Tips to Grow Elephant Ear Plant

The Elephant Ear Plant, also known as Colocasia and Alocasia, is famous for its stunning foliage and large leaves. These large, dark, and often patterned leaves make this plant great for landscape layering. The plant can grow up to 2 feet in length and have a variety of leaf colors, from almost black to lime green. The shiny leaves often have colorful variegations. They can be grown both indoors and outdoors. Colocasia has a spreading habit, and its leaves have a velvety texture. 

Elephant ears are a great plant in your garden, whether planting them in a single pot or in large containers. They look great with other summer bulbs or flowering annuals. The color range for elephant ear plants ranges from purple to black to green. 

Elephant Ear Plant

In the late 1990s, the elephant ear plant was trendy. This was when tropical plants became more popular as they came in different sizes and colors. These plants are still prevalent in tropical areas because they are large and add layers to your garden.

Alocasias are upright elephant ears, while colocasia are dormant elephant ears. Both have bulbs. However, the correct term is a “corm .”These plants can proliferate once they have been planted and can even double or triple in size if taken care of well. They are primarily grown in pots. They are effortless to replant as they can be broken up and planted elsewhere without starting all over.

Let’s now learn how to properly plant elephant ear bulbs so that you can fully enjoy the beauty and wonder of this beautiful plant.

Planting Elephant Ears Plant

Various options to plant elephant ear plant include:

Indoor Houseplant

The upright elephant ears can be grown indoors, provided they get enough water and light. Thanks to their attractive foliage, they can be a beautiful feature throughout the year.

Entryways

You can add a “wow” factor to your front door with elephant ears planted in large containers. They are a bold statement that will impress your guests. You can either plant them individually or combine them with coleus or caladiums.

Fences and Walls

Planting elephant ears near a fence or wall protects them from the sun and wind. They also use their large leaves to soften straight lines and add visual interest to blank walls. 

Patios, Decks, and Containers 

The perfect place for elephant ears is the shaded porches, decks, and other home areas that do not receive full sunlight. Large, heart-shaped leaves give pools, spas, and water gardens a tropical vibe.

Screening 

The broad leaves and tall stems that come with the elephant ears can be used as a screen or to define a space in your yard. Your yard will feel more private if you plant them near a property line or in an area that is used for outdoor living.

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Elephant Ear Plant Varieties To Grow

Elephant ear plants are a great one-year annual for northern gardeners because of their rapid growth. There are about 70 species to choose from and many cultivars. They come in a variety of sizes, including small, medium, and large. The leaf shapes vary from narrow hearts to slim arrowheads. Colors can be accentuated by bright veining or spots. Textures range from smooth and shiny to thick and waxy. Many of these plants can be used in the garden, but many are also suitable as houseplants.

Designing With Elephant Ear Plant 

  • Alocasias in containers placed outside the garden can act as a focal point and hide the spot where spring-blooming bulbs have gone dormant.
  • Mixed containers with other leaf plants and flowering annuals are a great way to make Alocasias a dramatic centerpiece. You can use one of the larger varieties in a large pot for a show-stopper.
  • The purple-foliage plants work well with pink, silver, and chartreuse plants.
  • For a striking focal point, add large elephant ears to your perennial border in the garden. The eye can also rest amid many vibrant flowers by choosing a plant with large green leaves.
  • Combine elephant ears with tropical plants such as bananas, variegated tapioca, caladiums, variegated tapioca, and coleus for a summer jungle garden.

Planting Elephant Ear Bulbs

These are some tips to keep in mind before you plant elephant ear bulbs.

Soil

Loamy soil with a lot of organic matter is best for elephant ear plants. Add compost to nourish the soil with nutrients. It requires a lot of moisture to thrive.

Spacing

The elephant ear plants need to be placed 6 to 10 feet apart. Roots need to have enough space to grow under the soil.

Weather and Temperature

The sun is the best thing for elephant ear plants. They grow quickly in the summer. The elephant bulbs thrive in warm temperatures around 50°F (10°C). These plants can be grown in winter if they are well cared for. You can cover them with mulch to protect them from the cold.

These plants require the sun to thrive. You can give them partial shade during extremely hot days, but we recommend direct sunlight during winters.

Planting

Make sure you choose the suitable tubers before planting elephant ear bulbs. Your elephant ears will be lush and extensive if you choose tubers that are big, plump, and strong enough to hold large leaves. It is suitable for your plant to be at least 5-6 inches deep while planting. Growing them in large containers would be best as it is easier to keep the soil moist. However, you can also plant them in the ground. Make sure you cover the corms with at most 12 inches of soil.

Water

This plant needs to be watered regularly. Most elephant ear plants can grow to 72 inches or higher. They need lots of water. Avoid the tips and stems, and instead, water the roots. They provide moisture for the entire plant.

Fertilizer

Although elephant ear plants can overgrow, it requires a lot of food in order to thrive. Ensure that your plant does not die, and apply fertilizer frequently.

How to Plant Your Elephant Ear Bulbs?

  1. Plant the elephant ear bulbs in spring, when nighttime temperatures rise above 50°F (10°C). So that the plant doesn’t get hurt, wait until frost is unlikely overnight. This happens most often in April and May. You can plant your bulbs in a container a few weeks prior to early spring to speed up the process. Once it is warm enough to handle, you can transfer the bulbs to your garden.
  1. Choose an area that gets indirect sunlight. Too much sunlight can cause your plant’s leaves to be dry and brittle. Place your plant in partial shade to allow the soil to remain moist. This means that your plant will need to be exposed to the sun for at least 3 to 6 hours per day. You may notice yellowing leaves if the plant doesn’t get enough sunlight. To prevent soil from drying out, the sunnier the spot, you will need to water it more often.
  1. You will need to find a moist spot with good drainage. The elephant ear plant can be used in tropical climates with high humidity. It would be best to plant them in soil that retains moisture, such as a swamp or pond. It is also important to drain the soil, so the roots don’t get rotted. Keep your garden moist, and don’t let it dry out to recreate tropical conditions.
  1. Avoid excessive watering by using a raised garden bed or installing a sound drainage system. Dig a 1-foot hole (0.30 m) in depth and fill it with water. Poor drainage is indicated if it takes more than four hours to drain.
  • While watering your elephant ears, don’t over-saturate the soil.
  • Rich soil should have a pH between 5.5 to 7. Elephant ear plants prefer organic, slightly acidic soil. 
  • You can lower the soil’s pH by adding sulphur, Gypsum, or Organic Compost.
  • Sprinkle some garden lime or limestone on top of the soil to increase its pH.
  1. Place your elephant ear bulb’s holes at least 3 feet (0.91 m) apart. Elephant ears can grow large, and they spread quickly by using runners. To allow plants to grow naturally, leave enough space. The elephant ears can steal sunlight and water from one another if they are not planted far enough apart. For example, a larger plant will cover another smaller one so that the leaves of the smaller plant don’t get enough sunlight. Choose a clumping variety if you don’t want the elephant ears to spread.
  1. Dig a hole in the ground so that the bulb is 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5.1 cm) below the soil. The best way to grow elephant ears is to plant them close to the soil surface. The hole should be at least 2 to 4 times the size of the bulb. Dig the soil with a spade or shovel. Since bulbs grow upwards, it is essential to allow enough space, so they don’t burrow into the soil. For larger bulbs, the holes should be slightly deeper.
  1. Place the bulb in the hole, with the flat side facing down. Because there are no clearly defined points, it can be challenging to identify the tip of the bulb. It is the top with concentric circles surrounding it. This part should face upside. You may find some roots and hairs from previous seasons on the bottom. If you cannot tell which end is the bottom of the bulb, AGRIKULTURE TODAY recommends placing it on its side. The roots will grow down, and the greens naturally will grow up.
  1. The bulb should be completely covered with soil. Water it well. The soil should cover the bulb by about 1 to 2 inches. You can press the soil down with your palm, ensuring no bulb sections are visible. The bulb should be watered until the soil is completely saturated.
  1. Mark the location where the bulb was planted. The plant will take several weeks to grow from the soil. To ensure that you remember where the elephant ear was planted, you can use a marker, such as a stone or a stake. Place your marker near the bulb and not over it. This is important if you plan to plant other plants, flowers, or bushes in your garden. You will know exactly where each plant is located so that you don’t overcrowd them.

Taking Care of the Elephant Ear Plant

  • Wait for 1 to 3 weeks before you expect your first elephant ear plant to sprout. It depends on how hot and dry the soil is. The plant may grow slower if it is exposed to cooler temperatures. If the bulb doesn’t sprout within 3 weeks, you can carefully remove it from the ground to check for rot. Take out any rotten spots and plant the bulb again.
  • Water the plant every morning at the roots to keep the soil moist. Elephant ears require lots of moisture because they are tropical plants. To avoid getting the leaves wet, water the plant as close as possible to the soil. It is best to keep the plant dry at night to prevent disease. Do not allow the plant to dry between watering. This can cause damage to the plant. The plant may need more water if its leaves are drooping.
  • Use a slow-release fertilizer to fertilize your elephant ear plants once a month. They thrive in fertile soil and are heavy feeders. Slow-release fertilizers slow down the release of nutrients into the soil, allowing for the steady growth of the plant. You will also need to maintain it less frequently. You should choose a fertilizer with high levels of nitrogen. The plant produces chlorophyll from nitrogen, which gives it its beautiful green color. For extra nutrients, mix manure or compost into the soil.
  • As needed, trim brown or faded leaves. This will encourage the growth of new leaves and keep your garden lively. Use garden shears to remove rotten leaves close to the bulb without cutting the bulb. If you see a lot of yellow or brown leaves, it could be a sign that the plant isn’t getting enough sunlight or not getting enough water.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for elephant ears to grow from bulbs?

The average time for elephant ears to sprout is between 3-8 weeks. It all depends on the climate conditions. Elephant ears in warmer climates tend to sprout quicker than those in cooler ones. If it is colder, you can start the process indoors and then transfer the bulbs outside once all signs of frost have disappeared.

In which month should you plant elephant ear bulbs?

After all signs of frost have passed, elephant ear bulbs should only be planted in spring. These plants are only able to grow in tropical climates. Therefore, it is crucial to plant the bulbs once the soil has warmed up to 65 degrees.

Do elephant ears come back every year?

Most varieties of elephant ear plants are perennials and will return every summer. They are most at home in the south, where they thrive on dry soil during winter.

Do you need to soak elephant ear bulbs before planting?

After you have planted your elephant ear bulbs, you will need to soak the soil. Throughout the growing season, continue to water the soil.

Do elephant ear plants need lots of water?

It would be best to water these plants with approximately 2 to 3 inches per week.

Do you dig up elephant ears in the fall?

You can save your elephant ears to use in the spring by digging them up in the fall before the temperature drops.

How can you make elephant ears plants larger?

To make your elephant ears as large as possible, here’s the golden rule:
“More water + more nutrients = More elephant ear”

Do elephant ears get flowers?

Although elephant ears are primarily foliage plants, they can also bloom in the Midwest.

What side of an elephant ear bulb should you plant up?

Make sure that the pointed end of the elephant ear bulb faces upwards.

Why do elephant ear plants turn yellow in spring?

Underwatering can often lead to the yellowing of leaves of elephant ear plants.

Are elephant ear plants poisonous to Dogs?

Yes. Elephant ear plants can cause serious health problems for your dog. You should immediately take your dog to the vet if it ingests any plant parts. This can cause swelling and even death. The toxins are harmless when cooked and have been enjoyed by many cultures for centuries (specifically, taro root or Colocasia esculenta). 

Do elephant ear plants bloom?

Yes. They can bloom, but it is not expected as these plants are grown for their tropical foliage. Spathes are blooms that occur after plants are brought outside and fertilized. However, some gardeners have reported seeing them bloom in spring.

Can you plant elephant ear plants in a pot?

Yes, you can plant elephant ears in pots. Since they can grow huge, it is crucial to choose a big and sturdy container. When cold weather hits, pots can be easily moved inside and used as houseplants.

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