The Sweet Spot for Caladiums, Lake Placid, Florida and Happiness Farms Caladiums. See the story in Fresh From Florida, The Journal of Florida Agriculture.
Happiness Farms Caladiums has been growing and selling Fancy and Lance Leaf Caladium Bulbs since the early 1960’s in the Caladium Capital of the World, Lake Placid,Florida. The beautiful, rich lake-bottom muck soil, perfect climate and growing conditions attribute to the success of 90% of the world’s supply of caladiums being produced here. We truly are the “Sweet Spot for Caladiums”! Caladiums can be planted in late spring and all through the summer and will give you easy, beautiful color in your yard and containers all summer long.
Danielle Daum knows what it takes to grow a successful caladium crop. Since 1964, her family has been producing the plants in Lake Placid, and today, the fourth generation is involved in the operation at Happiness Farms. Daum says it’s one of the best places in the world to grow caladiums.
“Lake Placid grows approximately 90% of the world’s supply of caladium bulbs. The rich lake-bottom muck soil on the southern shores of Lake Istokpoga, along with the long summer days and warm nights, are ideal for the production of bulbs.”
Terri Bates, co-owner of Bates Sons & Daughters in Lake Placid, agrees. “The extremely acidic pH of the mucky soil combined with the favorable temperatures make Lake Placid the sweet spot for growing caladiums,” she says.
Bates’ farm grows 100 acres of caladiums, including 45 commercial varieties, some of which have been bred using University of Florida or private breeder genetics. Bates Sons & Daughters has been family owned and operated since 1945, when Bates’ grandfather planted the farm’s first crop.
Crazy for Caladiums
Caladiums are becoming increasingly popular, partly due to their low maintenance requirements. Daum says the brilliantly colored ornamental foliage grows easily in the sun or shade and is a great option for landscaping, pots or hanging baskets. In Florida, plants grow in the summer, go dormant in the winter and then come up again the following summer.
“We find that schools often like to plant caladiums in their gardens because they are easy for students to care for,” Bates says.
In addition, caladiums require minimal fertilization once they’re planted.
Of the nine commercial caladium farms operating in Highland County, all but one are still family owned and operated. Most are third-generation farms. And while these growers are competing for much of the same business, Bates says the caladium growers in Lake Placid are a tight-knit group who are always willing to help each other out.
“What’s really neat about this business is that the caladium growers always come together. It’s a small town and most people have been here for a long time, so we support each other,” she says.
See more: The Flora Grows Better in Florida
The city also rallies behind its caladium growers. Each summer, Lake Placid holds the annual Caladium Festival in July. Festival attendees can purchase bulbs and plants, go on grower-guided bus tours where they learn about the caladium industry, and visit a home site that has been planted extensively with caladiums. It’s a unique opportunity to celebrate the history and success of Lake Placid’s caladium industry.
Click here to order your very own caladiums from our family farm in the Caladium Capital of the World.