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A Complete Guide to Caladium Candidum Care

It is never easy to grow tropical plants at home. Moreover, developing a shade-loving tropical plant like the Caladium Candidum may seem outright challenging.

Prized for their vibrant white-colored leaves spanning 12-30 inches, growing Candidum will require correct conditions at all times.

Caladium Candidum grows ideally in full to partial shade with temperatures ranging 70-75°F, humidity levels over 50%, and evenly moist soil. Furthermore, feeding them low nitrogen fertilizer during the growing season and repotting them every 2-3 years ensures their optimum growth.

Signature Candidum Leaf
Signature Candidum Leaf (Source: Wikimedia)

However, the plant leaves will die back pretty soon in the fall, giving an impression of a failed plant.

So stop worrying and go with the flow to ensure healthy foliage again the following season.

Check out these fantastic tips to ideally grow your Candidum at home with proper treatments for common plant-related problems.

Overview of Caladium Candidum

Popularly known as Angel Wings, Candidum makes a perfect ornamental plant with large wing-like leaves for homes.

It is a tuberous tropical perennial that grows up to 12-30 inches in height and 12-24 inches wide.

A tropical species ideally thrive in warm, humid conditions similar to their natural setting. Therefore, protect them from cold and frost conditions at all times.

Different Caladium species
Different Caladium species (Source: Wikimedia)

Here is a table with a general overview of this beautiful ornamental plant.

Scientific NameCaladium x hortulanum
Common NameAngel wings, elephant ears
NativeTropical Riverlands
USDAZone 9-11
NatureTropical annual or perrenial
Plants Mature Size12-30 inches in height and 12-24 inches in width
Leaf SizeAt least 12 inches
FruitN/A
FlowerNot grown for blossoms
UsesHome air purifier and decoration
ToxicityToxic to humans and animals
PruningYearly pruning to remove dead or damaged leaves
RepottingOnce every two or three years
PropagationPropagate by tuber cuttings
Pest/DiseasesAphids, Mealybugs, Mites, Thrips, Caterpillar/Pythium Spp, and Rhizoctonia

Keep pruning to the growing season and remove decayed and yellowed leaves. Similarly, propagate the plant in early spring through tuber cuttings.

However, keep an eye out for a common problem of yellow spots and browning foliage that indicates a sick plant.

Moreover, keep the plant out of the reach of pets and children to avoid accidental poisoning.

Caladium species are known for their large, decorative leaves, where Carolyn Whorton, Candidum, and Fannie Munson varieties give out giant leaves spanning up to 30-inches.

Overall, growing one at home will guarantee to cleanse indoor air of toxins.

A Complete Guide to Caladium Candidum Care

Caladium Candidum is a low-maintenance plant that does well in moderate conditions. However, most homes lack a humid growing environment ideal for this tropical plant.

(flaticon.com)

Bright-indirect light
(3-4 hours)


Deep watering once a week in the growing season


Well-draining, organic soil that retains moisture
Fertilizer icons created by Smashicons - Flaticon

Balanced liquid fertilizer every two weeks in the growing season


Optimal temperature of 70-75°F


At least 50% humidity

It may be challenging to get the basics at first, but it will become relatively more straightforward once you get going.

Follow this guide to provide an ideal growing condition required for the plant.

1. Adequate Watering Schedule

Candidum has a similar watering requirement to other Caladium plants.

Because these plants grow along the riverbanks of tropical forests, you should replicate the same environment at home.

A tuber plant prefers deep watering once a week without thoroughly drying out.

Watering the plant
Watering the plant (Source: Labtoons)

Caladiums need watering regularly in the growing season, especially when hotter, to keep the soil moist but soggy.

Tips for Watering Caladium Candidum

  • Provide 2-3 inches of water per week in the growing season to moisten the tuber roots for a container at least 5″ in size.
  • Hold back on watering over fall and winter when the plant becomes dormant and the foliage drops.
  • Caladium grown in the container should be checked daily for drying soil. Water immediately if the soil looks slightly dry.
  • Resume watering when new growth starts, usually early spring.
  • Never allow Caladiums to sit in a pool of water. Excessive watering will rot the tuber, usually when watered frequently within a week.

Avoid Inappropriate Watering

It is usual to make the mistake of over or underwatering a houseplant.

Here is how you can avoid such a mistake with your Candidum.

  • Use a moisture meter to check the soil moisture level every week. Anything above 70 or 7 on a 1-10 scale indicates wet soil.
  • Deep watering the plant with 2-3 inches of water once a week in the growing season would allow the soil to stay moist for a longer time.
  • Keep an eye out for browning and yellowing foliage that indicates overwatering, and hold back on watering until the leaves recover.
  • Brown edges on the leaves or wilting indicate underwatered plant, which requires immediate watering.
  • Placing the pot on a pebble tray with water may help to retain moisture, especially during the summer months.

2. Warm Temperature

Temperature is critical for Candidum because the plant ideally requires a warm temperature to produce healthy leaves.

Candidum thrives in warm conditions, where the ideal temperature remains 70-75-degrees Fahrenheit during the day and at least 65-degrees at night.

The innate tropical species do not tolerate frost. Anything under 50-degrees Fahrenheit can kill the plant. Therefore, it is natural to see the leaves dying in the fall and winter months.

Another indication of the cold, stressed plant is stunted growth and yellowing foliage.

Tips to Provide Appropriate Temperature

  • Place your plant in a location that receives a moderate amount of indirect sunlight throughout the day.
  • Cover the pot with mulch to retain warmth in the soil.
  • Bring the plant inside and use heating pads to warm up the soil when the temperature drops.
  • Alternatively, using a frost blanket may also help prevent cold stress.
  • Avoid keeping them in drafty places such as in a room with an Air Conditioner or heater.
  • Once the temperature rises in spring, you will witness a rapidly growing plant.

3. Adequate Sunlight and Proper Location

You have guessed it right!

Caladium Candidum does well in a brightly lit location with moderately warm temperatures.

They grow anywhere around the house, offering medium to bright indirect sunlight such as northwest-facing windows.

However, be wary about placing them too close to the window or outdoors because intense sunlight can quickly burn the leaves.

Although some new Caladium cultivars can tolerate full sun, Candidum species will suffer under direct sunlight.

Keep an eye out for brown patches that appear in the spaces between the veins and yellowing and crispy leaves that indicate a sunburnt plant.

Bright, indirect sunlight is important for Cladium
Bright, indirect sunlight is essential for Cladium (Source: DevianArt)

On the other hand, leggy stem and yellowed halos on leaves may indicate a light stressed plant.

Place them at least 4-5 feet away from the window or patio or in front of the wall that receives ample reflected light.

Alternatively, you can also grow them indoors under artificial sunlight.

Use LED light SANSI Grow light with COC technology to provide optimum lighting for the plant.

Quick Tip: Candidum can tolerate 1-2 hours of direct sunlight but strictly keep it to early morning.

4. Moderate Humidity Level

Candidum requires a moderate humidity level to keep the plant looking healthy.

Caladium Candidum thrives in high humid conditions with at least 50% relative humidity as a tropical plant.

However, it may be challenging to replicate the same tropical environment at home, especially in an arid climate.

You would know this by the browning tips on leaves and curling due to transpiration (water loss) or lack of humidity.

The prolonged low humidity condition will damage the leaves, leaving the plant severely stressed.

Tips to Boost Humidity Levels

  • Consider installing an electric humidifier to boost humidity levels around the plant.
  • Mist the leaves in the early hours of the day, especially during the summer season.
  • Place the plant on a pebble tray with water to increase the humidity level around the container.
  • Alternatively, keep Candidum amongst other houseplants to naturally boost humidity levels.
Electric Humidifier
Electric Humidifier (Source: Pexels)

5. Well-drained Soil

Unlike other tropical houseplants, Candidum thrives in moist soil conditions at all times.

It is best to replicate the soil condition typical to the tropical environment with a slightly acidic pH level (5.5-6) for Caladium Candidum.

Consider using an organically rich, well-drained soil mix that retains enough moisture.

Use coir compost, orchid brak, perlite, and peat moss in the ratio of 60:10:20:10 to get a perfect mix.

Tips to Improve Soil Drainage

  • Garden soil can be the best choice for Candidum plants. Almost any commercial potting medium mixed with ground soil will work fine.
  • To prepare a well-draining potting mix, consider mixing damp garden soil with peat or perlite.
  • You can improve the texture and drainage by adding a fine layer of compost, finely ground bark, or composted manure.
  • Plant the tubers around 2″ deep into the mix with the growing points (eyes) facing up.

6. Growth, Foliage, and Blossoms

Caladium Candidum is a generously growing tuber plant.

A mature Caladium Candidum plant will grow 12-18 inches in height and 12-24 inches wide. It is indicated by rich foliage, where each leaf would span 12 inches.

They would produce large heart-shaped leaves white in color with dark green veins. The mature Candidum may produce two or three arum-type flowers in green, pink, and red.

However, it is good to prevent blossoms by pruning the buds to encourage healthy foliage growth.

When leaves first appear, water the plant to moist the soil. Being a seasonal plant, you would only notice foliage growth in spring.

Signature Caladium leaves
Signature Caladium Candium leaves (Source: Iowa State University Extension)

Unless you live in USDA Zone 9-11, consider growing them as an annual plant.

Dig up the plant after the growing season and store the tuber in a warm place.

7. Slow-Release Fertilizer

Candidum would love a regular nutrient boost during the growing season to achieve lush foliage.

Although they may do well without additional plant food, you would fail to witness thick, decorative foliage.

Provide an occasional dose of balanced, liquid fertilizer every two weeks in spring and summer with Miracle-Gro® Liquid All-Purpose (8-7-6).

You can also rely on slow-release pellets intended for all houseplants once in the growing season, such as Osmocote® (15-9-12 plus micronutrients).

However, be careful not to use undiluted fertilizer or plant food too high in Nitrogen.

Caladium species love feeding on potash and phosphorus, such as the Agrobium plant food.

Agrobium fertilizer rich in potash and phosphorus
Agrobium fertilizer rich in potash and phosphorus (Source: Amazon )

Alternatively, you can also use organic compost for Candidum to prevent root burns from chemicals.

8. Occasional Pruning

Pruning Candidum can be tricky because the plants naturally shed their leaves after the growing season, but it does not mean you should avoid pruning it.

Ensure to remove damaged or dead leaves every 2-3 weeks in the growing season to get a good harvest. Ensure to dispose of freshly cut leaves at a safe distance.

Another reason for pruning allows harvesting leaves for household floral decorations. Ensure to cut down the stem at the soil line to prevent damaging the plant.

Alternatively, you can also prune the plant to obtain fresh stem cuttings for propagation.

Note: Sterilize the tools with rubbing alcohol or bleach solution before using them to prevent damage and pest infestation.

9. Potting and Re-potting

A newly purchased plant with a small pot may also require repotting in a large container.

A mature Caladium plant would only require repotting every 2-3 years and preferably in spring when the roots become crowded.

Choose a pot at most 2-inches bigger than the current pot. As mentioned before, use commercial mix combined with garden soil to create a well-draining yet moisture-absorbent potting mix.

Prepare a Potting Mix

  • Start with preparing an appropriate potting mix.
  • A garden soil mixed with organic material like perlite and coco peat will be helpful).
  • Add sphagnum peat moss to the mix to make it slightly acidic.
  • Mix it in a slightly larger pot and add water to moisten it.

Prepare the Plant

  • Water the pot before taking out the plant to slide it out quickly.
  • Gently slide it out and check for any root issues such as mushy and browning.
  • Wash the roots with room temperature water and trim the infected parts.

Repot the Plant

  • Fill the container with the potting mix to half and add the plant with roots facing down.
  • Cover the rest of the container with the potting mix
  • Finally, add a fine layer of compost and mulch on top to add organic nutrients.

Check out this video to learn about repotting and caring for the Caladium plant.

How to Choose the Container for Caladium Candidum?

Caladium Candidum will thrive in well-drained pots made from a porous material like clay or terracotta.

Alternatively, you can also choose a plastic pot to help retain the moisture required to keep the soil moist.

However, ensure the pot has enough drainage holes to let out excess water.

Here are a few recommendations.

ContainerSpecification
Classic Planter, 8" (Plastic)They are durable and lightweight. The drainage holes lie at the bottom
LE TAUCI Ceramic Plant Pots (Ceramic)4+5+6 inch, Set of 3, Planters with holes in the bottom
Plastic Planter, HOMENOTE (Plastic)Comes in five different sizes 7/6/5.5/4.8/4.5 Inch

10. Propagating through Tuber Division

Reproducing Candidum is pretty straightforward; even novice gardeners can attempt it. Take the tuber cuttings for the sake of successful propagation.

You can usually get healthy stems from dormant tubers during winter.

Caladium stem attached with tuber
Caladium stem and tuber diagram (Source: ScienceDirect)

How to Get Tuber Cuttings?

  • Allow the leaves to die back and remove the tuber from the soil in fall or early winter.
  • Store the tuber in a cool, dry place with a temperature around 55-degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Consider taking the cuttings in late winter or early spring, just before growing.
  • Inspect the tuber and find a section with at least one growing site (eye or a knob).
  • You can keep the small tubers whole or cut them into smaller pieces. Each piece must have an eye or growth point.
  • Cut the section using sterilized pruning shear and allow it to heal for a week before propagating.
  • Ensure to take cutting without damaging the central tuber, large in shape, to later plant it.

Propagate Tuber Cuttings

The tuber cutting is ideally propagated in soil medium instead of water. The tuber already contains some roots, so directly propagating it in the soil will see tremendous success.

However, wait until the danger of frost has ultimately passed before potting.

  • Take a small pot, usually 3-4″ inches, and fill it with the potting mix intended for Caladium.
  • Dig a 2″ hole in the middle of the potting mix and place the cutting with the “eye” facing upwards. Cover it with soil.
  • Moisten the soil by deep watering the mix. Otherwise, avoid watering if the soil is already moist.
  • Cover the pot with a fine layer of compost.
  • Keep it in a warm location with at least 70-degrees temperature.

Voila! Within a couple of weeks, the tuber will start sprouting a new set of leaves.

Quick Tip: Water the plant only when the first leaves appear to avoid getting waterlogged soil and fragile tuber.

Toxicity of Caladium Candidum

Caladium Candidum is toxic to animals and humans; hence, consider keeping the plant out of reach.

Accidentally chewing on the leaves may cause extreme irritation and swelling of the mouth and throat in pets.

The calcium crystals found in the leaves and stem can induce drooling and vomiting in young children.

If you suspect they have consumed the plant, rinse their airways and nose with water.

Contact the American Association of Poison Control Centers at (800) 222-1222 or Pet Poison Helpline 1 (855) 764-7661.

Common Problems with Caladium Candidum

Candidum is not free of common problems found in most houseplants.

Be prepared to tackle common plant-related pest infestation, diseases, overwatering, and poor growing conditions.

1. Candidum Pests

The onset of common pests in Candidum is linked to overtly wet soil, moist conditions, and pest infestation from other plants.

Some commonly found pests are aphids, mealybugs, mites, thrips, and caterpillars.

Spider mite eggs
Spider mite eggs on leaves (Source: L. Buss, UF)

Here are the problems posed by these pests.

PestsProblems
MealybugThey mostly infect root and foliage.

They suck the sap from the leaves, leaving them wilted and discolored.

AphidsAphids are cricket-like creatures with back legs that suck up saps from the plant leaves and stems.

When the infestation grows, your plant wilt and starts dying.
ThripsThrips are small, brown insects that mainly feed on leaves.

They mainly infect overwatered plants or those placed in damp locations.
ScalesScaly insects are tiny, waxy pests that infest on leaves.

Yellow or rust-colored spots will start developing on the leaves, and the sap will begin drying up.
CaterpillarCaterpillar mostly infest Candidum to chew on leaves and shoots, leaving a damaged and sick plant.

Solutions

Preventive Measures

  • Ensure to use aphid and pest-free garden soil before potting the plant. Otherwise, resort to the commercial potting mix.
  • Prevent overwatering the plant to prevent excess moist and humid conditions.
  • Avoid overfertilizing the plant with Nitrogen-rich fertilizer to prevent stunted growth that may attract pests.

Read more about How to Identify and Treat Plant Pets?

2. Horticultural Diseases

The onset of horticultural diseases on Candidum is less likely to occur when you keep your plant healthy.

However, some diseases are inevitable and may occur more frequently on tuber plants.

Candidum is more prone to bacterial and fungal diseases caused by the bad growing condition or dormant fungus living in tubers.

DiseaseProblems
Pythium spp.A typical lawn parasite or soil-borne pathogen causes wilting, stunting, and uneven plant growth.

The movement of infested soil or plant material can spread disease.
RhizoctoniaA fungus that lives in outdoor soil and survives as sclerotia.

It causes wilting, stunting, and plant death, along with rot at the base of the cutting.

When the infestation grows, your plant wilt and starts dying.
Fungal leaf spotIt is a discoloured, diseased area on a leaf caused by fungal, bacterial.

It is caused by injuries from nematode, toxicity, or herbicides.
SclerotiaThe brown or black rot of stem that appear near the soil line, that looks like cottony fungal growth.

The stem becomes girdled, wilt, and later die.

Solutions

  • After the growing season, place the tubers in water heated to around 120-degrees Fahrenheit and let them dry for approximately half an hour before storing.
  • Trim the infected leaves with fungal spots and apply Patch Pro to prevent further proliferation.
  • Solarize the plant at 160°F for 30 minutes to kill Sclerotia.
  • Use Thiophanate methyl or Fludioxonil to kill fungus.
  • Prune the infected part and apply fungicide containing Flutriafol.

Preventive Measures

  • Avoid overwatering your plant or keeping them in damp locations.
  • Avoid misting the plants in the evening or night.
  • Always use well-sterilized tools and soil.
  • Order the plant from the certified seller to prevent buying fungus-infested Candidum tubers.
  • Inspect and treat the garden soil for fungus and bacteria before preparing a potting mix

3. Browning Leaves

The browning of Candidum leaves may indicate many different problems but one.

Your plant would start offsetting browning when;

  • It is severely dehydrated (Underwatering).
  • It is exposed to direct sunlight.
  • The relative humidity level is lower than 50%.
  • The plant is over-fertilized with phosphorus.

The browning will mostly culminate in the growing season (spring and summer), making it easy to diagnose the problem.

Solutions

  • A severely dehydrated plant would require immediate watering.
  • Alternatively, you can place it on a container filled with water to allow the soil to suck up moisture.
  • Move the plant a few feet away from the window and open areas that receive direct sunlight.
  • Lack of humidity can be remedied by installing electrical humidifiers.
  • Cut back on fertilizing and run off the soil with water to remove chemical residues.

Find out How to Identify and Treat Browning Foliage?

4. Yellowing Foliage

Candidum plants may witness yellowing on leaves, such as yellow spots or discoloration from the base.

The yellowing mainly indicates the problem with watering, lighting, or temperature stress.

In some cases, inappropriate humidity levels and a lack of micronutrients may also cause yellowing.

Solutions

  • Cut back on watering and stick to the original watering schedule until the plant revives.
  • Move your plant inside under the grow light or cover it with insulation to prevent damage from dropping temperature.
  • Move the plant to a partial shade location that receives ample indirect sunlight.
  • Introduce micronutrients such as magnesium, nitrogen, and iron with regular fertilizing.

FAQs About Caladium Candidum

Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions about the Candidum plant.

How Quicky Does Candidum Grow?

The growth rate will entirely depend on the growing conditions.

With appropriate temperature, humidity, lighting, and watering, your plant will grow a few inches every growing season.

You can boost physical growth by regularly feeding balanced plant food every two weeks.

Overall, a mature plant will reach at least 12″ in height.

How Long Will Candidum Live?

The perennial plant will last season to season but become dormant in winter.

However, it will last only the growing season as the annuals, requiring repotting each year in early spring.

Rest assured, your plant will survive for years to come.

How to Prevent Dying Leaves Over Winter?

You cannot prevent the Candidum leaves from dying back because they will naturally drop leaves in winter.

Let us say it is their way to show that they are resting (dormant). Do not worry yet, because they will start growing leaves again in spring.

Does Caladium Candidum have any Benefits?

Candidum makes a popular indoor plant an excellent air purifier and humidifier. It will improve the air quality in your home by reducing air-borne toxins.

Alone it may not be so effective, but it will do wonders with other air purifying plants.

Caladium x hortulanum
Caladium x hortulanum healthy leaves (source: Wikimedia.com)

Conclusion

Caladium Candidum makes a perfect houseplant that adds a unique decor in spring and summer with its signature white-colored leaves.

However, the lush foliage will die back in winter, losing its natural appeal, worrying many growers.

Do not worry because it is natural for Candidum to lose leaves during fall and winter.

However, keep them protected during dormancy and provide comprehensive care in early spring to witness healthy blooms again.

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