A Caladium, or Elephant Ear plant, a member of the the Araceae family, is a tuberous, rooted perennial that originally came from South America. It is closely related to an Alocasia, whose common name is also Elephant Ear plant. All plants in the Araceae family, including the diffenbachia and philodendron, contain calcium oxalate crystals and are extremely poisonous. Caladium plants, whether indoors or outdoors, look beautiful from late spring until early fall and then die back and become dormant until early spring.
Caladiums are bulb plants grown for their large, paper-thin, arrow-shaped, colorful leaves that are often more spectacular than many flowers. The most popular indoor varieties are the “fancy-leafed” and “lance-leafed” types. The leaves, some as long as 24 inches, have marbled, spotted, or veined patterns in red, pink, white, and green.
Popular Caladium Varieties
C. Spring Fling C. Pearl Blush C. Autumn Beauty C. Tapestry
Quick Care Tips
A caladium needs high humidity to keep leaves from curling and turning brown
Warm temperatures above 70° (if possible) and never below 60° during the growing season
Likes to be watered with tea
A caladium will go dormant and look like it is dying in the early fall. Do not throw it out. Cut the foliage back to the soil line and put the plant in a dark, cool location for several months. Water every 4-6 weeks. Once the weather warms up and the days are longer, move your caladium back to its original bright location. The beautiful ornamental foliage makes the extra care required to grow and then re-grow a caladium plant each year well worth it. These vividly colored plants are poisonous and must be kept away from pets and children. Read more about common houseplants that may be dangerous in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants.
You can store your caladium plant tubers (bulbs) in the garage as long as the temperature stays above 55°F (12.8°C).
The brown spots on your caladium plant are probably leaf burn from the sun. These plants love bright light, but never put them in direct sun.
There are several reasons why the tips and edges of caladium plant leaves turn brown. You may be feeding it too much. Always dilute the plant food to1/2 the recommended strength or the salt in the fertilizer will burn the leaves. A caladium plant requires very high humidity and the air in our homes is often very dry. Put your caladium plant on a tray filled with water and pebbles, but be sure the plant is sitting on pebbles and not in the water. You can also try placing a small humidifier near your caladium plant.
The new leaves on your caladium plant are coming in smaller and less colorful because the plant isn’t getting enough light. Move your caladium plant to an area where it will get very bright light, but no direct sun.
If your Caladium Plant Bulbs were stored in an area that was too hot or too cold, below 55°F (12.8°C) or above 85°F (29.4°C), the bulbs might have been damaged. You may not physically see the damage on the bulb, but it does effect how well and how quickly a caladium plant grows.