Caladiums area quick fix to add color in the shade garden. Photos by Doug Oster
Summer's first light streams through the trees, causing the leaves of deep red caladiums to be become luminescent when viewed from behind.
My garden won't be in shape until sometime in July. It's one of the ironies of being a garden writer (and an avid fisherman). Sometimes the garden gets neglected for both reasons.
One quick fix in my shade garden to add instant color is planting caladiums, grown for their foliage. There are a plethora of beautiful varieties in a wide choice of colors.
I've fallen in love with most of them. I'll take the deep red colors and plant them in the center of a container with chartreuse sweet potato vine spilling over the edges. The white and green varieties will light up the shadiest of corners. They are fun to mix with each other and other plants which enjoy shade.
They are great for containers, but make a nice mass planting in the garden too. Seven caladiums transplanted into moist, fertile soil will put on a show under the trees in consort with other annuals.
When looking over the plants at the nursery, I like to buy the biggest pot I can afford, usually six or eight inches. The leaves are bigger and they seem to do better.
In a couple weeks, the plants will get marked down an many garden centers, that's a great time to give them a try.
Being cheap, I save lots of them from year to year. They are actually kind of tough to get started in my unheated greenhouse as they love warm temperatures.
Here's a primer for saving any tender tubers.
Caladiums love summer as much as their gardeners do, enjoy some time together and watch the sun dance across their leaves.
Spend time this summer watching the light dance over caladium blooms.
Caladiums come in many colors.