Caladium

Many of the plants grown as 'house plants' begin their lives in very distant parts of the world, either as seed, cuttings, or as tubers in the case of the caladium. It is often belter for the tropical 'house' plants to be produced in their natural environment so that they make the maximum amount of vegetative growth, thereby providing a much greater amount of cutting material. Besides the quantity being greater, ihc quality is usually very much superior to stock that has been raised in the more unnatural environment of a greenhouse. The major difficulty lies in the cost of transporting them from iheir natural habitat and this is most often the reason for many plants appearing to be very expensive in comparison to their size.

Caladiums are examples of plants thai are grown in the moist, swamp-like areas of the tropics before being shipped as tuberous the world. Protecting the tubers from frost is most essential, and when starting plants into growth it is necessary lo place them in very warm propagating beds lhat are healed to temperatures in the region of 25°C (77°F). The rooting medium is composed almost entirely of peat and this must be kept moist in order to encourage growth. Once plants have rooted the temperature can then be reduced, but should at no time fall below 16JC (60°F) - this is of particular importance indoors. Even when making the initial purchase it is important that the plant should be bought from a retailer with heated premises and then adequately protected on the journey from shop to home.

Caladiums are available in a large number of named varieties in a range of colours that embrace red, pink, green, and the white form that is almost translucent. The latter variety is Caladium caudidum. the leaves of which have attractive green particularly striking plant.

Indoors it is important thai all caladiums should enjoy the environment of an evenly heated room where the temperature does not drop below a minimum of I6"C (60"F). At all stages of growth the compost should be of a peaty nature and the mixture must at no lime dry oul while the plants are actively growing. When the foliage dies down naturally at the end of the summer the compost must then be allowed to dry out completely, and the tuber should be stored in a warm, dry place until the next cycle of growth is started during the following February.

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