Caladiums are beautiful plants that you can continue to grow from the same bulb for several years. However, improperly storing the bulbs during wintertime will decrease their longevity and possibly cause them to die. So, how long can caladium bulbs be stored?
Caladium bulbs can be stored for several months when stored properly. It’s essential to keep the caladium bulbs at a temperature no less than 50°F (10°C) and in a container along with dry peat moss to prevent possible mold or other fungal diseases during storage.
The rest of this article will go over why you should store caladium bulbs, the advantages and disadvantages of storing them, and how to store them properly. I’ll also discuss when you should replant caladium bulbs after storing, the importance of understanding your hardiness zone, and how long caladium bulbs last.
Why Should I Store Caladium Bulbs?
While storing caladium bulbs isn’t necessary, there are many advantages to doing so. However, deciding whether or not you want to store caladium bulbs depends on if you like the plant and want to continue growing it in the next season.
You should store caladium bulbs because it allows you to grow more caladium plants in the next growing season. Leaving the bulbs out during the winter will cause them to die, especially if you’re in an area where the soil gets cooler than 70°F (21.1°C).
The area you live in is a significant factor in whether or not you should store your caladium bulbs. For example, areas with frigid temperatures in the winter should always store their bulbs, but areas where it gets cold, but not too cold, might not have to. However, I’ll get more into this later in the article.
In the following sections, I’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of storing caladium bulbs.
Advantages of Storing Caladium Bulbs
Here are some of the advantages of storing caladium bulbs:
- It allows you to grow caladium plants from the same bulbs.
- It keeps them safe over the cold, winter months.
- It saves money since you don’t have to buy new bulbs.
Disadvantages of Storing Caladium Bulbs
Here are some of the disadvantages to storing caladium bulbs:
- The bulbs can be challenging to store because of the necessary storage conditions.
- The bulbs die easily.
- Storing the bulbs takes more time, money, and effort.
How To Store Caladium Bulbs
Also referred to as “overwintering,” storing caladium bulbs is a common practice for many caladium plant lovers.
Storing caladium bulbs isn’t too challenging, as long as you have the suitable materials. However, incorrectly storing the bulbs can leave you with dead (or nearly dead) bulbs when it comes time to plant them again, so you must follow all of the necessary precautions, which may change depending on your location.
So, if you want to overwinter caladium bulbs, follow these steps:
- Wait until the weather reaches consistent temperatures below 70°F (21.1°C). You’ll most likely notice the caladium plant beginning to wilt or change colors, which signifies that the soil is too cold for the plant and bulb to survive.
- Dig the bulbs up. Be cautious while digging the bulbs so you don’t accidentally damage them.
- Put the bulbs in a dry, well-ventilated area. Allow the bulbs to dry in this area for around ten days.
- Fill a container with peat moss. Peat moss, or sphagnum, is excellent for conserving moisture and balancing pH – making it perfect for storing caladium bulbs over winter.
- After around ten days, apply a fungicide to the bulbs. Before applying a fungicide, ensure you clean off any debris, including dirt or leaves.
- Put the bulbs in the peat moss container. Ensure the bulbs don’t touch. Keep the container packed full of peat moss so the bulbs are separated enough that they don’t touch each other.
- Keep the container in an area of 50°F (10°C) or above. Too cold of temperatures can kill the bulbs, so it’s essential they’re kept in a place where this won’t happen.
Here are some places to consider when storing caladium bulbs:
- A heated garage
- A basement
- A pantry
- A closet
Can I Leave Caladium Bulbs in the Ground?
Digging up and storing caladium bulbs can be a process. So, if you live in a warmer area or just don’t feel up to the task, you’re probably wondering if it’s really necessary.
You can leave caladium bulbs in the ground if you live in an area where the winter doesn’t get especially cold. However, it’s essential that the bulbs aren’t planted where they could flood, as this can cause bulb rot.
If you do live in an area where the weather stays within decently warm temperatures in the winter(zone 9 -11), you can still leave the bulbs in the ground if you wish. However, if you do leave the bulbs in the ground, there are a few things you need to do to ensure your bulbs stay healthy through the winter:
- Cover the ground above the bulbs with three inches (7.62 cm) of heavy mulch.
- Ensure the ground isn’t in an area that easily floods.
- Ideally, you should check the soil temperature regularly to ensure it’s not too cold for the bulbs.
When Should I Replant My Caladium Bulbs?
If you decide to store your caladium bulbs, your next question is probably, “when can I replant them?” Unfortunately, there’s not a specific date to go by because even when new seasons arrive, the weather might not always match the season right away. So, when’s the best time to replant caladium bulbs?
You should replant your caladium bulbs in the spring; when the weather stays above 70°F (21.2°C). This is typically after the season’s last frost, as any colder weather won’t allow the bulbs to survive. However, you can plant bulbs indoors earlier and move them outdoors when weather permits.
Knowing when you should plant caladiums is essential, as planting them too early can result in poor (or no) growth. When in doubt, it’s best to plant the caladium bulbs too late rather than too early.
The area where you live will determine when you should replant your caladium bulbs and if you should even dig them up for the winter season. Therefore, understanding the hardiness zone you’re in is essential. Let’s get into this next.
Understanding Hardiness Zones
Hardiness zones help gardeners know which plants will survive (and thrive) in their location and which plants will most likely fail.
When it comes to caladium plants:
- Caladium plants are hardy in zones 9-11, meaning they will most likely thrive outside year-round.
- Caladiums in hardiness zones 3-8 will only survive outdoors when planted in late spring. This zone is considered “suitable,” but hardiness zones 9-11 are recommended for ideal results.
- And unfortunately, in hardiness zones 1 and 2, caladium plants most likely won’t survive at all.
If you’re unsure what your area’s hardiness zone is, check out the plant hardiness zone map here.
How Long Do Caladium Bulbs Last?
If you love your caladium plant and want to nurture the bulbs through the winter seasons to use again and again, it’s important to note that the same caladium bulbs won’t last forever. Unfortunately, these bulbs have an expiration date, no matter how well you take care of them. So, how long do they last?
Caladium bulbs last around three years. However, the bulbs’ longevity depends on the conditions it grows in and is stored in. If proper care is taken, the bulbs can last through about three seasons of growth before dying.
Some bulbs on the smaller side may not last as long as others, as they’re all unique. However, with the right amount of care and the proper storing, you can give your caladium bulbs the best chance at surviving for around three growing seasons.
How Do I Know if My Caladium Bulbs Are Still Good?
While storing caladium bulbs through the winter season is ideal, they sometimes don’t survive. Therefore, before planting them in your garden, it’s essential to know the signs of a good, healthy bulb and a diseased or rotted one. So, how do you know if your caladium bulbs are still good?
You’ll know if your caladium bulbs are still good by feeling the bulbs’ texture. If the bulbs are firm, they’re still good. However, if the bulbs are soft, mushy, overly dry, or severely damaged, they are dead or unusable.
Caladium bulbs can be stored for several months when they’re stored in the proper conditions and prepared correctly. This includes:
- Store the bulbs at a temperature above 50°F (10°C).
- Keep the bulbs in a dry, well-ventilated area.
- Put the bulbs in peat moss or some other moisture-conserving material.
- Apply fungicide to the bulbs.
Storing caladium bulbs is ideal if you live in a hardiness area of eight or below, as it will allow you to use the bulbs for the next few seasons.