Elephant Ear is a genus of flowering plants in the family Araceae, native to southeastern Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Elephant Ear is also known as Colocasia or Caladium. Though related, the plants have different growing preferences. Many Colocasia like soggy soil and tropical conditions. Caladiums like humidity and average water, but do not fare well in wet soil. Hardy in USDA zones 8-11, this plant likes full sun to partial shade. Elephant Ear is a showy exotic plant with huge heart or arrow shaped leaves. Growing 3-8 feet tall with a similar spread, gardeners love this plant to add a tropical feel to patios and balconies. Perfect for containers, mass planting, and focal points.
Typically, Elephant Ears are planted in the spring, but can be planted into early summer as well. This fast grower will reach its full size within two months. Choose a location that will get full sun to partial shade and not too much wind. Mix in manure or compost into the soil. Dig a hole 2-4 times larger than the tuber. Elephant Ears grow best planted close to the surface, so do not plant it too deep. This plant likes wet soil and is perfect if planted in boggy areas or around water gardens.
Watering Elephant Ears
Elephant Ear is also known as Colocasia or Caladium. Though related, the plants have different growing preferences. Many Colocasia like soggy soil and tropical conditions. Caladiums like humidity and average water, but do not fare well in wet soil. Pay attention to the variety that you purchase. Keep Elephant Ear plants consistently moist. This plant will quickly die off in dry soil. Plan on giving your Elephant Ear 2-3 inches of water each week.
Fertilizing Elephant Ears
Because an Elephant Ears is a large-leaved tropical plant, it is a heavy feeder. Beginning in the spring and into the fall, apply fertilizer each month. Use a water soluble balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. To achieve rich dark colored foliage, use Epsom Salts monthly. Add 1 tablespoon of salts to a gallon of water and spray the foliage
Pruning Elephant Ears
Elephant Ear plants have a fast growth rate and can easily become overgrown. Regular pruning will help to keep this large leaf plant in shape. The leaves will naturally droop as they age. Drooping leaves can be cut off with a sharp blade. Yellowing or brown leaves can be cut off at the stem. Disinfect the blade with each cut to prevent the spread of disease. This will give the plant more energy to put towards new growing leaves.
Caring For Elephant Ears in Pots
Elephant Ear plants thrive in containers as long as you give them the right growing conditions. Plant them in an extra large pot with drainage holes to give the roots room to grow. This also allows the soil to dry out slower, as the plant likes consistently moist soil. Plant Elephant Ears in potting soil mixed with compost. Fertilize once a month as they are heavy feeders. Elephant Ear plants can be overwintered by placing them in a cool basement, or porch.
Winter Care for Elephant Ears
In warmer climates, Elephant Ears can be left outdoors year-round. In colder climates, they are usually discarded at the end of the growing season. After the first frost, the tubulars can be dug up and stored indoors until replanting the next spring. Another option is to bring the container plant indoors to grow during the winter. Remember, Elephant Ears are tropical plants. They will need warm, humid conditions to thrive. Misting the plant daily or placing it near a humidifier can help the plant thrive.