How exciting! The 31st Annual Caladium Festival in Lake Placid, Florida, Caladium Capital of the World, will take place Friday, Saturday & Sunday, July 29-31, 2022. It’s an easy day trip from most of Florida and well worth the time and fuel to ride over to the middle of the State and take a gander where many of the world’s caladiums are grown. Whoo Hoo! It’s time for the caladium festival in Lake Placid!
Lake Placid, Florida, is the home of modern caladium production. More than 98 percent of the world’s caladiums are produced in central Florida. The 1940s saw the beginning of caladium production in Highlands County; now, there are over 1500 acres devoted solely to producing the colorfully-leafed treasures.
The annual festival celebrates the caladium, local Florida agricultural products such as grapes and wine, and an art competition. Festival highlights include bus tours of the caladium fields, arts and crafts booths, food and refreshment vendors, and live entertainment. The Lake Placid Caladium Artist Co-op, one of the most prominent artist co-ops in the Country, presents an art competition and display.
I love this festival. The trip to the middle of the State is short and takes you back in time. Be sure to plan time for the bus trip to the caladium fields and to see the famous Lake Placid murals or the mural gallery for an artistic look at Lake Placid.
I also love caladiums. It is an excellent plant for summer gardens and always seems to cool me off with its dependable colorful leaves. Caladiums grown today are hybrids of several species that are thought to be native to the tropical Americas, mainly Brazil. These bulbous (actually tuberous) plants prefer locations with consistently warm temperatures. The tuber should be planted when all danger of frost is over. Most caladiums are shade-loving plants and do best in the shade, filtered sun, or areas receiving morning sun and afternoon shade.
Plant new caladium tubers every year for the biggest leaves. Cover the tubers with 2 inches of soil and mulch the planting well. Irrigate if needed to keep the soil evenly moist. Apply fertilizer with care; too much nitrogen can cause excessively green leaves. Use a slow-release product if a soil test indicates the need for additional nutrients.
Some caladium cultivars have been bred with good tolerance for sunny locations. Generally speaking, caladiums with thick leaves and/or a strap leaf shape will tolerate full sun conditions. Use caladiums as bedding plants, either ground cover or bed edging, in containers and even hanging baskets.
Plan a day trip to the Caladium Festival, see some of the off-the-beaten-track of Florida, visit arts and crafts vendors, and gaze at lake Placid’s murals for a weekend to remember. For more information, visit the Caladium Festival website.
This column first appeared in the Treasure Coast Newspapers.