Caladiums: The Complete Guide To Caring For The Heart Of Jesus Houseplant

Caladiums are some of the most striking, cheery foliage plants you can grow indoors or outdoors.

These plants hail from tropical parts of South America and Central America, but they’re grown all over the world, and it’s not difficult to guess why!

Depending on where you live, they can be a little challenging but easy enough with a few adjustments, or they can be a breeze.

They create an instant tropical vibe in any space and look absolutely beautiful.

Want to grow your own Caladiums? Here’s what you should know.

Caladiums At A Glance

Caladiums are sometimes called Angel Wings or Heart of Jesus, but they are the same thing. 

Depending on the variety you go for, and the growing conditions, they can reach between 12 inches and 30 inches tall, spreading about the same. 

There are more than a hundred different varieties of Caladium to choose from, all with different color combinations, including different shades of green, pink, white, yellow, and red.

Caladiums grow from bulbs, and you can either buy them as established plants or start with the bulbs, whichever you prefer.

These plants aren’t the easiest species in the world, but they’re not the most difficult, either. It depends on the growing conditions you have already, and how closely you can mimic the plant’s natural conditions as to how well or how badly these plants will fare.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

A Note On Toxicity

It’s worth knowing that Caladiums are considered toxic to people and pets, so it’s important to keep them out of reach of pets and children, as it’s not worth the risk.

Caladium Plant Care

The key to getting the care right for Caladiums is to maintain a balance between the different elements of care and recognize that each one is part of the whole, as each aspect directly affects the next.

Ideal Light For Caladiums

Exactly how much light your Caladium plants need depends on whether you want to grow them outdoors, or indoors. 

Outdoors, these plants are shade-loving and require a sheltered position with no direct sunlight, or dappled sunlight at the most.

Indoors, this translates to bright and indirect light with some morning sunlight if possible. Stay away from direct sunlight that’s midday or afternoon sun, as this will burn your delicate Caladium plants.

Temperature And Humidity Needs

Caladiums need warm temperatures not only to break through dormancy and trigger growth but also to produce the biggest leaves possible.

Aim for temperatures between 60°F and 75°F, keeping the plant away from any extremes or dramatic fluctuations.

It’s worth knowing that frost will cause the plants to die back, and may even kill them entirely if it is too cold! 

If you do want to grow them outside and don’t want to buy new plants every year, you can overwinter them inside, or dig up the bulbs and store them for winter, whichever you prefer.

These plants love humidity and will struggle in very dry areas, so try to keep humidity levels above 40%. 

This is fairly easy to achieve outdoors, and even indoors, you can manage this by grouping plants together.

Caladium Soil Needs

Caladiums are quite demanding when it comes to soil. They need sharply draining compost, as well as plenty of nutrients.

A standard houseplant mix tends to be fine, but if you’re heavy-handed when it comes to watering, add a little perlite to the mix to help with drainage.

The pH should be between 5.5 and 6.1.

When To Water Caladiums

Caladiums should be kept damp but not soggy at all times. Let the first two inches of the compost dry out in between watering for best results, and always check the soil before you water.

Notice I didn’t give you a definite X amount of times a week? This is because the amount of water your plant needs depends on the growing conditions you give your plant, which will be unique to your home or garden.

If you plant Caladiums outdoors in the ground, they will need significantly less water than in pots, as they will have access to more water, but don’t let the compost dry out completely.

In winter, Caladiums go dormant. They need no water at all when the foliage dies back, so wait until spring to water your Caladiums.

As these are tropical plants, refrain from using cold water.

Feeding Caladiums

Fertilizing these plants isn’t strictly necessary, but a good-quality houseplant feed during spring and summer will help, feeding every fourth watering at half the recommended strength.

Propagating Caladiums

Propagate your Caladiums by dividing the bulbs in the following spring, as they have a clump-forming habit.

Problems To Watch Out For

Holes In The Leaves

Caladium leaves develop holes when there are pests, or, when the light levels are too bright.

Very Small Leaves

Very small leaves are usually a sign that temperatures or light levels are too low.

Final Thoughts

Caladiums are fantastic plants that look great anywhere, but you may need to adjust the growing conditions so your plants can get as large as possible.

A good trick if you live in a colder area is to buy a propagation mat and keep the pot on the mat so that your plant is warm at all times.

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