On Gardening: Heart to Heart ignites a fiery revival in caladiums

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The last few years have been like a revival of the gardening spirit when it comes to The Gardening Guy and caladiums. In the ’90s I went bonkers planting caladiums and impatiens as partners, and suddenly I stopped. I can’t even remember why. Now I am clowning around with caladiums.

That was a little tongue and cheek — the truth is that I have discovered Heart to Heart Clowning Around caladiums. When my bulbs came in, I repeated my process from last year. I got my Twist ‘n Plant auger attached to my cordless drill and planted 40 bulbs in just a couple of minutes. If you ever try this auger — not only with bulbs, but also with the pots most petunias and such are grown in — you will be hooked.

The old saying “a watched pot never boils” can also be reworked to “a watched caladium bulb never sprouts.” I said to myself, “Now I know what they were named Clowning Around. They are down in my bed playing caladium games.”

The real reason is soil temperatures stayed cool for a lot longer than normal, which delayed the sprouting. They are now growing like they are on steroids.

Heart to Heart Clowning Around is considered a shade to part shade caladium. It is a fancy-leaf variety with clear bright rose-pink veins, cream orange areas surrounding and between veins with olive green, often raised areas on the edge giving the plant an interesting, textured appearance similar to one of its parents, Twist and Shout.

Producers will tell you caladiums are like Forrest Gump’s reference to how “life was like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.” Over a long season of shifting light, temperatures and maturity, caladiums have a lot of looks to enjoy in the growing experience. That being said, my Heart to Heart Clowning Around caladiums are in a little more sun, and they’re absolutely electrifying.

I have them partnered with Surefire Cherry Cordial begonias, Royal Hawaiian Maui Gold elephant ears and Luminary Sunset Coral tall garden phlox. I referenced it on my Facebook post as “Good Laudy This is Getting Gaudy.” It is, and it is so fun and colorful.

I am also growing another one that’s new to me: Heart to Heart Raspberry Moon caladium. Right now, it is another that is not exactly what I had pictured — it’s better, and I think I have fallen head over heels for it.

It is another fancy-leaf type recommended for shade to part shade. By fancy-leaf I am talking elephant ear-shaped versus the other class, called strap-leaf. The strap-leaf types are beautiful but have more narrow leaves.

Heart to Heart Raspberry Moon leaves are described as light green with raspberry pink centers. Be still my heart. Mine are light or pale lime green with artist-like strokes of dark green and slightly more brush-like strokes of dark raspberry. These seem like random colors, as if unplanned and never to be duplicated. I have mine paired with the award-winning Shadowland Coast to Coast host with chartreuse leaves, Shadowland Empress Wu with blue leaves and a 4-foot-tall golden leaf evergreen anise.

The Heart to Heart Collection now has 29 varieties. The breeders have already done more than I could have ever dreamed. The Heart to Heart Burning Heart with red foliage defies logic. It is breathtaking in the sun, where it looks on fire, or in the shady part of the day when the red darkens and looks like it was found in the jungle.

Next year, a new variety, Heart to Heart Rain or Shine, will debut with color that is indescribable. I was trying to figure out what I would write and then found the Proven Winners description. It reads: “large heart-shaped leaves emerge in dramatic shades of deep bronze pink-red with soft pink speckles and black veining. In certain lights you might detect a hint of purple, too.” I can’t wait!

All I can say is, jump in and get your feet wet with Heart to Heart caladiums. The 29 varieties will take your breath away.


(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Norman Winter receives complimentary plants to review from the companies he covers.)