Question of the Week – Number 2: October 21, 2021
“How should I keep my caladiums over the winter? Can I leave them in the ground, or do I need to dig them and bring them indoors?”
(Note before we start: what many think of as caladium “bulbs” are actually “tubers.” I’ll let you Google the definitions and differences, but I wanted you to know why I will be using the latter term.)
• Answer 1: If you want to try to save the tubers from this year’s caladiums, dig them when most of the leaves have fallen (before the first freeze). Lay them out on newspapers in the garage and let them dry for a few days. Do not wash them, and don’t worry about getting absolutely all of the soil off them.
Once they are thoroughly dried, use a soft brush to remove most of the garden soil. Sprinkle them with dusting sulfur and place them into a box partially filled with sawdust or perlite. Do not allow them to touch one another, and do not layer them more than one or two tubers deep.
Store them in a dry place indoors at 60 degrees over the winter.
Wait until May to plant them back into the garden. Cold soils are their enemy. If you find that any of the tubers is soft to the touch, discard it.
Your plants next year will probably produce leaves that are smaller than those they had this year. That is normal for caladiums.
• Answer 2: Most gardeners try saving their tubers one time. From that point on they simply buy fresh, new tubers each spring. It’s easier and the results are far better.