giant elephant ear plant with a wheel barrow showing the size

Growing and Caring For Giant Elephant Ears

The elephant ear plant (aka Colocasia) is a spectacular, jumbo-sized tropical plant that’s in style in landscapes throughout the US and useful as a meals crop in lots of tropical areas of the world.

On this article, we’ll describe the plant and supply sound recommendation on selecting, planting, and caring for it in your house or backyard, even when you dwell in an space that experiences chilly winter months. Learn on to study extra.

giant elephant ear plant with a wheel barrow showing the size

Elephant Ear Plant Cultivars & Their Makes use of

There are a number of engaging Colocasia varieties. All are family members Araceae. One of many hardest is the edible Colocasia esculenta. This cultivar can be known as Dasheen or Taro. This selection is grown in abundance in tropical settings. It produces a starchy tuber used as the premise for the weight loss program in a lot the identical method you discover rice or potatoes utilized in many cultures.

Edible taro is a tricky tuber that have to be cooked accurately and totally earlier than eaten. Failure to cook dinner it correctly can lead to gastrointestinal misery. Moreover, care have to be taken when harvesting the tubers as a result of contact with the sap of the plant may cause pores and skin irritation from the calcium oxalate (oxalic acid) within the stems and leaves.

The Elephant Ear plant will also be mildly toxic to cats and canines. In case your pet ingests Elephant Ear, the consequence may be an upset abdomen, problem swallowing, extreme salivation, vomiting, and irritation of the tissues of the mouth.

A purely decorative cultivar is Colocasia antiquorum. This selection is also called ‘Black Magnificence Elephant Ear’ and was as soon as listed as Caladium esculentum. It is a putting plant with darkish purple veins and leaf margins.

The Xanthosoma, Alocasia, (good article right here) a detailed relative of the elephant ear can be an upright selection. The vegetation have straight, sturdy, upright stems topped with arrow-shaped leaves. The leaves are fairly putting with their starkly contrasting, outstanding veins. Though this plant is manageable as a houseplant, when left to its personal gadgets in a perfect setting, some varieties can develop to be fifteen toes excessive.

Elephant Ears Leaves & Flowers

The leaves of the Elephant Ear are sometimes called heart-shaped or shield-shaped. They arrive in inexperienced leaf varieties and ranging shades that may be almost black. The plant might flower properly open air, however it would not often flower indoors. Flowers are encased in a inexperienced sheath that splits to disclose a cob-like flower of greenish-yellow. The flowers should not aromatic, however they’re fairly visually interesting.

What Are the Finest Panorama Makes use of for Elephant Ears?

With such a big leaf the Elephant Ear can add curiosity below tall bushes and in different sheltered areas. They’re the best plant so as to add class to any water function.

In USDA hardiness zones 8-11, Colocasia is a carefree, year-round plant. In very heat, humid areas, reminiscent of Florida, they’ll even be thought-about invasive.

They supply a tropical contact to any panorama throughout the heat months of summer season. They do properly even within the northernmost areas of the US if they’re introduced in throughout the freezing months.

Do not forget that Elephant Ear vegetation are enthusiastic growers. Remember to choose a planting website that may give every bulb about Three sq. toes of rising house. Don’t over-plant as you’ll in a short time find yourself with overcrowding.

When totally grown, Elephant Ear leaves may be three or 4 toes lengthy. Colocasia can stand as much as seven toes excessive. Alocasia can attain a top of 15 foot tall. Because of this, they want plenty of house for his or her root techniques.

The unfold of the fast-growing leaves and foliage calls for a substantial amount of house. Not solely should there be room for the leaves to broaden, however there additionally have to be ample soil house out there to ascertain a powerful root system that may help these large leaves. With out correct help, the stems can be weak. This could result in breakage and collapse.

Rising the Elephant Ear Plant in Solar or Shade

The large Taro Colocasia can develop properly in full solar, however it’s happier and extra engaging in filtered daylight or partial solar. For probably the most half, you’re higher off selecting a location that will get excessive gentle or gentle partial shade. These vegetation get pleasure from ample gentle; nevertheless, they typically do higher when not uncovered to punishing daylight.

the giant leaves of elephant ears plants up close

Choose Excessive-High quality Jumbo and Big Elephant Ear Bulbs

You should purchase big Elephant Ear bulbs like these at your native backyard middle, on-line, or from one of many many high-quality mail-order bulb homes. As with all bulbs and tubers, examine your purchases fastidiously and shun any which have indicators of decay or injury.

You need plump, healthy-looking bulbs for finest efficiency. Bear in mind it solely takes just a few of those jumbo vegetation to fill an area, and they’re going to multiply fairly abundantly!

Rising Elephant Ears As Foliage Crops in Pots or Giant  Containers

As a result of they’ll develop to be so giant, holding these vegetation indoors generally is a problem. It’s essential to remember that the plant wants loads of gentle to develop robust stems that help the burden of the heavy leaves.

Nonetheless, when you’ve got a generously-sized planter in an space that will get ample oblique daylight with a cushty room temperature (60-70 levels Fahrenheit), you can provide indoor rising a go.

Some gardeners imagine that the perfect candidates for this are the Alocasias, as they’re upright Elephant Ears. The leaves develop straight upward, so chances are you’ll not have fairly as a lot competitors for house utilizing such a plant as a houseplant.

Irrespective of which sort of Elephant Ear you select to maintain indoors in wintertime, you have to to offer excessive humidity. A humidifier may be very useful. Additionally it is smart to raise the pot by putting a layer of pebbles between the underside of the pot and its saucer. This can assist humidify the air surrounding the plant. It’ll additionally assist stop root rot.

Remember to transfer your indoor Elephant Ear open air throughout the heat spring and summer season months in order that it will probably get a development, well being, and power increase from the contemporary air and daylight. Your plant will produce younger rhizomes throughout the heat rising season.

Watering & Feeding Your Colocasia

Elephant Ears are very hungry and thirsty vegetation. Within the wild, they’re swamp dwellers. They develop very intensive and hardy underwater root techniques and have entry to plenty of nourishing decayed natural matter and ample water. This trait makes them a good selection for low areas in your yard. They’re additionally the right water backyard or pond-side plant.

Whenever you plant these tropical vegetation in a mattress, you have to be sure to set it up with good, nitrogen-rich, well-drained soil. Be ready to water and fertilize typically. They reply properly to slow-release fertilizers. In contrast to many sorts of bulbs and tubers, Elephant Ears wish to have the soil moist always. Including a thick layer of mulch to forestall evaporation is a brilliant thought.

Grooming Your Elephant Ears Crops

Fortunately, the foliage of those good-looking vegetation doesn’t require a lot care. As a result of the leaves are so large, you’d be smart to ascertain your planting space in a sheltered setting to keep away from wind injury. Avoiding harsh, direct daylight can be a good suggestion to forestall leaf burn.

Trimming and pruning are largely pointless. Simply take away spent leaves and flowers all through the rising season. In the reduction of withered foliage within the autumn earlier than making ready your tubers for the winter months.

How Do You Propagate Elephant Ears?

Within the summertime, when your plant is open air within the floor or in a big pot, it would produce a number of offset tubers. Whenever you put together your bulbs for overwintering, you may separate these corms, retailer them, and use them within the coming yr to supply new vegetation.

Alternately, you can begin these new bulbs indoors to get pleasure from younger Elephant Ears as houseplants by means of the winter months.

Overwintering Elephant Ear Bulbs

When you dwell in a northern state, you’ll want to deal with your Elephant Ears as annuals. To do that, it is best to dig up the tubers and retailer them by means of the winter. You may replant them within the spring. Listed below are the steps it is best to take to over-winter your bulbs.

For vegetation rising in beds:

Simply after the primary frost, it is best to:

  • In the reduction of spent foliage.
  • Dig up your tubers, leaving a superb quantity of soil hooked up.
  • Retailer your tubers (soil and all) in a cool (45-55 levels Fahrenheit), dry, darkish place till springtime.

For potted and container vegetation:

  • When leaves begin to yellow, withhold water and permit the foliage to die again.
  • Don’t water once more.
  • Retailer the vegetation in containers in a cool (45-55 levels Fahrenheit), dry, darkish place till springtime.
  • Verify on the bulbs on occasion for indicators of drying out or rotting.
  • Discard any bulbs that go unhealthy.
  • Within the springtime, divide and repot your tubers.

The way to Revive Saved Tubers within the Springtime

When spring arrives and the times start to heat, you’ll want to put your saved tubers into pots simply giant sufficient to carry the tubers. Encompass the bulbs with a light-weight soil consisting of peat moss, coco coir, and/or sand. It shouldn’t be too wealthy.

This step is simply to present your vegetation a head begin on the rising season. Remember to maintain the soil combination moist in these early days.

Switch the bulbs to out of doors beds in spite of everything hazard of frost has handed. Remember to give them loads of house, roughly 3 – 6 toes tall between vegetation. Throughout summer season months, present them plenty of water.

Elephant Ear Pests & Issues

Colocasia is a sturdy and enthusiastic plant, and it is best to have few issues if you’re ready to offer it with plentiful water and plenty of fertilizer. A powerful, wholesome plant can struggle off most pests and issues by itself. However, chances are you’ll sometimes encounter some challenges. Listed below are a few of the commonest issues.

Elephant Ear Leaves Turning Yellow:

This situation is chlorosis, and it might occur for a number of causes. Amongst them are:

  • Previous age
  • Illness
  • Too little solar
  • An excessive amount of solar
  • Too little water
  • An excessive amount of water
  • Too few vitamins
  • An excessive amount of fertilizer

Clearly, yellowed leaves are a symptom of a wide range of ills. To find out what the issue is, you’ll have to perform a little sleuth work to uncover the trigger after which regulate your routine accordingly.

Spider Mites

These little pests are drawn to the massive, shady, water-holding leaves of the Colocasia. That is very true in dry climates the place water is at a premium. In case your plant is infested with spider mites, you will note grey webbing on the undersides of the leaves.

You may strive giving the vegetation a superb spraying with a powerful stream of water. Generally this is sufficient to dislodge and discourage the pests. If this doesn’t work, use a good model of miticide. Remember to observe packaging instructions intently.

Thrips

These little pests additionally love to connect themselves to juicy leaves and suck the life out of vegetation. In case your Elephant Ears are infested with thrips, you will note pale, silvery patches on the plant leaves. Misting your vegetation typically will assist discourage thrips within the first place. In the event that they do invade your vegetation, use a good insecticide and observe packaging instructions intently.

elephant ear plants growing in a clump

The Execs & Cons of Elephant Ear Crops

Colocasia is gorgeous and simple to develop, however on the draw back, in areas the place the plant does are inclined to develop aggressively, its giant heart-shaped leaf can block the solar for smaller, native vegetation and might trigger injury and species loss.

You might also have an issue with Elephant Ear leaf blocking the solar in your smaller backyard vegetation except you intend your planting fastidiously. Personally, I wish to maintain them in containers!

There are even some states the place these vegetation have been deemed invasive. In Texas, for instance, it’s towards the legislation to plant or transport Elephant Ear and residents are urged to report sightings of it to the Division of Parks and Wildlife. When you dwell in a southern state, it is best to examine your native rules earlier than planting.

In areas the place the plant can not go wild and overrun your yard and surrounding space, Colocasia is a chic, easy-to-grow springtime and summertime addition to your panorama. It will possibly additionally make a stunning houseplant throughout the winter months.

A Record of Common Elephant Ear Varieties

Colocasia Varieties

  • Colocasia gigantea ‘Laosy Big’
  • Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Big’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Bikini Tini’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Coal Miner’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Jack’s Big’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Nancy’s Revenge’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Coral’ PP 23,896
  • Colocasia affinis ‘Jenningsii’
  • Colocasia fallax ‘Silver Greenback’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’ (aka black elephant ear)
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Marble’ (aka Colocasia ‘Multiflora’)
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Runner’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Blue Hawaii’ PP 20,003
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Chicago Harlequin’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Coal Miner’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Elena’ PPAF
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Diamond Head’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Elepaio’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Hawaiian Eye’ PP 19,884
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Hilo Bay’ PP 20,108
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Hilo Magnificence’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Lime Aide’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Maui Magic’ PP 19,625
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Mojito’ PP 21,995
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Nancy’s Revenge’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Pineapple Princess’ PP 20,982
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Pink China’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Rhubarb’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Royal Cho’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Surf Metropolis’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Tiger Stripe’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Yellow Splash’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Large Dipper’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Burgundy Stem’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Jack’s Big’
  • Colocasia esculenta ‘Ruffles’
  • Colocasia ‘Fontanesii’
  • Colocasia ‘Blackwater’
  • Colocasia ‘Espresso Cups’
  • Colocasia gigantea Thailand Big Pressure
  • Colocasia heterochroma ‘Darkish Shadows’

Alocasia species

  • Alocasia nycteris “Batwing” (previously A. advincula)
  • Alocasia alba (crassifolia)
  • Alocasia brisbanensis
  • Alocasia chaii
  • Alocasia cucullata
  • Alocasia culionensis
  • Alocasia cuprea
  • Alocasia gageana
  • Alocasia sp. “Inexperienced Big”
  • Alocasia hypnosa
  • Alocasia infernalis
  • Alocasia lowii
  • Alocasia macrorrhizos
  • Alocasia macrorrhizos “Large Mac”
  • Alocasia macrorrhizos “Black Stem”
  • Alocasia macrorrhizos “Borneo Big”
  • Alocasia macrorrhizos “Lutea”
  • Alocasia nebula ‘Imperialis’
  • Alocasia odora
  • Alocasia odora “Blue”
  • Alocasia odora “Indian”
  • Alocasia portei
  • Alocasia reginae ‘Miri’
  • Alocasia reginula
  • Alocasia reticulata
  • Alocasia reversa
  • Alocasia ridleyi
  • Alocasia robusta
  • Alocasia rugosa
  • Alocasia sanderiana “Nobilis”
  • Alocasia sarawakensis
  • Alocasia “Serendipity”
  • Alocasia sarawakensis ‘Darkish’ Inexperienced petioled kind
  • Alocasia “Sarian”
  • Alocasia sinuata
  • Alocasia scabriuscula “LRO”
  • Alocasia tigrina superba
  • Alocasia “VangieGo”
  • Alocasia villeneuvii
  • Alocasia watsoniana
  • Alocasia wentii
  • Alocasia zebrina

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the beautiful elephant ear alocasia plant - upright with striking foliage

Alocasia hybrids

  • Alocasia ‘Maroon Protect’ (Alocasia x cupredora)
  • Alocasia x calidora (Our collection of Alocasia x calidora)
  • Alocasia ‘Pixie Teardrops’ (picks of Alocasia x calidora)
  • Alocasia ‘Thunder Waves’ (Alocasia x portora)
  • Alocasia ‘Big Protect’ (Alocasia x novodora)
  • Alocasia ‘Ripple Impact’ (Alocasia x albartei)
  • Alocasia ‘Emerald Protect’ (Alocasia x albaeana)
  • Alocasia ‘Corrugate Protect’ (Alocasia x odoralba)
  • Alocasia x saridora (Alocasia odora x Alocasia “Sarian”)
  • Alocasia ‘Brisbane Blue’ (Alocasia brisbanensis x Alocasia odora “Azurea”)
  • Alocasia x porteana (Alocasia gageana x Alocasia portei)
  • Alocasia ‘Blue Blush Odora’ (Alocasia odora x Alocasia odora ‘Blue’)
  • Alocasia x vangidora (Alocasia odora x Alocasia ‘VangiGo’)
  • Alocasia ‘Brisbane Tigress’ (Alocasia brisbanensis x Alocasia tigrina superba)
  • Alocasia ‘Calidora Big’ ((Alocasia x calidora) x Alocasia ‘Borneo Big’)
  • Alocasia ‘Brisbane Big’ (Alocasia brisbanensis x Alocasia ‘Borneo Big’)
  • Alocasia ‘Borneo Mac’ (Alocasia ‘Borneo Big’ x Alocasia macrorrhizos ‘Large Mac’)
  • Alocasia ‘Imperial Big’ (Alocasia ‘Borneo Big’ x Alocasia ‘VangiGo’)
  • Alocasia ‘Brisbane Waves’ (Alocasia brisbanensis x Alocasia portei)
  • Alocasia ‘Sinuate Mac’ (Alocasia macrorrhizos “Large Mac” x Alocasia sinuata)
  • Alocasia “Frydek-Bullata” (Alocasia micholitziana ‘Frydek’ x Alocasia bullata) Notice: This hybrid was developed by Brian Williams
  • Alocasia x microdora
  • Alocasia x sanderidora (Alocasia odora x Alocasia sanderiana ‘Nobilis’)
  • Alocasia ‘Big SilverShield’ (Alocasia ‘Borneo Big’ x Alocasia watsoniana)
  • Alocasia ‘Royal Sarawak’ (Alocasia reginae ‘Miri” x Alocasia sarawakensis)
  • Alocasia x reginora (Alocasia odora x Alocasia reginula)
  • Alocasia x nyctedora (Alocasia odora x Alocasia nycteris)
  • Alocasia ‘Manta Ray’ (Alocasia “Borneo Big” x Alocasia nycteris)
  • Alocasia ‘Big Zebra’ (Alocasia “Borneo Big” x Alocasia zebrina)
  • Alocasia ‘Reticulate Big’ (Alocasia “Borneo Big” x Alocasia reticulata)
  • Alocasia x robudora (Alocasia odora x Alocasia robusta)
  • Alocasia x ‘Watson’s Big’ (Alocasia odora x Alocasia longiloba ‘Watsoniana’)
  • Alocasia macrorrhizos ‘blackstem” x Alocasia alba
  • Alocasia ‘Borneo Tsunami Waves (Alocasia macrorrhizos ‘Borneo Big’ x Alocasia portei) x Alocasia alba
  • Alocasia ‘Borneo Tsunami Waves (Alocasia macrorrhizos ‘Borneo Big’ x Alocasia portei) x Alocasia macrorrhizos ‘blackstem’
  • Alocasia ‘Imperial Big’ (Alocasia macrorrhizos ‘Borneo Big’ x Alocasia ‘VangiGo’) x Alocasia ‘Borneo Tsunami Waves (Alocasia macrorrhizos ‘Borneo Big’ x Alocasia portei)
  • Alocasia macrorrhizos ‘blackstem’ x Alocasia ‘Imperial Big’ (Alocasia macrorrhizos ‘Borneo Big’ x Alocasia ‘VangiGo’)
  • Alocasia ‘Imperial Big’ (Alocasia macrorrhizos ‘Borneo Big’ x Alocasia ‘VangiGo’)x (Alocasia micholitziana ‘Frydek’ x Alocasia bullata)

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