Caladium leaves offer a great combination of color, texture and beauty when planted in shady gardens, near flower beds or foliage gardens. They are vibrant under the sun, contributing brilliant hues to make your garden attractive and exotic during summer months. However, there comes a time when even the brightest Caladium plants have to be unearthed and stored to survive winters. Except in warm climates, Caladium bulbs should be dug out during the Fall and stored away from freezing conditions. Caladium bulbs do not survive rough cold or wet weather and hence should be removed from soil before the first frost.
Below are 7 tips to be followed while removing Caladium bulbs from the soil:
1. Plant Caladium bulbs properly. You can dug out Caladium only if you plant it properly. Care should be taken while planting Caladium bulbs as some plants can survive only in shade or partial shade while some others are sun-resistant enough to live directly under the sun. When you plant a Caladium bulb, plant it 2 inches below the soil after the night-time temperatures are above 50 degrees. Ideal time is late Spring. See to it that the soil is moist and well-drained and not wet and soggy.
2. Nurture, fertilize well. Taking care of the planted bulbs is very important. Continue to fertilize the bulb for about 6 weeks with a teaspoon full of fertilizer for every bulb. Only when you fertilize the bulb will have the capacity to acclimatize to a different world during the winter months.
3. Remove bulbs early Autumn. Check before removal. You need to check your Caladiums before you remove them from the soil. If you observe carefully, you will note that Caladiums stop growing and their leaves turn brown on the verge of winter/frost conditions. The bulbs show signals if they have finished their growth cycle for that particular season. If you notice any such change in the bulbs, remove them while there is still enough foliage on the plant to help identify and differentiate the color and names of caladiums planted.
4. Use hand tool. Remove with great care. You can use a hand tool to dig out bulbs if you find digging with hands arduous. Maybe you can use your gloved hand to explore the bulb’s base and pluck it out carefully. Dig the trowel at the sides of the bulb (several inches away from the plant) and tug gently until the bulb comes out of the ground.
5. Look for new bulbs. Caladium bulbs grow well on good soil. They often multiply and several tiny bulbs form surrounding the main caladium bulbs. They maybe dislodged or isolated from the old bulbs. If removed and stored properly, these new bulbs too can be used in Spring time plantation.
6. Storage of Caladium bulbs. This is the most crucial part. Bulbs removed from the soil should be allowed to dry for a week and then dry leaves should be cut or pulled of from the plants. Remove any sticking soil in the bulb and pack in dry peat moss or vermiculite. Then, store the bulbs in a temperature that is above 50. Some gardeners prefer open cardboards or mesh bags. Whatever be your choice, you need to be careful of the storage area’s temperature and humidity as bulbs can rot if stored in normal winter conditions.
7. Check bulbs for rotting. Yes, frequently check them for rotting. If any bulb is rotten, better to remove it from the clan and throw it away in order to avoid others from meeting the same fate. When Spring time arrives, you can start planting the bulbs again. If you still find early Spring with frosts and wet conditions, plant your Caladium bulbs indoors and then shift them outdoors during late Spring.
Caladiums are tender, perennial bulbs that can be stored during winter and re-used every Spring. Their seasonal bloom and growth time is from frost to frost.