Question about Caladium

Leo A. Martin
Mon, 09 Sep 2013 15:26:59 PDT
> indoor gardener in
> Qatar who needs help with her Caladium collection.

Hello Raahat,

I live in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, and our temperatures are almost the same as yours. Your
plants didn't get enough water. They need to be stay moist when they are growing. The
new elephant's ear probably also needs a lot of water. Most people water them almost
every day when they are growing. They grow better with lots of fertilizer.

Caladiums grow well inside or outside between 20 degrees and 50 degrees but they need to
stay moist or wet when growing. They do not mind low humidity. Outside they can be in
containers or in the ground. They grow outside in bright shade, in mixed shade and sun
as under a tree with sparse foliage, or with a half day's sun. Inside they do best with
as much light as possible.

In Florida in the US they are grown commercially in fields in full sun where
temperatures are around 30-40 during the summer, but the humidity is high. If caladiums
get much below about 17 degrees for any length of time they usually die, even when they
are dormant.

Caladiums normally grow for a period of several months. When the leaves start to look
old you can let them dry out and go dormant. You can move them into another container,
if you wish, when they are leafless and dormant. You can also leave them in the same
container. Leave them dry for a few weeks to a few months, then water them again and
they will grow if it is warm enough.

This group of plants forms new shoots from the top of the tuber. They need to grow for a
period of time to replenish the tuber before they go dormant. If they don't get enough
water before the the tuber is replenished they may die. Yours grew from April to June
before they dried out, so they might just be dormant. You are doing the right thing to
water them. Keep them moist and do not let them dry out. If they are alive they should
grow within about a month. You do not need to put plastic over the soil. However, they
might be dead.

Your friend can divide her plant when it is dormant and give some to you. She could also
try to divide it while it is growing, but waiting until it is dormant would be safer.
When temperatures begin to cool in the fall your friend can stop watering her plant. The
leaves will die down. About two weeks after the soil is dry she can empty the container
and remove the tubers. Store tubers dry, above 20 degrees, and in the dark. You can
replant them right away if you have a warm place for them to grow, or wait a few months.

I am not certain what the other plant is, but it sounds like a relative of the Caladium.
There are several plants called elephant's ear. They are related to taro, grown as food
in southeast Asia and Polynesia. Some have pure green leaves, and others have colored
leaves. If you can buy fresh whole taro root at a food market you can grow that in a
container. It is a beautiful plant. Here in the USA many markets catering to Filipinos
and Chinese sell taro. Your plant might also be a Philodendron. Look up Philodendron
online and see; this plant doesn't need as much water as the elephant's ear.

I expect your elephant's ear will survive. All these plants need a lot of water. When
the shopkeeper put it into a smaller container some of the roots were damaged. The
leaves may suffer more damage until the roots grow enough to supply water to the plant.
Continue to water so it stays moist. When you water make sure all the soil is wet. You
may cut off the dead leaves at the base. Some Caladium relatives need high humidity. If
this is one of those plants it may continue to have brown edges on the leaves.

Another concern is the amount of salt in your water. Elephant's ears and taro often have
brown leaf edges if there are a lot of dissolved salts in the water. Our water here in
Phoenix is desert water and this happens here. Caladium is not affected like this.

Caldium and elephant's ear bulbs are often sold at garden centers in the late winter and
spring. Dutch and American growers produce them.

Good luck with your plants.

> I live in the Middle East in Qatar and in summer
> for about 5 months the temperature gets to 45 degrees
> in the daytime so these plants stay indoors.
> I purchased in April - spring - few Caladiums
> and planted them in pots indoors... they were doing
> perfectly fine and all of them had very large leaves.
> However, we left mid June to Australia.... When we got
> back at the end of August I found that the pots
> were sitting in the heat upstairs... I dug up the
> bulbs with the scraps of withered leaves attached in
> the pots and repotted them... but two weeks ago and
> nothing has happened. I placed them near the window...
> my question is do I need to \'dry out\' or do
> something to the bulbs before re potting them?

No, if they are alive you should keep them moist.

> Do I need to cover the pots with cling wrap?

This isn't necessary.

> Do they need to have drying soil?

No, caladiums need to stay moist when growing. When they are dormant they can be dry.

> How long before I can see any growth?

They should grow within a month if they are still alive.

> Also the friend whom I have given the shoots...
> is she able to split the plant somehow and give
> me a couple of the stems or will that wreck her plant?
> She has gone from the two baby leaves i gave her to
> 5-7 large and small leaves.

It would be better to wait until her plants are dormant, as described above.

> My next question is to do with Elephant Ears with
> gorgeous stripes I bought from a nursery 4 days ago.
> He advised me to water them well when I got home as
> he had to repot into a smaller pot sell the plant to
> me plus the plant sat in the back of the car (aircon)
> but for 2 hours in the heat.

Try and find out what the plant is and look on the Internet for it. The air conditioned
car was not a problem. The plant lost some roots when he repotted it.

> When I got home the plant was fine but I did water it
> well but since then the dark green waxy leaves have
> become soft droopy and purple.

This is probably because the damaged roots aren't providing enough water.

> Yesterday - day 3- I repotted them into a new
> larger ceramic pot and watered it a tiny tiny amount
> just to settle it into it new place... however I find
> that another two leaves have become soft and crinkly
> at the edges... will it keep becoming more sick or
> will it recover in a couple days now that I'm not
> going to water it anymore and it settles into its new
> home?

I would give it a lot of water and completely soak the soil. This kind of plant usually
needs to stay moist.

> Should I cut off the soft damaged leaves so the plant
> can focus on the healthy leaves and grow more?
> If I should cut of the leaves that have become purple
> and soft should I cut them at the base or the top?

You can cut off any part of the dead leaves.

Leo Martin
Phoenix Arizona USA

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