Caladium (Caladium ×hortulanum Birdsey, Araceae Juss.) is an ornamental aroid often grown in containers or planted in the landscape as accent and border plants (Deng, 2018; Evans et al., 1992). Caladium plants are valued for their variably shaped bright foliage. The majority of commercial caladium plants are produced by forcing tubers in containers. Florida growers produce essentially all the caladium tubers used in the United States and in the world for production of pot plants and for direct planting in the landscapes (Deng et al., 2018). Commercial caladium cultivars generally fall into one of the two major leaf types (fancy- or lance-leaved) (Bell et al., 1998). The majority of commercial cultivars are fancy-leaved; however, the demand for lance-leaved cultivars has been on rise for the past two or three decades. Florida caladium growers planted more than 50% more acres for this group of cultivars in 2003 than in 1998 (Bell et al., 1998; Deng et al., 2018).
So far, ‘Florida Sweetheart’ has had the largest acreage (42.7 acres in 2003) in Florida and has been the most popular among all lance-leaved cultivars (Deng et al., 2018). This cultivar is characterized by wide, rosy, cascading lance leaves. It produces high-quality plants in containers, and has superb performance in shady or sunny landscape locations (Wilfret, 1991b). It also has a high level of resistance to Fusarium tuber rot (Goktepe et al., 2007). ‘Florida Sweetheart’ was the first lance-leaved cultivar released by the University of Florida (UF) Institute of Food and Agricultural Science caladium breeding program. Subsequently, this breeding program released a red lance-leaved cultivar: Florida Red Ruffles (Wilfret, 1991a). With a compact growth habit, numerous dark-red leaves, excellent tolerance to sunburn, and reduced sensitivity to chilling (Deng and Harbaugh, 2006a), this cultivar has become the most popular red lance-leaved cultivar. To meet industry needs, lance-leaved cultivars Fairytale Princess and Red Hot were released in 2012 (Deng et al., 2013). However, the acreage for these two recent releases is still very limited. Two new lance-leaved cultivars, Pink Panther (Figs. 1 and 2) and Crimson Skye (Figs. 3 and 4), were released in 2020 to meet growers’ need for more cultivars in this group.
Plants of ‘Pink Panther’ are characterized by a unique combination of leaf characteristics, wide lance leaves, upright and sturdy petioles, deep-pink main veins, light-pink blotches on the leaf blade, and slightly ruffled margins. In small-scale replicated trials, ‘Pink Panther’ showed very good tuber yield potential and produced high-quality plants in containers. Plants of ‘Crimson Skye’ are characterized by compact stature, numerous heart-shaped leaves, multiple pink blotches on each leaf, and a high level of uniformity in leaf shape and size. In tuber yield potential, ‘Crimson Skye’ is comparable to other lance-leaved cultivars. ‘Crimson Skye’ is well suited for producing high-quality prefinished and finished plants in containers with small (10 cm) to large (≥20 cm) diameters. Tuber de-eyeing is optional; when it is used, it improves pot plant quality. Both cultivars have shown good sunburn tolerance and bacterial blight disease tolerance, and they are suitable for use in a range of landscape conditions, from full sun to shady locations.
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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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Seijo, T., Peres, N.A. & Deng, Z. 2010 Characterization of strains of Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. dieffenbachiae from bacterial blight of caladium and identification of sources of resistance for breeding improved cultivars HortScience 45 2 220 224
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Seijo, T. Peres, N.A. Deng, Z. 2010 Characterization of strains ofHortScience Xanthomonas axonopodispv. dieffenbachiaefrom bacterial blight of caladium and identification of sources of resistance for breeding improved cultivars 45 2 220 224 10.21273/HORTSCI.45.2.220
Wilfret, G.J. 1991b Florida Sweetheart, a rose lance caladium for landscape and containers University of Florida, Inst. of Food and Agr. Sciences, Fla. Agr. Expt. Sta. Circ. S-380