Caladiums are a bit pricey, and it can be expensive to buy new plants every year. Did you know that you don’t have to do that, though? If you keep your Caladium outside, you must dig the bulbs out of the earth and store them for the winter.
Storing Caladium bulbs for the winter is easy; dig them out of the earth, let them cure, cut off the tops and roots, keep them in a cool, dry place to prevent any mold or fungus, and be ready to plant them again come spring.
If done right, you can have Caladium bulbs for three years or more without buying new ones every season. In some areas of the world, and certain climates where it never gets too cold, you don’t even have to dig them out.
Can I Save My Caladium Bulbs?
Unfortunately, Caladium Bulbs are very expensive and die every year. However, if you take the time to store your bulbs during the winter, you can use them multiple years in a row without any problem.
When Should I Store Caladium Bulbs?
In some areas, you never have to store Caladiums. For example, if you live in USDA hardiness zones 9-11 or equivalent, your plant can stay out all year, as long as you cut back watering. In zone 8, you need to insulate your plant with mulch.
However, if you live in a zone lower than this, you will have to overwinter your plants. If you don’t know your zone, essentially anywhere the plants will get much colder than 50°F (10°C) for long periods, storing your Caladium bulbs is a good idea.
This allows you to use your bulbs repeatedly without any problems and prevents you from having to purchase new ones every year.
Which Side is Up on Caladium Bulbs?
After you get your plant out from overwintering them, you may be confused about what side of your bulb is up and what side is down.
Thankfully, the bulbs are relatively distinct on each side. The smooth side of the bulb is the bottom. The side that feels or looks like a knob is the top, as this is where the stems will grow from.
How Do You Store Caladium Bulbs?
1. Dig Up The Bulb
The first step is to dig up the bulb. You will want to do this once temperatures stay below 60°F (15°C). It is best to leave the plant, dirt, and roots all still attached. You can shake off excess dirt, but don’t worry about getting it all off or rinsing the bulb.
Your plant will usually wilt when it is too cold, but you want to ensure you take the plant out before the foliage dies. Start by cutting further away from the plant than you think you need, and move inwards to avoid damaging the plant.
2. Place In A Cool, Dark Place
Keep your plant in a cool and dark area for two to three weeks to cure the bulbs. Usually, you want it cooler than outside, so around 50°F (10°C). Some people only do this for a week, but it’s important to ensure that your plants are fully dry and cured.
3. Cut Off The Tops
Once those few weeks are over, you can cut off the tops of the plant so it will be level with the soil. If you notice any rotten areas of your bulbs, you can also cut them out. The leaves and tubes will sometimes come off easily with a quick pull. You will also want to cut off the roots.
4. Apply Fungicide
You will want to apply a fungicide to your bulbs to prevent any root rot or other problems from fungus. Mold and fungus can infect your bulbs if you aren’t careful and quickly spread to others, so check regularly to catch the problem early and throw away the infected bulb before it harms others.
5. Store In A Cool, Dark Place
A cold and dark place is ideal for storing tubers and bulbs over winter. Most people prefer 50°F (10°C), but up to 60°F (16°C) is acceptable.
If your temperatures are starting to go below freezing wherever you stored the tubers, make sure you do something to ensure the tubers don’t get that cold, such as adding extra insulation or turning on a heater.
Don’t bunch up all the bulbs, either. Even if you are storing a few, pack them, so they don’t touch each other to reduce the chance of mold or fungus spreading if something happens.
6. Keep Them In Sand Or Sawdust
Some people prefer to keep the Caladium Bulbs stored in sand or sawdust. This prevents excess moisture from sitting near your tubers. However, you can also use dry coco coir, peat moss, newspapers, pet bedding, or more.
Adding perlite can also help ensure the bulb’s surroundings stay dry. It is also an extra precaution to keep them off the floor. If a leak or spill occurs, the box or container won’t get wet this way.
7. Plant Back Outdoors After Last Frost
Once the fear of the final freeze is gone and temperatures are staying above 60°F (15°C) on average, you can start looking at replanting your Caladium bulbs back outside.
How Often Should I Water Caladium Bulbs?
When you are wintering your Caladium bulbs, you don’t want to water them. Watering them can introduce mold and fungi. Additionally, since they aren’t growing and are essentially dormant, they don’t need water.
How to Tell if Caladium Bulbs Are Dead?
If a bulb is simply dormant, it should still be firm. Give your bulb a good squeeze. If it is still solid and firm to the touch, it is still alive, just dormant.
If the bulb is soft or brittle, it squishes or breaks from your squeeze, then they are dead, and you will likely need new bulbs for the following year.
How Long Do Caladium Bulbs Last?
Caladium bulbs tend to last about three years. You can still try overwintering them at the end of the season to see if they will grow, but if they end up soft or brittle by the beginning of the growing season, don’t be too surprised.
When you are storing Caladium Bulbs, they usually last for several months. This means you want to make sure you are replanting them every year. They can’t handle being dormant for years on end.
Overwintering Caladiums In Pots
You don’t necessarily have to overwinter Caladium as bulbs. If you have space in your home, and your Caladium are already in pots, you can simply bring them inside. All you have to do is remove all of the leaves before the first frost and store the pot in a warm and dark place.
Even if your home stays warm, Caladium will often die in the winter, so it is just easier to store them away and allows them to save energy to survive through the winter.
If you try to let them stay active during the winter, they will just be spending energy on the leaves they aren’t using, which may cause them not to have enough energy stored for dormancy.
Caladiums are pretty flowers but are also relatively expensive. But don’t worry, if you don’t want to buy new ones every year, you can simply store the bulbs over the winter. The bulbs can easily last three years if stored correctly, and no mold or fungus appears.
Storing Caladium bulbs for the winter is easy; all you have to do is dig them out of the earth, let them cure, cut off the tops and roots, keep them in a cool, dry place, prevent any mold or fungus, and be ready to plant them again come spring.
However, it is important to ensure that the bulbs are kept warm and removed before the first freeze. Generally, the best time is just as the temperature is starting to stay below 60°F (15°C) on a consistent basis. If you follow the above steps, you can have Caladium plants grow for years with only one initial investment.