LAKE PLACID, Fla. (FOX 13) - Highlands County is home to rolling fields and beautiful farmland. It's also home to a colorful, 100-acre caladium farm, making Lake Placid the Caladium Capital of the World.
The field is owned by Bates Sons and Daughters, a third-generation family business, dating back to 1944.
"My grandfather started this business back in 1944, when he came back from World War II. He was Bates and Sons", says Terri Bates, one of three sister's that now own the business. "In the 1990s, my father changed it to Bates Sons and Daughters because three of the four daughters came into the business."
Terri Bates says caladiums are tropical plants that originate from the Amazon River Basin in South America. Because of this, caladiums are unable to handle low temperatures, making Florida the ideal location to grow them.
"They cannot take much temperature under 50 degrees. Matter of fact, for them to start making their tubers in October, we need the night time temperatures to dip down a couple of times, and that helps us make our crop," Bates said.
After a three-month-long harvest period, the caladiums are ready to be mowed and shipped out all over the United States. Bates Sons and Daughters say they receive orders from outside the U.S. as well.
During the weekend of July, Lake Placid hosts the Annual Caladium Festival at Devane Park. Tourists come from all over the world to view the many varieties the plants.
"There's multiple growers. So in other words, a lot of my varieties no one else has, and other people have varieties that I don't have. So, you get a selection of two hundred varieties, not just the 41 that I grow," Bates said.
LINK: For more about Bates Sons and Daughters caladiums, visit www.caladiumsonline.com.