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Caladium Plant Care: How To Plant Caladium Bulbs

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Caladiums are beautiful tropical plants known for their vibrant and colorful foliage, making them popular among gardeners and plant enthusiasts alike. They are often confused with Calocasia and Alocasia. They are all often called elephant ear plants and their propagation is the same with slight differences in long term care. One of the most common and easiest methods of propagating caladiums is by starting from bulbs. This article will  direct you through the process of growing caladiums from bulbs in a quick and easy fashion.

Choosing the Right Bulb

When it comes to growing caladiums from bulbs, selecting the right bulb is critical for successful sprouting and long term plant health.  Look for bulbs that are firm, healthy, and free from any signs of damage or decay. Check for soft or mushy parts on the bulb. These can be signs of rot.

Preparing the Soil

Caladiums thrive in well-draining, rich soil. A standard houseplant mix with worm castings and bark will be perfect. If planting in the ground be sure to mix in compost to ensure the soil is moisture retentive and nutrient rich. The bulb needs to be kept moist but not sit in a puddle. If planting in a pot ensure there are drainage holes.

Planting the Bulbs

Timing: Caladium need to be planted when it’s warm and after a frost date. Temperatures above 70°f and access to bright light is key to a quick and successful germination. Humidity over 50% can speed up the process as well.

Planting Depth: Plant the Caladium bulbs with the rounded side facing up. According to the University of Illinois Extension, bulbs should be planted 1 to 2 inches deep. When planting in pots use a 6 inch pot minimum for starters and expect to have to repot 1-2 months after they sprout.

Watering: After planting, thoroughly water the bulbs to settle them in the soil. Maintain regular watering, keeping the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Do not let them sit in a puddle because excessive moisture can cause the bulbs to rot.

Care and Maintenance

To ensure healthy growth and vibrant foliage, follow these care and maintenance practices:

Watering:

Caladiums require a lot of watering to keep the soil evenly moist. Do not let them dry out or constantly sit in a puddle. Water when the top one inch of the soil is dry. Use a finger or stick to test the moisture level.

Fertilization:

Caladiums are heavy feeders and need to be fertilized regularly. Use the maximum dose of a slow release fertilizer or use a standard dose of water soluble fertilizer every watering. If there is not enough fertilizer the caladium will start to drop foliage with every new leaf. When under fertilized the plant will only be able to maintain 1-3 leaves at a time and drop any more then that.

Pest and Disease Control: Caladiums are resilient plants, but they are definitely susceptible to aphids, spider mites, and fungal diseases. Make sure to regularly check your caladium for any signs of pests or diseases and treat them immediately with insecticidal soap, copper fungicide, or another recommended plant treatment.

Growing caladiums from bulbs can be an easy, rewarding, and fun experience. With the guidelines outlined in this article you have the knowledge to successfully grow stunning caladiums with beautiful, colorful, foliage.  Remember to choose healthy bulbs, provide the right growing conditions, and maintain proper care and maintenance for successful caladium growth.

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