Soil & Sun Requirements for Elephant Ears
Elephant ear plants, also called taro, are tropical plants that like warm, moist conditions. It can be grown year-round in southern climates and should be brought indoors to serve as a houseplant in the winter in northern areas. Its best sun conditions are full sun, or partial shade in very warm climates. Soil for an elephant ear plant should be moist, and they even can be grown in water. Humidity helps elephant ears thrive, so you may want to place a humidifier near it when indoors.
Planting Elephant Ear Plants
Elephant ears reproduce by division of corms, which come from their tubers. Not all cultivars available today produce tubers, but you can easily propagate those that do by cutting the tuber into pieces, each with a corm on it, similar to the eyes of a potato. Plant the pieces after they have dried for a few days, and place the corms blunt end down, buried about two inches into the soil. The best planting time when starting elephant ears indoors is about eight weeks before the last frost date, to give the young plants a jump on the growing season.
Elephant Ear Plant Care & Propagation
Caring for your elephant ear plants requires attention. They are very heavy feeders and take a lot of fertilizer. A liquid form of fertilizer is good for their moist soil conditions, and you should choose one that is high in nitrogen for best foliage growth. Feed them with the fertilizer weekly according to its package directions. Water as often as needed to keep the soil moist to the touch, since they are a wetland plant. If you want to let your elephant ear plant go dormant for the winter, you should store the tubers for the winter. After the upper foliage has dried up in the fall, dig the tubers up carefully, and let them dry for no more than three days. Leave the foliage on the plant, and pack them in sphagnum peat moss or vermiculite for winter storage. Elephant ear tubers should be stored at a temperature in the 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit range.
There are a few possible problems you may run into while growing elephant ear plants. Burrowing rodents affect them more than any other pest, as their tubers provide a tasty meal for moles, voles and gophers. This isn’t a problem for indoor plants, but take precautions against these animals in a garden setting. In gardens, aphids, mites and mealy bugs also can be found on elephant ear plants. All should be washed off or picked off as soon as they are spotted. To avoid stalk rot or fungi that thrive in wet environments, be sure the plants are in loose soil with good ventilation, especially if your climate is humid.
Want to learn more about elephant ear plants?
Check out these Web sites chosen by us for more information on the subject.
A University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener answers questions on elephant ear plants.
Commercial grower Central Florida Farms offers comprehensive elephant ear plant care tips.
Learn more about overwintering tropical plants from the University of Illinois Urban Extension.