Caladium bicolor: Heart of Jesus

Family: Araceae
Common name: Heart of Jesus, Angel Wings, Caladium, Fancy leaf caladium, Artist’s pallet, Candidum, Elephant’s Ears, Exposition, Fancy-leaved Caladium, Malanga, Mother-in-law plant, Pai, Pink cloud, Stoplight, Taro, Texas wonder, Via, Via sori

Caladium bicolor or Heart of Jesus plants with colorful, vibrant foliage are ideal for home gardens, hedges, or even as indoor plants. There are many variants of Caladium plants, most of them growing to a height of 40-80 cms. These plants do not have distinct stems, the leaves grow directly from root tubers.

The most distinguishing characteristic of this plant is their brightly-colored leaves in a range of colors like white, green, pink, red and their variants. Some of them look hand painted, with green leaves having white or red patterns, or pink leaves with green borders. There are a variety of leaves with patterns, streaks, blotches or polka dots, all of them strikingly elegant and eye-catching.

Caladium leaves are mostly heart-shaped or arrow shaped, and the plants are divided into two types based on the leaves, Fancy-leaf and strap-leaf, distinguished by the shape and size of leaves.

The name Elephant ear plants are shared with other species like Xanthosoma, Alocasia and Colocasia, all of them belonging to the same family Araceae. Caladium plants produce spadix and spathe inflorescence and small berry-like fruits, which are quite inconspicuous compared to their showy leaves.

These plants are mostly grown as ornamental plants, that can make large centerpieces for your gardens. They are fast-growers, filling pots with their beautiful thick foliage. Caladium plants need regular watering especially when they are small. Underwatering can lead to drooping of leaves, since the petioles are tender and succulent.

Once established in the soil, they are tolerant of drought and poor nutrition. Parent plants produce small plants from rhizomes or root tubers, resulting large clumps or plants, especially when they are placed in the ground.

Belonging to the family Araceae, these plants have calcium oxalate crystals in their leaves, making them toxic to humans and animals alike. Contact with the sap may lead to skin irritations and allergies. Ingestion can result in nausea, vomiting, swelling of lips and tongue.

Propagation is from rhizomes, which can be cut from the parent plant and replanted. In cold weather, the rhizomes should be dug up and stored in a cool, dry place so that they can be replanted in warmer weather.