Plant Palette: CaladiumsThis leafy denizen of the forest tropics is making a splashy comeback
Caladium 'Brandywine': A fancy-leaved caladium with large, substantial, heart-shaped leaves up to a foot and a half long, ‘Brandywine’ has bright-red veins extending from the red heart of the leaf all the way to the edge. Sun tolerant for a few hours a day.
Caladium 'Gingerland': One of the lance-leaved caladiums, which have smaller, more-pointed leaves than the fancy types. ‘Gingerland’ is a jazzy display of cranberry-red spatters on a creamy white background and a green rim. Categorized as a dwarf caladium, with its 6- to 12-inch leaves, this one is perfect for edging beds or in containers paired with ferns and impatiens. Does well in sun or shade.
Caladium 'Rosebud': A fancy-leaved form with a central pattern, aptly named a burst, not found in many caladiums, ‘Rosebud’ is hot pink at the heart, with pink veins piercing through a spattering of white and into the dark-green edging. Forms a lush mound 2 feet tall of foot-long leaves. A good choice for containers or tucked into the shade garden. And watch for an amped-up version of ‘Rosebud’ called ‘Summer Rose’, with brighter colors and reddish-purple petioles, on the market this spring.
Caladium 'Florida Moonlight': One of the overachiever offspring from the prolific caladium-breeding program at the University of Florida. Traditionally white has been a favorite caladium color, and this one stays fresh and crisp looking longer than other white cultivars, and has larger leaves (to 2 feet). Against the snowy background, fine spidery green veins are etched, ending at a thin green edge.
Caladium 'Thai Beauty': The front-runner of a growing group of caladiums bred in Thailand, distinguished by smaller, thicker textured, almost waxy foliage. Like stained glass, ‘Thai Beauty’ has stunning pink, almost-translucent leaves with markings of green and vanilla. Reaches 8 to 15 inches tall. Other Thai caladiums are just coming on the market in startling colors, with playful names like ‘Hot Wasabi’, ‘Thai Iced Tea’ and ‘Wok This Way’.
Caladium 'Florida Red Ruffles': A bold lance-leaved form in rich, saturated red rimmed with green, ‘Red Ruffles’ forms a compact mound of numerous, 1-foot wavy-edged leaves. Another University of Florida cultivar emerging from the Gulf Coast Research Center in Wimauma, bred to be tougher than its frilly good looks would belie, tolerating more sun and lower temperatures than most caladiums.
Caladium 'Florida Elise': An unusual pattern reminiscent of some of its elephant’s-ear cousins in the Arum family, ‘Elise’ has rose-pink speckles and brush strokes across a rich-green background. This is a sun-tolerant cultivar from the University of Florida.
Caladium 'Florida Blizzard': Perfectly named, this recent introduction with its lively mosaic of bright white and deep green is a result of crossing ‘Aaron’ (which is white with green veins) and the popular ‘White Christmas’ (which is nearly solid white with a thin green edge). With foliage as beautiful as any flower, caladiums add a bright spot to the shade garden, especially a white-leaved version like ‘Florida Blizzard’.
Caladium 'Florida Sweetheart': One of the breakout stars of the University of Florida caladium program, with a romantic combination of translucent-rose background, deep-rose veins, a dainty green edge and a slight seersucker texture. Smaller leaves (6 to 12 inches) on shorter plants make this cultivar ideal for containers and small gardens. Does well in sun or shade.
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