Caladium Winter Care
by Sarah Gardiner
Sarah is a horticulturist with a passion for edible and cottage gardens.
It’s been a long, hot summer and your Caladium has flourished all season long. Up until now, it has looked picture-perfect sitting over near your window, full of leaves and deep in colour. Now that the days are getting shorter and temperatures are dropping, your Caladium collection might be starting to look a little thinner and lacklustre, its colour not as deep and dark as once before.
Caladium are herbaceous perennial plants, growing from a tuberous corm, rising up from beneath the soil each year at the end of spring. They are a tropical, heat-loving plant that flourish with the hot days and high humidity throughout summer. When the seasons change and winter sets in, Caladium will finish their season and die down, hibernating through winter until warmer temperatures return.
We often get inundated with questions about Caladiums at this time of year... 'What am I doing wrong? Why is my Caladium losing colour? Why is my Caladium losing leaves? Have I killed my Caladium?' Never fear - your Caladium plant yellowing off, losing leaves and dying down is completely normal as the cold of winter hits. Winter is a period of dormancy for your Caladium collection and a time when they will store their energy sources, in order to make way for a showy display come late spring, when they start their growing season again. As you start to see the signs of this dieback, you might notice that your Caladium requires less water and can be kept on the drier side.
To keep your Caladium corms alive throughout their dormancy period, there are a few different ways of storing them, depending on whether your Caladium are grown in pots or the ground. We've compiled a few tips and tricks below and these methods will keep your corms healthy throughout winter, ready for you to replant them again in spring.
Overwintering Caladium Corms in the Ground
Caladiums are happily grown in the ground and when they lose their leaves, the corms can happily stay where they were planted until they’re ready to start growing again. Make sure these corms don’t get too much water where they’re planted - as this could cause them to rot off in the ground over winter.
Overwintering Caladiums in Pots
When grown in pots, Caladiums can be brought inside when temperatures start to fall, which will extend their growing season slightly. Caladium corms can be left in pots to overwinter before they start actively growing again, but foliage should be removed after the leaves die off and soil should be left to dry out until temperatures rise again and signs of growth reappear.
Digging and Storing Caladium Corms
Digging and storing your Caladium corms is a popular and easy way to store corms over winter, as it saves space and leads to strong and healthy plants in the following season, when corms are replanted. When your Caladiums lose their leaves and begin their dormancy period, simply remove the soil from your pots and shake off any excess soil from the Caladium corm, ready to store these in a paper bag. This is best done when the soil is dryand Caladium corms are best kept in paper bags in a dry, dark place, until they are ready to be planted. Don’t forget to label your bags as you are storing them!
Replanting Caladium Corms After Winter
As Caladiums don’t tolerate the cold weather, timing is important when replanting them in the spring and they should be replanted when the temperatures are steadily rising again. If soil temperatures are still too cold when your Caladiums are replanted, the risk of rot or stunted plants could still be there. It is safest to wait 4-6 weeks of temperatures increasing before planting, in Australia - October is most ideal. When replanting your corms, simply plant them in a pot with a premium indoor potting mix, with the corm planted 1-2 inches under the soil surface.