Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
All sorts of foliage add beauty to floral arrangements. They fill various roles, such as adding mass to designs. Depending on the type chosen, they can also add color, texture, and contrast. One of my favorite greens during the summer months happens to be the caladium.
Also known as angel wing, these have a vase life of about five days. Caladiums are tender bulbs that are commonly grown during the summer months. The leaves are also sold as a cut green pretty much year-round for floral design.
Caladiums come in a myriad of colors both solid and multi-colored. Among the most common colors seen are pinks and various shades of red and rose as well as white. They are also available in different kinds of green. Often, they are bicolored or multi-colored with various combinations of colors.
Though it can vary somewhat depending on the size of the leaf, the overall shape will mostly be heart shaped to arrow shaped. Some have a puckered or ruffled look, while others seem flat.
The size of the leaf varies according to the cultivar. While some are dwarf, others may be much taller. Tall ones are better for floral design.
If you plan on growing caladiums to get leaves for your summer designs, grow them in a shady spot. For the most part, these canít take a lot of direct sun. They will get a washed out look if they are in brightly lit spots. If you donít have an outdoor garden, you can easily grow caladiums in containers.
These heat loving plants require a warm temperature. Donít bother trying to grow them until the weather becomes warm in the spring. Keep them inside until the danger of frost is past.
These plants are sometimes known as fancy leaf caladium. The bulbs are available during the late winter and spring months at garden centers as well as from mail order catalogs and online. Many of the caladium bulb producers are in Florida. Traveling through parts of the state, you will see acres upon acres of caladiums.
Native to the New World tropics, including the Caribbean, caladiums still grow wild along the Amazon in Brazil.
Caladiums are used for their foliageónot their flowers. In fact, it is best to remove any blossoms that appear. This directs the plantís energy to the leaves. Caladium flowers are small and inconspicuous. These resemble those of the other Aroids, such as anthuriums. They have a short spadix or spike with white flowers. Surrounding the blossoms is a white, leaf-like spadix.
As with most bulbs, caladiums need a well drained soil. For pots, I use a soilless mix rather than ordinary potting soil, which may not drain as well. Let the soil dry out somewhat between waterings. Overwatering can cause root rot.
Caladiums do need some fertilizer during the growing season. I just use an all-purpose, soluble plant food at half the strength recommended on the label.