Caladiums Can Be Solution To Shade Problems

Perennial Personalities

When I visited family in Montreal last month, a relative asked me a gardening question. “My impatiens all died. What happened?” I explained the problem, and even showed her the illustrations on my app. After I finished, she asked, “Now what should I do with my shade?”

A slightly different version of this conversation took place in Atlanta, where impatiens were doing quite well in a friend’s garden, but she had heard about impatiens dying all over the city, “for some reason.” We admired her plantings and I went through my now-familiar spiel. After I finished, she asked, “Now what should I do with my shade?”

We have all heard this question, but as widespread as downy mildew damage on impatiens may be, it is not everywhere, as there are still significant parts of the country not affected (read more in “Impatiens Downy Mildew Incidence Down Significantly In 2013,” a link at GreenhouseGrower.com/October2013. However, confusion is rampant among consumers, including gardeners and professionals.

Consider All Of The Alternatives
I have no more answers than the next person. People are asking for alternatives and while I can talk begonias, New Guinea impatiens, coleus, lobelia — I’ve even had limited success with vinca and calibrachoa — there is no doubt that there are shady sinkholes and they may be getting larger.  
Yet there is a crop that keeps getting better and that so many of us have ignored for too long. I, too, have been an “ignorer,” but having seen what’s happened in recent years, I have become a believer. The crop is well- known yet underused (everywhere north of Zone 8). It is the caladium.
Before you move on, allow me to expand. When I ask people why they don’t use more caladiums, I get hit with:

1. They’re annuals
2. They’re expensive
3. They take too much time to look good.

These are all valid points, but the same complaints have been heard about other plants like taro, canna and hibiscus.  
In response to these concerns, I say:

  1. Annual, schmannual. Big deal. Like other annuals, caladiums provide color and are easy to maintain. I’ve seen bananas and taro in Madison and Chicago — why not caladiums?
  2. Yes, they are more expensive than impatiens — many plants are. While they may not sell in tonnage, price, quality and distribution are all there.
  3. For too long, caladiums have been treated like dry bulbs and tubers at garden centers — a bunch of dry, amorphous blobs that intimidate all but the hardiest of plantspeople. They should be shown off in gallon containers and let the foliage do the selling.
  4. Growing is not difficult; give them bottom heat to get them going and watch them take off. Even my students can grow them! Work with a good caladium producer — they are waiting to hear from you in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois.

Caladiums Can Help Solve Your Shade Problems
Caladiums are poised to help answer the question, “Now what should I do with my shade?” Breeders have been hybridizing caladiums for full sun, which is good, but right now, we need more shade material, and these fit the bill.
They are spectacular plants. If you last looked at caladiums five years ago, look again. Colors are exceptional, plants have been bred to work in baskets and mixed containers, and they are a landscaper’s dream — tough and shade-loving.

Meanwhile, downy mildew may be no more than a passing phase, and if producers and landscapers handle the situation adeptly, it may cease to be a problem. Let’s hope so, but let’s also supplement that hope with smart choices. GG

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
University of Wisconsin field trial gardens

February 25, 2017

2016 University of Wisconsin Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the University of Wisconsin display gardens at the West Madison Agricultural Research Station in Verona, WI.

Read More
Poinsettia 'Christmas Joy Marble'

February 20, 2017

5 New Varieties Shaking Up the Poinsettia Tradition

With poinsettias trending toward non-traditional colors, growers may find new opportunities to spread sales beyond the winter holidays. Here are five of the newest euphorbia varieties to hit the market that may play a role in redefining the future of the poinsettia market.

Read More
University of Tennessee trials overview (2015 University of Tennessee Field Trials)

February 19, 2017

2016 University of Tennessee Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the University of Tennessee Gardens in Knoxville and Jackson, TN.

Read More
Latest Stories
University of Wisconsin field trial gardens

February 25, 2017

2016 University of Wisconsin Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the University of Wisconsin display gardens at the West Madison Agricultural Research Station in Verona, WI.

Read More
Poinsettia 'Christmas Joy Marble'

February 20, 2017

5 New Varieties Shaking Up the Poinsettia Tradition

With poinsettias trending toward non-traditional colors, growers may find new opportunities to spread sales beyond the winter holidays. Here are five of the newest euphorbia varieties to hit the market that may play a role in redefining the future of the poinsettia market.

Read More
University of Tennessee trials overview (2015 University of Tennessee Field Trials)

February 19, 2017

2016 University of Tennessee Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the University of Tennessee Gardens in Knoxville and Jackson, TN.

Read More
Reiman Gardens field trials

February 18, 2017

2016 Iowa State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Reiman Gardens at Iowa State University in Ames, IA.

Read More
Syngenta Obsession Cascade

February 15, 2017

Syngenta Introduces Two New Flower Series for 2017

‘Sunfinity’ Sunflower produces multiple branches with numerous flowers that bloom all season long, while ‘Obsession Cascade’ Verbena quickly fills containers with vibrant flower patterns.

Read More
Euphorbia 'Gold Rush'

February 8, 2017

5 Ways to Tie Poinsettias to Lifestyle Trends for Incre…

With poinsettia planning upon us, here are a few ideas to incorporate them into upcoming lifestyle and home décor trends to help increase sales.

Read More
Table setting with begonias for decoration

February 7, 2017

Seasonal Plant Trends for 2017 and Beyond

Aligning your plant sales with popular lifestyle and home décor movements will engage your customers and multiply your profits.

Read More

February 7, 2017

Costa Farms’ Season Premier Presents a First Look at Ne…

The annual event brings breeders, growers, and retailers together to compare new plant varieties and evaluate their performance. Here's a look at some of the new varieties featured in the trial gardens.

Read More
Grateful Heart Rose feature

February 5, 2017

Flower Breeders Making Donations for Heart Disease and …

Companies such as Jackson & Perkins and Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs are donating portions of their sales to groups such as the American Heart Association and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Read More
Tyler Beasley

February 1, 2017

Allan Armitage California Spring Trials Scholarship Win…

Beasley, a junior at Oregon State University’s Ecampus who also manages a local community college greenhouse, will join Armitage and a team of Greenhouse Grower editors in attending and reporting on the 2017 California Spring Trials.

Read More
IPM Essen Plant Innovations Winners

January 31, 2017

Top New Plants Recognized at IPM Essen in Germany

Winners were announced in several categories in the Innovations Showcase, from flowering houseplants to cut flowers.

Read More
Allan Armitage San Marzano tomato plant feature

January 25, 2017

Allan Armitage Describes Veggies, Shade Plants, and Cli…

Here's a look at plants that could help you with successful growing in 2017.

Read More
Hibiscus Hollywood Gossip Queen

January 24, 2017

29 New Flowering and Foliage Plants from TPIE 2017

The Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) was the place to be Jan. 18-20 to catch a peek at some of the new plant introductions making their first appearance on the market.

Read More
Quick Plug

January 24, 2017

Dümmen Orange Acquires Quick Plug, a Cutting Compost Su…

Quick Plug technology is designed to open up opportunities for automation and robotization of several product groups and add quality to rooted products.

Read More
EPCOT Suntory Princettia Euphorbia

January 23, 2017

Princettia Euphorbias Charm Vacationers at Disney Resor…

Suntory’s Princettia euphorbias have brought a new color palette to the holiday landscapes at Walt Disney World’s resorts and theme parks in central Florida.

Read More
Youngs Plant Farm Trial Garden feature

January 21, 2017

Don’t Miss the Southern Garden Tour This June

Growers, retailers, and all industry professionals are invited to the 2017 Southern Garden Tour, which is hosted by Young’s Plant Farms, Sakata, and Metrolina Greenhouses, and will be held June 6-8.

Read More
Gaillardia 'Mesa Red'

January 21, 2017

2016 Pike Creek Horticulture Center Field Trials Result…

Check out the 2016 field trials results for The Pike Creek Horticulture Center in Kenosha, WI.

Read More
Anna Chernyavsky

January 20, 2017

New Director of Sales for Bedding Plants and Perennials…

Anna Chernyavsky, who joined Danziger in August 2016, will be in charge of the U.S. and United Kingdom markets.

Read More