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How Long Does it Take Caladium Bulbs to Sprout?

How Long Does it Take Caladium Bulbs to Sprout?

With their green, pink, red, and white hues sprinkled across heart-shaped leaves, it’s easy to see why caladiums are so popular.

When people see my prized caladium bulbs sprouting fresh green leaves and stems after the winter, they are always puzzled that I seem to manage such predictable growth each year.

They often ask me, “How long does it take for caladium bulbs to sprout?”

How Long does it take Caladium Bulbs to Sprout?

Typically, it takes between two and twelve weeks for caladium bulbs to sprout. This is greatly dependent on the temperature of the ground and air in their growing environments. Caladiums love hot weather, and the warmer they are, the sooner they will sprout.

 

How Long Before my Caladium Bulbs Start to Sprout

Soil and air temperature have a direct impact on how long it takes for caladium bulbs to germinate. If the ground is too cool, they will not sprout at all, and worse, they may develop rot.

Similarly, if they are planted indoors, and the air temperature is too cold or humidity too low, they simply will not grow.

Depending on the bulb quality and environmental factors, caladiums can be slow to come out of dormancy.

In ideal conditions, they can sprout as soon as within two weeks, and in poorer conditions, it may take up to twelve weeks to see new life.

The average timeframe, with all considered, is between four and eight weeks. As tempting as it may be, avoid overwatering caladium bulbs in an effort to speed up their growth.

 

When Best to Plant Caladium Bulbs

Caladium bulbs are purchased when they are dormant, and most of them present with a single large bud surrounded by smaller buds and nodes.

The best time to plant caladium bulbs depends on whether you are starting them indoors in containers or placing them directly into a garden bed.

Either way, they should be planted in spring, when the ground and air temperature are appropriately warm.

For indoor starters, this can be four to six weeks before the final frost of the season, and for outdoor growing, at least two weeks after the threat of frost has passed.

Caladiums enjoy the warmth, so when growing them indoors, make sure they are in a sunny spot that receives plenty of light. Their ideal growing temperature indoors is 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) with relatively high humidity.

Outdoors, caladiums thrive in soil temperatures of 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit (18-21 degrees Celsius) and where the nights are not too cool.

Sunny spots in a garden serve them well, but they will require some shade during the hottest parts of the day.

Once the perfect location and time frames for growing caladiums have been determined, the bulbs can be planted.

 

How to Plant Caladium Bulbs

For indoor growing or starting, place the tubers in good quality, well-draining soil in pots or seedling trays at a shallow depth.

When planted outdoors, bulbs should be at least 6 inches (15 centimeters) apart. They must be inserted into the ground at a depth of 3 inches (7.5 centimeters), with their budded sides pointing upwards.

Approximately 2 inches (5 centimeters) of soil should cover the tubers.

Once planted, give caladium bulbs a hearty dose of water and settle back to watch them grow.

 

How to Care for my Caladiums Once they Have Sprouted

These tropical beauties enjoy lots of water and moist soil. Together with this, regular fertilization benefits caladiums and strengthens their bulbs for dormancy.

Outdoor caladiums should be watered at least once a week, whereas indoor caladiums (that lose water faster) should be checked daily to ensure their moisture levels are up to scratch.

Applying mulch around the plants’ bases will help return warmth and moisture and is advisable for outdoor caladiums and those grown in containers.

Once summer is over and fall arrives, tubers should be dug up and allowed to reach dormancy and dry out for the coming season. Remove all their foliage and store them somewhere warm and dry.

The Right Conditions For Planting Caladium Bulbs

The first time I ordered caladium bulbs online, I was somewhat disappointed. These brown knobbly tubers didn’t look like much, and needless to say, my first sprouting wasn’t much of a success. However, I’m not a quitter, and I began to research just how to ensure my next lot of caladium tubers did sprout and grow into tropical bliss.

The Right Season

I found that the best time to plant caladium bulbs is in the late spring when there isn’t even the tiniest chance of snow or frost. Caladium bulbs can’t sprout if the temperature drops during the night, which is why checking your temperatures for at least a week or more before planting is important.

The Right Temperature

Once temperatures are consistently above 65℉ at night, I know it’s getting warm enough to plant my caladium bulbs. However, I still prefer to be cautious, and I usually start by potting my caladium bulbs and keep the pots inside if it looks like a cooler night.

If I choose to plant them outside, I check the soil temperature for a few days. You can simply take a roasting thermometer and stick it into the soil. After five minutes, you have your reading, which should be 65-70℉.

When the soil is cold, any tubers you planted will remain dormant, or if they have contact with water, they can begin to rot. Be sure to only plant in warm soil and water sparingly.

The Right Planting Mix

I prefer a potting mix that is well-draining, like the kind used for annuals, to ensure the bulbs grow well. If I plant in the garden, I mix the soil with fertilizer at a ratio of 1 to 3. One part being fertilizer. I also add some bone meal to the bottom of the planting area to nourish the roots.

For better growth and early sprouting, I prefer a slightly more acidic potting mix. Caladium bulbs sprout better in a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.

The Right Humidity

When you plant your caladium bulbs, you want to ensure they have sufficient moisture to grow without them being drowned. Water the soil well and ensure an efficient humidity to keep the soil from drying out too quickly. I have tried a pebble tray humidifier to help keep my caladium bulbs happy, but I have also had great success by simply wrapping the pot in plastic, creating a little heated dome for humidifying action.

How To Plant Caladium Bulbs For Quick Sprouting

Once the potting mix is ready in a well-draining pot, or the soil has been prepared in your garden bed, you can examine your caladium bulb. When holding it in your hand, you will notice it has a flatter end and knobbly bits on the other side. Place the bulb in the container or in the planting hole in the ground with the flat side facing downward.

The knobbly bits are the planting nodes that will sprout first, so you want them facing upward to ensure the bulb sprouts sooner. If you are unsure, or you have a particularly twisty bulb, you can place the bulb on its side so it can sprout towards the light.

Ensure you plant the bulbs no more than two inches into the soil as any deeper will delay the sprouting process. This also allows the bulbs to be in the uppermost layer of soil that is usually warmest, which encourages sprouting. Water when the soil seems dried out, and maintain a steady humidity level.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about How Long it Takes for Caladium Bulbs to Sprout

 

Are bigger caladium bulbs better?

The quality of a caladium bulb does have a bearing on the size and fullness of the plant. A top-quality bulb is sized at between 1.5 and 2.5 inches (3.8 to 6.3 centimeters). Larger bulbs have more buds and, therefore, will produce bigger plants. However, smaller bulbs are not considered inferior. They are just going to make smaller caladiums.

 

What size container should I select for growing caladiums indoors?

Once your bulbs have sprouted, you may want to plant your caladiums in containers and pots. Select containers with plenty of drainage holes and lots of room for growth. Ideally, you want to find pots at least 18 inches (45 centimeters) deep and wide. Leave room between the planter’s rim and the top of the soil.

 

How long do caladiums live?

Caladium bulbs can regrow and return from dormancy year after year with proper care. However, the lifespan of a blooming caladium is about 150 days from when it starts sprouting to the end of the season.

How do you prepare soil for caladium bulbs?

Caladium bulbs sprout best when planted about two inches deep. This allows heat to reach them and they are close enough to encourage the sprouting process. If you are in a cooler climate, you can add mulching to ensure the soil stays damp and encourage heat retention. Fertilize sparingly beyond the initial mix and add bone meal to help encourage root growth.

You can also add a dash of Epsom salts for a magnesium boost to the tubers as they grow. Simply dissolve some in the water you will be giving, but take care not to overdo it.

 

Should I soak caladium bulbs before planting?

It isn’t necessary to soak caladium bulbs in water before planting. Instead, ensure they have sufficient heat and humidity. Water sparingly to promote growth and limit the chances of your bulbs rotting.

 

Why are my caladium bulbs not sprouting?

If the soil temperature is too cold or there is too much moisture in the soil, your bulbs will not sprout. In extreme colds, the bulbs can suffer cell death, and in soggy conditions, the chances of rot increases.

Bulbs that are planted too deeply will also struggle to sprout as they will be too far from their heat source (the sun) and too deep to get that heat boost they need to grow.

 

What happens if you plant a caladium bulb upside down?

I’ve definitely had a few bulbs that accidentally ended up being planted “face-down” before. They will still grow, but it takes them an extra week or two as their sprouts need to navigate further to grow around the bulb towards the sun.


 

Conclusion

I enjoy planting my caladium bulbs after a long winter. There’s something magical about placing the tubers in the soil, closing them with mulching, and whispering, “grow, baby, grow.”

You can also ensure sprouting success by following my simple guide: Make sure there’s sufficient heat, the soil is damp, and at the right pH. Use fertilizer sparingly and add some bone meal to produce great caladiums.