Caladium can be described as a genus of flowering plants in the family Araceae. They are often known by the common name elephant ear Heart of Jesus, and Angel Wings.
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 derived from C. bicolor. Many are sold as C. × hortulanem, a synonym for C. bicolor. The lance-leaved varieties are also derived from C. schomburgkii.
Caladiums grow from tubers 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 “bulb’s” 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.
Hardly anyone is going to purchase caladium for their flowers but they do produce an interesting bloom from larger tubers.
As previously stated, the flower-like bud on a caladium is a spathe, which is a small modified leaf that sheathes the inner reproductive organs. Inside the curved spathe is a spadix. This is a rigid structure that holds the sexual organs of the plant.
The whole effect isn’t what one might call pretty but it is an interesting plant adaptation and one worth noting.
In some species, such as calla lilies, the spathe/spadix is a magnificent form and considered the most attractive feature of the plant.
In caladiums, the inflorescences are small, green to green yellow and generally considered unattractive.