Can You Cut Caladium Bulbs in Half?

Caladium bulbs, like all flower bulbs, can be a delightful addition to your garden. To ensure their optimal growth, you may wonder if it’s possible to cut these bulbs in half.

You can cut caladium bulbs in half. Doing so will allow for more growth and is also a great way to propagate the plant. However, each half of the caladium bulb must have an eye or growth point. Otherwise, no plant will grow from the bulb.

This article will explore why you might want to divide your caladium bulbs, the advantages of this practice, the appropriate techniques, and the best timing for the procedure.

Key Takeaways

  • You can cut caladium bulbs in half for propagation and fuller growth.
  • Each half of the caladium bulb must have an eye or growth point for new plants to grow.
  • Scarring the bulbs by cutting the buds encourages fuller plant growth.
  • Cutting caladium bulbs is optional and not necessary if you don’t want to propagate.
  • Remember to sanitize gardening tools and moderate watering for proper care.

Why Divide Caladium Bulbs

Cutting caladium bulbs in half can be beneficial depending on your goals for your plant. The main reason and benefit of cutting the bulbs in half is for propagation

However, the two halves must have an eye or growth point before you cut the bulb. If the halves don’t have these, you’ll be left with cut bulbs that are essentially useless — as opposed to two new sources of caladium growth.

Aside from propagation, there are other benefits of cutting caladium bulbs in half. Although bigger bulbs, or “tubers,” usually result in more plant growth, dividing the bulbs up can also lead to more plants and fuller growth. 

Additionally, cutting the smaller buds from the original tuber has benefits, including:

  • More (albeit smaller) caladium plants
  • More growth from the bulb
  • Quicker sprouting

Scarring The Bulbs

Although there are many good reasons to cut caladium bulbs, it’s not really necessary. As discussed, the main reason to cut caladium bulbs is for propagation. So, if you don’t want to propagate your plant, there’s no need to cut it.

However, cutting, or “scarring,” the buds on the bulb can encourage fuller plant growth, so it’s recommended before planting, leading to bushier (and, therefore, better-looking) plants. 

To successfully scar your caladium bulbs, follow these steps:

  1. Find the large, central bud on the bulb. This bud is typically near the middle of the bulb.
  2. Use a knife to cut the central bud out. Very carefully cut or “scar” the large bud without harming the smaller buds. Doing this forces the smaller buds to produce growth, which results in more leaves sprouting from the bulb.
  3. Watch the smaller buds as they begin to sprout leaves. If you leave the large central bud, the smaller buds won’t produce any growth. So, cutting out the central bud results in a bushier plant.

If you’re having problems with your caladium plant being leggy or not producing as many leaves as you want, the problem is likely in the bulb. Make sure you scar the bulb before planting it to achieve the best results.

Things to Remember When Cutting the Bulbs

While cutting (or scarring) your caladium bulbs has its benefits, it’s essential to know the steps to cutting a bulb in half as well — especially if you want to propagate the plant. Incorrectly cutting the bulbs can leave you with a dead plant.

Cutting caladium bulbs in half isn’t challenging as long as you know what to look out for when handling the bulbs.

Before just cutting the bulb haphazardly, you need to familiarize yourself with the anatomy of the bulb itself. The bulbs (or tubers) can be in various sizes. The larger the tuber is, the more buds it likely has. 

That said, regardless of size, every tuber will have one large, central bud surrounded by many smaller buds (also known as eyes).

You must locate these buds before cutting them, as each side of the bulb must have at least one bud to sprout.

Now that you know a little more about the makeup of a caladium bulb, let’s get into the steps of cutting the bulb in half:

Examine the Bulb and Find the Central Bud

If the bulb is too small, it might not have enough buds to produce a plant. Finding the larger, central bud will make it easier to locate where to cut the bulb in half.

Find the Smaller Buds on the Bulb

The smaller buds will surround the central bud. Ensure that the parts you cut have at least one smaller bud on each side.

Cut the Bulb Accordingly

Use a clean knife to cut the bulb in half. Ensure your knife is completely sanitized before cutting. Otherwise, any harmful microorganisms on it may infect your growing plant and cause problems you’d rather not have to deal with.

Let the Bulb Heal Before Planting

While this step might not be absolutely necessary, it’s a good idea to give the bulb time to heal from the cut before putting it in the soil. That said, this likely won’t affect the bulb’s growth too much.

If you want to propagate a caladium plant that’s already sprouted and grown leaves, cutting the bulb in half will be much easier, as you can more easily see the buds where the stems are growing from.

Check out this helpful YouTube video by Gardening with Johnson Engleng that shows how to cut a bulb in half from a plant that’s already grown:

The Optimal Time for Cutting Caladiums

The timing of cutting caladiums depends on where you live and your hardiness zone. In general, when propagating, it’s essential to cut the bulbs during the plant’s growing season, which is typically in the spring, especially if you’re doing it for propagation. Therefore, you can plant the cut bulb together for more plants and fuller growth.

Enhancing Caladium Fullness

Like with most plants, one of the most reliable ways to make caladiums bigger is to cut parts of them. While this typically consists of cutting leaf stems or “leggy” stems to encourage more growth, with caladiums, it’s recommended that you cut the tubers.

You can make caladiums fuller by “scarring the eyes” of the bulb. Scarring the eyes consists of cutting the tip of each bud (including the large, central bud) to encourage more sprouting — leading to bigger, fuller growth in the plant.

As long as you don’t cut the bulb too deep, the bulb should be fine. Therefore, don’t stress if you think you cut too much out. The bulbs are durable and will still sprout leaves.

If you’re more of a visual learner, I suggest you check out this helpful YouTube video by OKGardeningClassics:

Caladium Bulb Care Tips

As I’ve repeatedly emphasized throughout this article, cutting caladium bulbs in half is an excellent way to propagate the plant. 

If you’re interested in caladium plants, here are some general care tips to keep in mind:

Sanitize Gardening Tools

When cutting bulbs, it’s crucial that gardening tools, including shears or knives used, are sanitized. Using dirty gardening tools with the bulbs can introduce disease to the plants.

Prune Smaller Buds

As mentioned, “scarring” the buds will allow the bulb to produce more leaves, making the plant much fuller.

Moderate Watering

While the soil should be moist, overwatering the soil (and the bulb) can easily lead to bulb rot, which can kill the bulb. It’s better to underwater than overwater caladiums, as it’s easier to pour in more water than remove excess moisture from the soil.

Know Your Hardiness Level Zone

Familiarize yourself with your area’s hardiness zone to plant your bulbs at the right time and care for them effectively.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, dividing caladium bulbs by cutting them in half is a beneficial practice, primarily for propagation.

By following the proper techniques and considering the best time to divide, you can enjoy the beauty of these plants in your garden, with the added advantage of fuller growth and more plants to enhance your landscape.

Dr. Moritz Picot

Dr. Moritz Picot is a horticulture enthusiast and the founder of TheGrowingLeaf.com, where he serves as the lead content writer. He established the website in 2022 as a valuable resource for both gardening aficionados and beginners, compiling all the gardening tips he has accumulated over the past 25 years. Alex has a passion for nurturing plants, transforming backyards into inviting spaces, and sharing his knowledge with the world.

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