Monday, June 22, 2009

Random plant event: Caladium sprouts, finally

I have, like, no time to write this. We got a tornado warning last night, which was very exciting and all but turned out to be just one more in a long series of tornado teases. Good lightning, though. Better lightning work than I've seen in quite a while. Anyway. So because of that, and because we spent basically all afternoon shopping in Iowa City, I didn't have time to prepare a post, and this is being done at the total last minute before going to bed on Sunday night. So I'm sorry if, like, the quality isn't up to the usual standard because I thought I was going to be blown away by a gigantic sky death funnel.

The above is a fairly boring picture of a Caladium leaf sprouting. This is a big deal for me because I bought the bulbs forever ago, and then for one or another reason I couldn't plant them, and so they just sat around, being dry, for a long time before I finally said screw it, and planted them with my elephant ear (Alocasia?). I planted four, and this is the only one to come up, but that's still better than I was expecting. I'm feeling, overall, pretty bad at this whole outdoor gardening thing.

I think the variety name was 'Carolyn Wharton' or something like that. Not enough time to look it up.

Part of the aforementioned afternoon shopping was a trip to buy some actual live plants for my aquarium (something sword? Amazon sword?). I've tried live plants before, and it didn't work so well, but why fail at something once when you can fail at it more than once, right? Pictures to follow, maybe, if life ever stops being crazy. By now, it's getting kind of old, frankly.


Sunita said...

I think Mother Nature is in a teasing mood. I've been waiting for the monsoons to show up for what seems like forever!
Congratulations on your Caladium sprout. I'm very envious that you get named plants. Here if I go to a nursery, I'm just told "its a caladium" ... if I'm lucky!

GardenJoy4Me said...

Mr. S
The weather is always a "hot" topic but to be close to tornadoes is a very scary thing .. I have been watching the skies for clouds .. when they are intensely defined and contrast is high against the sky and other clouds .. well it sends a ripple up my spine .. you just never know what will brew in them !
I don't have a caladium but they are remarkable plants .. they don't look real to me ? LOL

ScottE. said...

I planted 6 bulbs a few months...april sprouted about a month after planting...and nothing...last week, the remaining 5 all sprouted and over the weekend, they began to unfurl their giant leaves! It's all very exciting, especially after I had given up hope that the other five would never grow!

sheila said...

FWIW, I have much better luck with caladiums if I can start them indoors in a really, really warm spot. They sprout and grow a LOT faster.

Karen715 said...

I planted my Caladium corms/bulbs/tubers/whatever-the-hell they are months ago, and they are just beginning to sprout now as well, so it isn't you. Same thing happened last year.

BTW, sir, are you mad? It sounds like you actually want to have a tornado. We had sirens the other day,(a tornado was spotted just barely south of here) and I was a nervous wreck for hours. It is a testament to my love for my husband that I was willing to move to an area where it is not only gets colder in winter than I previously considered tolerable, but where tornadoes are a common threat as well.

HappyHermit said...

our town sirens went off and onn for a good portion of the night so I understand you there. Love to see you caladium , mine are just now coloring up (well de coloring , they are white).

With aquarium plants , I have had a horrible time with anything but a very well aged aquarium (left untended for a long time with soft water). Since we moved to IC I havn't been able to keep ANY plants alive at all because of the hard Water.

mr_subjunctive said...


BTW, sir, are you mad? It sounds like you actually want to have a tornado.

I do! But I have some fairly specific conditions:

1) The tornado must not harm me, the husband, Nina, the house, or any of the plants.
2a) The tornado must not harm anybody else, their families, pets, homes, or any of their personal belongings.
2b) Except maybe for small amounts of field crops, preferably those which weren't doing so well to begin with.
2c) Also I wouldn't cry over a few dead wild animals here or there, especially deer or mosquitoes.
3) The tornado must be close enough that I can see some detail, but not so close that it puts me in any danger.
4) The tornado must stay in clear view for its entire lifespan, must occur during daylight hours, and must not churn up so much dirt and debris that the funnel itself is obscured.

So, you see, part of the hoping to see one is hoping that I don't actually have to experience it directly.


But Iowa City actually has pretty soft water, I thought. (I know it's way softer than Coralville, or Lone Tree, for that matter.) In fact, one of the things I was least happy about, when I realized we'd be leaving Iowa City, was that I wasn't going to have Iowa City water anymore.

The selection of aquarium plants was really limited (I went to Coralville Bay.), so all I got was four Amazon swords (Echinodorus amazonicus), and from looking around on-line after I got home, I get the impression that they're not considered terribly difficult. So I'm hopeful this will work. Previously I'd tried some bulbs of something or other, that I'd gotten at Wal-Mart, which were supposed to sprout once they were placed in water but didn't. So at least this time I'm starting with some plants that already have leaves, and roots. Fingers crossed.

Sadie Scream said...

Light is usually the problem, You need at least 2 1/2 watts per gallon to grow amazon swords, other swords will need even more light. You can grow just about anything in 4 or 5 watts per gallon. If your using just gravel as a substrate (make sure its a finer grain or even sand) then you need to add liquid ferts to the water, which you can pick up at any pet store that sells fish.

And keep in mind that most aquarium plants are actually amphibious and are grown out of the water commercially, so it takes time for the plant to acclimate to completely submerged conditions.

go to for a wealth of info.

mr_subjunctive said...

Well, I had the light part covered just fine, I think -- not sure about the wattage, but I have a 20 gallon tank, and 50W is at least in the neighborhood for what I had. Unfortunately, I discovered yesterday when I was putting the new plants in, the cord for the light was cracked or cut or whatever in such a way that I was getting mild shocks when I put my hands in or out of the water, which means I had to take the light off.

Haven't had a chance to get a new one yet. I suppose this is sort of good timing, because now I have some idea of what I need to buy to replace it.

Andrew said...

I've grown many aquarium plants in some pretty hard water in very low light (far below 2W/gal - I find W/gal to be a fairly useless measure though on the whole as it doesn't take into account the output of different bulbs at a single given wattage i.e., T12 vs T5HO vs MH - also you can have over 5W/gal but it won't do a thing for you if your bulbs emit light at a spectrum that does not correspond with what plants use and so on.) so even if you don't have ideal conditions my guess is there'll still be something that will grow well for you

My #1 suggestion is to start with something fast in your tank rather than just "easy" plants such as anubias, cryptocoryne, swords, java fern etc. If you don't already have it add some Hygrophila corymbosa &/or H. polysperma and if you can find it Limnophila sessiliflora. Also starting off with aquatic plants in ones and twos is not the way to go, the more you have the easier it is to keep the system stable.

While I've only bought Caladiums as potted plants rather than as bulbs they definitely rate high in my favourite plants. (Can you tell though from above with anubias and cryptocoryne that I like pretty well most plants in the Araceae family? - once your aquarium is filled crypts and anubias both make great houseplants for a high humidity greenhouse environment.)