The tropical caladium hortulanum is grown entirely for its brightly colored and wildly patterned foliage. Gardeners can choose from many combinations of green, pink, red, white, and creamy yellow.

: Large, spear- or arrowhead-shaped leaves on long stems rise directly from the tuber buried in the ground below. Depending on weather and soil, each leaf can grow up to 12 inches in length on 1-foot stems.

: In hot sections of Zones 9 and 10, caladium tubers are planted directly in the ground 1 inch deep, but in the rest of the country, it's usual to start them in pots indoors and plant them outside when the weather is warm. Plant tubers in pots 1 inch deep in soil high in organic matter. Kept moist, they grow at 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Caladiums thrive in high temperature and humidity. Outdoors, grow in moist, rich soil, and protect them from intense sun. High, overhead shade or eastern exposures will provide maximum growth and color development of the leaves, Feed weekly with a diluted water-soluble fertilizer to assure continued growth of new leaves. A slow-release fertilizer may also be mixed into the soil before planting. In the fall, dig tubers before frost, allowing them to gradually dry off. Store in a frost-free location.

: By cutting tubers in pieces similar to potatoes, being sure each piece retains growing "eyes."

: Caladiums are unexcelled for foliage color in bright, shady beds or borders, window boxes or containers. Grow in moist areas to reduce water needs.

related varieties: Candidum, an old favorite, is primarily white with green ribs and leaves. Pink Beauty has patterns of pink overlaid on a green background. Leaves of Frieda Hemple are solid red with a green border. Red Ruffles has ruffled, spear-shape red leaves outlined in green. Florida Sweetheart has bright pink leaves edged green. White Wing has white spear-shape leaves edged with green. Aaron and June Bride are fancy-leaved varieties with white leaves edged green. Scarlet Pimpernell is green with a pink star on the veins. Fannie Munson is a good pink. Brandy Wine is an excellent red.

Scientific name of caladium hortulanum: Caladium hortulanum

Caladium hortulanum is also a very popular house plant. In the right climate, you can keep it outside in summer when the weather conditions are right and take it inside in winter. Click to the next page to find out how to make this rather demanding plant thrive indoors.

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