‘UF 85-5’: A Spotted Caladium Cultivar for Use in Containers and Sunny Landscapes

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  • 1 University of Florida/IFAS, Department of Environmental Horticulture, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, 14625 County Road 672, Wimauma, FL 33598

Caladiums (Caladium ×hortulanum Birdsey, Araceae Juss.) are tropical ornamental aroids. They are often forced as potted plants and grown in the landscape to provide color (Evans et al., 1992). A great majority of caladium plants in the floriculture trade are propagated from tubers. More than 95% of the caladium tubers used in the world comes from central Florida (Bell et al., 1998; Deng et al., 2008). Many existing commercial caladium cultivars show attractive coloration patterns but have poor pot or landscape performance and/or poor tuber yield. ‘Marie Moir’ is an example of this type of cultivar (Wilfret and Hurner, 1982). Its leaves are very attractive in coloration (white face with dark green veins and numerous red spots) but are few in number, resulting in poor pot or landscape plants unsatisfactory for commercial or homeowner acceptance. Additionally, its field production of tubers has been unstable over the years (Terri Bates, personal communication), thus tuber growers cannot profitably grow the cultivar.

‘UF 85-5’ is a fancy-leaved cultivar with a primarily white leaf face and attractive red spots (Figs. 1 and 2). It is similar to ‘Marie Moir’ in leaf color and coloration pattern but different from ‘Marie Moir’ in petiole color (green versus brown on ‘Marie Moir’). ‘UF 85-5’ is distinct from ‘Cranberry Star’, a cultivar released by this breeding program in 2007 and developing burgundy/purple spots on leaves (Deng et al., 2008). ‘UF 85-5’ sprouted earlier, produced higher quality pot plants, and showed better performance in the landscape than ‘Marie Moir’ and is improved over ‘Marie Moir’ in tuber yield. ‘UF 85-5’ is much improved over ‘Cranberry Star’ in sunburn tolerance and landscape performance. These improvements make ‘UF 85-5’ an ideal replacement for ‘Marie Moir’ and an additional sun-tolerant cultivar for the landscape palette.

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

Leaves of ‘UF 85-5’ grown in the ground bed in full sun. Tuber pieces were planted in Apr. 2009 and photograph was taken in Sept. 2009.

Citation: HortScience horts 46, 9; 10.21273/HORTSCI.46.9.1326

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

Plant of ‘UF 85-5’ forced in a small square container (11.4 cm wide at mouth) from one de-eyed No. 1 tuber (2.54 cm in diameter). The plant was grown in the greenhouse with 35% light exclusion. Photograph was taken 9 weeks after the tuber was planted.

Citation: HortScience horts 46, 9; 10.21273/HORTSCI.46.9.1326

Origin

‘UF 85-5’ was derived from a cross made in 2000 between ‘Summer Rose’ and ‘Florida Fantasy’ (Fig. 3) and selected out of a population of progeny in 2001. ‘Summer Rose’ was released in 2005 (Deng and Harbaugh, 2006). It was progeny of ‘Aaron’ and a breeding line UF-FCT that resulted from a cross between ‘Fire Chief’ and ‘Torchy’. ‘Florida Fantasy’ was selected from progeny of a cross between ‘Candidum Junior’ and ‘Red Frill’ and released in 1990 (Wilfret, 1991). It has been in commercial production in Florida since then. The ancestry of ‘Aaron’, ‘Candidum Junior’, ‘Fire Chief’, ‘Red Frill’, and ‘Torchy’ is unknown.

Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.

Pedigree of ‘UF 85-5’.

Citation: HortScience horts 46, 9; 10.21273/HORTSCI.46.9.1326

Description

Descriptions of color (e.g., RHS 200B) for plant parts are based on comparison with the Royal Horticultural Society Color Chart (Royal Horticultural Society, 1986). Plants used for describing color were grown in 20.3-cm containers in a ≈30% shaded greenhouse from No. 1 (3.8 to 6.4 cm) intact tubers.

Leaves are peltate, sagitate–cordate, and have palmate–pinnate venation. The upper leaf surface has a green (RHS 137C) margin bordering the entire leaf, several green (RHS 137A) main veins, and numerous secondary green (RHS 137A) veins, which are netted over the whole leaf blade. Interveinal areas are mostly green–white (RHS 157D). Red (RHS 46A) spots occur between main veins in the range of 10 to 30 per fully developed leaf. The undersurface has a yellow–green (RHS 145D) undertone with heavily netted veins of grayed green (RHS 191A). Primary veins are grayed green (RHS 193D) at the basal notch and darkened to grayed green (RHS 193A) near the tip of the leaf. Spots are grayed purple (RHS 184C) and vary in size. Petioles are 3 to 5 mm near the apex and 5 to 10 mm near the base (in diameter). The prominent petiole color is yellow–green (RHS 144C to 145D) with streaks of grayed brown to brown (RHS 199C to 200B). Jumbo-sized (6.4 to 8.9 cm in diameter) tubers have multiple segments and bear four to six dominant buds. The tuber surface is brown (RHS 200B to 200D) and the cortical area is yellow (RHS 13B).

Performance

‘UF 85-5’ was evaluated for tuber production and plant performance under field conditions at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma, FL, in 2005 and 2006. The soil was an EauGallie fine sand with ≈1% organic matter and pH between 6.2 and 7.4. Plants were grown in a plastic-mulched raised-bed system with a constant water table maintained through seepage irrigation (Geraldson et al., 1965). In 2005, ground beds were fumigated on 25 Feb. with a mixture of 67% methyl bromide and 33% chloropicrin (by volume) at the rate of 392 kg·ha−1. In 2006, the beds were fumigated on 10 Mar. with the same fumigant mixture but at the rate of 196 kg·ha−1. The raised beds were 91 cm wide and 20 cm high. Caladium seed pieces (cut tuber propagules, ≈2.5 cm) were planted in early to mid-April with 15-cm in-row and between-row spacing. Osmocote 18N–2.6P–10K 8–9 month controlled release fertilizer (Scotts Co., Marysville, OH) was manually applied to the bed surface when caladium shoot tips were emerging from the soil with N at 336 kg·ha−1. At the end of the growing season, tubers (new crop) were harvested in late November (2005 season) or mid-December (2006 season). Harvested tubers were washed and dried before they were weighed, counted, and graded. Tuber grading was by maximum diameter: No. 2 (2.5 to 3.8 cm), No. 1 (3.8 to 6.4 cm), Jumbo (6.4 to 8.9 cm), Mammoth (8.9 to 11.4 cm), and Super Mammoth (greater than 11.4 cm). Based on the number of tubers in each of the five grades, a production index was calculated [N (No. 2) + 2N (No. 1) + 4N (Jumbo) + 6N (Mammoth) + 8N (Super Mammoth), where N = number of tubers in each grade] to determine the relative economic value of the harvested tubers.

In both 2005 and 2006, field plots were organized in three randomized complete blocks, and each plot was 1.2 m2 with 30 plants. Three commercial cultivars, Candidum, Marie Moir, and Miss Muffet, were included in the experiment for performance comparison. ‘Candidum’ was the No. 1 or No. 2 best-selling caladium cultivar (Bell et al., 1998; Deng et al., 2008) and shares a similar coloration pattern to ‘UF 85-5’ except for not having colored spots on leaf blades. As mentioned, ‘Marie Moir’ is the closest to ‘UF 85-5’ in leaf coloration among commercial cultivars. ‘Miss Muffet’ was included because it was a popular spotted cultivar. An analysis of variance was conducted using the GLM procedure in the SAS program (SAS Institute, 2009) to compare the performance of ‘UF 85-5’ with that of these commercial cultivars.

‘UF 85-5’ was significantly more productive than ‘Candidum’ and ‘Miss Muffet’ in both 2005 and 2006 growing seasons. Its average tuber weight was 115% (2005) and 83% (2006) greater than that of ‘Candidum’ and 75% (2005) and 103% (2006) greater than that of ‘Miss Muffet’; its production index was 66% (2005) and 53% (2006) higher than that of ‘Candidum’ and 49% (2005) and 65% (2006) higher than that of ‘Miss Muffet’; and its number of marketable tubers was 50% (2005) and 44% (2006) larger than that of ‘Candidum’ and 36% (2005) and 28% (2006) larger than that of ‘Miss Muffet’ (Table 1). ‘UF 85-5’ showed good consistency in tuber weight, number of marketable tubers, and production index between growing seasons, whereas ‘Marie Moir’ had poor consistency between growing seasons in tuber production. ‘Marie Moir’ yielded similarly well with ‘UF 85-5’ in 2005 but yielded poorly compared with ‘UF 85-5’ in 2006—≈33% less than ‘UF 85-5’s tuber weight and production index and only ≈50% of ‘UF 85-5∋s number of marketable tubers. These results are similar to growers’ reports of ‘Marie Moir’ over years; that is, “Marie Moir’ is not a dependable cultivar from year to year and many growers no longer produce it because it is unprofitable when it yields poorly.

Table 1.

Tuber weight, production index, marketable number, and grade distribution of ‘UF 85-5’ and three commercial caladium cultivars (2005 and 2006).z

Table 1.

Landscape performance of ‘UF 85-5’ grown under full-sun conditions was evaluated in 2005 and 2006 in the same plots used for evaluating tuber production. ‘Cranberry Star’ was also included with ‘Candidum’, ‘Marie Moir’, and ‘Miss Muffet’ for comparison with ‘UF 85-5’ in these tests. The overall plant performance was rated multiple times (June, July, and August) in each growing season, on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being very poor (few leaves and lack of vigor) and 5 being excellent (full plants, numerous leaves, and bright color display). Similarly, leaf sunburn tolerance was also evaluated multiple times in each growing season on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being very susceptible to sunburns and showing numerous sun-damaged areas or holes on leaves and 5 being resistant to sunburns and not showing any sun-damaged areas. At ≈4 months after planting, plant height, number of leaves, and foliar characteristics were measured.

Plants of ‘UF 85-5’ and ‘Cranberry Star’ were 9 to 13 cm taller and developed significantly more (≈100%) leaves than ‘Candidum’ and ‘Marie Moir’ (Table 2). Leaf sizes were similar among all cultivars tested, except for ‘Miss Muffet’, a known dwarf cultivar, which was approximately half the size of other cultivars. Plants of ‘UF 85-5’ performed well in the landscape with performance ratings between 3.6 and 4.8, similar to ‘Cranberry Star’, but significantly higher than those of ‘Candidum’ (1.7 to 3.1), ‘Marie Moir’ (1.4 to 3.3), and ‘Miss Muffet’ (1.5 to 2.4). ‘UF 85-5’ received the highest sunburn tolerance ratings in all the evaluations in each growing season, indicating better or significantly better sun tolerance in this cultivar in comparison with the commercial cultivars and potential for use in sunny locations in the landscape (Fig. 1). Although ‘UF 85-5’ showed a high level of similarity to ‘Cranberry Star’, a recent release, in plant height, leaf number, and leaf size, ‘Cranberry Star’ was very susceptible to leaf damage in full sun and thus limited to use in shady locations (Table 2).

Table 2.

Plant characteristics, performance, and sun tolerance of ‘UF 85-5’ and four commercial caladium cultivars.z

Table 2.

The suitability of ‘UF 85-5’ for container forcing was evaluated by forcing tubers in 11.4-cm containers. No. 1 tubers of ‘UF 85-5’, ‘Cranberry Star’, ‘Marie Moir’, and ‘Miss Muffet’ were planted either intact or de-eyed in a peat/vermiculite mix (VerGro Container Mix A; Verlite, Tampa, FL) on 26 Mar. 2007. The study was conducted in a greenhouse with 45% light exclusion. Temperatures in the greenhouse ranged from 16 to 32 °C during the experiment. Potted plants were arranged on metal benches in the greenhouse in 10 randomized complete blocks. Plant height, number of leaves, and foliar characteristics were recorded 8 weeks after planting.

Tubers of ‘UF 85-5’ sprouted in 30 d (intact) or 32 d (de-eyed) after planting, similar to plants of ‘Miss Muffet’ and ‘Cranberry Star’ but 4 to 9 d earlier than plants of ‘Marie Moir’ (Table 3). Container-grown plants of ‘UF 85-5’ were 19 to 22 cm tall, regardless of tuber treatment (intact or de-eyed), similar to plants of ‘Marie Moir’ and ‘Cranberry Star’ but significantly taller (5 to 8 cm) than plants of ‘Miss Muffet’. ‘UF 85-5’ produced an average of 12 leaves per intact plant 8 weeks after planting and 21 per de-eyed plant, similar to ‘Miss Muffet’ but significantly more than ‘Marie Moir’ or ‘Cranberry Star’. Leaves of ‘UF 85-5’ were significantly smaller than those of ‘Marie Moir’, especially when tubers were planted intact: ≈8 cm shorter and ≈6 cm narrower. When tubers were de-eyed, leaf size differences became smaller but might still be significant. With numerous medium-sized leaves, pot plants of ‘UF 85-5’ were significantly higher quality (3.4 to 4.4) than those of ‘Marie Moir’ (1.9 to 2.4). Pot plant quality ratings of ‘UF 85-5’ were similar to those of ‘Cranberry Star’ and ‘Miss Muffet’, which are known for their great pot habits. Tuber de-eyeing resulted in higher plant quality ratings for ‘UF 85-5’ (Fig. 2; Table 3).

Table 3.

Plant performance of ‘UF 85-5’ and three commercial cultivars grown from No. 1 tubers (3.8 to 6.4 cm in diameter) in 11.4-cm containers in a 45% shaded glasshouse, Wimauma, FL.z

Table 3.

Recommendation

‘UF 85-5’ sprouted 4 to 9 d earlier, produced higher quality pot plants, and performed better in the landscape than ‘Marie Moir’ and showed better sunburn tolerance than ‘Cranberry Star’. Additionally, ‘UF 85-5’ has shown improved tuber yield potential. In tuber forcing, ‘UF 85-5’ behaved like ‘Miss Muffet’ with a similar number of days to sprout, a similar number of leaves, more or less similar sizes of leaves, and similar plant quality, except that ‘UF 85-5’ is taller. Tuber de-eyeing seemed to be optional for pot plant production, but this practice improved the quality of pot plants. ‘UF 85-5’ showed excellent sun tolerance and produced a large number of leaves in sunny locations; thus, it is suitable for a wide range of locations in the landscape.

Although extensive research and evaluations of this cultivar have been performed on small acreages, tuber producers are encouraged to plant only limited quantities of ‘UF 85-5’ until having gained experience in producing this cultivar. Standard postharvest treatment of tubers is recommended (Harbaugh and Tjia, 1985) and pre-plant hot-water treatment of tubers (Rhodes, 1964) is encouraged to prolong the life of this cultivar.

Availability

A plant patent will be applied for ‘UF 85-5’ by the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station and production of this cultivar is to be with a licensing agreement with the Florida Foundation Seed Producers, Inc., P.O. Box 309, Greenwood, FL 32443. Information on tuber availability and propagation agreements can be obtained from the Florida Foundation Seed Producers, Inc.

Literature Cited

  • Bell, M.L., Wilfret, G.J. & DeVoll, D.A. 1998 Survey of caladium tuber producers for acreage of cultivars grown Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc 111 32 34

  • Deng, Z. & Harbaugh, B.K. 2006 ‘Summer Rose’—A fancy-leaved caladium for containers and landscapes HortScience 41 468 470

  • Deng, Z., Harbaugh, B.K. & Peres, N.A. 2008 ‘Cranberry Star’—A fancy-leaved caladium for containers and shady landscapes HortScience 43 252 254

  • Deng, Z., Harbaugh, B.K., Schoellhorn, R.K. & Andrew, R.C. 2008 2003 Survey of the Florida caladium tuber production industry Univ. of Fla./IFAS extension fact sheet, ENH 1007. 22 Aug. 2010. <http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/EP258>.

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  • Evans, M.R., Wilfret, G.J. & Harbaugh, B.K. 1992 Caladiums as potted and landscape plants IFAS, Univ. of Fla. Agr. Ext. Serv. Circ 1060

  • Geraldson, C.M., Overman, A.J. & Jones, J.P. 1965 Combination of high analysis fertilizers, plastic mulch and fumigation for tomato production on old agricultural land Proc. Soil Crop Sci. Soc. Fla 25 18 24

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  • Harbaugh, B.K. & Tjia, B.O. 1985 Commercial forcing of caladiums IFAS, Univ. of Fla. Agr. Ext. Serv. Circ 621

  • Rhodes, H.L. 1964 Effect of hot water treatment of seed tubers and soil fumigation for control of root knot on yield of caladiums Plant Disease Rptr. 8 568 571

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  • Royal Horticultural Society 1986 RHS Colour Chart Royal Hort. Soc. London, UK

  • SAS Institute 2009 The SAS system for Windows Release 9.2. SAS Inst. Cary, NC

  • Wilfret, G.J. 1991 Florida Fantasy, a multicolored caladium for containers Univ. Fla., Inst. Food Agric. Sci., Circular S-381 Gainesville, FL

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  • Wilfret, G.J. & Hurner, G.T. Jr 1982 A survey of caladium cultivars grown in Florida and their characteristics as potted plants Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc 95 190 194

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Contributor Notes

We thank Richard O. Kelly, Joyce Jones, Nancy West, and Gail Bowman for their excellent technical support.

To whom reprint requests should be addressed; e-mail zdeng@ufl.edu.

  • View in gallery

    Leaves of ‘UF 85-5’ grown in the ground bed in full sun. Tuber pieces were planted in Apr. 2009 and photograph was taken in Sept. 2009.

  • View in gallery

    Plant of ‘UF 85-5’ forced in a small square container (11.4 cm wide at mouth) from one de-eyed No. 1 tuber (2.54 cm in diameter). The plant was grown in the greenhouse with 35% light exclusion. Photograph was taken 9 weeks after the tuber was planted.

  • View in gallery

    Pedigree of ‘UF 85-5’.

  • Bell, M.L., Wilfret, G.J. & DeVoll, D.A. 1998 Survey of caladium tuber producers for acreage of cultivars grown Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc 111 32 34

  • Deng, Z. & Harbaugh, B.K. 2006 ‘Summer Rose’—A fancy-leaved caladium for containers and landscapes HortScience 41 468 470

  • Deng, Z., Harbaugh, B.K. & Peres, N.A. 2008 ‘Cranberry Star’—A fancy-leaved caladium for containers and shady landscapes HortScience 43 252 254

  • Deng, Z., Harbaugh, B.K., Schoellhorn, R.K. & Andrew, R.C. 2008 2003 Survey of the Florida caladium tuber production industry Univ. of Fla./IFAS extension fact sheet, ENH 1007. 22 Aug. 2010. <http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/EP258>.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Evans, M.R., Wilfret, G.J. & Harbaugh, B.K. 1992 Caladiums as potted and landscape plants IFAS, Univ. of Fla. Agr. Ext. Serv. Circ 1060

  • Geraldson, C.M., Overman, A.J. & Jones, J.P. 1965 Combination of high analysis fertilizers, plastic mulch and fumigation for tomato production on old agricultural land Proc. Soil Crop Sci. Soc. Fla 25 18 24

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Harbaugh, B.K. & Tjia, B.O. 1985 Commercial forcing of caladiums IFAS, Univ. of Fla. Agr. Ext. Serv. Circ 621

  • Rhodes, H.L. 1964 Effect of hot water treatment of seed tubers and soil fumigation for control of root knot on yield of caladiums Plant Disease Rptr. 8 568 571

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Royal Horticultural Society 1986 RHS Colour Chart Royal Hort. Soc. London, UK

  • SAS Institute 2009 The SAS system for Windows Release 9.2. SAS Inst. Cary, NC

  • Wilfret, G.J. 1991 Florida Fantasy, a multicolored caladium for containers Univ. Fla., Inst. Food Agric. Sci., Circular S-381 Gainesville, FL

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wilfret, G.J. & Hurner, G.T. Jr 1982 A survey of caladium cultivars grown in Florida and their characteristics as potted plants Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc 95 190 194

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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