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It is an electric moment to be shaken from musing over the usual offerings at a local garden center by a plant I’ve never heard of before. It’s like hiking in familiar woods and having the compass needle go haywire. In this case, the plant tag combined the words “succulent,” “African” and “hosta” — I had to have it.
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.
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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).
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.
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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.
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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).
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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.
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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.
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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.
This brand-new version of an old-fashioned annual flower gets high marks for pure romance. Part of the mixed-color Double Click series of double cosmos from Thompson & Morgan, this pretty-in-pink form is the first single color to be released. Rosy pom-pom blooms sit atop sturdy 2- to 3-foot stems. Like other cosmos, ‘Rose Bonbon’ is an easy-to-grow, long-lasting cut flower. tmseeds.com
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