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Updated: 06/19/2014 08:00:04AM

Landscape contest helps set color for Caladium Festival

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Indicators that the 24th annual Caladium Festival is fast approaching can be seen in landscapes and garden planters across Lake Placid. Young, tender shoots of caladium plants are stabbing toward the sky in some areas; while other gardeners are just starting to plant caladium bulbs to complement their landscapes.

During a weekend drive around town we saw business managers and their staff planting caladium bulbs in planters that grace the shop entrances. Others were on hands and knees planting caladiums into landscape schemes; and more were tending to young sprouts already showing promise of beauty yet to come.

And that’s in addition to the caladium bulbs already planted in the town’s medians and small landscape areas along Interlake Boulevard and Main Avenue. By the time the Caladium Festival arrives next month, Lake Placid should be ablaze with color from the tropical plants.

The Lake Placid Journal salutes those businesses and homeowners who are helping transform Lake Placid into a showcase, utilizing the Caladium Festival’s namesake plants. Visitors to our town for the July 25-26-27 festival will surely be impressed.

Stirring much of the gardening excitement is a landscape contest hosted by the Greater Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with Happiness Farms. Prizes will be awarded for the best of the best, too. Judging will be in time for winners to be announced prior to the Caladium Festival.

Participating businesses will be judged for overall aesthetic and design, creativity, and maintenance and care. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place.

Chamber of Commerce executive director Eileen May said there is still plenty of time to enter the contest. The deadline for entries is Friday, June 27. But, she said, caladium bulbs should go in the ground immediately to ensure a grand display in time for the Caladium Festival. In fact, caladium experts at Happiness Farms say Father’s Day was the last day to plant to ensure the plants are at their peak for judging and to greet our weekend visitors.

Contest entry is just a phone call away. Join in the excitement by calling the Chamber of Commerce at 863-465-4331 to register for the caladium contest. Judging is set for Friday, July 18 with professional caladium growers helping choose winners.

The caladium landscape contest has brought creative and beautiful designs in past years and we’re certain this year will bring more of the same. We look forward to seeing Lake Placid come alive with the robust colors of caladiums. Working together we can showcase our town and its unique caladium industry. Be sure to enter your business.

Homeowners and casual gardeners can still get in on the fun, too. Here are a few tips from the professionals:

If planting in the landscape, one bulb every four inches is suggested. If potting bulbs, use six bulbs to a 6-inch pot and a dozen bulbs for a 10-inch pot. Caladium varieties all grow in shady conditions. If you are planting in full sunlight, the pros suggest varieties grown specifically for full sunlight.

Fancy vs. Lance varieties? Fancy leaf varieties have large, heart-shaped leaves and grow 18- to 24-inches tall. Lance leaf varieties have smaller, elongated leaves and grow a little shorter at about 12 to 19 inches. You can combine the two, just be sure to plant the short Lance in front of the taller Fancy varieties.

Planting instructions are simple: plant the bulb about two inches below the surface. Keep the ground moist and well-drained. Caladiums require very little water at first, then water freely when leaves appear. Caladiums will require a good bit of water during times we don’t receive daily rain.

We salute the Chamber of Commerce for again spearheading the caladium landscape contest, and the many businesses already signed up. Let’s all do our part to help showcase the beauty of caladiums for the thousands of visitors who will visit our town for the Caladium Festival.

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