If the plant catalogs are to be trusted, the new It Girl for 2020 is the variegated caladium

variegated caladiums
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Variegated (“fancy-leaved”) caladiums have been popular houseplants for decades—they’re even in old houseplant books from the 1960s—but lately we’ve been seeing tons of them popping up on Instagram, in stunning colors and patterns. Growers like Proven Winners have a dozen or so new varieties of the showy aroid this year alone, ranging from dark red with green edges (‘Scarlet Flame’) to red-speckled white leaves with dark green edges and venation (‘Splash of Wine’). We’re keeping a keen eye on how Plantsagrammers respond, but in the meanwhile, here are some of the best variegated caladiums already available. Scroll to the bottom for care tips.

‘Strawberry Star’

Look at this dainty beaut of a plant! It’s as delicate as a cloud of cotton candy atop a hollow paper cone.

‘New Wave’

This is one variegated caladium that has it all. Between that leaf’s size and vibrant color, this variety is oh-so-dreamy.

‘Bicolor Florida Clown’

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They may as well have called this polka-dotted caladium ‘Willam H. Gacy’ because this clown has slayed me.

‘Seven of Luck’

The deep blood-maroon leaf and black veins on this Indonesian variegated caladium make it looks like something Dracula would grow.


Though this variety isn’t actually as spotted as its name implies, it’s still a lovely splash of deep green, baby pink, and creamy beige on a nice, broad leaf.

‘Thai Beauty’

Hot pink leaves with striking dark green and white venations—this intensity is what plant breeding is all about.

‘Aunt Dot’s Surprise’

Just kidding with that name, I don’t know what variety this is—it’s a mystery! ‘Miss Muffet’ looks similar, but with a pale green color and a blush of red at the base of the midrib. If you know what it is, send an email to garden@sunset.com and illuminate me!

Variegated Caladium Care Tips

These gorgeous variegated caladiums can be purchased as potted plants, but you might have better chances of finding them as tubers, through mail order (they’re much more shippable, for one thing). Cut larger tubers into chunks with a few eyes (the small pointy buds), then either pot them up indoors or plant them outdoors in the spring (in May for most of the West, mid-late June for cooler regions; they’re tropical and won’t grow in soil that’s colder than 70 degrees). They’ll be most vibrant if grown in partial shade (direct sun blasts them out). Give them rich, acidic soil (coffee grounds help) and keep them evenly moist, but don’t overwater them. Feed them with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer once a month during the growing season. At the end of the season, dig the tubers and let them dry out for a few weeks before moving them to cool, dry storage, like a kitchen cupboard. Caladium growers Happiness Farms warns not to let them get too cold during dormancy, or you risk slowing new springtime growth.