So the days are getting shorter and the temperature is dropping, and you’ve been watching your bright, beautiful and happy Caladium slowly droop and die. You’ve been cautiously watering and ensuring it has enough light and fertiliser… so what have you done wrong?
Caladiums will become dormant when the temperatures drop below 15 degrees, dying back to their bulb. I have heard from a few growers of their Caladiums surviving all year round, especially if they have them inside and/or on a heat mat, however their instinct is to die back naturally.
However, don’t throw them away! They will re-shoot back to life in Spring!
While some growers hate the fact that Caladiums disappear for the winter, I find it quite magical watching them burst back through the soil when the weather warms again - plus it means you appreciate them even seeing as they are not here all year round!
How do I know if my Caladium is going dormant?
It usually starts when you see that the large leaves start to dry, droop and die. The growth of the plant slows down and any new leaves are small sad compared to previous new shoots. It is important to check that your Caladium isn't dying from other factors too - check the soil to make sure it isn't waterlogged (they require well-draining soil) and also check for pests. If it is Autumn or Winter and there aren't any other issues with your plant, it is simply entering it's natural phase of dormancy.
So what do I do?
If you live in a very cold climate with snow and frost and your Caladiums are outside, it is crucial that you dig the bulbs out. However, if they are inside or you have milder winters, just keep them in the pot ready to reshoot in Spring.
If you prefer to dig them up, store the dried up bulbs in a cool and dark place until you are ready to plant them. As a rule of thumb, allow around 3 months of dormancy for another 5 months of growth in Spring.
When can I expect my Caladium to come back to life?
Again, dependant on your local climate but you should start to see some tiny little sprouts in the first few weeks of Spring. Water sparingly until you have some decent leaves then get ready to enjoy your colourful baby again!