On Gardening: Heart to Heart caladiums: Perfect dog days transformation

This year The Garden Guy went into the growing season with a twofold plan involving jumbo Heart to Heart caladium bulbs. Truly they have been among the stars of the hottest summer I can remember.

My plan was that I would plant half the bulbs in situ. (I always wanted to use that phrase.) This means I wanted to plant the bulbs in place, in planned beds. In all beds I used a Twist ‘n Plant auger attached to a cordless drill. This literally completes the job in just minutes; it is like speed planting.

Around a Windmill Palm, I planted 40 Heart to Heart Clowning Around bulbs in four quadrants, each also having Royal Hawaiian Maui Gold elephant ears and Luminary Sunset Coral phlox.

Heart to Heart Clowning Around is absolutely riotous in a color arrangement that no artist could duplicate. This was a Top Performer Award Winner at the Cincinnati Zoo and at The Garden Guy’s house, too. It is recommended for part shade to shade. Mine is getting a little more sun than that, and they have been spectacular, other than that is where the chipmunk hides from Tootie the Bichon/Havanese hunter.

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On a slope in a shadier area, I planted 20 jumbo Heart to Heart Dawn to Dusk caladiums with Soprano Orange and new Soprano Salmon Impatiens. Next to the impatiens, blue Let’s Dance hydrangeas serve as a scenic backdrop. Heart to Heart Dawn to Dusk is considered a shade caladium and has a burnt orange patch in the leaf that echoes nicely the orange in the impatiens.

One of my favorite beds of the summer was created with a meandering patch of the red Heart to Heart Burning Heart between variegated SunPatiens and ColorBlaze Wicked Witch coleus. They laughed at the triple-digit temperatures and looked lush and tropical all summer.

I planted another 80-plus bulbs in 4-inch containers that I had saved. I planted Heart to Heart Raspberry Moon, Heart to Heart Flatter Me and Heart to Burning Heart knowing they would all play a vital role, but I just wasn’t sure where or, in some cases, even when.

In late June and early July, some containers got weak-looking from the intense heat, and even more so after some heavy trimming on petunias, calibrachoas and verbenas. So, a quick fix or pick-me-up for the containers while everything is growing back was to simply drop in a caladium.

A container with Heart to Heart Burning Heart caladiums here and there and the addition of Flatter Me caladiums in several mixed container designs were such stunning impromptu solutions. One aspect caught me totally by surprise, and that was the pristine white blooms of the Heart to Heart, Flatter Me caladiums. My whole gardening life I have cut them off as they develop, but they said, “Whoa, look at me.”

Heart to Heart caladiums are the perfect beautification transformation for the dog days of summer, in the landscape and mixed containers, too. By the way, the dog days technically ended Aug. 11.

Follow Norman Winter on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.