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Caladium - Expert Tips

How to care for Caladium (Angel Wings): Expert Tips

Caladiums, also known as Angel Wings or Elephant Ears, are bright foliage houseplants with heart-shaped leaves. Those beautiful leaves come in shades like green, pink, red, white, and silver. Their look is often enhanced by detailed veining and translucent spots. It's just gorgeous!

These plants also have several other names, such as Heart of Jesus, Fancy-leafed Caladium, and Lance-leaf Caladium.

Fun fact! The unique patterns and colours of Caladiums are believed to serve as camouflage to help the plant blend into the dappled light of the forest floor and avoid being eaten by herbivorous animals.

Caladium's specific care requirements make them more high-maintenance than the average houseplant. As a result, they may not be the best choice for beginners or busy plant parents. However, they are ideal for people who can devote time and attention to their care!

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Caladium (Angels Wings) Care: 10 expert tips for growing it successfully

  1. Find a spot with bright indirect light. They can tolerate a bit of direct sunlight in the morning or late afternoon, but too much direct sun can scorch their leaves.
  2. Water it with care. Make sure the soil is evenly moist but not too wet. You should wait until the top 2-3 cm of soil is dry before watering again. Be careful not to overwater.
  3. The key to happiness is humidity. Caladiums enjoy really high humidity. You may need to increase humidity using a humidifier or water trays to make it happier.
  4. Avoid sudden changes in the environment, especially when it comes to temperature. Caladiums are sensitive and can get stressed quickly if exposed to unexpected changes.
  5. In the fall, allow your Caladium to go dormant. Simply reduce watering and wait for it to come back to life in the spring. All its leaves will probably fall off, but that's totally natural! Spring will bring new, bigger leaves.
  6. Caladiums tend to shed older leaves. There's no need to worry, as this is an entirely natural ageing process for Caladium.
  7. Cut off the flowers so that it can focus on its beautiful leaves. Flowers take lots of energy and focus away from their foliage.
  8. Fertilise it regularly. Fertilise your Caladium monthly during the growing season (spring and summer) with PLNTS Nutrition plant food.
  9. Keep an eye out for pests like spider mites and scale insects. They can sometimes attack Caladiums. Be on the lookout for anything suspicious!
  10. Caladiums are toxic to pets and humans if ingested, so keep them out of reach of children and pets, and always wash your hands after handling them.

Caladium Plant Care Tips

Light and placement for Caladiums

Caladiums are low-maintenance plants when it comes to lighting. As understory plants, they thrive in the dappled shade provided by larger trees and other plants in their natural habitat. This makes them perfect for growing indoors in bright, filtered light.

Place your Caladium near a window where it will receive bright indirect light for at least 6 hours daily. If your windows are too sunny, you can use curtains to filter the harsh sun rays. While they can tolerate some direct sunlight in the morning and late afternoon, too much direct sun can damage their leaves.

Expert tip! Bright light is the key to vibrant and stunning Caladium colours and patterns. The more filtered light, the more colours you’ll see!

While they tolerate medium shade spots, they do not like full shade. In a too dark spot, your Caladium may lose its vibrant colour, and its leaves may become smaller. It can also become too leggy under such conditions. Place your Caladium under grow lights when it does not get enough natural light. Grow lights should also be kept away from leaves, as they can burn them.

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Watering

Caladium plants need frequent watering to stay hydrated, as they are pretty thirsty houseplants. However, it's important not to overwater them. Their soil should be evenly moist but not soaked. You can tell when it's time to water by checking the top 2-3 cm of soil, which should be dry to the touch. During the summer months, watering once or twice a week is usually enough, while once a week is fine during other months.

It's essential to avoid giving your Caladium too much water, as this can cause the tuber or roots to rot quickly. During the winter months, it's recommended to water your Caladium less to let it go through dormancy. Once all the leaves have fallen, you can stop watering altogether until new growth appears in the spring.

To check the soil's moisture level, you can either use a water meter or insert your finger into the soil. When watering, it's best to give your Caladium a thorough drink until the excess water drains out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Alternatively, you can use bottom watering to ensure the roots get enough moisture. Make sure your water is always at room temperature!

Fertiliser

To keep your Caladium healthy and thriving, fertilise every 2-3 weeks in spring and summer. We recommend using PLNTS Nutrition plant food for the best results. Caladiums become dormant in the winter and don't need any extra nutrition during this time.

Temperature

Caladium plants thrive in warm temperatures, ideally between 18°C to 27°C. They are sensitive to temperature changes, so it is important to avoid placing them in areas with cold drafts or fluctuating temperatures. Providing a consistently warm environment in your home will prevent your Caladium from going dormant for an extended period, as outdoor ones would.

Is it safe to take it outside in the summer (Europe)?

Yes, as long as the temperatures are warm enough. However, because Caladiums are sensitive to low humidity, bringing them outside in areas where summers are very dry is not recommended. If you decide to take your Caladium outside, choose a location with filtered sunlight and protection from strong winds. Remember to bring it back inside when the summer nights get chilly!

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Humidity

The key to Caladium's heart is high humidity! Due to its tropical nature, it enjoys a humidity of around 70%. However, they are reasonably tolerant of lower humidity levels and can still grow well in conditions with a minimum humidity of 50%.

To increase the humidity level for your Caladiums, you can use a humidifier or place a water tray with pebbles nearby. Another option is to group your houseplants, which will help to create a more humid environment.

Repotting

Caladiums typically require repotting every 1-3 years, depending on their location and growth rate. Look for roots from drainage holes or compacted soil as signs that it's time to repot. Choose a slightly larger pot than the previous one, as Caladiums prefer to be a bit root-bound.

Expert tip! When repotting, the top of the tuber should be just below the soil surface. Avoid planting too deep or shallow, as this can cause some struggle!

Caladiums have delicate leaves and roots, so handle them carefully during repotting. Gently tap the sides and bottom of the old pot to loosen the soil instead of pulling the plant by its stem or leaves. Avoid packing the soil too tightly around the roots when transplanting into the new pot. Rather than putting too much pressure on the soil, gently fill the space with soil.

Soil

The best soil for Caladiums is well-draining and nutrient-rich, with a ph range of 5.5 to 6.5. Avoid soils that are too heavy or too porous. Get more information about houseplant potting soils and substrates.

Caladium dormancy

During winter, it's best to let Caladiums go dormant, as they would in their natural habitat. In their native environment, they go dormant during the dry season. Since winter in Europe coincides with this period, it's an ideal time for Caladiums to rest.

To prepare the plant for dormancy, gradually reduce watering and stop fertilising starting in October. As the plant enters dormancy, all its leaves may fall off. Then, watering should be stopped completely. It's recommended to place the dormant plant in a warm, shady location with a temperature of at least 15°C.

In March-April, when the new growing season approaches, it's time to bring the plant out of dormancy. If necessary, transplant the plant into a larger pot. At the beginning of the growing season, be cautious with watering until new growth appears. Once new leaves emerge, you can resume the usual watering routine.

Planting Caladium tubers

Caladiums are commonly sold as tubers. When you get one, choose a pot that is a little larger than the size of the tuber and ensure that it has drainage holes. Planting the tuber in the soil right side up is essential - those growth buds should be facing up. It is usually lumpier on the top and flattish on the bottom, but it is not always recognisable. Place the tuber just below the soil surface. Be careful not to plant it too deep! Want to know all about how to plant Caladiums? Read our blog on planting Caladiums!

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Propagating Caladiums

Do you love your Caladium, and would you like more of them? It's super simple! Caladium roots grow from tubers, and common leaf cuttings won't work with them very well. One of the easiest ways to propagate Caladiums is by dividing their tubers. Just be careful and wear gloves while propagating Caladium, as its sap can irritate your skin!

Propagating Caladiums with division

This method involves separating the plant into smaller sections with stems and tubers. You’ll need a healthy Caladium with multiple stems or baby plants from one pot. Caladiums with only one stem don't need to be divided.

  1. Remove Caladium from its pots and carefully clear the soil around the tubers. To get a better view of tubers, rinse them with water to remove excess soil.
  2. Carefully separate the plant into smaller sections, ensuring each has its own tuber with growth buds, stem, roots, and leaves.
  3. Prepare some smaller pots with well-draining soil. Plant each new section in its own pot, making sure the top of the tuber is just below the soil surface.

Propagating Caladiums with tuber division

This method involves separating the tubers into smaller sections with at least one growth bud. It is best to use this method in the spring, right after dormancy and just before new growth begins.

  1. Get Caladium tubers out of their pots and clear the soil around them. You can also rinse tubers with water to remove soil so that you can see them better.
  2. Slice the tubers into sections, each having at least one growth bud. It is best to keep as many roots attached to each section as possible. Make clean cuts with a clean, sharp knife or shears.
  3. Cut back any growing leaves attached to the tuber section so it can focus on growing new growth only.
  4. Prepare some smaller pots with well-draining soil. Plant each tuber section in its pot, making sure the top of the tuber is just below the soil surface.

Keep your freshly propagated Caladium in a warm place with bright indirect light. Keep them moist but not soggy, and avoid fertilising until new growth appears. Depending on their variety and growing conditions, Caladiums should show new growth within a few weeks to a few months. Once new growth appears, provide proper care and adjust watering as needed.

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Most common pests on Caladiums

Caladiums are rarely troubled by insects, but the most common pests are aphids, mealybugs, trips, and whiteflies. These insects pierce plants and feed on cell sap. Damage includes stippling, yellowed leaf sections and dead patches on leaves.

If pests are found, treat the plant immediately to remove the insects and prevent extensive damage. Not sure which pest is teasing your plant and know how to treat the plant? Our PLNTSdoctor knows what to do!

There are over 1000 varieties of Caladiums, each with its unique foliage pattern and colours. You can make a gorgeous and colourful collection out of them! One of the popular Caladium varieties is 'Candidum', which has white leaves with green veins and a thin green border. Another beautiful variety is 'Red Flash', with leaves with green edges, pink speckles, and a bright red centre. For those who love pink, the 'Spring Fling' variety features strawberry pink leaves with dark green veins, while the aptly named 'Pink Beauty' has beautiful blush pink leaves with a lush green edge. There's one for every taste!

Are Caladiums poisonous for your pets or children?

Please be careful with your beloved pets and children because the Caladium is toxic for them. So keep your plants out of reach of your children and furry friends. We don't want it to be a problem for the rest of your loved ones.

Buy your Caladium online at PLNTS.com

At PLNTS.com you can buy different types of Caladium plants and tubers, like the Caladium White Christmas and the Caladium White Queen. With so many varieties to choose from, there is a Caladium for everyone! Whether you like your Caladiums big from the start or prefer to grow them from tiny BabyPLNTS into full-grown PLNTS - buy Caladium online at PLNTS.com.

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Hi, I'm Emma, your PLNTS.com guide!

Hi, I’m Emma, your PLNTS.com guide!