Caladiums in the landscape

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ABBOTT-IPCO knows caladiums, sometimes called elephant ear. The company has been producing and distributing them for years. There are hundreds of cultivars to choose from, but certain varieties are more suited to certain landscape conditions than others, according to ABBOTT-IPCO.


Carolyn Whorton

Summer Rose

White Queen

The following guidelines from the company can help you successfully incorporate caladiums into your clients’ landscapes.

Planting Time

Caladium bulbs may be successfully planted in the landscape throughout the tropics, subtropics and temperate climates of the world. In subtropical and temperate regions caladiums should be planted after the last frost in the spring when night temperatures are greater than 55°F. To jump-start the effect of the overall display, landscapers may choose to transplant either pre-finished or finished caladiums into their displays. When doing this make sure that the plants have been grown under the proper light conditions to avoid excessive stress and sunburning in the installation.

Planting Depth

Bulbs should be covered with at least 1.5  to 2.5 in. of soil. This will ensure adequate soil moisture around roots as they emerge from the top of the bulb.

Soil Conditions

A well-drained soil is very important, as performance will be severely hampered in saturated soil or compact clay conditions.


Caladiums like water therefore be sure they are planted in an area that receives adequate irrigation so that they are kept uniformly moist. Water preferably during the morning hours.


The most common diseases are Fusarium and Pythium. The main symptom is root rot. A fungicide drench should be applied one to two weeks after planting to control these fungal pathogens.

Stunted Growth

Make sure that bulbs are not stored at temperatures below 60°F, or above 90°F. Injury due to temperature exposure manifests itself in stunted (sometimes very slow), erratic growth even though the bulb does not show any injury.


White and pink cultivars that have been grown during cloudy, early spring days and are suddenly exposed to high light intensity might show brown blotches on the leaves. In landscape plantings, keep beds adequately moist to stimulate growth and leaf expansion, and to reduce sunburn.

Leaf Spots

Leaf spots may occur that are caused by a bacterial pathogen known as Xanthomonas. To prevent damage due to Xanthomonas, be sure plants are well spaced, that they receive plenty of air circulation and keep the foliage dry at night. Improper nutrition can also cause spotting of the foliage. A pH higher than 7.0 is also known to cause brown spots. A regular soil test is beneficial.

Other Foliage Problems

Pink areas in white cultivars usually are a stress related symptom. High temperatures (higher than 100°F) can induce this symptom, but cannot always be avoided in certain regions of the country.

Light Intensity

Caladiums can tolerate a wide range of light intensities. Some varieties perform quite nicely under continuous full sun conditions while others should be planted in partial (2-4 hours of full sun/day) or full shade. In the northern, temperate climates, caladiums can stand more sun than in the south because of cooler night temperatures and less light intensity.


To get continual growth after sprouting, caladiums should be fertilized. In sandy regions of the country, such as much of Florida, a slow release, complete fertilizer works well.

Insect Control

Caladiums are rarely damaged by insects or related pests. Occasionally worms can attack foliage. Aphids occasionally appear near petiole bases and newly emerging leaves.


All caladiums are useful in the landscape; however, some are more heat and sun tolerant than others. The following fancy leaved varieties can withstand full sun for the entire day:

White Red Pink
Aaron Fire Chief Carolyn Whorton
Postman Joyner Elise
Red Flash

When designing landscapes the natural growth habit of varieties is significant. Whereas most fancy leaved varieties have a relatively tall habit, certain strap leaved varieties make excellent border plants due to their height and mounding habits including:

White Red Pink
White Ruffles Red Frill Pink Gem
White Wing Red Ruffles Sweetheart
White Knight L. Whorton

The dwarf varieties, Gingerland, and Miss Muffett and most all strap varieties have an intermediate habit and should be used in foreground plantings. The variety Gingerland will sunburn if exposed to full sun all day, but 1-3 hours of full sun should not be a problem.

This article was provided by ABBOTT-IPCO.

LM Staff

LM Staff

Landscape Management's staff brings together collective experience in journalism, research, writing, and editing. Our team stays tapped into the pulse of the industry, covering a wide range topics with a commitment to delivering compelling stories and high-quality content.

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