What's wrong with my caladium? | Common Problems with Growing Caladiums and How to Fix Them

Caladiums, known for their vibrant and colorful foliage, are a popular choice for gardeners looking to add a splash of color to their gardens or indoor spaces. However, these beautiful plants can present several challenges. Here is a list of common caladium problems and my tips for fixing them.

1. Caladium bulbs not sprouting

Problem: Caladium tubers sometimes fail to sprout, which can be due to improper storage, planting too deep, or unfavorable growing conditions.

Solution: Caladiums are summer bulbs, and will grow slowly when the weather is cooler. You'll need to err on the side of caution and keep your bulbs stored in a cool, dry place over winter and even spring. It's best to wait until the soil temperatures are consitantly above 21°C (70°F), as late as June or July, before planting the bulbs outside.

2. Brown spots on caladium leaves

Problem: Leaf burn in caladiums typically appears as brown or scorched edges on the leaves. This condition is often caused by exposure to direct sunlight.

Solution: Caladiums prefer bright, indirect light. If growing outdoors, plant them in a shaded area where they can receive filtered sunlight. For indoor plants, place them near a window that receives indirect light. Additionally, maintaining high humidity can help prevent leaf burn.

3. Insect infestation

Problem: Caladiums, particularly those in pots, are susceptible to common houseplant pests like aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs. These pests can suck the juice out of the leaves, particularly on new growth, leaving them discolored and deformed. This can be another cause of brown spots on leaves.

Solution: Keep a close eye on your caladium for signs of pests or disease, particularly on the bottom sides of the leaves. If you notice any, spray them with a mix of neem oil, unscented soap, and essential oils, preferably in the evening after the heat of the day has passed. If possible, keep the sick plant away from others, as infestations can spread quickly. 

3. Caladium leaves turning yellow

Problem: Yellowing leaves can signal overwatering or poor drainage. It can also mean your plant is already dying.

Solution: Make sure your caladiums are planted in the right type of soil. Wait until the top 2-3 centimeters of soil dry out between waterings.

Caladiums don't like overly wet conditions. If you're planting elephant ear bulbs in pots, as plants in pots, take extra care to avoid them becoming waterlogged by only using pots with drainage holes.

4. Root rot

Problem: Root rot is a common issue in caladiums, often caused by overwatering and poor drainage. It can present itself as wilting or yellowing leaves, or a foul smell.

Solution: Caring for caladiums is relatively straightforward, however, root rot is a common problem. You can try salvaging your caladium bulb by removing it from the soil, trimming off rotting areas, and leaving it out to dry. Be warned that sometimes, it might already be too late to save your plant.

5. Drooping caladium leaves

Problem: Drooping leaves can indicate several issues, including underwatering, overwatering, or stress.

Solution: Check the soil moisture level to determine if the plant needs water. Adjust watering habits accordingly. Ensure your elephant ears plant is in a location with consistent temperatures, ideally around 20-30°C (70-85°F) during the day and slightly cooler at night. It might also be a sign it's soon going into dormancy (late autumn).

6. Leaf spots on caladiums

Problem: Leaf spots on fancy leaved caladiums can be caused by fungal or bacterial infections, often appearing as brown or black spots on the leaves.

Solution: Cut off affected areas, quarantine your plant, and treat it with an organice fungicide solution. Note that some caladium varieties are more suseptible than others, but it's always a good idea to keep some distance between your plants to improve air circulation. Also, water the soil directly instead of getting the leaves wet. 


Caladiums are beautiful both as houseplants and outside, however they are not without a few challenges. Keeping a careful eye on your plant and understanding how to properly care for it are essential. Buy our caladium bulbs online now. Happy gardening!