Elephant Ear Plant: Growing & Caring Tips

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The elephant ear plant is a tropical perennial plant grown for its elephant ear-shaped leaves. Its leaves grow 3 feet in height and feet wide depending on species in favorable conditions. 

The elephant ear plant’s scientific name is Colocasia. The elephant ear plant’s common name is often used for its different species in three plant genres- Alocasia, Colocasia, and Xanthosoma. Most common name is Colocasia esculenta or Tora.

This plant is an excellent choice for a water or bog garden. The elephant ear is a tropical dramatic exotic plant with heart-shaped leaves. 

Depending on its species, leaves grow, usually 3 feet long and 3 feet wide, but in the cold region, the size gets smaller. 

Elephant ears depending upon species can be grown from tuberous roots or hard swollen stem structures known as a corm.

In this post, you’ll learn how to grow and care for elephant ear plants in detail.

How to Take Care of Elephant Ear Plant

Quick guide

Common NameElephant ear, taro
Scientific NameColocasia, Alocasia, Xanthosoma spp.,
Plant typeTropical perennial
Mature Size3 to 8 inches taller and wider shorter in a cold region
Sun ExposureFull sun to part shade
Soil TypeRich, Humusy, damp to wt soil
Soil pH5.5 to 7.5 (acidic)
Bloom TimeRarely flower; often grown for its foliage
Flower ColorYellowish-white
Hardiness Zones8 to 11 USDA
Native AreaTropical Eastern Asia, Americas

Elephant Ear Plant 

In the warm zones (8 and above) elephant ear plants are perennial and grow for years. But in cold zones, it is grown as an annual or discarded at the end of the season to store its tubers indoors. So that it can be replanted next spring. 

In any landscape, the elephant ear plants section can infuse a tropical atmosphere. Some varieties are well suited to plant in large containers.

When to grow

This fast-growing plant gets its full mature size in two months. Plant elephant ear, in the early spring, when all danger of frost has gone. 

Planting earlier will give it time to get established so that it grows large foliage and blooms. When planting in a pot or container, start two to three weeks before the last frost date. 

But, make sure indoors the plant gets proper heat and light, you can use a heat mat or artificial light for this. Once, frost brings them outdoors in a part-shade location.

They do not like hot and humid weather but the soil temperature should be around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Elephant ear plants can also be planted later, in early summer. if you want to grow foliage plants in the garden; Refer to this article 19 Most Beautiful Foliage Plants To Grow.

How to take care of elephant ear plant

The plant likes to thrive in acidic soil with moisture. It is a great plant for a water garden, where water often stays in the rain. Usually, plants find it difficult to survive in water but elephant ear plants are different. In Spite, growing in water land, this tropical plant rarely gets infected by fungal diseases.


Elephant ear plants can grow in full sun to part shade. But, it does its best in part shade or in locations that receive indirect sunlight.


The plant thrives best in rich, humus soil that is moist to the point till wet. Elephant ear plants are best for boggy areas or around water gardens.


Elephant ear plants like to thrive in moist soil. They can survive nicely even in 6 inches of standing water. In the garden, never late its soil dries fully. When planted in a container, water it daily.

Temperature and Humidity

The elephant ear is a tropical plant that likes to grow in conditions similar to its native habitat. They will be evergreen in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 11 but will die in ground zones 8 to 9 returning in the spring. In the cooler zones, they will die unless the tubers are dug up and stored for the winter season.


This tropical plant tends to grow new leaves throughout the growing season. As the leaves get older and die, remove them to keep the plant looking vibrant.


The elephant ear plant is a heavy feeder like any other tropical plant. You have to apply water-soluble high nitrogen fertilizer every two to three weeks.

Elephant Ear Use

In the garden, elephant ears may serve a variety of purposes in a variety of contexts. These plants are available in a wide range of hues and dimensions. Plants with elephant ears may be used as background plants, ground coverings, or edging, particularly around ponds, along pathways, or in patio enclosures.

Elephant ear plants have large, heart-shaped leaves. However, the most typical use for them is as an edge or focal point in a design. Many are even able to thrive when grown in confined spaces like containers.

Elephant Ear plant varieties

Elephant ear plant

There are different varieties of elephant ears available in different sizes, shapes, and colors. Below are some popular elephant varieties that you can grow in the garden: 

‘Black Magic’

This is the first black cultivar with dusty purple-black leaves. It leaves fold in an upwards direction.

‘Blue Hawaii’ 

Blue Hawaii had medium green leaves with dark purple-black veins and maroon undersides.

‘Coffee Cups’

This cultivar has small leaves that fold upwards to make a cup shape.


This variety spread through underground roots rather than tubers or corms. It has dark green leaves with green veins.

‘Lime Zinger’

This cultivar is an excellent chartreuse green in the Xanthosoma genus.


Mojito is a unique variety that features dull leaves that have irregular splotched, speckled, and streaked with black. 

‘Yellow Splash’

The plant features yellow and green leaves that look similar to a pothos plant, grown as a houseplant.

Read: Plant Similar to elephant ears

Propagation Elephant Ears

Elephant ear plants can be planted by division or tuber. If you have a mature plant you can divide it into many more plants in different locations. 

To divide

  • Take a gardening shade, and dig up the plant with its roots. 
  • Shake the tuberous roots to remove soil. (wear gardening gloves).
  • Carefully divide tubers into clumps with at least one growth node. 
  • Plant this tuber in different locations with proper care. Save the tuber for winter, and replant the following spring.

How to overwinter the Elephant ear plant?

You may dig out the corms or tubers in colder locations before the first frost and store them in a cool (but not freezing) cellar or garage. This is the best way to ensure that they survive the winter. The treatment of the roots throughout the winter is the same as that used for dahlia tubers and canna bulbs.

After the rooted structure has been pulled out, the tuber should be allowed to dry out for a week in an area that is either warm or has a room temperature and enough air circulation. By exposing it to air, you will prevent it from rotting or decomposing.

Wrap the piece of root in some paper, and then set it into the box. Make careful to check on it on a regular basis to ensure that it hasn’t gone bad. If you have more than one, be sure you wrap each one individually. You should transplant them in the spring after there is no longer a risk of frost.

Common Pests and Diseases

  • Fungal leaf blight is the most typical illness that may affect an elephant ear plant. If identified in its early stages, it is treatable. If the plant is infested with this fungus, it may develop holes that exude fluid and become a purple or yellow color depending on the severity of the infection.
  • Additionally, it might cause the leaves to develop a fuzzy growth. When left unchecked, it has the potential to infect the whole plant. To cure it, remove any leaves that have collapsed. Phyllosticta is a kind of fungus that may cause little blotches or spots to appear on leaf surfaces.  
  • Applying a fungicide that contains copper will treat both of these diseases. Additionally, you should not water the leaves; instead, concentrate on watering the soil.
  • Pythium rot, which may be fatal to plants, is often brought on when the soil is allowed to stay moist for an extended period of time (many days or weeks).
  • On the stem or the leaves, it could seem like there are spots or distinct regions of yellowing. If you were to rip the root system out of the ground, the root would have an oily and black appearance.
  • It is impossible to save a plant that has developed this level of root rot.
  • Take out every last bit of it. If the plant was growing in a container, you should throw away all of the contaminated soil and disinfect the container.
  • This plant is favored by spider mites due to the shady environment it creates and the rough texture of its leaves.
  • On the foliage, damage caused by spider mites appears as tiny small yellow or brown patches. An infestation may cause the loss of leaves and result in growth that is stunted.
  • Spider mites may also be identified by the presence of webbing on the plant. Washing spider mites off with a continuous spray of water from a hose is an effective method for removing them from your home.
  • As natural deterrents, try using insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Both of these may be found at garden supply stores.

Read: Why elephant ear plant leaves turning yellow

Propagation in pot

Plant elephant ears in a large container like a pothos plant. Remember to use potting mix soil for good growth. As compared to the ground, in pots elephant plants need more water.

You have to regularly water them thoroughly to keep the soil moist. In fact, in hot climates, you may need to water them twice a day. 

If the soil does not hold moisture for too long, mix lots of organic matter. Large pots will help to hold its large foliage and retain moisture easily in the soil. 

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Elephant ear plant use

In the garden, elephant ears may serve a variety of purposes in a variety of contexts. These plants are available in a wide range of hues and dimensions. Plants with elephant ears may be used as background plants, ground coverings, or edging, particularly around ponds, along pathways, or in patio enclosures. Elephant ear plants have large, heart-shaped leaves. However, the most typical use for them is as an edge or focal point in a design. Many are even able to thrive when grown in confined spaces like containers.

Are elephant ear plants poisonous?

Elephant ear plants are toxic if taken in high numbers. Oxalic acid, which is found in the plant’s leaves and stems, has the potential to give young children and pets life-threatening illnesses. Cooking, on the other hand, makes the poisons harmless, which is why many civilizations have been eating them for years without a problem.

Do elephant ear plants bloom?

Yes, they are capable of blooming, but it is neither usual nor predictable for them to do so. Some gardeners see blossoms, also known as spathes, on their plants in the spring after they have brought them outside and fertilized them, while other gardeners never see their plants bloom. The lush, exotic appearance of these plants’ leaves is the primary reason they are cultivated.

Are elephant ear plants perennials?

The vast majority of these plants are perennials, meaning that in zones 9 and warmer they will continue to thrive year after year. If you plant in a colder zone, you may either treat them as annuals or dig out the tubers before the first frost of the season and store them in a dry, cool location for the winter.

When do elephant ear plants sprout?

After planting, elephant ears often begin to emerge between three and eight weeks later. The process of sprouting starts as the temperature starts to rise in the spring. They will germinate more rapidly in warmer settings than they would in more dry ones. You may get a head start on the process by beginning them inside and then moving them outside once the weather is warm enough.

Do elephant ears spread?

While some elephant ear plants grow in bunches, others extend over the ground and cover a wider area. The rapid formation of a large number of plants by runners, which may or may not be desirable, is unavoidable. Pick a clumping type instead of a spreading one if you’re concerned about them getting out of hand.

Can elephant ears grow in full sun?

The majority of plants thrive in bright, indirect sunshine rather than direct sunlight since it is less intense. A lack of sunshine may cause the leaves to become yellow, while an excess of sunlight can cause the leaves to burn. There are several types that are able to withstand direct sunlight.

Why are my elephant ear plants drooping?

It’s possible that there’s a problem if the ears of the elephant are hanging down. You might also try adding fertilizer, altering the quantity of light, or watering the plant. Another cause of drooping is because the huge leaves eventually grow too heavy for the plant to support. The use of stakes may assist in providing support for the plants and avoid drooping. If temperatures are below what plants can tolerate, the plants will show it by drooping.

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