Caladiums are native to South & Central America, and are closely related to another popular garden plant, Elephant Ears. They have been cultivated for over 100 years, but recent developments in breeding and propagation have dramatically escalated the varieties available. No longer must you choose between the “red ones” or the “green ones,” etc. Today’s caladiums blend colors and patterns in amazing ways: striped, outlined, radiating, veined, margined, spotted, mottled, and many other schemes.
While there are six basic species of caladiums, two types are prominent in horticulture. The heart-shaped leaved varieties are generally referred to as “fancy caladiums.” The lancehead-shaped leaved varieties are known as “strap-leaf” caladiums. Here in Texas, the strap-leaf varieties are especially useful, as they can tolerate some direct sun, but will thrive in full shade. Fancy caladiums require shade in Texas. Both types require excellent horticultural care, including rich, moist, well-drained soils.
While caladiums are grown primarily for their beautiful leaves, they do in fact flower. They produce an inflorescence similar to that of the Jack-in-the-Pulpit; a colorful bract (spathe) enclosing with a central fleshy column (spadix). The spadix column is actually composed of hundreds of tightly-packed flowers, and if successfully pollinated, will produce small berry-like fruits.
Caladiums produce both colorful leaves and a curious bloom.
Colorful caladiums fill the beds along the front side of the Chandor home.
Parker County Master Gardeners line up to pose with the caladiums they planted near the Dragon Fountain here at Chandor Gardens.