Monday, December 20, 2010

From the Unpopular Weeds to Very Popular Caladiums

Caladium is a very popular genus of the Aroid family, which includes the Alocasia, Colocasia, Xanthosema, or commonly called taro. Caladium species has been popular for the beautiful shapes, venations and variegations on the leaves, which has been done through years of breeding. There are 3 general leaf shapes as fancy, spade or strap; fancy are the widest and with 2 lobes at the base (e.g. photos below). The strap leaf is more elongated and devoid of the lobes. Spade is the shape in between.

I am sure most of us know this plant or has at one time been cultivating this in their gardens. It is a tropical plant whose hybrids already acclimatized with the temperate and subtropical zones. It is said that today the most chazed after hybrids are from Thailand, which developed the best characteristics wanted for Caladium. It turned out that through the years the Thailand Palace has been hybridizing this for their use, and just lately shared them with the world. Aside from the beautiful venations, spots, or colors, their hybrids have thick and shiny leaves, short petioles and produce more leaves in their generation before succumbing to dormancy or rest. These qualities make them more sought after in the market. I've just browsed on their hybrids and Caladium 'suvarnabhumi' is really very beautiful. Suvarnabhumi is an ancient name of Thailand and is also the name of its international airport. So the caladium hybrid namesake must carry the qualities of a prestigious name.

My caladiums are the old common varieties, left on its own, sometimes watered but mostly not. The photos here are the volunteers which just grow anywhere on the property. Sometimes they are even eaten by animals roaming around especially the goat's kids. But they thrive for several years now just left on the ground. Every rainy season they seem to be very happy.

Caladium tricolor

These are all from the fancy leaf types exemplified by the Caladium tricolor, maybe the oldest of them. But still it gives a garden a beautiful color mix.

This looks also special with those little white
patches at the center

This one has a nice leaf form. And it somehow showed 2 colors only.  I am not sure if this came from a C. tricolor. There is the C. bicolor too, but it is green with white spots. We also have that in the property, but i can't see its picture from my files.

But can anyone explain what happened to this one!!! The original leaves are the normal variegations as in above photo, but through time it showed this one, pinkish leathery leaf with only very thin green color at the margins. Maybe somehow, there was a gene for mutation. It is a phenomenon much sought after by ornamentalists, as certainly beautiful colorful mutations are beautiful too in gardens!

This fat larvae is not aware that he is trampling on a forbidden path. But it's survival of the fittest, so it must do its nature. We just contend with his remnants as another art form, "caterpillar art"!

Thai Caladium reference on growing and breeding instructions and beautiful photo gallery of their hybrids please visit



  1. Great post about one of my favourite plants for a hot dry tropical garden. I wish I had many, many more but only the common Tri-colour is readily available in the nurseries here, which is a real shame.

    They tend to be regarded as an old-fashioned plant here, even though there's so many fabulous varieties. You do have some wonderful Caladiums in your collection.

  2. This is such a magnificent leaf and you've found a glorious variety of them. I've captured a few myself, waiting for the right time to post them... but when I do I am sure to link back to this post of yours. Fantastic, Andrea!

    Maraming, maraming salamat for correcting my post today. Please feel totally free to do so anytime. I'm not only a non-taxonomist, I am a veritable plant moron! I lived with a landscape architect for ten years and can still barely tell the difference between a pine and an fir tree! :-D An additional funny is that I got the mistaken identity from your blog! I saw yesterday's post and thought that the rubellia tuberosa there was the same as what I had, so I saved the name! Andrea, please go take another peak at my post... I have corrected my post with full credits to you, although after researching a bit more I did decide to call it the beach morning glory - ipomoea pes-caprae. Thanks again!

  3. Andrea, those caladiums were my dad's favourites. I still have a black and white picture of me, a little kid standing beside his pot of caladiums. I'll look out for them at nurseries. The caterpillar is really cute but I haven't seen it before.

    Maligayang Pasko at Manigong bagong taon! (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year) ;>)

  4. Lovely to see plants outdoors that we can only grow inside Andrea. I am stunned by your last shot! Beautiful!!

  5. Hi Andrea! Wonderful post..those are beauties..I love the shapes of their leaves..they always fascinate me..beautiful!!
    Wishing you wonderful blessings in the new year!

  6. Hi, Andrea;
    I know nothing about Caladium -- other than how pretty their foliage is and that they don't like living with me. ;>)

    That plump little bug, or larvae is kind of cute! What a great pic.

    Hope you have a wonderful holiday week.

  7. Beautiful plants, I've always been fond of Caladiums. Incredibly tricky to grow here though, even in the summer months.

  8. Some years ago I would never have thought of including Caladium in the garden. Like Bernie said I too find it "old-fashioned". Probably because of the very common and familiar variety (your first pic) which seems like nobody wants.

    But when I saw the other varieties of Caladium I found a new interest for this plant.

  9. The caladium leaves are very beautiful! I wish I could grow them year round in my gardens!

  10. Beautiful caladiums, they are one of my favourite house plants! Although they just sprout anywhere in my garden especially under my mengkudu tree, so I guess you are right when they are considered as weeds! I have the caladium tricolor but love to have the mostly red ones, its hard to come by in nurseries too.Happy holidays and Merry Xmas!

  11. Christmas holidays are already in the air and it is difficult to concentrate now on anything, but i have to thank each one of you for your comments and visits.

    Bernie and Solitude Rising~~as i mentioned in my post, those photos are just volunteer growths in our property, we are not actually tending them anymore. Sometimes we actually pull and throw them as weeds. However, when they are not too much among the greens, they are actually beautiful. Yes, aside from being old fashioned they are very difficult to kill in this parts. They are not collection anymore but ex-situ plants.

    Francisca~~haha, you're welcome and i replied more on your site. I am just trying the proliferations of mis-understandings about plant IDs, because there really are a lot of them already!

    Autumn Belle~~i am glad i touched some sentimental thoughts for your father in posting this. Selamat datang for your Pilipino greetings.

    Carol~~thanks for your appreciation of my photo! People are always trying something different no matter how difficult they are to grow. We are like that here also in trying to grow semi-temperate plants. People always love the extra-ordinary.

    Kiki~~happy holidays for you too. Merry Christmas.

    Kate~~thanks also for your kind words. Just like your temperate plants which are very common there but i really fancy to see, e.g.snowdrops and fancies, these are very common here almost as weeds.

    Mark and Gaz~~oh really, i didn't know it is difficult to grow there even in summer, maybe because your summer is still cold. AT least you have phytotrons in the big gardens or conservatory where you can see these plants well thriving.

    Solitude rising~~you should try to see the link i've posted here, you will love the varieties from Thailand which will be easy to culture here.

    EG Wow~~yes i hope you can find the right techniques to grow them, they mix nicely with other combination of colors.

    p3chandan~~yes you are right, the same holds true here. At least you are nearer Thailand so maybe the better ones are more accessible for you. I love to get the nice colors too, they will be nicely put in the office window.

  12. The second one is really unique. I have not seen one like that. Of course the last shot steals the limelight. Not only is the leaf colourful, the 3D caterpillar makes the leaf even more special.

  13. Thanks for including a link to more Caladium cultivars. I was delighted looking at the different leaf colors. They are really beautiful.

    When I get the chance to come home, I'll have to hunt for exotic caladiums in our local garden stores.

  14. I'm so glad to have seen this post! I love caladiums and miss having them, especially the Kathleens that I found by accident in a big box store. The Texas Hill Country is too sunny and cold and deer-inhabited...

    I'm glad to know about the types origin and characteristics.

    Hope you have a great holiday season, Andrea.

  15. I love your caladiums with so much red variegation. Only the first cultivar is found in my garden.


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