Saturday, 5 January 2013

Garden sitting

I have been garden sitting for a friend. Very pleasant indeed.

At first the weather was dry and hot but now there has been a regular pattern of afternoon showers and some storms at night. Daily watering is no longer necessary. My friend does not have a computerised sprinkler system.

She does have some lovely caladiums. They are so easy to grow here and never seem to get any diseases. During the Dry Season they often die back but add water and even the most dormant will resuscitate. Here are some photos from her garden.

Caladiums are from the family Araceae. Caladiums are grown as ornamental plants for their large heart-shaped leaves which have patterns in red, pink, white, and cream and have been cultivated in Europe since the 18th century. There are two basic forms - fancy leaved (wide arrow shape) and lance leaved (narrow strap shape). I have never seen the narrow leaved caladiums at all. They do produce flowers. The flowers are a bit like peace lillies, white with one curled petal surrounding a bumpy spike.

Originally caladiums come from South America, in and near Brazil. The original plant is known as Caladium bicolour, but there are now more than one thousand named cultivars. In the wild caladiums grow in forested areas and on the banks of rivers. The wild plants grow up to 90cm tall and the leaves can be up to 45 cm long. I have never seen them this big and the plants I know are usually about 50 cm tall with leaves about 25 cm long.  

Caladiums grow from corms and they can be spread by dividing the tubers. I admit I forget the difference between tubers and corms.  I have always found that once you start growing one plant it will soon multiply and form a clump. They seem to spread according to the water source. Before you know it, there are too many. I have found that a pot of caladiums each side of the front door can look really welcoming. Hmm, the magazine decor touch!

Caladiums are really easy to grow outside. They thrive in 75% sunlight but will grow in a range of conditions. You can grow them inside in good light. Too little light will cause the stems to grow too long and weak.

Keep up the water. Remember that they prefer to grow near rivers. Feed them with a general purpose fertiliser to help maintain good coverage.

Divide them and spread throughout the garden to create a lush tropical ambiance. They are perfect outside a fence and will prevent dogs from crawling underneath and entering the yard. 


  1. Those are very lovely. it is so nice that you get to help take care of such a lovely garden. I live in a semi-arid dessert area, so it is nice to look at.

  2. this is the first year that my caladiums have done well, and I often share with my neighbour, so we are both building up quite a variety. I love that first one.


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