US: Florida leads the world in caladium bulb production, thanks in part to UF/IFAS scientists

Terri Bates knows that if she wants to sell a good caladium, she can count on University of Florida scientists, including Zhanao Deng.

“We grow 12 UF/IFAS varieties developed by Dr. Deng, and they are a huge asset to our business as well as the landscape/retail garden center industry,” said Bates, owner of Bates Sons & Daughters in Lake Placid, Florida.

The Sunshine State serves as the sole source of caladium bulbs for the world, and since 1976, UF/IFAS researchers have been breeding varieties of this ornamental. Deng has developed 34 caladium varieties during his 20-year UF/IFAS career. Five of the most popular at nurseries are ‘Royal Flush,’ ‘Tapestry,’ ‘Fiesta,’ ‘Sizzle’ and ‘Lava Glow.’

‘Lava Glow’ is his most recent caladium. He describes it in a new UF/IFAS Extension document and in a new journal article. The latest cultivar grows well in containers, and you can plant it in landscapes in sunshine or shade, said Deng, one of 31 UF/IFAS plant breeding faculty members across Florida.


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