Garden Guru: Create the unexpected in your garden with Heart to Heart caladiums

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Credit: Chris Brown Photography

Credit: Chris Brown Photography

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Credit: Chris Brown Photography

Credit: Chris Brown Photography

Norman Winter is a horticulturist. He is a former director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens. Follow him on Facebook at Norman Winter “The Garden Guy.” See more columns by Norman at SavannahNow.com/lifestyle/home-garden/.

The Garden Guy made a trip across town to chat with son James and came away giddy on one hand and grumpy on the other because I had been scooped. I am used to being the dud when it comes to comparing my plant partnerships with his, but this time he showed me up with a new variety. I'm the new variety guy, not this whippersnapper, but he was grinning like the 'Cheshire Cat' with this year's new Heart to Heart Burning Heart caladium.

My first thought was how come I didn't have them? My second thought was there can't really be a caladium with that color. This caladium is a tropical flaming red with a few specks. It is a screaming red that says "look at me." How could I have missed it at the UGA trials? It scored 4.5 out of 5 throughout the entire season. I desperately want some, and you will too.

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Credit: Courtesy photo

Credit: Courtesy photo

Once again as is his nature, he taught me that it is the unexpected in the plant combinations that take your breath away.  In his design, he was closely pairing it with Shadowland Coast to Coast hostas.

This hosta's leaves are a brilliant golden chartreuse that creates a shocking color contrast of foliage making you wonder if you can capture the essence with the camera. In the bed he also used Graceful Grasses Prince Tut, Surefire begonias and Summer Wave torenia in the front of the border. As I left, he was flanking the bed with a large Mangave Catch a Wave on one end and a large Aztec King Mangave on the other end. I wanted to tell him, you can't do that.

Proven Winners introducing the Heart to Heart series of caladiums a couple of years ago got all of us out of our design rut. Sure, we felt bold combining caladiums with impatiens, bananas or elephant ears but who knew there were opportunities with Color Guard Yucca, perennial grasses and Unplugged So Blue salvia.

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Credit: Courtesy photo

Credit: Courtesy photo

The rebellious son saw the possibilities. With Heart to Heart caladiums, James went with that saying, "go big and bold or go home."

Outside of an office complex, he did just that: yuccas, perennial salvia, grasses, begonias with the eye-catching Heart to Heart Bottle Rocket and Heart to Heart Snowdrift caladiums. It was a good thing Dad wasn’t around to tell him that you can’t do that, it is not expected.

Even Dad, the old guy, can accidentally do the unexpected with Heart to Heart caladiums. Last year I planted Heart to Heart Tickle Me Pink caladiums with Hydrangea Wee Bit Giddy. Ooh, la-la - every squirrel finally gets an acorn!

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Credit: Courtesy photo

Credit: Courtesy photo

Growing Heart to Heart caladiums is so easy. You may have heard the old saying, "that plant is so easy to grow all you have to do is plant the green side up." Well, I am here to tell you when it comes to Heart to Heart caladium tubers all you have to do is plant the white side up. The bulbs have been painted showing you what side is up!

But this year it is even easier than that, as all of our garden centers have been selling container-grown plants. These you simply plant in your well-prepared bed and set them in the ground where the top of the root ball is even with the soil surface.

There are twenty-eight Heart to Heart caladiums to choose from with five new varieties introduced in 2022. Go to Heart to Heart Caladiums' website and you'll find detailed instructions on growing, storing for winter as well as help choosing the best ones for your amount of sun or shade. Know this, fertile, well-drained soil and you are in business.

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Credit: Courtesy photo

Credit: Courtesy photo

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Garden Guru: Create the unexpected in your garden with Heart to Heart caladiums