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CALADIUM, Florida Cardinal – Caladium
FULL SUN Native to the tropical regions of South America primarily Brazil, Caladiums have been a part of American and European gardens since the mid-1800s. Currently, there are approximately 16 different species commercially available. Florida Cardinal is the most popular red Caladium available today. The leaves are deep ruby red edged in green with green veining. The plants reach a height of 18-24 in.
In Hardiness Zones 4-6, start roots indoors in April and transplant outside when the nighttime temperatures reach 55 degrees. In Hardiness Zones 7 and higher, roots can be started outside when the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed. Plant the roots in organically rich soil amended with bone meal. Keep the soil moist, but do not allow the roots to stand in water. Caladiums thrive in containers – 1 root per 8 in. diameter pot.
In Zones 4-6, the roots need to be lifted when the nighttime temperatures fall below 55 degrees. Roots should be stored in a cool, dry, dark area. In Zones 7 and higher, roots can be left in the ground after the plant dies back, if heavily mulched.
|Type||Spacing||Planting Depth||Days to Germination||Maturity|
|Caladium||8-10 in.||2 in.||14-21||60|
Caladiums were discovered in South America by the Spanish explorers in the 1500s. Most of the known species are native to parts of Brazil. The plants were introduced into Europe but because of their fragile tropical nature did not thrive. With the introduction of greenhouses and conservatories available to the upper and middle classes in the latter part of the19th century, caladiums rose in popularity. The plants, with their stunning leaves, were easy to grow and real ‘show stoppers’ in the conservatories of the day.
The name, Caladium, comes from the South American Indian term ‘kelady’ meaning unknown. The rhizomes of the Kelady were roasted or boiled by the Indians and eaten. In the West Indies, the leaves of the Kelady were boiled and eaten as a vegetable.
In the US, 98% of all Caladiums come from Lake Placid, Florida affectionately known as The Caladium Capital of the World. The tiny town is surrounded by hundreds of acres of Caladium farms, and the town, itself, is decorated with 40 murals many of them depicting Caladiums. The town was chartered in 1925 as Lake Stearns, but at the request of Dr. Melvil Dewey, inventor of the Dewey Decimal System the name was changed to Lake Placid in 1927. In late July, each year, the town holds a Caladium Festival where farms display an assortment of their Caladiums.
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