Plants

Caladium, red-leaved plant

The Caladium is a plant that attracts attention for its green leaves in the edges and a deep reddish towards the center. It is showy and cheerful although somewhat difficult to cultivate as it needs certain conditions to achieve good development.

Also known as Corazón de Jesús or Paleta de painter –precisely because of the shades of its leaves-, it belongs to the genus Caladium  and despite its beauty you have to think about it before having it at home as it is a toxic plant. So if there are children or pets living with us, it is best to opt for another species.

Origin and characteristics of caladium

It is a genus of a dozen species of herbaceous plants with perennial tubers native to Brazil, Guyana and the surrounding areas, where they live in open areas of the rainforests. The most popular is Caladium bicolor. They can grow to a height of 40 to 90 centimeters.

Its leaves are 15 to 45cm long and wide, and arise from the tubers. These can be of very varied colors: white, crimson, red, and even bicolor. The flowers appear in inflorescences called spadices, which are green.

Grow tips

Location

If you want to grow a caladium you will need a bright place but without direct sun, otherwise it would burn. Also, the place must be warm, with an average temperature of 21 degrees Celsius. It is not a plant to live in a climate of great thermal amplitude as it does not tolerate temperature differences well between day and night, but rather it likes stable temperatures.

Fortunately, you can grow it if you prefer indoors, in a room with lots of light. It is important that, if you choose to keep it indoors, you keep it away from drafts.

Irrigation and moisture required

On the other hand, it requires a very humid environment, although with it it is not about watering without limit but about doing it in the right way. How is this? The best is a regular but not direct watering as it is a very sensitive plant whose stems can rot easily.

The most advisable thing is to use a humidifier and place the water in a plate with clay and on it the pot.

If in doubt about when to water, check the humidity of the substrate or soil before, for example with a digital meter or with a thin wooden stick (if it comes out clean when you remove it, then you will have to water).

Earth

  • Pot: a good mix would be universal substrate (on sale here ) with equal parts perlite.
  • Garden: the land must be fertile, with good drainage.

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For the caladium to be in good condition, the plant will have to be fertilized twice a month, at least during the growth stage. You can use universal fertilizer or liquid guano following the instructions specified on the product packaging.

Pruning

It is recommended to cut it at ground level at the end of the season and after the foliage begins to wilt. Then you have to stop watering it because the plant’s resting stage begins.

Use scissors previously disinfected with pharmacy alcohol or a few drops of dishwasher.

Multiplication

Caladium multiplies by dividing the tubers in spring. For this you simply have to separate them and plant them in individual pots with universal substrate mixed with 30% perlite or similar, and place them in semi-shade.

Planting or transplanting time

It is planted in spring, or after the dry season if you live in an area with a tropical climate. In the case of having it in a pot, you should transplant it when you see that the roots come out through the drainage holes, or when a long time (more than two years) has passed since the last transplant.

Related article:Transplant plants

Plagues and diseases

It’s very tough; However, when it is watered in excess it is easy for fungi to damage it, rotting its roots and, later, its stems and leaves. Also, if it is sprayed too frequently, whitish or moldy spots will appear on its leaves, which will become larger.

Therefore, the best thing to do is prevent. Check the humidity of the soil before watering, and do not spray. If the plant is in an area where the environment is dry, put glasses of water around it or a humidifier.

Rusticity

It does not resist cold or frost. The minimum temperature must be above 18ºC.

What uses does caladium have?

This precious plant is used only as an ornamental, either to decorate tropical gardens or the interior of homes.

It should not be consumed under any circumstances, as it is toxic. As a consequence, if you live with animals, it is not a good idea to acquire it, unless you can have it in a place inaccessible to them.

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