Sunday, February 9, 2014


CALADIUM PLANTS (Colocacia esculenta) are popular plants. Colocasia esculenta is a common to be grown all over the world both as an ornamental plant and as a food source. Highly variable, the species can produce many leaf forms and sizes. The species is so variable it has acquired a long list of scientific names such as Giant Elephant Ear, Elephant Ear, Elepaio, Black Magic, Taro, Wild Taro, Dasheen, Dachine, Black Taro, Dalo, Eddo, Eddoe, Edda, Eddy Root, Green Taro, Coco Yam, Kalo, Callaloo, Poi, Katchu, Potato of the Tropics, in Australia Djamandarr and in Ecuador Papachina). But there is only one basionym, a single base species name: Colocasia esculenta. As both an agricultural and an ornamental species, I noticed that there are well over 200 known cultivars of Colocasia esculenta. Many are preferred for their edible tubers (often incorrectly called a corm or bulb) and leaves while others are grown strictly for their foliage. For those that have learned to use the term "corm", most botanist insists no form with an underground stem grows from anything other than a tuber. The species has so many variations that many different forms are currently being grown in Malaysia and other tropical countries alone. This article I would like to share in "Anim Agro Technology" some basic information on growing caladium plants as ornamentals plants.

Growing Requirements for Caladium Plants
Caladiums are easy to grow plants, but they tend to be fussy about their growing conditions. Primarily, they like heat, plenty of moisture and relatively high humidity. Most varieties of Caladium prefer to grow in a partially shaded area of the garden, but will tolerate morning sun. Caladiums are hardy in our Malaysian climate throughout years. In our Malaysian condition, Caladiums can be planted directly in the garden where they can be left permanently. In cool regions they should be potted and started indoors. When the soil temperatures rises to 70 degrees, move the plant directly into the garden. An alternative method is to sink the pot up to the rim in the garden for easy removal. Caladiums can also be grown in containers, as house plants. In the house, keep them in a bright (not sunny) location, or grow them under artificial 'Grow Lights'. The caladium are the most suitable ornamental plants for air condition space as found in private and most governments office.

How to Plant Caladium Tubers
The knobby side of Caladium tuber should be planted upward. The leaves emerge from the eyes (knobs) and the roots grow from the top of the tuber. (Don't worry if you planted the tuber upside down, Caladiums will orient themselves and grow to the surface anyway, but they will take a little longer to show). Plant the tuber in rich, well draining soil so that the top of it is two inches below the surface. Provide plenty of water and warmth, and the sprouts will begin to emerge in 4-6 weeks. Feed lightly every 6 weeks when actively growing, using a liquid 6-6-6 fertilizer. If necessary, the leaves can also be removed by cutting them off 1/2 inch from the tuber. Store the tubers in a flat of peat moss or vermiculite in a warm, well ventilated area. Check periodically for softness or rot and discard any bad tubers. If the bulbs begin to shrivel, add a very small amount of water to the storage medium. Replant them again in the spring. Caladium tubers can be cut with a sterile knife to produce new plants. For best results, each cutting should contain at least two 'eyes'. 
Are caladium plants secure?
All forms of Colocasia esculenta contain calcium oxalate crystals just like all other aroid genera including Philodendron. If you read many child care and pet sites on the internet you'll often find this plant product is claimed to be a "deadly poison". It is possible for calcium oxalate crystals to burn your lips and throat but someone better explain that it is a "deadly poison" to the people of the Caribbean, South America, Central America, Hawaii, Polynesia and Asia since they eat it daily!. Scientific sources say cooking has nothing to do with destroying the "poison". Leland explains further, "Kalo has two types of calcium oxalate crystals, or idioblasts, a needle-like raphides and club-like druses. It is believed that the raphides cause the mucous membrane irritations and skin dermatitis. I can speak from personal experience that eating raw kalo, leaves or tubers, is not recommended. It is as if one ate fiberglass. Another warning is Agave species have these raphides and I can attest to the extreme skin dermatitis from the sap of manifests in intense itching and is a torture, that can last for many days in some people. In short, although spinach has calcium oxalate crystals, there is no comparison between them. I eat raw spinach often, but raw kalo, never. Cooked kalo is one of my favorite foods, both leaves and tubers. Poi is the mashed tuber and is delicious in my mind. It has been compared to library paste but some luaus cut their poi with flour and it does taste bad. The variety of kalo also determines the taste.


M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Taman Seribu Bunga,
Air Keroh, Bandar Melaka,
Melaka, Malaysia.
(12 Rabiulakhir 1435H)


  1. Caladium is my favourite plant although the plant does not appear to consider me as its favourite carer ... but i am hopeful that my collection will grow insyaAllah.

    terima kasih for very imformative blog. i found it by chance while looking for cool kangkung :)

  2. Salam

    Encik ada menanam pokok agave sisalana?

  3. It's so hard to find and even harder to grow!