Caladiums (Caladium ×hortulanum Birdsey, Araceae Juss.) are valued for their colorful and variably shaped leaves (Harbaugh and Tjia, 1985; Wilfret, 1993). Commercial caladium cultivars generally are grouped into the fancy- or lance-leaved type (Wilfret, 1986). Fancy-leaved caladiums produce large round-ovate to triangular leaves with three main veins, two large basal lobes partially to fully joined, and a petiole attached to the back of the leaf blade. Lance-leaved caladiums produce leaves that are sagittate to cordate-lanceolate and have basal lobes obvious to barely obvious and petioles attached to the base of the leaves (Deng and Harbaugh, 2006a). The majority of commercial caladium cultivars are fancy leaved (Bell et al., 1998; Deng et al., 2011), but there has been an increase in demand for lance-leaved cultivars. Florida caladium growers reported that >50% more acres of lance-leaved caladiums were planted in 2008 than in 1998 (Bell et al., 1998; Deng et al., 2011). Plants of lance-leaved caladium cultivars generally are more compact, with smaller leaves and shorter petioles than fancy-leaved caladiums. Tubers produced by lance-leaved caladiums generally are more branched than tubers from fancy-leaved cultivars and do not need to be de-eyed for pot plant production, which saves production costs (Deng and Harbaugh, 2008). Lance-leaved caladium plants tend to be more adaptable to different container sizes and are less expensive and easier to ship from production sites to markets. Lance-leaved caladiums appeared to be more resilient to wind damages, droughts, sun, and shading than fancy-leaved caladiums, and they may perform better than fancy-leaved caladiums in the landscape when such stresses occur (Deng and Harbaugh, 2008).
Tuber yield is one of the most important factors determining the economic value of caladium cultivars for commercial tuber production. Many lance-leaved caladiums often produce small tubers (Wilfret, 1983), making it difficult for growers to produce caladium crops profitably. Developing new lance-leaved caladium cultivars with adequate tuber yield potential has been a priority breeding objective for the University of Florida (UF) caladium breeding program.
Currently, ‘Florida Sweetheart’ is the most widely grown lance-leaved commercial cultivar of any color, and ‘Florida Red Ruffles’ is the most widely grown red lance-leaved commercial cultivar (Bell et al., 1998; Deng et al., 2011). Both cultivars were introduced by the UF caladium breeding program. Plants of ‘Florida Sweetheart’ are compact and produce wide lance leaves with a rosy color and relatively large tubers (Wilfret, 1991a). ‘Florida Red Ruffles’ has a compact, upright growth habit and excellent sun tolerance (Wilfret, 1991b).
‘UF 432’ (Figs. 1 and 2) is a new and distinct lance-leaved caladium, and its leaves are characterized by thick, dark red to purple veins and a dark red to purple overtone. This cultivar was as productive as or more productive than ‘Florida Sweetheart’, produced high quality pot plants similar to ‘Florida Sweetheart’, and performed very well in the landscape with excellent sun tolerance. ‘UF 432’ produced fuller pot plants with more leaves than ‘Florida Sweetheart’.
‘UF 4015’ (Figs. 3 and 4) showed an overall plant growth habit similar to that of ‘Florida Red Ruffles’, but it is distinct from ‘Florida Red Ruffles’ with bright pink leaves and higher tuber yield potential. The availability of ‘UF 4015’ as a new cultivar can expand the color palette for caladium plants with this growth habit desired by greenhouse growers, nurseries, and gardeners.
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Deng, Z. & Harbaugh, B.K. 2006a Independent inheritance of leaf shape and main vein color in caladium J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 131 53 58
Deng, Z. & Harbaugh, B.K. 2006b ‘Garden White’—A large white fancy-leaved caladium for sunny landscapes and large containers HortScience 41 840 842
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Deng, Z., Harbaugh, B.K., Schoellhorn, R.K. & Andrew, R.C. 2011 2003 Survey of the Florida caladium tuber production industry. Univ. of Fla./IFAS extension fact sheet, ENH 1007. 27 Aug. 2008. <http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/EP258>
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Royal Horticultural Society 1986 RHS colour chart. Royal Hort. Soc., London, UK
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Wilfret, G.J. 1991a Florida Sweetheart: A rose lance caladium for landscape and containers. Florida Agr. Exp. Stn., Instit. Food Agr. Sci., Univ. Fla., Gainesville, Cir. S-380
Wilfret, G.J. 1993 Caladium, p. 239–247. In: A. de Hertogh and M. le Nard (eds.). The physiology of flower bulbs. Elsevier, New York, NY