How To Plant And Care For Caladium Bulbs

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Planting Caladium Bulbs is an exciting and easy process. You can plant these bulbs indoors or outdoors.

When to plant

Outdoors – Plant into the ground in the Spring when frost has passed and when temperatures are above 60°F (15°C).

Indoors – You can plant bulbs in pots before the growing season starts as long as you put them in a spot with good sunlight.

Where to plant

Outdoors – No Caladium variety likes full direct sunlight all day. Place in a spot that gets bright light but not full sun all day.

Indoors – Place in a good sunny window with direct sun. Windows filter out some of the UV so you’re safe to put your Caladium bulbs in full sun indoors.


Caladium bulbs will not sprout if temperatures are below 70°F  (21°C) in your home.

How to plant

1. If planting indoors like I did, place your Caladium bulbs into a pot that is 4-6 inches big with drain holes.

2. Use a well draining potting soil. I used an easy recipe of 3 parts all purpose houseplant soil, 2 parts perlite, and I sprinkled in a tiny bit of fertilizer.

3. De-eye. De-eyeing your bulb makes it so that your Caladium grows quicker. You can de-eye your plant by getting a clean knife and carefully slicing off the pointy eye looking part of the bulb. This part is totally optional so if you don’t feel like doing it, don’t bother.

4. Plant your Caladium bulb right side up. The bottom side is the flat side with roots sticking out. The top side is the side with bumpy parts and the “eyes”. No matter which way you plant your bulb, the plant will make it work and grow, it’ll just grow slower if you plant is the wrong side up.

5. You’ll see pictured below that I place my Caladium bulb about 2 inches deep into soil. You can even crowd bulbs together to create a bushier plant.

6. Now you can cover the bulb with soil.

7. Water the soil thoroughly from the top of the pot and make sure the water is draining at the bottom of the pot. Make sure the soil never dries out and be sure to never let your bulb soak in water. This is why a draining hole at the bottom of the pot is so important.

You should see your bulb sprout in about 4 weeks.

Once you see your plant growing, use the same watering schedule as you did when it was just a bulb in soil. Do not let your soil dry out or else the stems will to start droop. If this happens, it is unlikely the stem is going to come back so it’s best to cut off the stem.

Dormant season

At some point your plant will stop growing and go into its dormant phase. This is when you need to trim the foliage and let the bulb “sleep”.

You can either let the bulb sit in dry soil over its dormant season or get them out of the soil and put them in a paper bag with some peat moss until spring. Caladiums stay dormant for about 4 months. You can successfully plant your bulb again the upcoming spring season after the bulb has been dormant for 4 months.

I will update this post with photos once the Caladiums have foliage.

Common questions

When should Caladium bulbs be planted?

Caladium bulbs can be planted outdoors in the spring after the first frost. If planting a Caladium bulb indoors, you can do this a month before the first frost. I started mine in early February.

Do Caladium bulbs come back every year?

Caladium bulbs can come back every year as long as the bulb is healthy.

How long does it take Caladium to grow from bulbs?

Caladium bulbs take about 4 weeks to germinate and some variety can take as long as 12 weeks.

How long do Caladium bulbs last?

Caladiums last for about a year when they are kept out of soil. It’s important to plant your Caladium bulb every year because the bulb stores carbohydrates (energy) when its in soil and as time goes by, the bulb loses that energy. If your bulb isn’t growing in 4-12 weeks, this may mean your bulb is dead.

Should Caladium bulbs be soaked before planting?

If you’re planting your Caladium bulbs outdoor, you can opt to soak the bulb in warm water for one hour before planting in soil. This may help in the growth process.

Do Caladiums like sun or shade?

Caladiums like bright sunny light but do not mistake that with full sun all day long. Caladiums will thrive in an environment where they get a good amount of sun with partial shade.

If planting your Caladium bulb indoors, you can place this plant in direct sun as the windows will filter out some of the UV’s from the sun.

Which way do you plant Caladium bulbs?

Plant Caladium bulbs right side up. This means you want the bumpy, knobby part facing up and the smooth, flat part facing down into the soil.

Do Caladium bulbs need to be dug up?

Many people opt to dig their Caladium bulbs and store them in a paper bag during its dormant season. Other people opt to leave their Caladium bulbs in the winter and simply not water it at all.

If you’re in a warmer climate most of the year, your bulb may survive outside in the soil. If you live in a climate that gets quite cold, you may find your bulb dies and won’t come back with its beautiful foliage.

Is Caladium an annual or a perennial?

Caladiums are annuals and perennials. If you live in a warmer climate or in a hardiness zone of 9-11, you may successfully plant your bulbs outside and they may come back year after year.

If you live in a colder climate, you do not want to keep your bulbs outside in soil as the cold temperatures can kill the bulbs.

How do you plant Caladium bulbs in pots?

Place your Caladium bulb right side up in a pot of well draining soil about 1-2 inches deep. Cover the bulb with soil and water thoroughly.

Keep the soil moist in the pot and never let it completely dry out. Place in a very bright sunny spot in your home and watch it flourish with beautiful foliage.

How do you wake up Caladium bulbs?

To wake up Caladium bulbs, give the bulb a thorough watering and place in a sunny window. You can even opt to give it some diluted fertilizer to wake up the plant.

What grows well with Caladiums?

Plants like hydrangeas, impatiens, and begonias pair well with Caladiums.

How do I make my Caladium bushy?

To make your Caladium bushy, plant a few bulbs in the same pot or close together outside in soil.

Why won’t my Caladium bulbs grow?

Your Caladium bulb may not be growing because of the amount of sun its getting, under or overwatering.

How many leaves does a Caladium bulb have?

Caladium bulbs have about 10-15 leaves for a normal size bulb and larger bulbs may have about 15-30 leaves.

Do Caladium bulbs get bigger every year?

Yes, Caladium bulbs may get bigger and bigger each year.

How do I save my Caladium bulbs next year?

Dig out the Caladium bulb and let it callous over for a few days. Then place your bulb in a paper bag in a dark room completely covered while it’s in its dormant phase. Make sure the paper bag is covered from harsh temperatures and doesn’t get rained or snowed on.

Are caladiums hard to care for?

These plants are quite easy to care for which is why they are so popular for both outdoor and indoor gardeners.

Caladiums can be in full sun for part of the day, but don’t like to sit in full sun all day long. You may find your plant gets quite sad or doesn’t grow at all if it’s sitting in full sun all day long.

Plant your Caladium bulb about 1-2 inches deep in soil.