How to Take Care of Elephant Ear Plants

Nearly any environment can benefit from elephant ear plant (Colocasia) tropical flair.

Because of their enormous, tropical-looking foliage, these plants are often grown as ornamentals.

Continue reading to find out more about elephant ear plant care.

Elephant Ears Gardening Uses

Nearly any environment can benefit from the dramatic tropical look of the elephant ear plant (Colocasia).

While they may look like elephant ears, the foliage of these plants is actually what makes them so popular among gardeners and landscape designers alike.

More about elephant ear plant care can be found in the following paragraphs.

Planting Elephant Ear Bulbs

Planting and taking care of elephant ears are both simple and straightforward tasks.

Plants in this genus like moist, rich soil and can be cultivated in full sun, but they prefer partial shade in most climates.

Frost or freezing conditions in your area are no longer a threat to the tubers.

Tubers should be planted with their blunt end facing down at a depth of 2 to 3 inches (5-8 cm).

Elephant ear bulbs may be planted eight weeks before their final frost date inside.

Potted plants should be planted at the same depth and in rich organic soil.

Before putting elephant ear plants in the ground, give them a week to harden off.

How to Take Care of an Elephant Ear Plant

When elephant ears are well-established, there is little need to fuss over them.

It’s a good idea to water your plants frequently during dry seasons, especially those in containers.

A slow-release fertilizer maybe is applied to the soil from time to time if you choose.

In the winter, elephant ears are unable to thrive outside. Temperatures below freezing destroy plant life and weaken tubers.

Plants must therefore be dug up and stored indoors in areas with hard, cold winters (such as those in the northernmost regions).

Plants should be carefully dug up after the first frost has passed in your area and the foliage has been reduced to a few inches (5 cm).

After a few days of drying, put the tubers in peat moss or shavings.

In a cold, dark place like a basement or crawlspace, keep them Container plants can be brought indoors for the winter or overwintered in a basement or covered porch.

Pruning

During the course of the growing season, these plants continue to put out new leaves.

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To keep the plant looking vibrant, remove the dying leaves as they appear.

Winter pruning is required if you reside in Zone 8 and predict chilly temperatures.

Otherwise, your plant will die. Two or three days following the first deadly frost, remove the elephant ear plant’s foliage.

Put on gloves and sanitize the pruning shears. Just snip off a few of the plant’s leaves, leaving about 2 inches of stem above the ground.

Avoid tearing or ripping by cutting neatly and straight.

Propagating Elephant Ear

At the end of the growing season in the fall, the elephant ear is best propagated through division.

Most elephant ears develop from corms, whereas Alocasias and Xanthosomas grow from hard, corm-like roots or rhizomes, which are similar to corms.

Division keeps the plant from becoming overcrowded in a single location and re-energizes its growth.

While gathering and planting seeds from the flowers of Alocasia and Xanthosoma is time-consuming, difficult, and inconsistent, it is often used to propagate these plants.

Hybrid plants’ seeds don’t create offspring that are genetically true to their parents. Divide your plant in the following manner to multiply it:

  1. Gloves and butcher’s paper or newspaper, a paper bag, and a cardboard box are all you need to get started.
  2. Dig up the tuber or corm at the end of the growing season. Protect your hands from the sap by wearing gloves.
  3. Divide the tuber into clumps, each with at least one growth node, using a sterile knife. Cut the tuber or corm, let it dry, and then let it scab over on a plate or tray. The best way to keep it safe is to keep it dry, cool, and out of direct sunlight.
  4. The root piece should be wrapped in paper and stored in a dry, cool place (above freezing temperatures) in a box or sturdy paper bag for about a week after the threat of frost has passed. Depending on where you live, you may be able to replant the tuber or rhizome pieces right away. Root pieces should be checked for rot at least every few weeks while they are overwintering. Throw it away if it turns black or mushy.
  5. The growth nodes of tuber-type roots should face upward when planting. You can replant the pointy end of the corm or other type of root about 4 inches deep. When planting smaller cultivars, keep distances between them to a minimum of 2 feet; when growing larger ones, go as far as 4 feet apart.

How to Grow Elephant Ear From Seed

Top a seed starting mix with elephant ear seeds. Make sure you don’t completely cover the seeds with the soil mix.

Keep the soil moist but not soggy by misting it with a misting bottle. It can take anywhere from three to eight weeks for seedlings to appear.

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Place the tray in a spot that gets a lot of light but isn’t direct.

Potting and Repotting Elephant Ear

When growing elephant ears in large containers as patio plants, it is essential to use a potting mix with a lot of organic matter that helps to retain moisture.

In hot weather, you may need to water your container plants twice a day to keep them from drying out.

It’s easier to keep large-volume containers moist than smaller ones, so use the largest possible pots.

It’s a good idea for these plants to be placed in containers that have plenty of drainage holes because they prefer moist soil.

Overwintering

A cool, but not freezing, basement or garage is a good place to keep corms or tubers in colder climates.

Roots like canna bulbs and dahlia tubers are overwintered the same way.

Dry out the tuber by laying it out in a warm or room temperature location with air circulation for a week after pulling up the rooting structure.

Rot and decomposition can be prevented by exposing it to the elements.

Put the root in a box and cover it with paper. Periodically inspect it to ensure that it is not rotting.

In the event that you have multiple items, you should wrap them individually. Replant them in the spring after the danger of frost has passed.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Elephant ear plant fungal leaf blight is the most common disease.

Early detection and treatment are both possible. It is possible for this fungus to cause lesions that ooze fluid and turn purple or yellowish if the plant is infected.

The leaves may also develop a fuzzy growth as a result of this pest. Leaving it unchecked can spread the disease to the rest of the plant.

Remove the leaves that have fallen to the ground as a first step in treating them. Small speckled leaf spots or blotches can also be caused by the fungus Phyllosticta, which has spores.

Use a copper-based fungicide to combat both conditions. Also, do not water the leaves; only water the soil.

Pythium rot is a disease that can kill plants if the soil remains saturated for a long period of time.

The yellowing or distinct patches on the leaves or stem may be the most obvious symptom.

It will appear greasy and dark if you remove the root structure from the ground.

It is impossible to save a plant with this type of root rot. Take it all the way out.

Make sure to get rid of the infected soil and sterilize the pot if your plant was growing in it.

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This plant is a favorite of spider mites because of its shade and texture.

Tiny yellow or brown spots appear on the leaves of spider mite-infested plants. Leaf drop and stunted growth are both possible outcomes of an infestation.

Webbing on the plant is another sign of spider mites. A steady stream of water from a hose can be used to get rid of spider mites.

To keep them at bay organically, use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.

How to Get Elephant Ear to Bloom

After three years of growth, elephant ears will only bloom if they are in the best possible conditions.

When it comes to flowering plants, most people prefer to remove them from the landscape in order to concentrate on the foliage.

You can expect a variety of brightly colored berries if you leave the flowers on the plant.

Bees and other pollinators are drawn to the flowers because of their enticing scent.

During the night, the flowers of Alocasia odora take on a heady scent of pale peach.

In the same way that Callas has hundreds of tiny flowers on their spathe and spadix, so do these flowers.

Bringing an indoor plant outside in the spring after the threat of frost has passed is the best way to get an elephant ear to bloom.

Fertilize the plant and place it in a warm, partial sun location with plenty of water will also work.

Common Problems With Elephant Ear

There aren’t many issues with growing elephant ears because they’re fast-growing and easy to care for.

Because of their affinity for water, fungal infections pose the greatest danger to them. 

Leaves Start Yellowing

You can tell if your plants need more or less sunlight, water, or fertilizer by looking at their leaves.

You could be looking at a seasonal dormancy on the plant. Take care of the yellow leaves now, and they will return in the spring.

Drooping Leaves

Drooping elephant ears are indicative of poor light, water, or fertilizer conditions.

Stakes to support the plants are a good idea if the leaves become too heavy and begin to droop.

Temperatures that are too low for plants to thrive will also take a toll.

Stunted Leaves or Pale Leaves

Plants with deformed, smaller, or pale leaves are often in need of additional nutrients or light.

You have three options: move your plant, give it more water, or fertilize it.

Wilting

Because the plant is wilting, it means that it is being overexposed to the sun and heat and not receiving enough water.

Change the location of your plant and water it more frequently.

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