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Grow Caladium Bulbs, Elephant’s Ear

Written by WG on May 14th, 2009

Caladiums provide gorgeous color and excitement to your yard or house all summer long since they can be grown indoors or out.

This week we’re going to go over how to best grow caladium indoors, next week we’ll give tips how to best grow them outdoors.

How To Grow Caladium Bulbs, Elephant’s Ear – Indoors

Caladium bicolor (C. x hortulanum) grows from a tuber, and is the most commonly grown species. In fact there are hundreds of cultivars available some of which include:

‘Candidum’ – pure white foliage and dark green veins

‘Fanny Munson’ – light pink foliage with green veins and margins and deep pink midribs

‘Pink Beauty’ – pink leaves with red veins and bordered with green and pink speckles

‘Red Flash’ – dark green leaves spotted white, deep red veins and wide green margins

Because of their incredible versatility offering different leaf patterns and colors, caladium never get boring to have around.

Caladium leaves, which grow 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 cm) long, are usually heart or arrow-shaped, but some are lance-shaped and can come with spots and veins in shades of white, pink, red, green, and mixed colors.

They do flower, but the flowers themselves are not very interesting being a greenish white, and are usually removed so as to not drain the tuber’s energy.

What Time Of Year To Plant

In the spring and early summer you’ll find nurseries and home improvement centers have caladiums fully grown, but you can save quite a bit of money by buying the tubers instead.

If you opt to buy your own tubers, buy firm, large tubers that are not diseased or sick looking.

Planting Them Up

Plant three tubers in an 8-inch (20 cm) pot, and cover them with 1 inch (2.5 cm) of potting soil. Water them in.

Growing Conditions Caladiums Need

Light: Bright filtered – keep out of direct sunlight or they will fade. Low light will cause spindly growth

Water: Keep evenly moist, but allow them to dry during their winter dormancy (see more below)

Humidity: High. These are tropical plants so if you have a dry house, put a tray of water and pebbles under the plant – just make sure to keep the plant out of the water. Plants left in standing water will die

Temperature: Room temperature of 65-75 degrees F (18.3-24 C)

Fertilizer: Feed lightly once a month with an all purpose soluble houseplant fertilizer like a 10-10-10 or a 5-5-5

Repot: Each spring when dormancy ends (see more below)

Propagation: By division of tubers called tubercles and offsets

Problems: Low light will cause weak growth. Dry air or cool drafts can cause the leaves to yellow and die.


1. Always remove any flowers since they drain the tuber of its energy

2. Remove all dead leaves at dormancy

3. If you plant the tubers upside down, they will grow large quantities of smaller leaves which can be beautiful

4. Aphids and spider mites can be possible problems

In The Fall

At the end of summer, or after 6 to 8 months of growth, caladiums will start to look stringy and tired. That’s your cue to stop watering them, and put them in full shade to induce a dormancy period.

When the leaves die back, cut them off. You can store the tubers either loose in peat moss or vermiculite, or you can leave them in their pots.

Either way, keep them at room temperature or slightly cooler, but never cooler than 50° F (C) during the winter months. You don’t want to let them get too cold during the winter because these are tropical plants that like warm conditions.

When new shoots start to show in the spring – if you left them in their pots – start watering them again.

If you dug them up, repot them first and then begin watering them.

Next Week – How to Grow Caladium Outdoors

Overall caladiums are easy to grow indoors and are stunning to have around. Next week we’ll go over how to grow Caladium outdoors!

Other Articles of Interest:

Houseplant Growing Guides – includes pictures and growing information

Caladium bicolor – includes pictures and growing information

For more Gardening Tips and Gardening Advice visit our main gardening website at Weekend Gardener Monthly Web Magazine –

Have great week!


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