Caladium Plant Guide: Growing Vibrant Elephant Ear Care Tips, ID Charts (Pics)

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | April 3, 2024

Woman hanging out a caladium plant after learning how to grow elephant ear plants indoors and outdoor, care tips for caladium types, identification charts, and growing tips.

Native to South and Central America, the Caladium Plant is a tropical perennial famous for its large heart-shaped leaves that have been compared to the ear of an elephant, hence the nickname.

These unusual leaves are enhanced even further by the colorful patterns blazing across surfaces that are sectioned by contrasting midribs and veins, one of the many reasons why they make excellent ornamental plants.

So popular has this plant become since being cultivated in the 1700s that there are now thousands of different varieties to mix and match with other plants to ensure that you can never get tired of admiring your ever-vibrant, very unusual elephant ear.

This Caladium plant guide explains how to identify this lovely plant, how to care for it and grow it, both indoors and out, and some of the varieties that work best for your specific needs.

Caladium Varieties (Types of Caladium With ID Charts and Pics)

Landscapers love the variegation on the foliage of Caladiums as the locations they can be planted in are so varied, and they can be used as finishing plants to complete a section of the garden.


(Caladium bicolor, syn. Caladium x hortulanum)

Caladium Plant in an oval frame on a green background.
  • Family: Araceae
  • Genus: Caladium
  • Leaf: This plant has two types: heart-shaped or lance-shaped. They grow up to 18 inches long.
  • Seed: The plant bears multiple tiny seeds
  • Blossoms: Spring
  • Native Habitat: Central and South America
  • Height: 18 to 24 inches
  • Canopy: 12 to 24 inches wide
  • Type: Perennial, yet growing them as an annual is possible
  • Native Growing Zone: USDA zones 9-11 and prefers rich soil that is well-draining

These tropical show plants need the temperatures of USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11, they thrive in the sun yet some of them can tolerate partial shade. There are just so many Caladium varieties to choose from that 5 neighbors could have 3 cultivars in their gardens and not one would have the exact same variegation.1

Here is a list of different types of Caladium Plant:

Caladium NameSizeDescription
1. White Majesty12-30 inchesDark green leaves with a splash of white that veins in all directions.
2. Heart & Soul15-20 inchesA lighter shade of green streaked with bright pink veins and a white backdrop that butts up against green edging.
3. Tears of the Sun12-24 inchesThe dark pink center is imprinted on a lime-colored, heart-shaped leaf speckled with pink and white splashes.
4. Broken Heart15-20 inchesStunning, the large leaf is split right down the middle, one side red, the other green with white and yellow specks.
5. New Wave12-18 inchesThe blazing bronze color of this cultivar sets it apart from the rest, and the bright yellow veins accentuate its vibrancy even more.
6. Puppy Love12-18 inchesThe familiar heart shape has ruffled edges, with deep pink veins stamped on a light shade of pink background that is rimmed by a thin green line. A beautiful specimen.
7. Baiman12-24 inchesThe deep blood-red color of this cultivar will cause a stir wherever it’s placed. Very hard to ignore.
Different types of Caladium plants featuring leaves in shades of white, red, pink, and green.

(Image: FlitsArt14)

Caladium NameSizeDescription
8. White Butterfly12-18 inchesMore white than green, the white butterfly is very eye-catching even though it may not be as flashy as some of the others.
9. Freida Hemple12-24 inchesGreen margins contain the deep red center as it seemingly bursts forth from the center towards the edges.
10. Gingerland8-14 inchesDark green beneath a layer of white, this Caladium is peppered with haphazard bright pink splashes of all shapes and sizes
11. White Christmas12-24 inchesAll white, this impressive specimen is crisscrossed by both thick and thin deep green veins whose intricate patterns constantly draw the eye to it.
12. Sweetheart12-18 inchesThe brightest of pink leaves with darker pink veins running throughout, all with a line of lime green running along the edges.
13. Dawn to Dusk15-20 inchesAn irregular shock of white sparks vividly on a pink base, rimmed with a thick green line.
14. Freckles12-18 inchesUnderstated, yet able to hold centerstage on any countertop, its bright green color with splotches of white and pink makes it hard to ignore.
15. Pink Symphony15 inchesThe deep green veins serve to accentuate the delicate pink of the leaves.

Best Growing Conditions for Caladium Plant (Caladium Leaves)

Caladium Plants with fancy leaves,2 the ones that are more heart-shaped, tend to be tolerant of a bit of shade but not so with the cold so the location where they are planted needs to be carefully considered.

The ones that grow the strap leaf, the ones that are narrower, and tolerate more sun and colder temperatures, should be planted in the appropriate location.

Graphic illustrating Caladium plant identification, featuring caladium seeds, flower, and leaf.

(Seeds Image: sarangib16 and Flower Image: David J. Stang17 )

Either one is more than suitable to be planted in pots and both make excellent houseplants as long as they can be on a window sill where 4-6 hours of sunlight is available. These are the best growing conditions for Caladium Plant.

In the garden, there are many cultivars that are good to grow in either a sunny spot or one that casts a lot of shade as long as the soil is well-draining. Here are a few in red, white, green, and pink to choose from:

Pink Caladium Plant

Below is a list of pink Caladium plant:

  • Pink Gem
  • Bourbon Street
  • Blushing Bride
  • Radiance
  • Pink Beauty

White Caladium Plant

Below is a list of white Caladium plant:

  • White Pearl
  • Candidum Sr.
  • Crystal Moon
  • Debutante
  • Moonlight

Green Caladium Plant

Below is a list of green Caladium plant:

  • Caladium Lindenii
  • Crystal Moon
  • Miss Muffet
  • Freckles
  • Iceberg

Red Caladium Plant

Below is a list of red Caladium plant:

  • Bottle Rocket
  • Hot Lips
  • Hot 2 Trot
  • Scarlet Flame
  • Red Alert

There are many more to choose from based on their style and distinctive variegation. However, if you want your Caladium outdoor plant to stay as healthy as your Caladium indoor plant, choose it based on the types of leaves it has and its tolerance level for sun, shade, and cold.

When To Plant Caladium Bulbs (How To Plant a Caladium Bulb)

For some gardeners, growing Caladiums from a bulb is one of the basics when it comes to starting this plant and is a lot more rewarding than doing so from a seedling.3 Determining when to plant Caladium bulbs is not particularly challenging, yet it can leave a feeling of satisfaction and achievement.

Caladium plant featuring arrowhead-shaped green leaves with white and dark pink spot patterns.

(Image: sarangib10)

It starts with selecting a nice big jumbo bulb to get a bigger, fuller plant. The diameters do vary per variety from 2.5 to 3.5″, thus not every large-sized bulb you get will look the same.

There are #1 size bulbs that should be used in areas where the growing season is long. However, when learning how to plant a Caladium bulb, it is critical to wait until the air temperature is at least 60°F and the ground maintains a reading of at least 65°F before planting Caladiums outdoors.

Caladium Plant Growing Zone Depth

When planting in your Caladium Plant growing zone, dig the hole deep enough to sink the bulbs about 2 inches below the surface, ensuring that the “eyes” of the bulb are facing upwards. This will accelerate the sprouting time and provide the roots ample space to expand while not delaying the appearance of new leaves into the world.

Some nurseries put a dab of white paint on the top side to make sure that you are planting them the right side up.

How Far Apart To Plant Caladium Plant

If you have the #1 size Caladium bulbs, you need to space them 8-10″ apart. Jumbo bulbs will need a bit more room to spread their leaves, so plant them 12 to 18 inches apart.

Saying that, if you prefer that they grow more densely, you can adjust how far apart to plant Caladium Plants by placing them closer together to create a bushier look.

Planting Tips for Caladium Plant (Watering Needs for Caladium Plants)

Fancy leaf Caladiums grow more quickly than strap leaf variants. If you start your Caladium bulbs in the warmer portion of the season, you might see leaves appear as soon as 3 weeks after planting.

The best time to water them will be in the morning, but it’s crucial to be mindful of the watering needs for Caladium plants so as not to overwater.

Add a fertilizer every month and you should expect to see leaves in 6-8 weeks,4 depending on the type. These are useful planting tips for Caladium plants.

Caladium Care (Growing Vibrant Elephant Ear Care Tips)

To ensure proper Caladium care, observe the leaves. One of the signs that you may have buried the roots of your brand-new Caladium Plant in the wrong place will be to examine the leaves.

If you see holes with dark borders between the veins, your Caladiums are receiving too much sun. This is referred to as “melting”, and you will have to relocate them to a more shady location before they get too fried.

Close up of a Caladium plant with its green leaves.

(Image: ignartonosbg9)

Conversely, too much shade and too little sun will dull the vibrancy of the leaves that convinced you to select this particular type in the first place. As soon as you spot the difference, dig it up and move it to another location.

If, of course, it’s in a pot somewhere in your home, relocation couldn’t be easier and you can periodically move the container in and out of the sunlit area until you find the ideal position where it can get the best of both sun/shade worlds.

Caladium Plant Guide: Caladium Propagation

Where you live within the USDA Hardiness Zone will determine your approach to Caladium propagation. Minimum temperatures of 65°F are required for this tropical plant, but if your environment does not mimic that of the tropics you can still nurture them indoors.

Growing Caladium in Pots or Growing a Caladium Plant From a Seedling

One of the easiest methods of growing Caladium in pots is to purchase a tuber that has already sprouted or as a seedling. By doing so all you have to do when arriving home is transfer the plant into your own container.

When you’re growing a Caladium Plant from a seedling, it’s important at this stage to keep out of direct sunlight but maintain a humid atmosphere.

Water only when the soil has dried so the roots do not get saturated.

Growing From Caladium Seeds

While you can cultivate a plant from Caladium seeds, many gardeners opt to start from a bulb instead. This is because the germination phase can take three weeks, and is a lot more work, most gardeners prefer to start from a bulb.

Caladium Light Requirements

If you’re new to caring for this plant, you might question the Caladium light requirements. Regardless of which planting zones you’re in, 4 to 6 hours of good sunlight is needed daily.

This answers the question, “How much sunlight does Caladium Plant need each day?”

Caladium bicolor and the Caladium Flower

Caladium bicolor is one of the most important Caladium species and has given rise to numerous hybrids and variants.5 They only tend to bear flowers under ideal conditions, but they can be pink flowers, blue flowers, purple flowers, or different types of white flowers with quite pleasant aromas.

Assorted Caladium plants displaying leaves in shades of white, green, and pink.

(Image: leoleobobeo11)

Some gardeners remove them as they detract from the energy that the bulbs require, yet others leave them in place with no adverse effects.

The color of the Caladium flower combined with the variegation on the leaves is a telltale sign of how to identify Caladium Plants at a glance to help in selecting the right one as a bulb that will grow into just the right plant you were searching for to embellish your landscape or interior space.

Companion Plants for Growing Caladium Plant

Unless you’re considering planting solely Caladiums in your garden, you will have to surround it with other types of plants. When doing so consider your garden’s soil type, sun exposure, and climate when choosing companion plants for your Caladium so they will be good neighbors.

The correct companion plants that don’t need sun for more than 4 hours can help enrich the soil with nitrogen, ward off harmful insects, and complement the varied colors that Caladiums can exhibit.

Here is a brief list of some shade-tolerant companion plants for growing Caladium Plant, adding diverse colors and shapes to the surrounding area:

  • Hostas
  • Ferns
  • Impatiens
  • Begonias
  • Hellebores
  • Coral Bells
  • Astilbe

Common Pests of the Caladium Plant

Caladiums are generally pest and disease-free, although they are vulnerable to the occasional onslaught of caterpillars, aphids, and slugs.

Close up of a group of aphids infesting a green stem.

(Image: francok3513)

These common pests of the Caladium Plant are attracted by the huge, tasty-looking leaves that all tend to target the sap secreted inside.


The size of these super-tiny pests disguises the danger that they pose.

The females reproduce fast, causing the population of these insects to explode very quickly, and the damage that they cause by draining the sap in their droves is potentially life-threatening to your Caladium Plant.

Worst still, they not only damage the plant by sucking it dry of sap, but they also serve as virus carriers that will disfigure your beautiful heart-shaped Caladium leaves.

If you find any stains or holes in the leaves, use insecticidal soaps and detergents to control,6 clean house, and completely eradicate them.

Spider Mites

It’s hard to believe that an insect that’s no bigger than 1mm can be a threat or cause any meaningful damage. But they can.

The problem starts with the female spider mite who can lay 20 eggs a day. That may not sound like a lot except that they can continue doing so for 2-3 weeks.

By the end of that time, literally hundreds of minuscule eggs will have hatched on the undersides of the leaves.

To say that they are born hungry is an understatement and the damage they inflict can be severe enough to cause yellowing, and the Caladium to wilt and possibly die off.

Natural pest control for Caladium Plants against pests such as these, as well as mealybugs, thrips, and scale insects, is the application of insecticidal soap, neem oil, or any horticultural oil. Infestations may be avoided by maintaining a healthy soil composition by using organic compost, adequate sun exposure, and a balanced irrigation program.

How To Stop Caladium Plant Disease

One of the signs of root rot or fungal infections in the tubers of Caladiums is that the leaves and stems may sometimes bow before falling off. This is a possible indication that the soil is either too dry or too damp causing root rot, or in the worst-case scenario, there is a fungal infection such as Rhizoctonia.

To prevent such issues, you can take proactive steps on how to stop Caladium Plant disease by soaking the tubers in 122°F water before planting. Before planting, dry the bulbs completely which will now be fungi-free.

When you discover that your Caladium Plant is looking under the weather, just run through a quick checklist to identify the cause.

  • Check the soil to see if it is too dry or too wet.
  • Check the temperature to make sure it isn’t colder than you actually think it is.
  • Even though it is a tropical plant, too much sunlight can be a problem so needs to be monitored to protect your precious plant.
  • Too much fertilizer can prevent the roots from absorbing enough water by salt build-up. If you notice this on the surface of the soil, act accordingly or it can lead to further suffering for your Caladium, if not death.
  • Check the acidic level in the soil. If it’s below 5.5, add a layer of mulch in the garden.7

Caladium Plant Facts and Tips

Caladiums have become one of the most popular foliage plants for livening up gloomy gardens, their large leaves just as colorful as any flower. The exotic, heart-shaped leaves display vibrant shades of green, white, pink, and red all swirled and mixed wonderfully together.

Close-up view of a Caladium plant, showcasing its small, arrowhead-shaped leaves accented by pink-colored veins.

(Image: ignartonosbg12)

But let’s see what else there is worth knowing under the lush leaves. Here are some key Caladium Plant facts you should be aware of:

  • One of the little-known facts is that every part of the Caladium Plant is toxic to both pets and small children as it contains a compound called calcium oxalate.
  • The vast array of pigmentation on the exotic Caladium leaves is caused by substances called anthocyanins.
  • The large size of the leaves enables the plant to efficiently clear the air of harmful toxins and particles and will help to offset your carbon footprint.
  • If your type of Caladium is particularly fussy about the humidity level, growing it in the bathroom will make it feel at home.
  • Rather than use tap water to satisfy the thirst of your Caladium, use rainwater instead.
  • To make sure that all parts of your Caladium houseplant will get bathed equally in glorious sunshine, rotate the pot 90° every week to avoid one side benefiting more than the other and appearing slightly irregular.

It’s easy to see why so many gardeners fall in love with this plant.

Not only are there so many exotic varieties to choose from that can be seamlessly integrated into any style or landscape design, but there are few flowering plants that can rival the ability of a Caladium Plant to hold center stage with such colorful ease.

Frequently Asked Questions About Caladium Plant

Is Growing a Caladium Plant From a Cutting Possible?

Growing a Caladium Plant from a cutting cannot be done as propagation is performed by tubers that need to be buried in the ground.8

Are Caladiums Perennial?

Yes, but they are often grown as annuals in zones 3 to 8. This answers the question, “Are Caladiums perennial?”

Will Caladiums Die in the Winter?

Unfortunately, yes, anything below 65°F and they will start to wilt and eventually die. Bring them indoors in the winter and they’ll be good to introduce to the great outdoors next season.


1University of Florida, University of Kentucky, and Texas A&M University. (2023). Variegation. University of Florida. Retrieved September 5, 2023, from <>

2Elmer, N. L. (2020, November 18). Botany Basics: Understanding Leaves. The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved September 5, 2023, from <>

3University of Illinois Board of Trustees. (2023). Bulb Basics. University of Illinois Extension. Retrieved September 5, 2023, from <>

4Reill, S. (2019, January). A guide to understanding fertilizers. Oregon State University. Retrieved September 5, 2023, from <>

5Rindels, S. (1993, July 28). Let’s Talk About Hybrids and Standards. ISU Extension and Outreach. Retrieved September 5, 2023, from <>

6Cranshaw, W.S. (2023). Insect Control: Soaps and Detergents. Colorado State University Extension. Retrieved September 5, 2023, from <>

7Steil, A. (2022, June). Using Mulch in the Garden. ISU Extension and Outreach. Retrieved September 5, 2023, from <>

8University of Maine. (2023). Plant Propagation. Cooperative Extension: Garden and Yard. Retrieved September 5, 2023, from <>

9ignartonosbg. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

10sarangib. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

11leoleobobeo. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

12ignartonosbg. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

13francok35. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

14FlitsArt. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

15Species Information Image: Caladium steht auf dem Tisch im Wohnzimmer. Photo by feey. (2023, June 19) / Unsplash License. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Unsplash. Retrieved February 23, 2024, from <>

16Photo by sarangib. Cropped, Resized, Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved February 20, 2024, from <>

17Caladium bicolor 5zz by David J. Stang / CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED | Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International. Cropped, Resized, Changed Format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved February 20, 2024, from <>