10 Tips on How to Care of Your Caladium

Caladium (Caladium bicolor) or Elephant Ears are popular houseplants with showy foliage. Caladiums are coveted for their beautiful, arrow-shaped leaves that come in many combinations of pink, white, red, and green with veins of contrasting colors. However, the spectacular leaves are short-lived. It lasts from Spring to Fall and then the leaves fall off and the plant goes into dormancy in the winter. Caladiums are often considered temporary houseplants but you can store the tubers and they will grow back in the Spring. Beware that Caladiums are toxic to pets and humans so they should be kept out of reach from small children. Here are tips on how to care for your Caladium indoors.

10 Tips on How to Take Care of Your Caladium

1. Your Caladium Can Tolerate Low Light

Caladium can tolerate low light. It is happy when placed at a north-facing window. Your Caladium will also do well in an east-facing window with filtered light. Avoid placing your Caladium in direct sunlight. The rule of thumb is the wider the leaves are, the more shade the plant needs.

Check out: Best Houseplants for Low Light

2. Your Caladium Needs Abundant Water

Your Caladium has high water requirements. Water your Caladium when the soil feels dry. The best way to tell when it is time to water your Caladium is to feel the soil. Stick your finger in the soil 0.5 inches deep. If it feels dry, it’s time to water your Caladium. 

3. Get the Soil Right for Your Caladium

Your Caladium needs a well-draining, organic all-purpose potting mix. 

4. Fertilize Your Caladium

Fertilize your Caladium every two weeks during the growing season. 

5. Repot Your Caladium Every Year

Repot your Caladium once a year. In the Fall, after the leaves die back, keep your Caladium in a cool location. Preferably, keep it in a cool, dry room with a temperature of 55 F. Your basement is a good spot. Then repot your Caladium in the Spring while it is still dormant before active growth begins. Remove the dormant tubers, throw away the old potting mix and repot with fresh potting mix. If you are moving your Caladium to a larger container, move it to a container that is 4 inches in diameter larger than its current pot.

6. Drainage is Essential for Your Caladium

Good drainage is important, you don’t want your Caladium to sit in soggy soil. Make sure there are drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. After watering your Caladium and you see water draining out of the pot’s drainage holes, make sure you empty out the accumulated water in the saucer. Don’t let your Caladium’s pot sit in this puddle of water. It will cause root rot!

7. Get the Temperature Right for Your Caladium

Your Caladium needs to have a daytime temperature of 75F to 85 Fahrenheit (24-30C). The nighttime temperature should be at 65-75 Fahrenheit (18-24 C). 

8. Your Caladium Is Not A Temporary Houseplant

Most people consider Caladium as a temporary houseplant because its showy leaves die down and the plant goes into dormancy in the winter. However, you can save the tubers by keeping your Caladium in a cool, dry place (55 F) and then repotting your Caladium with a new potting mix in the Spring while it is still dormant. 

9. Humidity is Vital for Your Caladium 

Your Caladium is a houseplant that likes humid conditions. You should increase indoor humidity. Mist your Caladium several times a week. Add humidity to indoor air with an air humidifier. 

Another way to increase humidity is to keep your Caladium in a saucer filled with water. But make sure the pot is elevated with pot feet or pebbles so your Caladium is not sitting directly on the water. 

10. Your Caladium is Toxic to Humans and Pets

Caladiums are toxic to humans and pets. Don’t let children or pets chew on the leaves of the Caladium plant because it contains calcium oxalate crystals. The crystals can cause vomiting and difficulty breathing. It can also result in swelling of lips, tongue, and mouth and excessive drooling. If you see any of these symptoms and suspect ingestion of Caladium plants, call poison control immediately! Also, call your doctor or vet once you start seeing adverse reactions in children and pets.

3 Common Caladium Problems

The common problems for Caladium are leaf spot fungus, aphids, and leaves turning brown.

Why is the Tip of Leaves of Your Caladium Turning Brown?

Problem: The tips of the leaves of your Caladium plant are turning brown. 

Cause: When the tips of the leaves of your Caladium turn brown that is a result of not enough water or humidity. The tips of the leaves are turning brown because they are dying. 

Solution: Water your Caladium and increase humidity by watering Caladium. Just make sure to let your Caladium completely air dry so it does not suffer from root rot. Another reason for the brown leaf tips is the tap water you use may have too many chemicals. Try watering with distilled water or rainwater to see if that resolves the issue.

Why are there Black and Brown Spots on the Leaves of Your Caladium?

Problem: There are roundish black and brown spots on the leaves of your Caladium. 

Cause: This could be a sign of leaf spot fungus infection. Leaf spot fungus is contagious because the fungus spores can travel in the air to infect other plants in the room. 

Solution: When you see these black and brown spots on the leaves of your Caladium, immediately cut off the infected leaves and throw them away. You can also spray your Caladium with a homemade baking soda spray to prevent new infections. To make the baking soda spray, simply mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 1-quart water and put it in a spray bottle. Don’t overspray since it can get in the soil. The key is to remove the infected leaves and that should hopefully stop the spread.

Why are there lots of tiny green, grey, and brown insects under the leaves of Your Caladium?

Problem: You see a lot of tiny green, gray, and brown insects all over the underside of the leaves of your Caladium. There are also sticky clear residues on leaves and stems. Plus the tips of the stems have curled up and look deformed. 

Aphids
Aphids

Cause: Aphids could be the problem but you should make sure by taking a close look at the insects. There should be 2 tubes on the backside of the insects. Use a magnifying glass to identify aphids. 

Solution: Aphids are common in houseplants. You can get rid of aphids by washing the aphids off with water or soapy water. You can also use rubbing alcohol. Or spray your Caladium plant with insecticidal soap and horticultural oil to get rid of the aphids.

Check out our article on how to make your own homemade pesticides using baby shampoo: How to Make Horticultural Oil and How to Make Insecticidal Soap

Caladium Houseplant Facts

NameCaladium
Scientific NameCaladium bicolor
LightLow Light
Daytime Temperature75 to 85 F (24-30C)
Night Time Temperature65 to 75F (18-24C)
WaterHigh Water
HumidityHigh Humidity
PottingWell-draining, organic, all-purpose potting mix
FertilizerFertilize every 2 weeks 
Toxic to Pets and HumansToxic
Caladium Houseplant Facts

Caladium: Frequently Asked Questions

What are Other Common Names of Caladium?

Caladium (Caladium bicolor) is also called Elephant Ears, Angel Wings, and Heart of Jesus.

Is Your Caladium Toxic to Pets?

Yes, Caladiums are toxic to both humans and pets. Don’t let children or pets chew on the leaves of the Caladium plant because it contains calcium oxalate crystals. The crystals can cause vomiting and difficulty breathing. It can also result in swelling of lips, tongue, and mouth and excessive drooling. If you see any of these symptoms and suspect ingestion of Caladium plants, call poison control immediately! Also, call your doctor or vet once you start seeing adverse reactions in children and pets.

How Can You Tell When It’s Time to Water Your Caladium?

Water your Caladium when the soil feels dry. The best way to tell when it’s time to water is by sticking your finger into the soil. Stick your finger in the soil 0.5 inches deep. If the soil feels dry, then it’s time to water your Caladium. 

Can You Use Cold Water When Watering Your Caladium?

Caladium can be watered with tap water but be mindful of the water temperature that you are using to water your Caladium. Don’t use straight cold water from the tap to water your Caladium. Caladium prefers cool water that is not hot and not cold. When you turn on the cold water from the faucet add a little bit of warm water. You can also get to this ideal temperature by filling a watering can or pitcher with water and leaving it out overnight until the water is at room temperature. 

What Fertilizer Should You Use for Your Caladium?

Use liquid or powder, organic fertilizer with a higher ratio of nitrogen on your Caladium. 

How Big Does Your Caladium Get?

Your Caladium is a houseplant that can grow 12-30 inches tall. Lance-shaped Caladiums are smaller and are usually smaller than 12 inches.

Caladium
Caladium

How Do You Propagate Your Caladium?

Your Caladium Plant is easy to propagate. You can propagate your Caladium plant by dividing the dormant tubers. Below are steps on how to propagate Caladium Plant by dividing its tubers.

1. Dig Up your Caladium Plant in the Fall when the leaves die back

Carefully, dig up your Caladium so you can lift out the entire plant. Be careful, don’t damage the tubers.

2. Divide the Tubers

With a sharp knife, carefully divide up the tubers. Let the tubers dry for a week or two. Then wrap the tubers in dry peat moss and store them over winter in a cool, dry place (55 F).

3. Plant the tubers in a New Pot in the Spring

Plant each tuber into a new pot. Don’t plant the tubers too close together. Ideally, plant each one in its own pot. Water the new plant immediately after planting. Then water every 2-3 days until the roots are established.

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