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After a tough summer season in Houston, our gardens can look a little weary and have lost some color and appeal. Early fall is an excellent time to take inventory of what did and did not work.
For the past six years we have been taking fall pictures of Caladium Bulbs and comparing weather conditions as well as the age of bulbs, from first season planting to planted 2 seasons ago. We have also had beds of 2 seasons planted with supplemented bulbs. Mother Nature has certainly provided us a variety of harsh conditions including drought, too much rainfall, and the summer of 2013, record heat, high humidity and low rainfall.
To give you an idea why we say "lasting summer color", the first three photos were taken October 7, 2011, after the worst heat and drought ever seen in Houston, Texas. Red Flash shown in the picture to the right. They tolerated a good bit of direct sun and thrived though the extreme heat.
The only variety that quit producing in early September were the Miss Muffets that were in full sun.
Caladiums thrive during heavy rains unless they are planted in an area where water stands and doesn't drain.
Lasting summer color in many weather conditions.
2013 Summer proved to be high heat above 95 as well as a record number of days over 100, with very high humidity and little rain.
The following pictures are taken on August 29, 2013, after this intense summer.
This experiment was to see if clusters of varieties would look nice together like clusters of different flower varieties. All bulbs are #1 size except the smaller "lime and cranberry" Miss Muffets in the foreground, which are #2 size. The above caladiums are a typical lush thickness expected in first-year growth. Caladiums will thrive even in areas where little else would thrive, such as around trees.
However, caladiums work in a variety of settings and planting mixes. Again, pictures taken August 29, 2013.
Some Red Flash and Carolyn Wharton are mixed with Liriope and Ginger Lilly (which was brought at the Sugar Land Garden Club native plant sale, which is held annually in September).
White caladiums can make the hottest summer day feel a little cooler or shimmer in the moonlight at night.
Or help celebrate America on Labor Day.
The white caladiums on the left are first season plants--lush and full.
The caladiums on the right were planted last year. Then this season they were supplemnented by about 20% of initial planting after the old bulbs started coming up in April this past spring.
Digging up and storing bulbs over winter. If we have a severely cold and/or wet winter, caladium bulbs will not usually winter through those conditions in the ground. They can be dug up in the fall, dusted with dusting sulpher and stored during the winter and early spring in panty hose or mesh bags in protected areas such as a garage. If temperatures in the garage or storage area fall below 40 degrees F for an extended period of time, they should be moved to a warmer area. The bulbs can then be replanted in the spring after daytime temperatures are 65 F and above for several days.
Second-season caladiums, not supplemented, start to thin sometimes even in July if it's a early hard summer. The second-season Red Flash on the left show this thinning.While they are still colorful, the lush fullness is lessened. One member supplemented thinning bulbs by planting left-over bulbs in July with great success to regain lushness.
Gardening is not an exact science. There are many variables, but what we have experienced is even in the last 5 years of extreme weather, caladiums, especially first-season bulbs, provide lasting summer beauty often until October and sometimes beyond!
That's why Texas Garden Clubs, Inc. District IV (greater Houston area) printed some of our observations and pictures in their March 2012 newsletter. Experienced gardeners commented on how interesting our work was to them. We continue to segregate areas each year for observation of different growing conditions.
Almost like a fall vegetable garden . . .
Quail Valley Garden Club Member Joan Fox has started planting bulbs near the end of summer that have been lasting until frost. Here are two examples of "just planted" bulbs.
For two years the bulbs have lasted and stayed fresh until frost.
To enlarge photos please click on them.
We sell Caladium bulbs, which stand up to Texas Gulf Coast summers in Zone 9.
Pre-sales for Caladium bulbs held every October with delivery in early March. You save by pre-ordering as well as ensure you get what you want. For the past six years, we have run out of one or more colors the first week of delivery.