Plant of the Month
Note from Neil regarding a move for our friend Jimmy Turner
We were both sad and happy to learn that the Dallas Arboretum’s Jimmy Turner, whose work you read here for years, will soon assume new duties as the director of horticulture operations for the Royal Botanic Garden and Domain Trust in Sydney, Australia. On behalf of the entire e-gardens family, we wish Jimmy the very best in this exciting change. He’s told us he wants to hear Texas accents while he’s walking his gardens there. Let’s all go see him!
AT A GLANCE
Latin name: Caladium ‘Tapestry’
Common name: Caladium
Mature size: 12-18” tall x 8” wide
Hardiness: Summer annual
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Water usage: Medium to high
Sources: Local nurseries or mail order
We all have strengths and weaknesses as gardeners. One of my weaknesses is shade gardening. I will ponder what annual color to add for curb appeal, for days, if not weeks. I will think about begonias, impatiens (if they survive downy mildew), and others until I confuse myself and forget my original, amazing plan. Then I sit back and close my eyes and see caladiums — something so simple, but one of my last thoughts. I have to remind myself that gardening is more than flower color. Gardening is about texture, shape and color, all things that foliage adds. Caladiums are the epitome of this, yet they are last on my list because they lack flowers (ones that we keep). Shame on me!
With that, let me introduce Caladium ‘Tapestry’, a beautiful painter’s palette with distinct components for each individual dollop of color. Start with a dark green canvas, add veins of crimson and white splotches in between, and you have ‘Tapestry’. With this color combination any shady location brightens up immediately. Better yet, ‘Tapestry’ is a strap-leaf caladium, meaning it can tolerant and thrive in sun. So go ahead and add this crimson beauty to the sunny side of your garden also. We have found in the Trial Gardens at the Dallas Arboretum that more shade results in a greener leaf and more sun results in a whiter leaf. Another cool aspect of ‘Tapestry’ is a translucent leaf (put your hand behind it and you can see it), a really cool feature of this new commercial caladium bred by the University of Florida.
Caladiums’ natural breeding grounds are Florida bogs, so the plants need plenty of water. If they wilt, they won’t recover nicely. I water twice a week for 10 to 15 minutes with my irrigation system, and it does the trick.
You can purchase caladiums two ways — buy the bulb or the plant. If you buy bulbs, try to find ”jumbo” size bulbs (very large bulb equals larger leaf). You can buy smaller bulbs (#1 or #2), but the end result will be a smaller plant and leaf. I plant my bulbs when I know spring is over and summer is truly here. Caladiums play well with others, so don’t be afraid to place them in the landscape with established plantings or other annual color plants like begonias — or in containers by themselves. I placed mine with ‘Big’ begonias, and the combo popped in my landscape.
Next summer find Caladium ‘Tapestry’ at your favorite retail nursery, or buy on-line at www.classiccaladiums.com or www.burpee.com. Have fun and garden strong! “Like” us on FaceBook at Dallas Arboretum Plant Trials.
About the author: Jenny Wegley is the senior manager of trials and greenhouse at the Dallas Arboretum. Visit www.dallasplanttrials.org for more information on the Arboretum’s trials.