Caladiums are often used as decoration, owing to their beautiful leaves available in various shades (from pink and red to white and green). These ornamentals are lovely to look at, whether placed in pots, baskets, or garden beds.
As tropical plants, caladiums thrive in warm climates and, therefore, can grow in Texas. So when to plant caladium bulbs in Houston? People often do this task from March or April to September, when there’s no frost. Read on for more details.
Table of Contents
Best Time to Plant Caladium Bulbs in Houston
1. When there’s no frost
Because caladiums cannot tolerate frost, avoid growing them outdoors when there’s danger of ice.
In Houston, the average last frost date is February 18, so people often grow caladiums here in March or April. “Why not grow them in February?” you may ask.
Considering frost days can change from year to year, delaying gardening by two weeks or so will protect plants from unpredictable cold weather.
On the other hand, if you grow caladiums after spring, it’s best to do so in September at the latest, even though Houston’s first frost date is December 8. If you wait until October or later, these bulbs may not have time to fully develop.
- Tip: If you grow caladium bulbs indoors, it’s possible to start them six to eight weeks before the last spring frost.
2. When the temperature’s right
It is best to plant and transplant caladium bulbs when the soil is 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit, as this temperature range gives them the best conditions for development.
Even though it’s possible to grow caladiums in cooler weather, if you subject them to a 45-degree environment, expect plant health to decline.
In fact, if winter has come and the air is consistently instead of momentarily cold (<45℉), it’s necessary to store caladiums and replant them in spring. For gardeners who live in zone 8 or north Houston, it’s vital to keep this fact in mind.
On the other hand, suppose your residence is in hardiness zone 9a (in other words, the rest of Houston), you’ll only need to care for outdoor caladiums by giving them three inches of mulch.
Still, pay attention to weather forecasts, as zone 9 can reach 20 to 25 degrees in temperature, well under the limit for these ornamentals.
Frequently Asked Questions
When do caladiums come up?
Caladiums will take two to twelve weeks to grow foliage, depending on the temperature. In detail, if the soil is over 65℉, leaves should show up within three weeks.
What caladium varieties can I grow?
Since most of Houston falls under USDA zone 9, below are some caladium varieties that suit this region.
If you live in zone 8 (or any other climate for that matter), you can still grow the plants below, as long as temperature control is exercised during the cold season.
- Moonlight Caladium
- Caladium White Queen
- Gingerland Caladium
- Red Frill Caladium
- Carolyn Whorton
- Pink Beauty
How much sun do caladiums need?
In general, four to six hours of sunlight should suffice, and it’s best to put caladiums under moderate shade. Your seed package should have detailed information on sunlight requirements.
What are the planting depth and spacing for caladiums?
The bulbs should be 1.5 to 2 inches below the soil and 8 to 10 inches apart.
How do I store caladium bulbs?
Before winter comes, dig up the bulbs and wait for them to dry. Then, put the plants in a container with peat moss in a storage area where the temperature is never under 50℉. Do not refrigerate them.
What are the soil conditions for caladiums?
As you can probably tell from the discussions above, caladiums need warm soil to survive.
At the same time, these ornamentals require good drainage and moisture, so you should water them frequently without drenching them (in detail, the top 1-inch of the ground should be wet).
But what about gardeners who use pots rather than garden beds? In this case, containers should have drainage holes to prevent plant rot. This way, the caladiums won’t die, and you won’t be deprived of their beautiful foliage.
Last but not least, a pH of 6.0 to 6.5 is recommended.
When to plant caladium bulbs in Houston? As long as you take into account the frost dates, the air and soil temperature, plus your hardiness zone, you should have no trouble growing caladiums indoors or outside.
For the most appealing landscape, plant different varieties with varying leaf colors. For example, place the white foliage of the Moonlight and Strawberry Star cultivars next to the vibrant green of the Raspberry Moon. You can also experiment with other shades such as red and pink.
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