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Black Caladium Care — Planting Guide 101

Black Caladium Care — Planting Guide 101

Black Caladium is a stunning houseplant that belongs to the genus of Caladium. 

It’s a tropical perennial plant with stunning and showy black leaves. This plant is native to the tropical land of South America.

Black Caladium is also known as Colocasia Esculenta Black Magic or Black Magic Elephant Ear. 

Because of the stunning leaves it has, you can use it as a backdrop in your garden, container plant, or centerpiece.

 

Black Caladium Care

You can use a soil mix containing perlite, peat moss, and houseplant soil for growing your Black Caladium. Place it in a dimly lit area and maintain the temperature of 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5-24 degrees Celsius). Water the plant only when the top inch feels dry and maintain the humidity around the plant at 50%.

 

Soil

Black Caladium prefers to grow in soil with good drainage and is organic matter-rich. To make your own ideal soil mix, combine equal parts of perlite, houseplant soil, and peat moss. 

This soil mix has got enough moisture for your Caladium, and perlite helps in improving drainage. 

When you prepare the soil for planting bulbs of your Caladium, it will be great to work in perlite for drainage or gravel and peat moss.

When cultivating Black Caladium, the most important thing you must take care of is to never let the soil get waterlogged or soggy. 

If the tubers are left in soggy soil for too long, they will be suspected to root rot.

 

Water

Keep a very strict watering schedule for Black Caladium. It is essential to water it regularly to avoid the drying of the soil. 

You might need to water the plant daily during the hot summer days because the soil dries up very fast. When you touch the soil mix, and it feels dry, it is time you water the Caladium right away.

When you are cultivating Black Caladium in your garden, adding some mulch around the base will help in controlling the moisture. 

A few suggestions that could be useful when watering Black Caladium are:

  • During the cold winter season, the Caladium plant goes into dormancy, and hence you do not have to water it frequently.
  • Water the Black Caladium regularly to ensure the soil around the bulb evenly moist all the time.
  • If you feel the top inch of soil dry when touched, water the Caladium.

 

Light

Black Caladium will prosper in partial to full shade. Either growing indoors or outdoors, it is important to protect the sensitive leaves of Caladium from the direct sun.

When grown indoors, you can provide the plant a few hours of indirect sunlight, but outdoors, it needs to be placed in the shade. 

The extreme sun will burn the leaves and fade away the vibrant black color of the leaves. 

 

Temperature

Black Caladium loves to grow in tropical, warm temperatures. The ideal range of temperature for the Caladium is between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit  (21-23 degrees Celsius) during the daytime. 

While at nighttime, temperatures range between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit (15-18 degrees Celsius) will be ideal. Being a part of the Caladium genus, your Black Caladium is not resistant to cold conditions.

If you are residing in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 12, you can plant Black Caladium outdoors in your garden the whole year. 

You can cultivate the Caladium bulbs indoors in moderate climates and later take them outdoors when the weather gets warm.

 

Humidity

Just like other varieties of Caladium, Black Caladium also requires a high level of humidity. 

Try and maintain your indoor humidity levels at around 50% to avoid the stunning leaves from turning brown or curling.

Place your Caladium on a pebble tray to increase the surrounding humidity. Placing a humidifier can also increase the surrounding humidity.

You can mist the leaves frequently to keep them moist. But due to the high humidity need misting will not be enough. 

Another trick would be to grow several plants together to increase moisture and avoid the foliage from drying.

 

Fertilizer

It is particularly important to fertilize the Black Caladium during its active growing season. This will help in producing good tubers that can be used in the next season.

A balanced fertilizer having an NPK ratio of 8:8:8 will be an ideal option for feeding Black Caladium. 

Apply this soluble fertilizer according to instruction directly to the soil without making contact with the delicate leaves.

The leaves of Black Caladium are very sensitive, and so a slight contact with fertilizer will burn the foliage. Apply the fertilizer every month to help the plant thrive.

You can also add a granular fertilizer that’s slow-releasing having the same NPK ratio. When using this type of fertilizer, add about ½ tablespoon thrice during the active growth season.

 

Repotting

It is typically important to repot the Black Caladium houseplant in the spring season. It is recommended to overwinter the Caladium bulbs in a dry, cool, and dark location for best results.

You can repot the winterized Caladium bulb in the early spring. To repot the Caladium bulb, look for a bump or pointed tip on the bulb; this part is usually pointed upwards. 

Now plant this tuber in a loose, porous soil mix at about 2 inches (5 cm) of depth. After repotting, it is important to thoroughly water; it removes the air pockets in the soil.

A few issues you must take care of when repotting the Caladium involve making sure the new pot has drainage holes at the base. 

Place it in a spot where it will not come in contact with direct sun as extreme heat from the sun can burn the leaves.

One thing you won’t have to worry about is planting the bulbs upside down. The Caladium will somehow find its way out of the pot and grow but will take a few extra weeks to emerge.

 

Pruning

You can prune your Black Caladium carefully throughout its growing season. Pick the leaves of the Caladium to add to your indoor flower decorations by cutting the leaves from the stem near the base of the soil.

You should also prune the dead, damaged, and brown leaves regularly.

You can dig and store the bulb of your Black Caladium during the fall when the leaves are dead or the frost season has begun. 

You need to dig a huge circle around the base of your Caladium while loosening the soil. 

Then carefully lift the bulb by holding the leaves, similar to the way you pull a carrot out. Brush away excess soil from the bulb and store it in a clean, fresh soil mix until the spring season arrives.

Store it in a place that is dimly lit, and the temperature around the bulb should be kept between 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 26 degrees Celsius).

 Once the weather gets normal, you can plant the bulb in your garden or pots.

Always disinfect the pruning shears before you use them to prune the Caladium. Pruning shears are a primary source of spreading diseases like aphids in Black Caladium.

 

Propagation

The easiest and best way of propagating Black Caladium is through division. Using the division technique will ensure that you get an exact copy of your Caladium.

Nevertheless, you must take some precautions when propagating Caladium since it can cause poisoning and irritation upon contact.

 You must also make sure that all the tools you use for propagating are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected using bleach or alcohol.

You will start the propagation process by overwintering the Caladium tubers because that is what you will use to propagate. Perform this step ideally during the spring season.

Be very mindful of the fact that Black Caladium is not very temperature tolerant. 

Hence it is important that you divide the tubers and place them in a greenhouse where the temperature is set between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit (21-23 degrees Celsius).

The tubers will be kept in the greenhouse until the spring season arrives. Before you plant the divisions, you must cut the big central bud of the tuber.

This will help in producing a bushier and fuller Caladium as the rest of the small buds will produce several shoots. Now you can plant this division in a fertile, well-draining soil mix.

Do not place the divisions where it will receive direct sun; a shadier spot will be ideal. 

 

Blooms

The plant is grown for its stunning black foliage. There are no blooms produced by Black Caladium.

 

Growth

Black Caladium grows to a height of about 3-6 feet (0.9-1.8 meters) and can spread to a width of 4-5 feet (1.2-1.5 meters). It has got huge purple-black showy leaves that are shaped like a heart.

It will grow a big clump of about 5-6 feet (1.5-1.8 meters). It is considered as perennial in USDA zones 7 through 10 and as annuals in 4 through 6 zones.

The foliage of Black Caladium is the primary reason it is cultivated by plant lovers. The color and shape are gorgeous and will make any place look absolutely beautiful.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Common Problems for Black Caladium

 

Fusarium Wilt

It is one of the most common and damaging diseases that will affect your Black Caladium. It usually spreads during the hot summer season. 

The very first symptom of fusarium you will notice in your Black Caladium is the yellowing of the leaves, which is followed by drooping of lower leaves. The disease is triggered by a fungus present in the soil.

This fungus will first attack the roots and later pass into the rest of the plant through stems while producing damaging substances. 

The only solution for fusarium wilt is to throw the diseased plant right away and rotate the rest of the plants.

 

Bacterial Leaf Spot

Bacterial leaf spot is yet another disease that might attack your stunning Black Caladium. The first symptom of this disease is the emergence of tiny translucent spots and a broad yellowish edge.

This slowly becomes big and forms an irregular circle with reddish centers. The favorable conditions for bacterial leaf spots to thrive are cold temperatures.

Remove all the affected Caladiums, making sure to avoid re-planting them in the same area. Avoid using an overhead watering technique to water and do not work around the Caladium when it is still wet.

 

Aphids

Aphids are small insects that are very prevalent in houseplants. They appear in different colors ranging from red, green, or black. 

Their favorite spot of attack is the underside of the foliage.

They will reside on the underside of the Caladium’s leaves and secrete a sticky substance. This substance will attract ants that will further damage your Black Caladium.

You can get rid of aphids by launching natural predators like wasps and beetles that feed on aphids. 

Another option is to splash the leaves of Black Caladium with water. Using insecticidal soap now and then will also help in the prevention of aphids.

 

Sunscald

The symptoms of sunscald include bleaching and fading on the leaves of the Caladium. The leaves then turn white along with brown edges that feel crunchy when touched.

This is not triggered by pests or diseases but rather occurs in plants that have been recently moved. 

The major reason for sunscald is the extreme heat from the sun that destroys the chlorophyll leading to the death of leaves.

To save your Black Caladium from sunscald, transplant it in a spot that is well shaded and does not receive direct sun. 

Avoid placing the Caladium in the southwest or south-facing windows

 

Slugs

Slugs are the common pests that will attack the leaves of Black Caladium. These either eat the leaves whole or leave big holes in the foliage. 

They will leave a slimy substance on the foliage. Slugs usually feed on the leaves at night and are prevalent when the conditions are damp around your Caladium. 

You can treat the slugs using various methods. You can handpick them at night when they show on the leaves. Create a trap for the slugs using beer or cornmeal. 

To create a beer trap, you will need to dig a hole in the soil around the plant. Then place a small bowl or some other deep container in that hole.

Remember to use a container with steep sides so that the pests can’t escape. Fill ¾ of the bowl with beer and allow it to sit overnight. 

The next morning you will see that the bowl is filled with slugs that came out during the night. Throw away these dead slugs for birds to eat.

To make a cornmeal trap add one to two tablespoons of cornmeal in a jar and put it next to the plant. 

Slugs get attracted to the scent of cornmeal but are unable to digest it and thus are killed right away.

You can also create a fence all around your Black Caladium using coffee grounds or diatomaceous earth. 

Slugs won’t be able to crawl over these, and thus your plant will stay protected.

 

Tips for Growing Black Caladium

  • Do not let your Black Caladium come in contact with direct sunlight.
  • Always clean your pruning and propagating tools using alcohol or bleach to prevent the disease spread.
  • Do not let the plant get waterlogged as it makes it susceptible to root rot.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Black Caladium Care

 

Is Black Caladium toxic to pets?

Black Caladium contains a salt called calcium oxalate that is toxic for both cats and dogs. Munching on the leaves of this plant will cause irritation and swelling in the throat and tongue of the pet. Your pet might face difficulty in swallowing along with excess vomiting.

 

Should I mist the Black Caladium frequently?

Humidity is something that Black Caladium loves. It is important that you mist your Caladium frequently in dry conditions to provide the humidity it needs.

 

Conclusion

Black Caladium is an easy-to-grow plant, and with the big black leaves, it will capture attention from a distance. 

You can add it to your interior with other shade-loving plants like begonias to add elegance to the space.

Since all the parts of Black Caladium are poisonous, do let your pets come in contact with it. 

Provide it all the right care it needs, and you will be rewarded with a plant that will be pleasing to your eyes.