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 Caladium subsp. var.  Caladium, Elephant ear
Habit: herbaceous
Height: to
Width: to
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Lifespan: perennial
Poisonous: all parts
Exposure: part-sun, shade
Water: moderate, less when dormant
Features: foliage, houseplant
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Araceae > Caladium var. ,

Caladium (Template:IPAc-en)[1] is a genus of flowering plants in the family Araceae. They are often known by the common name elephant ear (which they share with the closely related genera Alocasia, Colocasia, and Xanthosoma), Heart of Jesus,[2] and Angel Wings. There are over 1000 named cultivars of Caladium bicolor from the original South American plant.[3]

The genus Caladium includes seven species, which are indigenous to Brazil and to neighboring areas of South America and Central America. They grow in open areas of the forest and on the banks of rivers and go dormant during the dry season. The wild plants grow to 15–35 inches (40–90 cm) tall, with leaves mostly 6-18 inches (15–45 cm) long and broad.

Several species are grown as ornamental plants for their large, arrowhead-shaped leaves marked in varying patterns in white, pink, and red (somewhat resembling the unrelated coleus) and have been in cultivation in Europe since the late 18th century. The two forms most widely cultivated are called "fancy-leaved" and "lance-leaved". The former is the more commonly seen and is the traditional caladium of cultivation; the leaves are more heart-shaped. The latter has more lance-head-shaped leaves. Most Caladiums in cultivation grow to about 24 inches (60 cm) high and 24 inches (60 cm) wide, although dwarf varieties are now in cultivation.

Numerous cultivars have been selected, most of them (over 120) derived from C. bicolor. The lance-leaved varieties are also derived from C. schomburgkii.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Caladium (origin of name obscure). Araceae. Warmhouse large-leaved plants, grown for the foliage; also employed in summer bedding. Herbaceous perennials, arising from large rhizomes or tubers, acaulescent, with usually beautifully marked, long-petioled Ivs.; the secondary nerves oblique to the few spreading primary nerves: peduncles usually solitary; spathe with the tube convolute, constricted at the throat, the blade boat-shaped; spadix erect, a little shorter than the spathe, the lower part naked, stipe-like, the staminate part longer than the pistillate; fls. unisexual: fr. a berry, white.—A dozen or less species in Trop. S. Amer. Two of the species are immensely variable, and many named horticultural varieties are in the trade.

As soon as Caladium plants begin to lose their leaves in the fall, water should gradually be withheld until the leaves are all gone. The pots should then be removed to a position under a bench, and laid on their sides, or taken from the soil and placed in sand. During the resting period they should not be subjected to a lower temperature than 60° F., and kept neither too wet nor too dry. About the beginning of March the tubers should be started for the earliest batch to be grown in pots. Arrange the tubers in their sizes, and keep each size by itself. The largest-sized tubers will start quickest, and it is desirable to begin with these for pot-plants. Start them in chopped moss in boxes. The tubers may be arranged rather close together in the box, and merely covered over with the moss to the depth of about an inch. The new roots are made from the top part of the tuber, so it is important that this part should be covered to encourage the roots. For starting, a heat varying between 70° and 85° will suffice. As soon as a healthy lot of roots makes its appearance, the plants should be potted, using as small- sized pots as possible. The soil for this potting should be principally leaf-mold, with a little sand. In a short time they will need another shift; the soil should on this occasion be a little stronger; give a position near the glass, and shade from strong sunshine. — New forms are raised from seed, this operation being an exceedingly easy one with the caladium, as they cross-fertilize very readily. The flowers, unlike those of the Anthurium, are monoecious, the females ripening first. To pollinate them, part of the spathe must be cut away. Seedlings at first have the foliage green, and it is not until the fifth or sixth leaf has been developed that they show their gaudy colorings. Propagation of the kinds is effected by dividing the old tubers, the cut surfaces of which should be well dusted with powdered charcoal to prevent decay. — As bedding plants, the fancy-leaved caladiums are gradually becoming more popular. To have them at their best for this purpose, the ground should be worked for some time previous to planting out, with a goodly quantity of bone meal incorporated with the soil. The tubers are best put out in a dormant state, as then they make very rapid progress, and eventually make finer plants than when they are first started in the greenhouse, as by this system they are too likely to sustain a check in the hardening-off process, and lose their leaves. The fine, highly colored kinds are not so well suited for outdoor work as those having green predominating in the foliage, but some of the kinds, such as Dr. Lindley and Rosini, do remarkably well. Frequent watering with manure-water is absolutely necessary to the development of the foliage, both outdoors and in. (G. W. Oliver.) It will be seen that most of the cultivated caladiums are considered to be forms of C. bicolor and C. picturatum. Only five species are concerned in the following list: schomburgkii, 1; marmoratum, 7; bicolor, 8; picturatum, 48; humboldtii, 57 CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


During their growing season, they need a great deal of water and should not be allowed to dry out. Most varieties prefer partial to full shade, although sun-resistant varieties are now in cultivation. Approximately 98% of all caladium bulbs are from Lake Placid, Florida, in the United States. In recent years many new varieties have become available through breeding.

In temperate areas, they should be lifted before the first frost. The corms are dried and stored for the winter when temperatures fall to 65 °F (18 °C), and stored moderately dry (not bone-dry) over the winter at temperatures between 56 °F (13 °C) and 61 °F (16 °C).

All parts of the plant are poisonous. They should not be ingested and may irritate sensitive skin.


Caladiums grow from corms and can be propagated by dividing the tubers. They are hardy only to USDA plant hardiness zone 10; in colder areas, they are typically grown as tender bulbs or as houseplants.

Pests and diseases

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