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Caladium care

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Caladium care

If you’re an avid shade gardener or just love colourful foliage like we do, give caladiums a try. Pot up a tuber or acquire a plant from a retailer. Either way, you can’t go wrong – and learn how to take care of them all year with our tips.

Caladiums

Mid-October, we dug up our dahlias, tuberous begonias and caladiums. As responsible gardeners who don’t like to see good tubers go to waste, we dig up the bunch and set them in a cool, dry place for the winter.

We are happy to report that our caladium collection is 99 per cent healthy. Despite our best efforts, we had to remove one soft tuber that had begun to rot. Checking on the collection every few weeks ensures any rotting tuber does not spread bacteria to the surrounding bulbs.

We absolutely love caladiums in the garden; they provide colour in the shade where few other plants do, but they do require a bit of extra work. Is it worth it? We have to say yes.

Spring care

In the spring, about six weeks before the last-frost date, pot up the healthy caladium roots to give them an early start. Keeping the knobby (rounded) side up, place them in a two- to five cm pot in a damp mixture of peat and container soil. It is imperative that the soil stay moist, dark and warm (23 to 26 C) until new growth begins. Provide indirect light as soon as you see a shoot, and move outdoors when the danger of frost has passed in May.

As you may have guessed, caladiums prefer a warm, moist environment. They are very winterhardy, depending on the variety, but most prefer shade. Caladiums are not known for their blooms but rather their colourful foliage. Healthy caladiums may produce a bloom which is best removed to keep energy directed towards the tuber. Water frequently to ensure the soil doesn’t dry out below two centimetres deep. Fertilize once a month with diluted 20-20-20. Most caladium varieties will grow 30 to 50 cm tall.

Winter care

Dig up caladium tubers in late autumn for storage, before killing frost penetrates the soil. Brush off soil and allow to dry in a warm environment with good air circulation for a week or two. Cut back foliage after it dies naturally. Store between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius in loosely packed peat moss, keeping several centimetres of space between them.

Recommended varieties

(available at garden retailers midwinter)

CHERRY TART: Suited for pots and baskets; performs well in sunny and shady landscapes.

CRANBERRY STAR: Ideal for pots and as accent or border; best suited to shady areas.

FIRECRACKER RED: Excellent landscape performance; very tall, better suited to the landscape than the container.

GARDEN WHITE: Ideal for use in sunny landscapes or large containers; grows tall, resistant to sunburn.

CALADIUM UF340: Outstanding performance in landscape and container settings; does well in sunny or shady locations; also known as Angel Wing Dwarf White. Some varieties are more tolerant of the sun than others, including: Candidium, F. M. Joyner, Pink Beauty, Postman Joyner, Red Flash, Rose Bud, Sea Gull, Scarlet Beauty and White Queen.

Potential problems

TUBER ROT: Causes tuber to become soft. Select varieties least susceptible to the problem and store tubers properly. Do not store tubers in the refrigerator. A cool, dark area in your basement or cold cellar is best.

LEAF SPOT: Causes leaves to develop brown spots. Remove and destroy affected leaves.

LEAF BURN: Causes brown spots and leaf die-back. Don’t expose leaves to liquid fertilizer, keep plant well-hydrated and from receiving too direct, mid-day sun.

Mark Cullen is a Member of the Order of Canada. He reaches more than two million Canadians with his gardening/environment messages every week. Ben Cullen is a professional gardener with a keen interest in food gardening and the environment. You can follow both Mark and Ben on Twitter (@MarkCullen4), Facebook (facebook.com/MarkCullenGardening) and Instagram (instagram.com/markcullengardening). Receive their free monthly newsletter at markcullen.com.

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Bringing the outdoors inside!

Bringing the outdoors inside!

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Bringing the outdoors inside!

We’ve been seeing a notable movement towards decorating with house plants. With the seasons always feeling so short-lived, decorating with plants is a great way to bring the outdoors inside and enjoy the lushness of greenery all year long. In the world of decorating, plants have a way of making a space feel bright and alive. They add a burst of great colour to a room while creating a relaxed and welcoming ambience.

Plants are very versatile and can be used in a multitude of ways to enhance and revitalize your space. They add colour and texture, and with a bit of creativity in your selections can really boost the character of your home. A large fiddle-leaf fig tree cannot only simply fill a corner of your home, but the scale of this plant with its beautiful dark green, waxy foliage and structured sculptural shapes is a great asset to any design aesthetic. You can find this striking plant equally comfortable in a relaxed “boho” design, as it is in a well-curated modern home.

Plants are a wonderful decor accessory adding life and beauty to your home. However, beyond just the aesthetic value, they also have actual health benefits as they reduce the toxins and improve air quality. They also provide a variety of aromatherapy perks and have been known to lower stress levels, make you feel energized or even simply add a lovely natural fragrance to your home.

Cut flowers are a stunning addition to any room, but can often be costly to maintain on a regular basis. A collection of plants displayed on a vintage silver tray can be a great alternative for a centrepiece, while adding a new layer to your decor. Or perhaps a great little grouping of hanging plants in the corner of your bathroom, with the added accessory of a trendy macrame hanger – a small nod to the 1970s – that would be a perfect complement to your home.

Whatever inspires you, there’s definitely a plant or two that will be perfect for your home decor needs. And should you be thinking that you don’t have a green thumb and will likely end up torching a beautiful live plant, there are fantastic alternatives in the world of faux plants that you can indulge in and still stay on trend with adding the lush look of greenery to your space.

4 tips to bring the outdoors in!:

  • Work with an assortment of plants that vary in heights, scale, colour and texture.
  • Planters and baskets are a great way to further enhance the decor element of your plant selections, but don’t just limit yourself to these items. Air plants and succulents can look fantastic displayed in many different container options.
  • Make sure you don’t keep all your plants on the ground or on table tops. Think about different ways to elevate them off the ground, such as a stack of books.
  • Make sure you are aware of the needs of your plants prior to purchasing them to ensure you benefit from the maximum enjoyment and decor aesthetic.

Linda Mazur is an award-winning, nationally publicized designer and Principal of Linda Mazur Design Group.

With almost two decades of experience this in demand multi-disciplinary design firm is known for creating relaxed stylish spaces and full-scale design builds within Toronto, the GTA and throughout Canada.

@LindaMazurGroup


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