HOW TO GROW CALADIUM (angel’s wings)

15 deg C/59 deg F

The huge, beautifully-veined and coloured arrow-shaped foliage ofcaladiums means that they are often displayed in the windows of florists, hut they are not easy houseplants to save from year to year. They may make delightful plants for late spring or early summer to early or late autumn, depending on the temperature.

Caladiums are native to tropical South America, and need warmth and good humidity to retain their good looks. They mostly take the form of named cultivars of C. bicolor, which is extremely variable, and there are consequently very many. Some may be natural varieties, and from seed it is possible to obtain a selection of colours often better than the parents.

Plants sold by florists are usually quite expensive, but it is not difficult to start far more cheaply from the tuberous rhizomes supplied by bulb merchants. These can be immersed in moist peat on a warm window-sill in spring and potted into 15cm (fun) pots as soon as they sprout. If kept in a warm room and moist, the arrow-shaped leaves will soon form. These may be a plain, uninteresting green at first, the later foliage should show the true vetoing and delightful colouring.

Often, small arum-like flowers are formed in summer, but these are of no decorative merit, (live only slight shading. but avoid direct sunlight which may scorch the leaves. High humidity is essential, and a misting with water will

greatly accelerate growth. In late autumn, when the foliage begins to deteriorate, gradually reduce watering. Eventually, remove faded foliage and keep the pots where they can be prevented from drying out completely during winter. The temperature should not be allowed to fall below 13 deg C (55 deg F). This is perhaps the most difficult aspect in saving the plants, and most people may prefer to regard them merely as summer to early autumn houseplants. However, caladiums are among the most impressive and beautiful of all foliage subjects and are well worth trying. They are most successful in centrally heated homes, where there is humidilication to prevent the air becoming dry. Restart saved tubers in spring. Draughts, erratic temperatures, chills. and dryness or direct sunlight, can all cause leaves to turn brown and shrivel. Aphids may sometimes attack, otherwise caladiums have few pest or disease problems.

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