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.
Norma Posthumus says
Thanks…all very helpful… grew my first Elephant Ear Plant this year and it was spectacular..considering I didn’t know what I was doing.
I am planning on digging it up (we live in MI) and saving til til next year…if it doesn’t keep…well, I will buy a new bulb.
Janice Vick says
Thank you! This was very helpful.
Tommy Pugh says
Hello my name is tommy and I also love growing elephant ears. I’ve had good luck with some and after I get them going I share as gifts and enjoy the feedback and enjoy hearing about how much fun they are to grow. I live in Michigan also.
helena terwellen says
i transplanted and elephant ear plant to a pot and tried to grow it indoors. it grew and sprouted new leaves for several months and now they’re just drying up. I love the plant . Can it grow indoors and if so what am i doing wrong?
Mine is coming back, it has been in lost of light but no sun at all. The stems are long and the leaves are very small…. very dissapointing. Did I make something wrong ??? how can I fixed and revert to short stems buy big leaves ????
how low can you cut the elephant ear back for the winter and it will still grow next summer
what is blunt end..i have buds that are circular and im confused on how to plant them
I can remember being as young as 5 when i first noted my parents grew these. I personally don’t care for them that much. I like a little color, but they sure did. I don’t know where they got their original stock, but they had these things in a bed lining the front of the house, and they can get gigantic. Once my brother and i hacked a few of them to peices, just being kids, I wouldn’t advise getting a great deal of the sap on your skin. it caused us a major irritation and burning rash from the fluid inside. We moved from La. to MS. and they brought a few bulbs and transplants and they took right off. My mom died not long after and we pretty much stopped caring for the yard. These plants haven’t received any attention whatsoever in a good 17 years, but last spring I cleared out the old bed and they were still there. They died back in the winter, but there’s probably about 23 stalks, all small, out there today. These things are survivors.
i planted my in a pot outside and left it out side for the winter and they came back this spring better and prettier then they were last year
Doc. Caliban says
I have an elephant ear plant that came from a Caribbean island on which they grow in both fully-shaded areas, and in constant direct sunlight.
While on the island, I had it in a vase with just water, and in a window that only received direct sunlight in the late afternoon. The leaves were healthy and of a good size. The water was tap water, which was rainwater kept in a cistern.
I cut all of the leaves off in order to transport it to where I am now.
In the same growing conditions, but using municipal tap water, the leaves have mostly grown back much smaller, though there are a couple of good sized ones. The problem is that a couple of them have a bit of yellow in them, and one is “crashing” and will most likely die altogether.
I read that the yellow is caused by a lack of nitrogen, so I am using Miracle-Gro (24-8-16) mixed 3/4 tsp / gallon. I am hoping that this will help.
I am wondering what people think about the tap water, and also how “deep” the water should be. I want to keep it well watered, but I also don’t want to rot the root either. Planting in soil won’t be an option for another year or so.
Camie Heuer says
Thank you very much for the information. I’m new at growing this type of plant.
Doc. Caliban says
I have about 8 nice healthy leaves, but they are all starting to develop small, dead spots at the edges. What would cause that? They are indoors, planted in Miracle Gro planting mix, and fed with the same brand of plant food. Nothing has changed for months.
julie steele says
i have orange seed like growths in pods at the end of a stem. What is this and do I need to cut it off?
barbara c.berry says
hi, how tall do think an elephant ear wil grow?
Michelle Brooks says
Me and my mother usually plant this together when I was young. And I hated when the white thing from its tube touch my skin. It is very itchy. And I don’t like the feeling of it. So I always makes excuses when my mother ask me to help her to plant elephant ears. Sorry but I was so naughty during those days. I hate planting elephant ears but I love eating taro cake. Thanks for sharing this though.
Marilyn McFarlin says
I’ve dug up the Elephant Ear tubor and plan on keeping it overwinter, do I cut off the white roots before storing???
Here is a great YouTube guide that will help you with overwintering:
And here is a text based guide:
Lisette Gallard says
I have Elephants ears I from my Church member last year that did very well last year I left out all winter long and thought the died cause of the winter frost but the came back and doing well. I have also noticed that I have Elephants ears poping up every where Places where I didn’t even plant them and no where near the ones I planted. I have a clue how the got there has any one had this happen to them?
starr hill says
Why does my elephant ears want to droop instead of standing up? They have been watered everyday and stay wet. I have tried tying them up with pantie hose and they still want to droop. Any suggestions?
I live in Oregon and planted my very first elephant ear bulb in a large pot because I wasn’t sure it would winter well outside. It sprouted just fine, but when the first shoot was about 3 inches it developed a black spot at the end, and over the next few weeks appears to became soft and brown, “rotting”… there are three more shoots coming up, and now I see another one has a black spot on the tip. Not sure what I’m doing wrong. The soil is damp, but not wet (I reached inside the pot to the bottom to see if maybe there was water pooling somehow). I’d really like to save this plant if possible!
Melinda Woodward says
Needs sun buy the sounds of it