How to Take Care of Elephant Ear Plant

elephant ear plant

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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 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 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 over 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 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.

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, 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, replant the following spring.

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 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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