- This article is about a plant whose common names include "Angel Wings" , "Heart of Jesus" and "elephant ear" For other uses for those terms, please see Angel Wing (disambiguation) and Heart of Jesus (disambiguation).
Caladium // 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, and Angel Wings. There are over 1000 named cultivars of Caladium bicolor from the original South American plant.
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.
Cultivation and uses
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. Many are sold as C. x hortulanem.
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.
During their growing season, they require moderate watering (damp, not soggy). 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 and are now largely disease resistant. The bulk of bulb production is sold to pot producers who in turn provide your local nursery outlets with potted caladiums ready for immediate planting. Most of the bulb growers also sell direct retail via websites, shipping of bulbs takes place in the spring when temperatures permit (bulbs are subject to damage if temps too low).
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.
Every July(the last week-end), a festival is held in Lake Placid, Florida, home to a majority of the world's caladium fields. A popular activity is a tour of the fields of caladiums, the product of local growers. Every July since 2003, Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida, has presented the Florida Caladium Showcase, the largest indoor and outdoor display of the plants, including new varieties. Many universities feature caladiums at field trials, you may also find displays at Arboretums and many public gardens.
Caladiums are tubers—not corms. A corm is a compressed mass of stem tissue with a basal plate (root tissue) at the bottom and one or more "eyes" on top from which vegetative growth and flowers will appear. A tuber is stem tissue with various eyes which may grow vegetative growth or roots.
- Caladium andreanum Bogner
- Caladium bicolor (Aiton) Vent.
- Caladium coerulescens G.S.Bunting
- Caladium humboldtii (Raf.) Schott
- Caladium lindenii (André) Madison
- Caladium macrotites Schott
- Caladium picturatum K.Koch & C.D.Bouché
- Caladium schomburgkii Schott
- Caladium smaragdinum K.Koch & C.D.Bouché
- Caladium steyermarkii G.S.Bunting
- Caladium ternatum Madison
- Caladium tuberosum (S.Moore) Bogner & Mayo
- Caladium on theplantlist.org
- Brochure on cultivation from the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service (PDF file)