Choosing companion plants for caladium can seem like an imposing task because these vibrant, leafy plants are a natural focal point. Also known as elephant ears due to the size of the foliage, caladium certainly turns heads, but when paired with the right plants, you can easily create a stunning space that looks professionally designed.
Mature caladium plants can reach 12 to 30 inches tall, and leaves measure 6 to 12 inches wide. Rich, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH and full sun to partial shade are ideal. Caladium plants do bloom, although the flowers are not as showy as the leaves, which can be silver with burgundy veining, deep saturated red with dark green margins, flecks of red and bright green mixed together, or other combinations of red, pink, silver, and green.
Shrubs To Plant With Caladium
Plant caladium around weigela for a coordinated look. The pink, red, or white weigela flowers will stand out against the caladium foliage. After the flowers fade, the foliage will provide privacy and a consistent background for the caladium’s foliage. Mature weigelas can stand 6 to 10 feet tall, so plant them near the back of a bed or border and feature caladium in front.
Perennials To Plant With Caladium
The feathery foliage of wormwood provides a subdued contrast against the showy caladium foliage. Wormwood is a wonderful texture plant that grows as an evergreen or semi-evergreen in zones 3 through 8 and requires full sun. Choose a sun cultivar to pair with wormwood and plant them in a sunny position.
For shade caladium, hostas and ferns make lovely companions. Select from several varieties of hardy ferns such as maidenhair fern, cinnamon fern, lady fern, ostrich fern, and our favorite, autumn fern. These ferns can handle winter weather and will provide outstanding texture and color. All hosta varieties pair well with caladium and come in several foliage colors, textures and sizes.
Annuals To Plant With Caladium
Egyptian papyrus grass works well with caladium because it's all about texture. Thin, frilly foliage grows on top of tall stems that can reach up to 72 inches tall, depending on the cultivar. Both papyrus and caladium provide a lot of visual interest without interfering with one another.
Go big by planting colocasia, another elephant’s ear, in the same area to create an eye-catching display. Mix and match different varieties of caladium to introduce plenty of color. Another colorful option is to plant coleus with caladium. While coleus features a wider range of bold colors that will coordinate with caladium, the leaves are a different shape, allowing you to introduce a different scale and texture.
Best Companion Plants For Caladium in Containers
The dangling vines of dichondra create a curtain of green or silver foliage that makes a nice backdrop for the standout caladium leaves. Dichondra takes on the role of spiller in a container, allowing caladium to be the thriller. Display the container in an area that receives full to partial sun. Shamrock is another charming plant with unique foliage, and also features dainty flowers. The consistent color of the foliage will coordinate and anchor the caladium while working as a filler in the container.
Several euphorbia hybrids make fabulous container partners. These flowering annuals can reach 12 to 18 inches tall and feature narrow, sword-shaped foliage and dainty flowers. This annual is a good fit for caladium because it is highly adaptable and provides a nice contrast in texture and shape. The tiny blooms provide color and interest without overwhelming the container.
Plants Not To Grow With Caladium
Caladium naturally grows under the canopy of tropical forests in partial shade and in rich, moist soil. Newer cultivars have been developed that tolerate sun and heat, allowing a wider range of settings to grow caladium. When designing a planting with shade caladium, avoid using sun lovers like salvia, succulents, and lavender. In addition to their need for sun, these plants also prefer soil on the dry side and would languish if exposed to the continuous moisture needed to support caladium growth.
Best Plants To Grow With Caladium
Pick plants you like with similar care needs when choosing companion plants for caladium. Whether you want to feature caladium as the centerpiece or add more vibrant colors for a dramatic effect, you can achieve the desired look with the right plants. Wormwood and Egyptian papyrus provide texture against sun caladium, while coleus has excellent color options for shade caladium. Caladiums work well in container designs with companions such as annual euphorbia, dichondra, and sweet potato vine, providing a long season of foliage interest that will rival any flowering display.