Are caladiums indoor plants? caladium red leaves

Are Caladiums Indoor Plants? (Explained For Beginners!)

Caladiums have been growing in popularity in the last couple of years and you are probably keen to grow them too.

Firstly, it will save you a lot of frustration just by knowing if they are indoor or outdoor plants and if there is any chance you can grow them in your house.

Are Caladiums Considered Indoor or Outdoor Plants:

Caladiums are considered outdoor plants because they need high humidity in the ambient air. The air in our homes is typically much drier, so Caladiums grow easier outdoors than indoors. However, they can be grown indoors successfully, if the high humidity and temperature conditions are met.

There are some special considerations when growing Caladiums as houseplants. Luckily, we’ve compiled all the answers you need to know:

Brief Introduction To Caladiums

Caladiums are tropical plants that are originally from South America and Central America but have now established themselves all over Africa, India and other tropical parts of the world.

They adore humidity and go dormant during the dry season, even in the tropics. Because of that, they have absolutely no frost tolerance and will die at the slightest sign of winter.

Caladiums are well known because of their attractive leaves and amazing foliage, so new varieties are now appearing that are more tolerant to cold, drought or disease.

Is Caladium Toxic?

Yes, Caladium plants are very toxic. Every part of the plant is toxic and if eaten, it can cause severe reactions. Even the bulbs can cause skin irritation, so it’s recommended you handle them with gloves.

If you have pets or children, make sure Caladium is kept far out of reach.

Are Caladiums Annuals Or Perennials?

Caladiums are perennial plants that come back year after year under the right conditions. However, because they don’t survive cold temperatures, they can die in winter and create the illusion that they are actually annuals.

Are There Different Caladium Varieties?

Caladium plants are represented by 14 different species, of which there are now more than 1000 varieties to choose from. All of them are easily distinguishable by their arrowhead-shaped leaves and beautiful colors.

From mini-Caladium to Pink Gem Caladium, each looks a little different.

A little known fact is that Caladium and Elephant ears are the same plants. Elephant ears is another popular name to describe certain species of Caladium.

Is Caladium A Good Indoor Plant?

Although beautiful, Caladiums don’t make the best houseplants. That’s because they have special needs that make growing them indoors rather challenging. That being said, a lot of people enjoy growing Caladiums and love the challenge.

There are many things to love about Caladiums. Their colourful and distinct leaves will be the centrepiece of any room.

However, there are also many disadvantages to them, for starters Caladiums are not cold tolerant at all, which means you must be careful at all times, especially if living in a temperate climate. Even drafty windows can pose a real danger to them.

Their humidity requirements make humidifiers a must. Luckily you there are cheaper options you can consider if your mind is set, just check out our in-depth article about humidifiers.

It is also one of those plants that would love misting every day, so you can check out my in-depth article about how to do it effectively.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Caladiums are very toxic if ingested, so you always have to be careful with pets and kids around them.

How Long Do Caladiums Live Indoors?

Caladiums are short-lived perennials and generally live for 2-5 years indoors. However, It is not unusual for indoor Caladiums to die after the first year. No matter what you do, they won’t generally live more than 5 years.

There is a misconception that Caladiums live for 1-2 years. That’s because they aren’t hardy plants and usually die before reaching the end of their natural lifespan.

Caladium rich and beautiful leaves usually last for 6-8 months before the plant goes dormant.

If you install a grow light, keep the humidity and warmth requirements on point, you can stop the plant from going dormant.

Don’t worry if it’s losing and sprouting new leaves constantly. Caladiums do that, especially if they are stopped from going dormant.

Outdoors, Caladiums live for up to 3 years and go dormant at the end of fall.

How Fast Do Caladiums Grow Indoors?

Caladiums are generally considered moderate growers. The bulbs take anywhere between 2 to 12 weeks to germinate, but the average is 1 month. The plant then keeps growing until it goes dormant.

Caladiums will grow even bigger next year.

To make Caladiums grow even faster, increase the temperature. The warmer the environment around the plant, the faster it will grow.

How Big Do Indoor Caladiums Get?

Indoor Caladiums measure anywhere between 12-30 inches in both height and width. To make your Caladium grow as big as possible, use rich soil, fertilize weekly in the growing season and keep the plant at 70°F (21°C) or above.

Healthy Caladiums have a big spread, making the plant look very noticeable.

In the wild, Caladiums don’t get as big as they do indoors and the maximum size is usually closer to 25 inches tall and wide.

Do Caladiums Flower Indoors?

Caladiums don’t flower easily indoors or outdoors. In fact, they typically flower easier indoors than in the wild. To encourage blooming, make sure there is enough humidity for your plant and the environment temperature is above 70°F (21°C).

If conditions are right, usually at the start of summer, Caladiums will produce small white flowers with a pinkish hue around the edges of the petals. On average, they produce 1-3 flowers that are shaped like a curled leaf.

However, don’t panic if your Caladium is not blooming, it’s totally normal and more common that not.

A lot of plants don’t flower indoors easily and Caladiums are one of them.

The good news is that Caladiums are all about the leaves. Their leaves are absolutely spectacular and even if they do flower, the flowers usually take second place to their leaves.

Do Caladiums Like To Be Misted?

Yes, as tropical plants, Caladiums love to be misted. You can mist your Caladium daily to boost humidity, but even more importantly, they also need high ambient humidity and temperatures.

Caladiums are actually one of those plants that you could mist every day, check out my popular article for more.

To keep high ambient humidity high, your safest bet is to use an electric humidifier. I recommend doing your research prior so you don’t overpay. Check out my article about it.

If humidifiers are not an option, you can create a humidifying tray by placing a saucer with water and pebbles below the plant. Any container will do, as long as it’s shallow and wide.

Because Caladiums need higher temperatures anyway, the water will evaporate creating higher humidity around the plant.

Where Should You Put Caladiums In Your House?

You should place your indoor Caladium in a very warm room with high humidity, where it gets medium indirect sunlight. Bathrooms make the best rooms for Caladiums as long as there is a window.

Kitchens also make naturally good places for Caladiums, because they are warmer than the rest of the house and have higher ambient humidity.

If those rooms don’t work for you, they can stay in any room as long as you can mimic these 3 crucial conditions:

  • High ambient temperature – always above 65°F or 18 °C.
  • High ambient humidity – you will need a humidifier or humidifying tray.
  • Medium indirect sunlight – Caladium leaves will burn on a sunny window, so wherever it stays, make sure the Sun isn’t hitting the plant directly.

Another very important requirement is to keep it away from any heater or air conditioner. Caladiums are very sensitive to colder air currents.

Likewise, radiators can kill Caladiums in minutes.

How Much Light Does Caladium Need?

Caladiums need medium indirect sunlight and any direct Sun exposure will burn their leaves. Keep it away from bright windows or very dark rooms and if possible, try to give it some partial shade for a few hours. 

In nature, they get a few hours of partial shade a day, so mimicking those conditions will work best.

If those conditions aren’t possible, a simple grow light will work very well for your Caladium.

It won’t burn it and it will give you full control over how much light it gets.

Can You Propagate Caladium Indoors?

Yes, you can propagate Caladium indoors. The best way is to dig up their roots (also called tubers) and to cut a tuber with at least one knot. Leave the tuber to dry for 2-3 days and then plant it in rich, well-drained soil.

Make sure you handle them with gloves as Caladium tubers can irritate the skin.

Alternatively, you can also propagate Caladiums from cuttings, although it’s a bit harder.

You can cut a mature Caladium leaf and place it in a jar or glass filled half water. Give it a bit more sunlight than usual and make sure you replenish the water as the cutting consumes it.

In about a month, the cutting should take roots.

Do Indoor Caladiums Require Fertilizer?

Yes, Caladiums are heavy feeders and will require fertiziler during the growing season. Use liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength every 4 to 6 weeks from spring to the end of summer.

Choose a fertilizer with a high ratio of phosphorus as Caladiums need a lot of phosphorus to develop their lush foliage.

Make sure you water the plant after fertilizing to avoid burns.

Another tip is to make sure the fertilizer doesn’t touch the plant’s leaves as they are sensitive and will likely develop burns.

Can You Repot An Indoor Caladium?

You can safely repot your Caladium but you are unlikely to have to do it in the first 2-3 years. When repotting, always use new rich well-drained soil and do it in the spring.

Initially, Caladium needs to be planted in a pot about 5-6 times the diameter of the tube (bulb) and they won’t outgrow that pot in the first 2 years.

As a rule of thumb, the new pot should always be at least 5 times the diameter of the main tube.

Also, always use new well-drained soil, Caladiums won’t do well when repotted in the old depleted soil and also dislike having wet roots for long periods of time.

Can Caladiums Be Potted Together With Other Indoor Plants?

Yes, despite the growing requirements and toxic bulbs, Caladiums make great companion plants. They can be planted with other indoor plants in the same container as long as they have the same needs.

One big advantage Caladiums have as companion plants is that their tubers don’t grow aggressively quick, thus they don’t suffocate other plants.

They also don’t require repotting often.

Just make sure the other plants have the same requirements in terms of temperature, humidity and watering.

Some great Caladium companion plants are:

  • Ferns
  • Begonias
  • Daisies
  • Petunias
  • Marigolds
  • Impatiens
  • Hydrangeas
  • Plantain lilies
  • Other Caladiums

Can Indoor Caladium Be Pruned?

Yes, not only Caladium can be safely pruned but the plant needs it in order to stay healthy and look lush. Prune Caladium every 2-3 weeks in the growing season by cutting any browning or damaged leaf all the way down at the soil line.

You can also make your Caladium bushy by pruning it. 

At the end of winter, in particular, you will notice your indoor Caladium has lost many leaves. You can safely remove that foliage, which will make your plant focus on new growth.

Any dead or dying flower buds can also be removed safely.

Indoor Caladium Problems (And Solutions)

The whole plant is drooping

Your Caladium is drooping because it needs more water. Caladiums need a lot of water and moisture and they will let you know when they haven’t had enough by drooping.

Simply water the plant and you will notice your Caladium stand straight within hours.

The plant is losing its color or turning white

Your Caladium is losing its color because it’s getting too much shade and not enough sunlight. Because they are tropical plants, Caladiums can survive in darker environments, but they will look faded and won’t grow to their fullest potential.

It is very common for a Caladium to let you know it needs more sunlight by losing its color.

Simply give your plant a bit more sunlight and it will turn more colorful in no time. Be careful not to place the plant in direct sunlight as it will burn the leaves.

If it’s simply not possible for the plant to get more sunlight, consider installing a grow light. It will allow for better control over how much light your Caladium is getting without burning it.

Leaves are curling

There are many reasons why your Caladiums leaves are curling, but the most common one is not enough humidity. Mist your plant more often and increase the ambient humidity with the help of a humidifier or water tray.

The leaves should turn straight and lush in a matter of days. If they don’t, it’s likely another issue like direct sunlight, not enough water or too much fertilizer.

Fix these issues by identifying which is the problem first. What did you change lately?

Take it one step at a time and correct them.

Leaves are turning brown

The most common reason why the leaves on your Caladium are turning brown and crispy is because of too much sunlight. Move your plant away from the direct sunlight, cut the dead or dying leaves and mist the plant. It should be back on its feet in a few days.

However, if the leaves on your Caladium are brown and soft, is because of overwatering.

In that case, remove the dead or dying leaves and increase the watering schedule of your plant. Leaving your plant’s soil to dry a bit will help it bounce back.

Leaves are turning yellow

The leaves on your Caladium are turning yellow because of overwatering. You can safely remove the yellow leaves by cutting them at the soil base.

Then, increase the watering schedule by a day or two and the problem should correct itself in a few weeks.

Another possible reason is too much fertilizer. So if you are feeding your plant regularly, use less fertilizer and dilute it more.

Final Thoughts

Although Caladiums are considered outdoor plants and have some rather special needs, you can learn to grow them successfully in your home.

If you can manage to do it, you will get great satisfaction out of growing Caladiums, as very few plants are as beautiful and striking.

Related Posts