In the sleepy little town of Lake Placid, Florida, colorful murals adorn many of the buildings. So many, in fact, that Lake Placid is nicknamed “Town of Murals.” The city of approximately 2,439 has another nickname as well – “The Caladium Capital of the World.” You see, this peaceful little town in Highlands County produces 95 percent of the world’s caladiums. There are only nine caladium farms in the world, and eight of those are located in Lake Placid. The other one is in Avon Park.
Caladiums are native to the Amazon rainforest basin, in the area of Brazil. They were showcased at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893. This was the first time they were exhibited in the United States. Henry Nehrling was a horticulturist who introduced caladiums to Florida. When caladiums came to Florida, it was originally people in the Apopka area who were trying to grow them. The climate wasn’t quite right, though, so the caladium farmers moved further south until they came to Lake Placid. The rich, lake bottom muck of Lake Istokpoga provided fertile ground for the caladium growers to try their hand at farming in Lake Placid.
So what makes Lake Placid so special? Terri Bates of Bates Sons & Daughters Caladiums gave us some insight into why caladiums thrive in Lake Placid. The Bates family was one of the original families to establish caladium farms in Lake Placid.
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