Although we affiliate it with snowy, northern winters due to its colour scheme and cultivar identify, Caladium ‘White Christmas’ is definitely a tropical plant with agency roots within the southern hemisphere. Satirically, it has no tolerance for frost and calls for a considerable quantity of warmth and humidity.
Perennial in zones 9 to 12, this variegated caladium could be left within the floor year-round in these climates or grown as an annual plant in cooler areas. It’s additionally a container backyard staple, a cheerful houseplant, and a well-liked vacation present.
Learn on for a full breakdown of this caladium cultivar, together with its historical past, rising preferences, upkeep necessities, and drawback areas.
‘White Christmas’ is appreciated primarily for its foliage, formed like an elongated, pointy coronary heart, and droops barely from a central bouquet of tuberous stems. Leaves are primarily white with advanced, darkish inexperienced veins radiating from their midribs and margins. Crops normally common between 1 and a couple of ft tall and like oblique daylight.
Although the plant does produce small, calla-like flowers known as ‘spathes’ all through the summer season, there might be only a few, and they’re thought-about insignificant. Normally white or mild pink, they emerge as a spike close to a plant’s crown at 6 to 8-week intervals. Seasoned gardeners normally take away buds after they seem, so plant power could be directed at creating large, stunning leaves fairly than nourishing a modest inflorescence.
Caladiums develop from tuberous corms and require soil with good drainage, or they may rot. Whether or not grown perennially exterior, introduced in for winter, or stored as a houseplant, all caladium crops have a leaf cycle that lasts roughly 20 weeks. After this cycle is full, crops undergo a interval of dormancy the place leaves will fade or die and roots will relaxation.
Historical past & Cultivation
The primary recognized species within the Caladium genus had been found in South and Central America within the 1700s. As members of the Arum household (Araceae), caladium crops had been native to the rainforest ground the place the solar was dappled and the humidity excessive.
Later within the century, botanists introduced samples to Europe, the place crops had been appreciated for his or her outsized foliage and shade tolerance. As demand for the plant grew, botanists started experimenting with the genus to create 1000’s of latest cultivars from roughly 20 unique species.
This cultivar skilled a fast rise in reputation because of its versatility, companionship potentialities, and seasonal enchantment. Right this moment, you would possibly see it known as ‘Angel Wings’ or ‘Elephant Ears’ in backyard facilities and on-line catalogs, however Caladium x hortulanum ‘White Christmas’ is the plant’s precise identify.
This plant is not going to survive in temperatures under 65 levels Fahrenheit and is commonly stored as a houseplant. Although planting guidelines and strategies will differ relying on location and utilization, maintain this minimal temperature want in thoughts, and also you’ll be off to a very good begin.
The second common caladium requirement is nice drainage. Whether or not you develop it as a perennial, an annual, or a houseplant, guarantee it by no means experiences oversaturation and dries out utterly between waterings.
After these priorities have been met, planting strategies will differ a bit. Right here’s a take a look at the right way to plant it within the floor and in containers.
As a result of this cultivar is a hybrid caladium, seeds harvested from its flowers will seemingly revert to 1 or the opposite mother or father plant species and is not going to produce a real ‘White Christmas’ plant.
‘True to sort’ seeds could be bought and began indoors, however sprouts are fragile and tough to ascertain. For greatest outcomes, plant corms needs to be bought from a good grower.
In zones 9 by way of 12, plant immediately within the floor in spring or fall. Temperatures might be mildest throughout these shoulder seasons, and you’ll not must water as usually. Choose a location with a fan of full shade that slopes downward and/or drains totally, and comply with these steps:
- Dig a gap roughly 2 to three occasions the corm’s peak.
- Extra holes needs to be 10 to 12 inches aside.
- Be certain the ‘eyes’ or ‘shoots’ are pointing upward and the flat, bushy finish sits within the base of the opening.
- Backfill with soil and tamp down gently.
- Preserve moist by watering frivolously till inexperienced progress emerges roughly three weeks later.
In zones under 9, corms needs to be began inside in pots roughly 6 to eight weeks earlier than you anticipate to plant them exterior. For the reason that optimum soil temperature for planting is 65 levels, this implies totally different timing in several elements of the world.
The guidelines for floor planting are just like container planting, however there are just a few further steps:
- Choose a container with 3 to five drainage holes which are clear and free-flowing.
- Use a soil combine designed particularly for potted crops.
- If caladiums are to be transplanted inside a month or two, they are often spaced 3 to 4 inches aside fairly than 10 to 12.
- Plant corms at a depth of two to three inches with ‘eyes’ pointing upward.
- Backfill loosely with the potting medium.
- Preserve soil moist with out overwatering till inexperienced shoots break the floor.
- When outside temperatures are optimum, transplant shoots exterior following the principles for direct planting (above).
If you happen to bought or are transplanting a caladium plant that’s already leafed out and has a longtime rootball, the principles might be barely totally different. Listed here are the steps for planting a plant bought from a backyard middle or excavated from one other location:
- Choose a website or container with good drainage.
- Measure the peak of the rootball from backside to crown and the width backward and forward.
- Dig a gap that’s about two inches shorter than the rootball’s peak and roughly two to 3 occasions its width.
- Take away the caladium from its unique container and set it within the gap in order that its crown sits barely above soil stage.
- Backfill the opening with soil and tamp down frivolously across the plant’s base.
Tips on how to Develop
This caladium is pretty simple to develop for those who meet its mild, water, and soil preferences. Keep in mind that it’ll expertise a dormant cycle at roughly 20-week intervals, and don’t panic if it drops its leaves or loses its vibrancy now and again.
Listed here are the fundamental rising necessities to comply with for a wholesome, completely satisfied ‘White Christmas’ in your yard or in your counter.
It is a a fan of full-shade plant and grows greatest in areas with lower than 4 hours of direct publicity to the solar per day. Extreme quantities of direct mild will trigger leaves to burn, brown out, or shrivel, significantly if publicity happens within the late afternoon. Plant or find it the place rays might be concentrated within the morning.
When planting this cultivar within the floor or a container that may stay exterior, find your caladium beneath the cover of a mature tree or within the shade of a tall constructing. Indoors, place your potted plant in a north or east-facing window the place direct mild might be minimalized, however the room remains to be brilliant.
This species has common water necessities and prefers evenly moist soil. Examine the floor soil each couple of days to see if it’s dry, and supply an inch or so when it dries out utterly. In cooler months, this would possibly imply watering two or thrice every week. In hotter months, it’d imply each different day. Use a soil moisture reader in case you are not sure how a lot your caladium wants.
Use the identical watering tips for indoor crops, contemplating variables like heating components and room humidity when assessing moisture wants. Take care to not flood the soil. Since they’ve tuberous roots, these crops are prone to root rot and may by no means be saturated.
Cease watering indoor and outside caladium crops when leaves fall off or flip brown. This indicators that they’re getting into dormancy and won’t be taking on water. Resume common watering when new progress emerges.
Caladiums develop greatest in soil that’s impartial to barely acidic, ideally with a pH someplace between 5.5 and 6. When planting in a container, use a balanced potting medium; the pH needs to be near-ideal.
If you happen to don’t know your soil’s primary make-up, buy a check package on-line or at your native backyard middle. It will let you recognize if it must be amended. If a deficiency is revealed, work in some compost or different natural materials to spice up acid ranges naturally.
Nicely-draining soil can also be essential to the well being and longevity of your plant. Free, crumbly filth wealthy in natural materials supplies the most effective setting for root progress and illness prevention.
Dense or clay-like soil will maintain water too lengthy and expose crops to moisture-related issues. Add sawdust, peat moss, or mulch to the soil to enhance drainage, ideally nicely earlier than planting time.
This isn’t a very aggressive feeder. Nevertheless, indoor and outside crops profit from a fertilizer utility as soon as a month in periods of energetic progress.
Select a balanced ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus to potassium for brilliant, colourful leaves and wholesome roots. Comply with product directions and repeat as directed. Pause feedings when your plant enters dormancy and resume when new progress emerges.
This cultivar is surprisingly simple to take care of now that you recognize its progress habits and preferences. Right here’s a take a look at a few of its primary care necessities:
A couple of times all through the season, your plant will ship up small inexperienced spikes. These could have swollen white or inexperienced buds close to their suggestions. If left in place, these ‘spathes’ will open into small hooded flowers which are insignificant and sparse.
As a result of crops will at all times direct vitamins towards reproductive elements first, the leaves might not be as sturdy or as colourful as you’d like for those who enable the flowers to open. Take away them with a clear, sharp software as quickly as they emerge from the soil, and leaves might be extra more likely to attain their fullest potential.
Each home crops and container-grown caladiums will develop as they age. They want a much bigger pot each three or 4 years to accommodate this progress. If potted roots are dense and have reached the outer limits of their container, it’s time to carry out this simple upkeep job.
Listed here are the steps:
- Dig your plant out of its present container and place it on a tough floor.
- Brush away unfastened filth so you possibly can look at its roots and corms.
- If corms are giant and sophisticated, or for those who’ve seen a central useless spot within the foliage, you could wish to divide the plant into a number of new sections (see division steps below ‘Propagation’ under).
- In any other case, choose a brand new container on your caladium that’s no less than 6 inches bigger than its present one.
- Be sure the pot has enough drainage and fill midway with potting medium.
- Set the rootball within the gap and alter the soil stage so its crown will sit an inch or so above the floor.
- Backfill with soil and tamp down frivolously.
- Water as typical.
Pruning & Cutbacks
Leaves which have turned yellow or brown needs to be in the reduction of instantly, or they may waste useful plant power. This rule applies to conditions the place a few leaves are droopy or discolored, in addition to dormancy durations when the plant has died again utterly.
When this occurs, use a disinfected pruner or scissors to chop affected leaves (or your complete plant) right down to about one inch above soil stage and wait. When your caladium enters a brand new progress interval, inexperienced shoots will emerge from the crown, and also you’ll know you probably did the fitting factor.
In areas the place ‘White Christmas’ is perennial (zones 9 to 12), crops could be left within the floor all 12 months. Make your end-of-season cut-backs, cowl them with two to 3 inches of mulch, and allow them to relaxation.
In zones 8 and under, the place the genus is susceptible to frost and chilly temperatures, you possibly can carry your potted plant indoors and deal with it like a houseplant. Alternatively, you possibly can dig up the corms and retailer them for winter.
Tips on how to dig and retailer corms:
- Start when temperatures dip under 60 levels, and crops are approaching dormancy.
- Reduce leaves again to an inch above soil stage.
- Utilizing a pitchfork or a cautious shovel, elevate corms or root plenty from the soil.
- Lay them flat on a tarp and brush off as a lot filth as potential.
- Divide if essential (see ‘Propagation’ under).
- Enable corms to dry out for every week or so, eliminating all indicators of moisture.
- Wrap them loosely in paper or peat moss and retailer them in a cool, darkish room for winter.
- Unwrap them six weeks earlier than you anticipate exterior temperatures to succeed in 65 levels and pot them up (see ‘Planting’ above) to get them rising once more.
‘White Christmas’ can’t be propagated by leaf cuttings, and seed separation is a tedious course of that won’t produce ‘true to seed’ crops. Division is the popular technique for propagating this cultivar.
The process could be executed in early spring or fall. Comply with these steps to make a number of new caladium crops from one which’s well-established:
- If dividing in fall, start after leaves are browned and in the reduction of.
- If dividing in spring, start when new progress seems.
- Fastidiously excavate your plant from the soil.
- Lay its root mass flat and brush off as a lot soil as potential.
- Use a clear knife to slice every corm into a number of new sections.
- Every part ought to include an ‘eye’ or some leaf tissue (pointing up) and some root hairs (dangling down).
- Plant as you’d a brand new caladium or retailer for winter as beforehand detailed.
When correctly planted and cared for, this plant has only a few issues. Right here’s a fast take a look at the ailments, bugs, and critters which may compromise its festive look:
This plant is susceptible to a handful of situations associated to overwatering. If it’s not due for a dormant interval, and the leaves flip yellow all of a sudden, verify the soil. If it’s sticky and moist and never draining rapidly, dial again the watering a bit. Wait and see if the scenario improves earlier than resuming your prior watering schedule.
An excessive amount of water also can make your caladium prone to fungal ailments similar to leaf spot. Search for spore exercise or fuzzy grey mildew in your plant to point a fungus. Prune off any affected leaves. Leaf spot is just not normally deadly, however it is best to monitor your crops rigorously to forestall additional unfold.
Root rot is one other fungal situation recognized to assault caladium crops, nevertheless it’s way more critical. Search for stems that all of a sudden flip black and collapse or roots that grow to be mushy to point the presence of this illness. Sadly, the situation is deadly, and crops will must be eliminated and destroyed.
The leaves are extremely delicate to mild, and plant well being will endure in areas with an excessive amount of solar. Search for scorched, brown, or crispy leaves to point that your caladium would possibly get an excessive amount of direct mild. Within the early levels of sunburn, leaves could also be excessively white with diminished inexperienced veins and margins.
If bushes close by have been trimmed or one thing within the panorama has just lately modified, your crops could also be all of a sudden overexposed. Transfer them to a shadier location with the solar concentrated within the morning. Trim off leaves which have been affected, water evenly, and crops ought to bounce again.
Snails and slugs are extremely interested in a caladium’s skinny leaf tissue and enormous floor space. Search for bites, holes, and/or chewed margins to point their presence. They are going to be best to identify at evening with a flashlight directed on the underside of leaves.
Snails and slugs could be lured away with natural snail bait, hand-picked and eliminated, or blasted off with a powerful hose spray. A coating of neem oil also can assist forestall them from shifting in. Take consolation in the truth that injury will solely be aesthetic. Your caladiums ought to bounce again and be fantastic subsequent 12 months for those who’re aggressive with these slimy guys.
Aphids and whiteflies may additionally take up residence in your plant. Aphids go away tiny puncture wounds and a black sooty substance, whereas whiteflies trigger mottling or discoloration. Like snails and slugs, these bugs might be discouraged by aggressive pruning, hose spraying, and horticultural soaps.
Steadily Requested Questions
They’re in all probability not getting sufficient solar. Caladiums want two to 4 hours per day for excellent coloring. Crops positioned in full, darkish shade might not have any white markings.
Sure! Ingesting this plant will trigger extreme mouth and gastrointestinal irritations in each people and animals.
Most bulbs reside for about three years.
Caladium ‘White Christmas’ makes a cheerful vacation present or ornament and could be transplanted exterior when temperatures heat. Don’t be alarmed by a interval of sluggish progress or leaf dying, as this cultivar will shut down roughly each 20 weeks to recharge. Place or plant the place it is going to get just a few direct rays within the morning however largely oblique mild all through the afternoon, and it will likely be a brilliant spot in your house or panorama for years to return.