Years ago, OSU Agriculture College Dean Bobby Moser wanted the Ag Quad next to Howlett and Kottman Halls to be planted so that football fans would not park cars there on fall Saturdays. The solution, led by Professor Claudio Pasian may be seen in all its colors and textures now with the OSU Extension Horticulture Trial Gardens. One of the many standouts of those trials that I noted last week were a range of cultivars of Caladium. Hearts and arrows of patterned and freckled leaves of intense colors, about 18 inches tall and wide. Wow: ‘Fiesta’ and “Burning Heart’. ‘Pearl’ and ‘Rosy Pink’. Many more; come on down.
The genus Caladium is in the Araceae, the arum family, with cousins such as jack-in-the-pulpit, skunk cabbage, philodendron, and many more. Caladiums are tropical plants, largely grown in Florida in the U.S., sold in pots or as tubers. They prefer shade or partial shade, planting in mid-spring or later with harvest of tubers before frosts if you want to overwinter. Enjoy them for their visual virtues but do not eat (as if you would), as caladiums contain calcium oxalate crystals. Caladiums are great in hanging baskets, as seen below from the East Fourth Street District in downtown Cleveland.