Belonging to the Araceae family, caladium offers a wide range of colorful foliage in a full spectrum of shades.
Perfect as a houseplant – some are so bright they look like flowers (check out the Thai Beauty for example) – they usually require a little special care to ensure they look their best.
High humidity and indirect light levels are some of the main requirements of a caladium plant.
And whilst they prefer to grow in hot and humid conditions, with a little care you can also plant them from bulbs in your own home!
Let’s find out how to grow caladium from bulbs right now!
How to plant caladium bulbs
To thrive in the wild, a caladium bulb will need both humidity and heat. Ensure you have well-draining soil with a few holes in the base, and that the pots are kept away from any draughty windows. Plant the bulbs flat side down, about 5 centimeters in depth.
Buying caladium bulbs
You can get caladium bulbs – officially they are actually tubers – either online or in any garden center.
If you choose to get them from your local store, you are lowering your carbon footprint and can also ask the specialists in which orientation the bulbs should be planted.
Be careful of imported bulbs – some may have been frozen in storage and therefore may take a lot longer than six to eight weeks to come out of dormancy.
Anything that has been stored at temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months may experience stunted growth.
Best time to plant caladium bulbs as indoor plants
Spring is the optimal time for planting a caladium bulb. If you insist on growing these outdoors, you will need to wait nearly until the end of spring if temperatures in your region are still low.
There should be absolutely no threats of frost.
But for growing indoors it is a little easier. The temperature of the soil would need to be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit to kick start any growth.
This is of course easier to achieve in the indoor environment and actually means you can start growing earlier, meaning you will have plants earlier!
Preparing the soil for planting caladium bulbs
The soil in which you should plant your bulbs will need to be slightly acidic – around 5.5 -6 ph. However, of most importance is the drainage.
Caladium bulbs – and the plant itself – need well-draining soil. This can be achieved by mixing peat into the soil to create your own potting mix.
The appearance of Caladium bulbs
It can be hard sometimes to work out which way is up on a caladium bulb.
Generally, however, you can discern a flat or smoother side and a more “gnarly” side. You’ll need to identify the flat side before planting to get the quickest growth.
Planting caladium bulbs
Prepare the pot with the soil per the instructions above, making sure you have a couple of drainage holes in the base.
Review your bulbs, identifying the flat side, and the more uneven side. Plant the bulbs about 5 centimeters into the soil.
The best way to plant will be to give each bulb its own plant pot so it has enough space.
Once you have inserted it into the soil with the “gnarly” side up – these are the growing bits – you can give the bulb some water.
You can water again once the soil begins to start to dry out.
What to expect once you have planted your caladium bulb
You will need just a little bit of patience at this stage. Do not expect to see shoots or sprouts in the first few weeks.
The key to bringing these dormant bulbs to life is the temperature of the soil – which needs to be above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you are off this mark you may be waiting over 8 weeks to see any movement in terms of growth. Stick with it, however – it will happen.
This is also true even if you accidentally put the bulbs upside down! They too will grow, probably about 1-2 weeks later than bulbs planted in the correct orientation.
Where to keep your newly planted caladium bulbs
Since temperature is key here, keep your containers or pots in a warm and sunny location indoors. This will help to bring the bulb come out of its dormancy.
Top tips for planting caladium bulbs
Make sure your soil is warm enough before planting – about 70 degrees Fahrenheit is best
Ensure adequate drainage is provided by drilling a couple of holes in the soil
Plant about 5 centimeters in depth, with the smooth end facing downwards
If you are storing caladium bulbs over winter before planting in the spring, make sure they are not stored below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Frequently Asked Questions about Planting Caladium Bulbs
Which way do I plant my caladium bulbs?
Plant your bulb with the flat or smoother side facing downwards on the earth. This will mean you will have the new growing area – sometimes visible as a shoot – facing upwards ready to grow.
What’s the most crucial thing to get right when planting a caladium bulb?
The temperature is the most important aspect to master when potting a new caladium. Wait until spring and ensure the soil temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit before you pot. This is the catalyst for bringing the tuber or bulb out of its dormant state.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.