caladiums can help bring more focus and attention to your home.
Liming walkways and planting mounds of caladiums under shady trees can help bring your yard to life.
Anyone who has tried to keep a thick and healthy lawn knows grass does not grow well under trees and other shady areas.
Caladiums do however and can be a great alternative to thin and unhealthy-looking grass.
Handy Caladium Growing and Planting Tips
- Wait for 2-3 weeks after the frost date to plant outdoors. This is to allow time for the freak cold snap to happen before you put your bulbs in the ground. Nights should be warm enough that the soil does not drop below 65-70°F overnight.
- Most caladium varieties prefer shade and even the more sun-tolerant types will usually fair better with more shade than sun. No caladium type easily available today will look its best in full sun.
- These plants will grow well and look their best in fertile, well-drained soil. Adding topsoil or mixing in a compost of some kind during planting can help ensure good drainage and organic matter ratios.
- During the growing season, you have the option of using a low-strength liquid fertilizer on your caladiums a few times to keep them growing well and looking their best. Do not use pellets as they can stick to the leaves and cause burn damage. Also, avoid fertilizing in the hot parts of the day to avoid damage to the leaves.
- If you are unsure what growing conditions your caladiums need speak to a local landscaping expert or grow manager at a local nursery. They should be able to advise you on what shade and sun requirements, along with other care needs, your specific type of caladiums need to look their best.
Frequently Asked Questions about Growing Caladium in Sun or Shade
Should I grow my caladiums in a shady area?
Shady spots that receive a maximum of 3 hours early morning sun generally are what is recommended for growing most types of caladiums. Each variety can have different tolerance and other factors can also contribute to how much sun a caladium can handle. As a general rule, unless you know for sure that you have a sun-loving variety it is always best to go with partial shade for caladiums.
What are some signs of too much sun for a caladium?
Caladiums that are grown in too much sun will be stressed and show signs of this fairly quickly as tips of leaves dry out and areas of the leaves begin to look burned. If nothing is done, this will continue until the entire leaf has dried out and died. Extra watering can help to an extent, especially with new plantings that may be a bit stressed out, but it won’t be a permanent solution to too much sun exposure. Monitor the plant for a couple of days then replant in a shadier area of the burning and wilting continue.
Are there any types of caladiums that are more suited for sunny areas?
Sun-tolerant varieties are being developed and can be found through online growers and specialty plant shops. Some options to look for when you want caladiums that can handle a little more sun include: ‘Little Miss Muffet’, ‘Iceberg’, ‘Carolyn Wharton’, and ‘Stardust’ (Caladium ‘Stardust’). It is important to remember that even these sun-friendly varieties will still need more shade than sun in most cases.
Adding caladiums to your landscape can be a great way to improve any landscape. The versatility and beauty of these plants make them one of the most commonly used foliage plants in gardens today.
Knowing how to take care of your caladiums and whether you grow caladiums in sun or shade is the first step to ensuring your plants look their absolute best all season long!
Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.