Overwintering caladiums is the best way to keep your favorite varieties year after year!
Saving caladium bulbs over winter can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, but it’s not terribly difficult. Don’t worry, I’ll show you exactly what to do in this post!
Even if you live in a cold climate like I do here in MN, it’s not hard to keep caladiums through the winter, and replant them again each spring.
That’s a good thing, because I am a sucker for their gorgeous foliage. Every year I seem to end up buying at least one, because they’re so beautiful and unique.
But it’s expensive to buy them new every year. So I like to dig them up, and store my caladiums through the winter. That way I can save myself a little cash in the spring.
Below I will show all you need to know about how to overwinter caladiums. I’ll explain everything from when and how to dig them up, the best ways to store them, and when to replant them in the spring.
Table of Contents
Are Caladiums Perennials Or Annuals?
It’s common to find caladium plants for sale in the annuals section of garden centers.
But they’re actually tender perennials that can survive for many years with the proper winter care.
They can be left in the ground if you live in a warm climate (zone 9 or higher). But for most of us, they won’t survive the winter if left outside. So they must be brought indoors in the fall.
Related Post: How To Overwinter Plants: The Complete Guide
3 Methods Of Overwintering Caladiums
There are three ways to overwinter caladiums, and these methods will work for all varieties. The technique you choose will depend on your climate, and where you planted them.
- Leaving the bulbs in the garden over winter (if you live in a warm enough climate)
- Storing them in pots over winter
- Digging up and storing the tubers in the fall
How To Overwinter Caladium Bulbs
In this section, I will describe each of the three methods for overwintering caladiums in detail.
The method you choose will depend on where you live in, and whether you have them in pots or the garden.
1. Overwintering Caladium Bulbs In The Ground
If you’re lucky enough to live in a warm enough climate (zone 9+), you can just leave your caladiums right in the ground all winter.
They will eventually go dormant, and all the foliage will die back. But, once the soil warms in the spring, they’ll come back better than ever.
If you plan to leave them in the ground, then be sure they’re in a protected spot where they won’t get too much water. If kept too wet, the bulbs could end up rotting.
2. Overwintering Caladiums In Pots
If your caladiums are in containers, you can overwinter them right in their pots.
If you bring them indoors before the temperature outside gets below 60°F, you can extend their growing season by several weeks.
Otherwise, as it gets cooler in the fall, they will naturally start to go dormant, and the leaves will begin to die back.
They are not cold hardy at at all, so be sure to bring them indoors before the temps drop below 55°F, or the bulb may not survive.
Once the plant has died back, cut off all of the leaves. Then store the pot in a dry location where the temperature stays around 60°F. Allow the soil to dry out, and don’t water it all winter.
3. Digging & Storing Caladium Bulbs For The Winter
Digging and storing the tubers is the most popular way to overwinter caladiums. With this technique, you lift the whole plant out of the ground, bulbs and all.
They are very sensitive to cold, so it’s extremely important that you lift them before it drops too low. Ideally, you should do it when it’s above 60°F, but definitely not below 50°F.
If you leave them in the ground too long, frost could end up damaging the bulb, which means it likely won’t survive the winter in storage.
Related Post: How To Store Bulbs For The Winter
Preparing Caladiums For Winter Storage
The most common method of overwintering caladiums is digging the tubers out of the ground and storing them.
Below I’ll give you details about lifting them, and instructions for how to store the bulbs for winter.
When To Dig Up Caladiums
Since they will not tolerate frost, you should dig up your caladiums before it gets too cold outside.
The foliage will naturally start to die back once the temperature gets below 60°F.
But it may not die completely before they need to be lifted, which is fine. The leaves will eventually die back all the way once the bulb goes dormant after you lift them.
How To Dig Up Caladium Tubers
Use a garden fork or spade shovel to gently lift them out of the ground. Take care to start digging far enough away from the center of the plant so that you don’t accidentally cut or damage the tubers.
You can gently shake or brush off the excess dirt, but don’t rinse it off. You don’t want the tuber to be wet before storing it.
Then check to make sure none of them are damaged or showing signs of rot. Damaged or rotting bulbs will not store well and should be discarded.
Curing Caladium Tubers Before Overwintering
Once you’ve lifted the tubers from the ground, allow them to cure (dry out) for a week or so before storing them.
After they have cured, the leaves will drop off, or easily pull away from the tuber. Remove all of the dead leaves before storing the bulbs for winter.
How To Store Caladium Bulbs For Winter
To successfully overwinter caladiums, you must pack and store the bulbs correctly. Doing this wrong is by far the most common mistakes that newbies make.
Packing The Bulbs For Storage
It’s very important to use a good packing material for storing your caladium bulbs.
It should be totally dry, and lightweight enough so that the tubers can breath, otherwise they may end up molding or rotting.
The type of storage container you use is also important. For best results, choose something made out of cardboard or paper rather than plastic.
Plastic holds too much moisture, which you don’t want for dormant bulbs.
Or try using another type of medium like sawdust, newspaper, or pet bedding. Pack the bulbs loosely with plenty of material around them so they aren’t touching each other.
Where To Store Caladium Bulbs
You can store caladium bulbs in the basement, a heated garage, or a closet. As long as they stay cool and dry, they should be good to go.
Place the box on a shelf in cool, dark location where they will stay dry. Keep the temperature around 60°F.
Caladium Winter Care Tips
The hardest part about overwintering caladiums is making sure the bulbs don’t get too much moisture.
This is true whether you left them in the ground, in pots, or packed them for storage. If they get too much water during the winter, they will rot.
It’s also a good idea to check on them a few times to make sure they aren’t molding or drying out too much.
If you find any that have mold on them, throw them out immediately so that it doesn’t spread to the other bulbs.
Replanting Caladium Bulbs After Overwintering
When it comes to replanting your caladium bulbs in the spring, it’s very important to get the timing right. Follow the instructions below for the best results.
When To Plant Caladiums
Wait to replant caladiums until there’s no more chance of frost of the spring.
It’s also important to wait until the ground has warmed to 65°F, and has had a chance to dry out a bit. You can use a soil thermometer to check it.
Be patient here. It is not beneficial to plant them early. If the ground is soggy and cold, the tubers will be extremely slow to sprout. Or worse, they may end up rotting.
For dormant potted caladiums, bring them out of storage 4-6 weeks before your last frost date.
Give them a deep drink of water, and put them in a bright, warm spot. Wait to move them back outside until it’s above 60°F.
How To Prepare Caladium Bulbs For Planting
To help break dormancy and wake them up faster, you can soak caladium bulbs before planting them.
Fill a bowl or bucket with warm water, and soak them for 2-12 hours. I like to soak mine in compost tea to give them even more of a boost.
Then, after planting my tubers, I pour the rest of the compost tea I used to soak them over the top to water them.
Starting Caladium Tubers Indoors
If you want to get your tubers replanted earlier, you can start them indoors 4-6 weeks before your average last frost. Plant them in a container filled with potting soil.
Water until it starts coming out of the holes in the bottom of the pot, and allow the excess to drain completely.
Then place them in a warm, bright location. Putting them on a heat mat will help them sprout faster.
Related Post: How To Grow & Care For Caladiums
FAQs About Overwintering Caladiums
Below you’ll find the answers to some of the most common questions I get about how to overwinter caladiums. If you can’t find yours here, leave a comment below.
Can caladiums grow indoors?
Technically yes, caladiums can grow indoors, but it is pretty difficult. They naturally require a dormant period during the winter months, so it’s best to allow them to rest.
You could certainly try keeping yours indoors through the summer, and then allow it to go dormant during the winter.
Can you overwinter caladiums in pots?
Yes, you can leave caladiums in pots over winter. Allow the soil to dry out completely, remove all of the leaves after they die back, and store the pot in a cool, dark, and dry location until spring.
Can you leave caladium bulbs in the ground over winter?
You can leave caladiums bulbs in the ground over winter if you live somewhere warm enough. They are hardy in USDA zones 9 and above.
Do caladiums come back every year?
Yes, caladiums do come back every year. With the proper winter care, they will survive and grow back year after year.
How long can you store caladium bulbs?
You can store caladium bulbs for several months in the right conditions. Don’t try to keep them dormant for too long though, I recommend replanting them every spring.
But if for some reason you are unable to plant them right away in the spring, keeping them in storage for a few extra weeks should be fine.
Just check on them periodically to be sure the bulbs aren’t too dried out.
Now that you know how to save caladiums over winter, you can keep your favorite varieties year after year.
Plus, once you get the hang of overwintering caladiums, you won’t have to feel guilty buying new plants every year.
If you want to learn all there is to know about maintaining healthy indoor plants, then you need my Houseplant Care eBook. It will show you everything you need to know about how to keep every plant in your home thriving. Download your copy now!
More Posts About Overwintering Plants
- How To Store Dahlia Tubers For Winter
- How To Overwinter Tuberous Begonias
- Overwintering & Storing Canna Lily Bulbs – The Complete Guide
- How To Bring A Plant Out Of Dormancy
- Dormant Cyclamen Care: When, What To Do, & How To Revive It
Share your tips for overwintering caladiums in the comments section below.