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...
Francis Kwong, PanAmerican Seed

August 15, 2017

Ornamental Seed Scientist Francis Kwong Dies at Age 65

Kwong was most recently the Director of Seed Technology for PanAmerican Seed, and his research was instrumental in the development of calibrachoa, angelonia, and other plants.

Read More
Candy Tops Snapdragons Series (Sakata Ornamentals)

August 3, 2017

Five Characteristics Breeders Want in Top-Performing Spring Annuals

New spring annuals have to provide something for everyone — longevity, durability, performance, and more — if they want to meet breeders’ high standards for market-worthy plants.

Read More
Petunia 'Headliner Pink Sky" (Selecta)

August 3, 2017

Why Eccentricity is the New Black in Spring Annuals

Consumers judge plants by appearance, color impact, and ease of maintenance, which is why retailers want new spring annuals that are novel standouts.    

Read More
Latest Stories
Francis Kwong, PanAmerican Seed

August 15, 2017

Ornamental Seed Scientist Francis Kwong Dies at Age 65

Kwong was most recently the Director of Seed Technology for PanAmerican Seed, and his research was instrumental in the development of calibrachoa, angelonia, and other plants.

Read More
Candy Tops Snapdragons Series (Sakata Ornamentals)

August 3, 2017

Five Characteristics Breeders Want in Top-Performing Sp…

New spring annuals have to provide something for everyone — longevity, durability, performance, and more — if they want to meet breeders’ high standards for market-worthy plants.

Read More
Petunia 'Headliner Pink Sky" (Selecta)

August 3, 2017

Why Eccentricity is the New Black in Spring Annuals

Consumers judge plants by appearance, color impact, and ease of maintenance, which is why retailers want new spring annuals that are novel standouts.    

Read More

August 1, 2017

39 New Vegetables and Herbs for 2018

New vegetable and herb introductions for 2017 offer unique shaped fruits, distinctive foliage, intense flavors, improved disease resistance, high yields, and more. Here are 39 new vegetable and herb varieties to consider for your product mix in 2018.

Read More
2018 Griffin Catalog

July 31, 2017

Griffin Releases Print and Digital Versions of Its 2018…

The 250-page print catalog features more than 350 new varieties from leading breeders, while the enhanced digital version has extra features on crop culture, grower tools, and more.

Read More
Emerald-Coast-Growers-Guide-Feature-Image

July 27, 2017

Emerald Coast Growers Offers Updated Guide on its Newes…

This year’s guide features new varieties while maintaining Emerald Coast’s ornamental grass program and expanding its perennial plants line.

Read More
Terra Nova Shipping Box

July 20, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries, Dümmen Orange to Partner on Unroo…

Terra Nova Nurseries has contracted with Dümmen Orange to produce unrooted cuttings (URCs) from Terra Nova private stock located at Dümmen Orange’s Central America facilities. The URCs will fulfill orders in North America and Europe.

Read More

July 20, 2017

New Perennials, Trial Gardens, and Merchandising Were H…

Darwin Perennials Day has steadily become one of the must-attend perennial events of the summer. This year, even the weather cooperated.

Read More
2018 Ball Seed Catalog

July 17, 2017

Ball Seed’s 2018 New Varieties Catalog Now Available

The expanded guide includes breakthrough breeding from Ball in annuals, perennials, vegetables, potted plants, and more.

Read More
Pleasant View Open House

July 16, 2017

Pleasant View Gardens, D.S. Cole Growers Hosting Open H…

The event gives horticulture industry professionals the chance to check out nearly 80 new introductions from Proven Winners, as well as Pleasant View’s new Savor Edibles & Fragrants line.

Read More
All American Selections

July 12, 2017

All-America Selections Celebrates Milestone Anniversary…

Coinciding with its 85th anniversary celebration, AAS is hosting an open house at its new offices, and has also released its annual report.

Read More

July 8, 2017

Plant Patent Law: Protecting the Variety Pipeline

Breeders call for better cooperation in protecting intellectual property while considering how stricter laws and expensive patents could impact the future of innovation.

Read More
Calibrachoa ‘Superbells Holy Moly!’ (Proven Winners)

July 8, 2017

Are Utility Patents Tying Up Innovation With Litigation…

The opportunities for innovation in plant breeding could be greatly advanced by creating an industry-led patent licensing platform.

Read More

July 8, 2017

Fleuroselect and CIOPORA Offer Organizational Leadershi…

Learn why breeders feel these organizations should be emulated in an industry-led initiative to protect plant breeding efforts.

Read More
Thalictrum Nimbus White (Terra Nova Nurseries)

June 30, 2017

Kelly Norris Dishes on New Plants, Going to Seed, and B…

From woody perennials to genetically modified petunias, Kelly Norris gives his take on what turned out to be a busy spring.

Read More
Jim Devereux, Green Fuse Botanicals

June 24, 2017

Green Fuse Botanicals New Vice President is Focused on …

Jim Devereux, who will oversee production, sales, and marketing for Green Fuse, says he hopes to bring genetics to the market that break from traditional production methods for finished growers.

Read More
Ushio Sakazaki feature

June 22, 2017

Japanese Breeder Ushio Sakazaki Wins Medal of Excellenc…

From Supertunias to Superbells, this innovative Japanese breeder has used wild genetics to create game-changing plants that help consumers reconnect with the beauty of nature.

Read More
CallaFornia Red

June 20, 2017

Dümmen Orange Enters Calla Market With Acquisition of G…

Golden State will continue to supply the market through September 2018, at which time Dümmen Orange will assume supply and delivery of much of Golden State’s product line.

Read More