Crazy for Caladiums

Despite the pandemic, the Gardens continue to grow and thrive. For the last two years, we have featured a Caladium Walk highlighting these colorful plants. The caladiums planted in these beds are starting to appear and provide a pop of pink, red, and white. The walkway leading to Pinewood Estate has the largest display.

Originally discovered in Brazil along the Amazon basin, caladiums are tropical foliage plants known for their spectacular, multicolored leaves. Caladiums are wonderful hanging baskets, pot, and landscape plants. These herbaceous perennials grow well in Florida’s warm, humid climate and will provide beautiful color throughout spring, summer, and fall.

There are two main types of caladiums: the fancy-leaved type and the strap-leaved type. Fancy-leaved caladiums have large, heart-shaped, or semi-heart shaped leaves on long petioles and typically reach from between 12 to 30 inches in height. Strap-leaved types (also sometimes called lance-leaved caladiums) have shorter, narrower, and ruffle-edged leaves on short petioles and are usually less than 12 inches tall (Image 2). Strap-leaved caladiums also tend to produce more leaves per tuber than their fancy-leaved brethren.

Today, virtually all commercial caladium production in the world takes place in Central Florida, the majority in Lake Placid, FL where there are approximately 1,200 acres in caladium production. The beauty of the caladium fields in the summer is so striking they have been compared to the tulip fields in Holland.

Because of their beauty and in an effort to expand the public awareness of caladiums, in 1990 two caladium growers, Carolyn Phypers of Happiness Farms and Dot Bates of Bates Sons and Daughters, decided to work together to create a caladium festival which has taken place annually since. During the festival, bus tours to the production fields are available so visitors can witness this incredible beauty first hand. Learn more about the Lake Placid Caladium Festival.

This blog was written by Patrick Lynch, Plant Records Curator.