The Black Caladium is an attractive plant native to South and Central America, grown mainly for its dramatic and decorative foliage that adds elegance to your garden. This caladium plant produces flowers that are in the form of spikes.
It has thin and fragile leaves originating from long petioles that arise directly from the underground bulb. Let’s have a look at the ultimate care guide for these stunning plants!
- What Is Black Caladium?
- Black Caladium Care
- Common Problems
What Is Black Caladium?
The Black Caladium is a perennial tropical plant with a showy, black, fancy and eye-catching leaf. The plant thrives in the hot and humid weather of summer. This beautiful plant is a member of the Araceae family, with several species in the genus.
Black Caladium Care
As much as the plant offers a beautiful impact in your garden, the caladium plants are very toxic to both pets and humans, so you should handle them with caution.
Learn more about the plant requirements and growth habits in this section.
– Water Requirements
You should keep a very strict schedule for watering your Black Caladium to avoid drying the soil. It’s essential to water regularly and evenly, especially around the bulb, as it should always be moist.
If your Black Caladium plant is in a container, you need to be sure that it has a good drainage system, as the roots quickly rot when they are kept in soggy environments. You should water regularly when the leaves appear on the plant.
Caladiums are sensitive to overwatering since they have large tubers that retain water. However, during the hot summer days, you should water the Black Caladium daily as the soil quickly dries up. Consider implementing the finger test, which involves using your fingers to test the moisture level of your plant’s topsoil.
Mulching could be useful at this point to keep moisture for longer. However, always remember to keep the mulches away from the plant stems to protect against any possible rot. The Black Caladium is most likely to go into dormancy during the winter season so you should not water it frequently. You could resume watering your caladiums once they display signs of new growth.
– Light Requirements
When growing your Black Caladium plant, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, it’s very important to shield the sensitive leaves from direct sunlight. The Black Caladium thrives in partial light, preferably four to six hours of the morning sun in addition to full shade so as to keep that vibrant black color from fading when fully exposed to the sun.
When indoors, the Black Caladium needs a few hours of indirect sunlight, while outdoors you should find a place that offers filtered sun or shade.
Although newer varieties of these tropical foliage plants, like the white queen, thrive well in the full sun and therefore has some sun tolerance, the plants’ best color is attained under partially shady conditions . Growing your Black Caladium indoors gives you control over light conditions.
It’s crucial to note that sun tolerance is determined by the sun’s intensity on the leaves and the moisture that the plant receives. However, these requirements vary from one variety to the other.
– Soil Requirements
The Black Caladium plant prefers well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. You could make your ideal soil by combining equal parts of peat moss perlite, and houseplant soil.
This soil mix is favorable as it retains enough moisture for your Black Caladium while perlite enhances aeration and drainage. Please note that when cultivating your caladium, it’s important not to let the soil get soggy or waterlogged. However, you should be on the lookout for wilting or yellowing leaves that indicate that the soil for your plant is too dry.
You could opt for succulent mixes as the soil already contains perlite and sand. The soil should also be warm for your Black Caladium to grow. Planting Black Caladium bulbs in cooler soils result in tuber rot or stunted growth.
The soil temperature should reach around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) before you plant the Black Caladium tuber. You should consider the effects of planting your tuber into cold soil as it may not sprout and eventually rot.
The soil for your Black Caladium should have a pH that’s slightly acidic, around 5.5 to 6.2.
– Temperature Requirements
Black Caladium houseplants prefer warmer environments to flourish fully. Black Caladium tubers begin to grow with temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) during the day and 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) at night.
The tuber will transition into dormancy up to the warm season. Until then, you should bring the container indoors as they rest for about five months before sprouting new leaves in spring.
The caladium has delicate leaves. Therefore, you should have a spot that protects the plant from the wind, as too much exposure could damage the plant.
– Humidity Requirements
You should grow your Black Caladium in an environment with high moisture levels. Otherwise, you might need to use a humidifier. Boosting humidity levels could be done by frequently misting your plant. Be sure to avoid spots with temperature fluctuations, such as heating vents that would blow dry air to your caladium.
You can also improve the humidity around your plant by using pebble trays. Simply fill a tray with water and place pebbles in it. You then place the pot of your plant on it.
Make sure there is no direct contact between the bottom of the pot and the water. Otherwise waterlogging may result. Water that evaporates from the tray will saturate the immediate environment around your plant.
– Fertilizing Requirements
Caladiums are generally heavy feeders that require the addition of fertilizers after every two to three weeks, especially during spring up to late summer.
You could use a balanced formulation or opt for a low-nitrogen fertilizer. Please note that too much nitrogen affects the leaf color and could encourage root rot. Liquid fertilizers could be another option to consider as they promote foliage growth.
There is no harm in doing a soil test to determine what other additional nutrients could be needed by your plant.
During the winter and fall season, nutrient supplementation by adding fertilizers is not necessary; but you should water the plant. When fertilizing caladiums, avoid contact with the plant crown and foliage to prevent burn injury.
Also, make sure you add fertilizers directly to the soil. If the fertilizer comes into contact with your Black Caladium, you should wash off any fertilizer using water.
You should remove damaged foliage regularly by snipping them off right at the bottom using a sterilized tool. At the end of winter, caladiums lose most of their leaves so you should cut off the stems at the soil line.
Feel free to do just that as it stimulates new shoots and rejuvenates your plant. The ideal time to prune your Caladium is throughout its growing phase, at least once every three weeks.
You should regularly prune the leaves that are dead, turning yellow in color, and the damaged ones. Furthermore, you could prune the dead caladium root or any discolored feeder roots however, be careful not to cut the main root bulb at the center. Remember to always sterilize your pruning shears with alcohol or bleach to avoid spreading diseases.
Be sure to wear protective clothing when you are pruning your plant. Putting gloves on further reduces the chances of infecting your plant.
The propagation process starts by overwintering your Black Caladium tubers during the winter season. Overwintering is a technique that is used to protect outdoor plants from winter temperatures such as snow or ice.
The process requires you to dig up the tuber in the fall season and store it indoors over the winter period. Remember, you should carefully dig the caladium tuber to avoid any injury, and this should only be done when the foliage has already drooped.
Afterward, you should cut off the foliage and bury the tubers in peat moss or vermiculite before storing them in a dry location. The Black Caladium plants could be grown from tubers or plants.
The ideal time during the year to plant Black Caladium depends on your growing zone. In zones three to four, you could plant as early as mid-March, while for zones 9 to 11, consider planting in mid-June.
– Using Tubers
The caladiums grow from the bulb. Based on diameter, the tubers come in different sizes, with the larger tuber producing more leaf buds that reach maturity faster. Since caladiums are natives to the tropics they can only emerge when in warm soil and air as they are frost intolerant. Black Caladium tubers will die when exposed to cold.
You could bring out the tubers from storage after winter has passed and divide them into smaller pieces, using a sterilized cutting tool. The cut pieces should contain at least a knob that is known as the eye, from which germination will start.
You should allow the cut pieces to dry for at least a day before planting them. You should ensure you plant each Black Caladium tuber with its eyes pointing upward.
When you mistakenly plant your tuber upside down, it will grow, but it takes a long time to emerge. In addition, when growing the Black Caladium outdoors, you should space them eight to 14 inches apart while they are 1.5 to two inches deep.
– Using Plants
When in the spring season, begin by watering the potted tubers that you had stored indoors during the winter season. Another option would be to purchase potted Black Caladium that will need to be acclimated to the outdoor environment over the next one to two weeks.
The container should be moved to a place where there is a bright light, being mindful of new shoots that need protection from hot rays.
As beautiful and fabulous houseplants as they are, the Black Caladium plants are not immune to pests and diseases. You should monitor your plant regularly.
– Common Pests
Small insects like to attack and reside on the underside of the foliage. Aphids are bothersome and they appear in different colors like black, green, or red. Aphids that reside under the Black Caladium leaves secrete a sticky substance that attracts ants that further damage the plant. Mealybugs, mites, and thrips also attack the leaves of the caladium.
You could get rid of pests by splashing water on the Black Caladium leaves, using Neem oil, or spraying an insecticidal soap from time to time. Another pest that is a threat to the Black Caladium foliage is caterpillars. Caterpillars feed on the leaves of the Black Caladium, leaving the foliage with ragged margins. Getting rid of caterpillars is very easy as you can simply hand-pick them.
– Tuber Rot
This usually happens when the tuber is affected by fungi, especially when in storage or during the growing period. You should select tubers that are disease-free before planting. Also, be sure to properly store the tubers in a dry and warm place with temperatures of 50 degrees Fahrenheit, not in cool places like a refrigerator.
– Discolored Leaves
When the leaves of your Black Caladium leaves turn yellow, it’s a clear indication that the plant is either being overwatered, exposed to too much light, or experiencing temperature and humidity changes.
A lack of iron, magnesium, or nitrogen could affect the leaves’ color as well, causing them to turn yellow. When Black Caladium leaves turn brown, it could be the effect of being over-fertilized. Other possible reasons are inadequate humidity and the plant just being dry.
Follow the recommendations given in this guide to avoid mistakes that might end up ruining your plant’s beauty.
– Common Diseases
The diseases of the Black Caladium are those that initially attack the tubers, especially those that are caused by fungal pathogens like the Pythium species. In addition, the fungus could cause a disease called Fusarium wilt which usually spreads during the hot summer season. The disease’s first sign of infection is the yellowing of the Black Caladium leaves, followed by the falling off of lower leaves.
To prevent such fungal infections, you should kill any harmful fungi before planting or storing the Black Caladiums. Immersing tubers in hot water that has been heated to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius) for at least 30 minutes is one way to kill any harmful fungus. Furthermore, to prevent fungus from spreading, you could cut the affected tubers with a pruning shear and apply fungicide to the fresh cuts.
In addition, the Black Caladium could be infected by a bacterial disease called Xanthomonas, which causes leaf spots. You should provide the plant with good air circulation and try to keep the leaves dry to prevent this bacterial infection.
– What Is The Cause for Bent Stems in Black Caladium?
The weight of the leaves is the most common cause of kinked stems. You could easily identify bent stems as the leaves are limp and the stem droop.
This is very common to indoor plants as the stems do get very long resulting in the plant not being able to carry the weight of the leaves. In the end, the stems bend and this could result in the leaves not fully receiving adequate water and nutrients.
What you could do as a preventative measure is simply support the plant in its growing season. Support the plant bending stems with branches from outside or from a garden center by fixing them together. Furthermore, providing your plant with sufficient amounts of water enables the plant’s stability.
– Should I Cut The Flowers Off my Black Caladium?
Black caladium is mainly grown for its exquisite foliage however, this Black Caladium does not bloom. Other caladiums such as Carolyn Whorton produce a small flower that’s green or pink and is surrounded by short white spadix.
Usually, Black Caladium bloom from June up until the first frost. Most gardeners remove the flower as it takes away the energy for the plant that is supposedly used to produce a larger tuber or more gorgeous leaves.
– Is Black Caladium Toxic to Pets?
As stunning as it is, Black Caladium is toxic as it produces calcium oxalate, which is dangerous to cats and dogs. The bulb, stem, and leaves are all poisonous when ingested, even by humans.
The ingested leaves cause the pets to experience irritation and swelling on the tongue and throat. Additionally, the sap from leaves and stem cause mild skin irritation, skin rashes, and itching in humans. You should keep your caladium plant in places where children and pets have no easy access.
Let’s quickly go over some of the care and cultivating tips for this stunning plant so that you always keep them in mind.
- Black Caladium thrives in soil that is nutrient-rich, moist, and well-drained
- Black Caladiums are seasonal plants whose foliage grows during the spring.
- Black Caladium is toxic to pets and humans, so you should wear gloves when handling the plant.
- Black Caladium should be watered regularly to keep the soil moist.
- You should always clean your handling tools using alcohol to prevent the diseases from spreading.
The Black Caladium rewards you with its uniqueness once you provide the plant with the necessary care. Happy gardening with the elegant caladium black velvet and the “raspberry moon,” showcasing its raspberry pink to red blotches on the leaves.
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