Caladiums 101 & Bulb Size Explained

OK, so you want to know a little more about caladiums.  Like everything in the natural world, there are very few hard and fast rules.  Chaos, variety, forces of nature, Acts of Divine Intervention, and degrees of luck (good or bad) can change the results in any garden. 

Caladiums are living things and can have variances dependent upon planting and growing conditions.  We offer several varieties that are notorious for color variations, and we try to warn you accordingly.  On each variety page, our photos and descriptions are as close to truth as we can get them.

In a nutshell - nature is not stagnate, and it therefore rarely produces identical results.  This is evidenced by the fact that the majority of us do not bump into large numbers of identical twins with any regularity.  Plants are not any different.  You will never find truly identical trees, bushes with the exact same numbers of leaves, etc.  Please be aware that your results for color and (height and leaf) dimension may vary.
OK….so here starts the facts and nothing but the facts. 

There are two types of caladiums.  The first, and most common group of caladiums is referred to as “Fancy Leaf”.  The name for this type is a bit misleading, however.   The leaves on this type of caladium are heart shaped with smooth flat edges, similar to the Valentine’s Day Hearts we all made in grade school.  This type of caladium can grow anywhere from 12-36 inches tall.  Leaf size can range from 8-15 inches in length. 
The second type of caladium is the strap, lance, and dwarf varieties.  This group typically grows 6-18 inches tall and have leaf sizes that range from 4-10 inches in length.    These varieties also have heart shaped leaves, but the strap and lance varieties tend to have a wavy edged curly leaf making them appear “fancy”, hence the occasional confusion between the two types of caladiums.

The Fancy varieties of caladiums are packaged as individual varieties or in the color categories of redwhitepink, or mixed.  The Strap, Lance and Dwarf varieties are offered as individual varieties.  Both groups are packaged according to bulb size, and this is where the trouble starts.

                        Grade               Bulb Diameter              Planting Distance   
                          #2                       1”-1 ½”                             2”-4”
                          #1                      1 ½”-2 ½”                          4”-7”
                        Jumbo                  2 ½”- 3 ½”                         8”-10”
Bulbs are sized according to industry standard measurements.   In this crazy industry, the larger the grade number the smaller the bulb.  (Runs counter intuitive to basic numbering principles and would be much easier to just use small, medium, or large but that would be too simple, I suppose??)    Basically, the larger the bulb the more leaves you can expect.  Planting distance suggestions are loosely based on those expectations.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about caladium bulb size.  Larger bulbs DO NOT guarantee larger leaves, just more of them.  Larger bulbs DO NOT make for taller plants either.   Leaf size and height are determined by many different variables, even when comparing plants of the same variety.  The easy short version is - a larger the caladium bulb will produce more leaves.  Larger bulbs also tend to reach maturity more quickly making them an ideal choice for areas with a shorter growing season.

The following are just a few of the explanations for difference in height and leaf sizes in no particular order

-variety characteristics –some varieties just naturally grow big (or small) by nature 
-large eyes on the bulb- caladiums are like potatoes and the bulbs have eyes of varying sizes
-super great planting and care and or lack thereof
-dense shade – this will definitely make them tall

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Mailing Address:
Caladium World
PO Box 2836
Lake Placid, Florida 33862

Office 863 385 7661

A row of caladium leafs