Caladiums generally begin to decline in late September or October, and then it’s time to decide what you want to do with them. If the bed where the caladiums are planted will stay relatively undisturbed and continue to drain well, you may have luck by simply leaving the caladium tubers in the ground. Keep the area mulched this winter to protect the tubers. If your ground doesn’t freeze, they will probably survive and come back up next year and provide a beautiful display.
On the other hand, if your ground is going to freeze or if the bed tends to stay wet over the winter, you should take a few extra steps to protect them. Tubers will rot in wet, cold conditions, and a good freeze will likely kill them. It would be best to dig up and store them if you’re worried about their reemergence next spring.
STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO STORE CALADIUMS OVER WINTER
1. Caladiums should be dug when a number of leaves turn yellow and the foliage begins to look tired and falls over. Do not wait for all of the foliage to turn completely yellow or brown.
2. Use a shovel or a garden fork to lift the tubers, being careful not to damage them. Leave the foliage attached to the tubers, shake and brush off the soil.
3. Lay them out in a dry location sheltered from rain (in a garage, under a carport). Allow the foliage to dry for about two weeks until it is tan and papery in appearance.
4. After the two weeks, the foliage will easily separate from the tubers, leaving a cleanly healed scar. When they are dry, they are ready for storing over the winter.
5. Place the tubers in an old nylon stocking, a mesh bag (such as an onion sack), a paper bag or cardboard box. The idea is that the container should be able to “breathe.” Make sure you keep the tubers in a location where temperatures will stay above 70° F.
By taking these steps, your tubers should be safe and ready to replant next spring.