Caladium in the Lawn

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

You know, I’ve never much cared for caladium. They’ve always been a “whatever” plant in my book, a humdrum bit of foliage most often seen crammed into decorative baskets and seasonal greenhouse exhibits. Who cares? (Perhaps many of you. In which case, I’m a monster and a tasteless fool. Sorry.)

In all honesty, my eyes pretty much just skimmed over them, even during desperate mid-winter greenhouse trips when I was literally scratching at the walls for some greenery. Even then they just barely registered on my visual radar.

I’d sooner cuddle up to a massive pachypodium with deadly spines or grow a circle of impatiens surrounded by ring of decorative plastic edging before I’d go for a caladium.

That’s just how it was for me back then.

But somehow all of that changes when you see one growing up through a lawn in St. Lucia. Suddenly, you find yourself exclaiming out loud, Hey, look at that!

The next thing you know, you see a small caladium with bright, variegated leaves growing between the rows of raised beds on an organic farm and you think to yourself, Gee, that’s kind of interesting. You mention it to other gardeners as if you’re the first person in the world to have discovered that caladiums sort-of, maybe aren’t that bad after all. You even consider for a moment whether it would be possible to smuggle one home in your suitcase, a distinction reserved for only the most exciting plants because face it, you don’t have the guts or wherewithal to pull that off.

(I’m one of those people who gets really sweaty, forgetful and nervous going through customs for no reason at.)

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

Before the trip is out you find yourself regretting all of the photos you DIDN’T take of caladiums, all the times you passed one over for a ginger or a poinsettia. Major oversight.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

And suddenly, without your consent, you don’t even seem to mind the most fakey fake, over-the-top, completely classless varieties with cheesy names like ‘Fantasy’, ‘Miss Muffett’, and ‘White Christmas.’

And you can’t help but wonder, Who have I become?

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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14 thoughts on “Caladium in the Lawn

  1. Tropicals are glorious in the wild and out of decorative pots in the bland office setting. Your customs story reminds me of how I successfully smuggled a large rain forest rock covered with moss from Puerto Rico to Florida…evil!

  2. That photo of the lawn reminds me of when my mom got frustrated with her Tradescantia pallida growing in the living room, threw it out onto the back lawn, my dad ran it over with the lawn mower which put bits of it everywhere – within a few weeks this purple tropical plant was sprouting up everywhere in that back area of the lawn. Winter killed it, but it was pretty different to see a tropical plant naturalized into a Canadian lawn for a while.

  3. yes that caladium in the lawn is the weed of st lucia…….but wow what a nice weed………yes it grows on you….and I too have a greater respect for the caladiums of the world…..

  4. Beautiful caladiums in the photos. Have you seen the black variety??? I cannot remember the official name but my inspiration this year is a new border garden designed around black caladiums. Check them out on google!

  5. Of course you know why it’s not a good idea to sneak in alien species…. but seeing as the caladium is so well established here, with no detrimental effect, it probably wouldn’t matter.

    I looked at caladiums for those areas of our yard that are just too shady for much else, but I decided not to, just because I wasn’t so much for digging them up every year, since they can’t overwinter in our northern climes.

  6. Hello!
    I am also a blogger; I have noticed lately that many bloggers I read have started putting the name of their blog on their photographs (I assume to make suer to get at least SOME credit if it is used elsewhere by a drag-and-clicker)

    How it that done? I mean, How do you put the name of your blog on your photos?

    Thank you if you have time to answer this. If you don’t, no worries!

  7. I ‘experiment’ with caladium from year to year. The ones I like the best have lots of red in the leaves. I wanted to ask if you’d be interested in participating in the ‘garden bloggers sustainable living’ project I’m having on my blog. It’s in recognition of earth day. I include a give away with it, perhaps you or others you know might like to join in. Jan

  8. I live in Florida, where so many of the “tropical” houseplants sold throughout the United States are grown, and it always amazes me that people pay so much for things (Bromeliads, Air plants, Elephant Ears) that grow virtually wild down here.

    Of course, Caladiums can be had cheaply at the end of the year sales when the rest of the country is just digging them up to store them for the winter. Last year, I got a box of 200+ bulbs for 20 bucks, shipping included. I pretty much just threw them out into the yard and voila, instant color.

  9. Whenever I’m fortunate enough to visit the tropics and I see Caladiums et al growing outdoors, my constant refrain is “hey, that’s a houseplant!” It really changes my perspective when I see some straggly vine that struggles to grow in my office cubicle, and in the jungle it’s climbed up a 5-story tall palm tree.

  10. heh… that was really funny! I feel that way about a lot of plants, including geraniums (but they’re excellent when planted french-style)

  11. what a wonderful weed! Folk pay alot of money in the UK to have that weed grow in their homes. I love the coloured foliage………. only I am prone to overwater them.

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