Caladium Production in Central Florida
During the past 10 years, the University of Florida and Robert D. Hartman of Classic Caladium LLC, have developed breeding programs producing 25 new varieties during recent years. Both programs include commercial production trialing and horticultural evaluations. Because of extensive testing, recent introductions are proving reliable for both the industry and consumer. Dr. Hartman has over 1,500 named varieties growing today at his location in Avon Park, FL.
Central Florida dominates all commercial caladium production in the world today with approximately 1,200 acres of total caladium production. In 1990 a caladium festival was established to bring about awareness of caladiums which has taken place annually ever since.
Caladium Growing Requirements
The University of Florida recommends that caladium tubers be planted in soil that is at least 70°F, cool soil will result in tuber rot and slow growth. In North Florida, plant caladium tubers in the ground in April; in South Florida in late February. When planting tubers place the knobby (puckered area in the center) side up, and plant them 2 inches deep and 8 to 12 inches apart from each other. Remember to plant most caladium cultivars in a well shaded area for optimal leaf color and health. Link below provides growing tips recommended by the University of Florida.
Soils with high moisture and adequate drainage are preferred. Caladiums should never sit in dry soil or saturated water. The soil should be moist to the touch and watered frequently. To retain soil moisture, mulch around the plant after the leaves have emerged. These plants are heavy feeders so regularly fertilize them with a soluble fertilizer, for prime foliage growth. Caladiums’ leaves can also burn if fertilizer is applied directly to the leaves, the plants are in direct sunlight, or there is a lack of water.
Dr. Hartman was my guest on Gardener’s Hotline (PBS WDSC) a few years back (2013 and 2014). Listen to Bob for more valuable information on Caladiums.