In the Garden:
Strengthened by a wet summer, caladiums will continue to grow strong for weeks. Then corms will soon be ready to dig and store.
A wet summer like this one brings out the best in shade-loving caladiums. They always seem to keep their crisp, cool looks during our humid summers. Many southern gardeners treat caladiums as annuals, tossing them out at the end of the season. However, abundant rain this year makes it a good one for harvesting the corms and storing them until next spring's planting.
Keeping Them Growing
The summer is still young for caladiums, and they'll grow strong for another few weeks. To produce good-sized corms that will store well, give plants a good feeding with a balanced water soluble fertilizer or topdress the bed with Bulb Booster (9-9-6) fertilizer. New growth will slow down as days become shorter, giving the plants time and opportunity to store nutrients in their corms.
Lifting and Curing
By mid-September it will be time to let caladiums dry out prior to digging corms. Plants in pots or beds should have water withheld and let dry down naturally. If rains continue, dig corms from the wet soil and handle them carefully to avoid bruises.
Before the soil temperatures drop into the mid-60oFs, dig caladium corms. Use the leaves as handles to lift them from the ground and spray off dirt with a water nozzle. Lay corms in the sun or dry them indoors at room temperature for a few days. Clip off the old leaves and pack the dry corms in boxes, layered with dry peat moss, and stash where temperatures will stay above 65oF all winter. Wait until warm weather returns and the last spring frost of 2002 is history to pot up your corms or plant them in shady beds.
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