Thursday, July 21, 2011

Easy to Grow Elephant Ears

Elephant ear garden by pond
Elephant ear is a tropical plant that is grown from a bulb.  This plant earned its name because when the stem grows upright out of the bulb a large elephant ear shaped leaf will unfold at the tip of the stem. This ornamental plant comes in many colors; green, purple or black and some leaves have white veins. 

Grow elephant ear in a container
Elephant ear container
Mature elephant ear plants will grow to the height of 2 to 10 feet with a leaf spread of two feet. Because of their large size and spreading habit the elephant ear is a good choice to grow along a garden path or grow as a group as a privacy screen for your patio or outdoor living space.  

Growing Tips

Grow elephant ear as perennial in warm humid climates or grow as an annual during the summer when the temperature is an average of (68 to 88)   Choose a garden site with part sun and shade. Elephant ear grows well in moist to wet soil that has organic matter.  If you have a pond then plant the elephant ear in the moist soil along your pond.  If not grow elephant ear in an area where the soil is evenly moist.  

Ready the garden site

One bulb will require a space of 36 to 60 inches. Allow space for the elephant ear to spread.  When you know how much space is needed for your elephant ear garden, you would then clear the garden site by removing the soil and then use a  tiller to loosen the soil to 10 inches deep.  Work the soil by breaking up the clumps so that the soil is a fine texture.  Improve the soil by adding compost or manure.  Also add a soil that will aid in retaining moisture.

Planting Elephant Ear

Dig a hole that that is 8 to 10 inches deep. Plant the bulb; flat side down.  The top of the bulb should be planted no deeper than two inches below the soil.  Water well.  The plant will emerge in approximately 2 to 3 weeks.  

  • Provide the elephant ear with its growing needs; part sun and shade, rich organic soil and evenly moist soil and the plant will provide you with beautiful foliage and a summer flower.  The elephant ear is a great plant for a beginner gardener because it is easy to grow. 
  • Grow the elephant ear in the ground or as an accent plant in a large container.
  • Set up a soaker hose or drip irrigation to provide the elephant ear with water.  Install a timer on the faucet so that the plants will be hydrated automatically and you will not need to worry about turning the faucet on or off.
  • Refrain from allowing the soil to dry out as this will cause stress on the plant and the leaves will wilt. 
  •  Elephant ears can become invasive when growing in tropical climates. If this occurs then divide and transplant them in the spring or divide them in the fall after you lift them from the ground.
  • Lift the bulbs in the autumn after the foliage has died back and before a fall frost.  Store the bulbs in a cool and dry area until it is time to plant them in spring.
Image Credit Elephant ears grown in masses

View video to learn how to care for elephant ears during the winter months.



Alan Adams said...

I have tons of Elephant Ears, but unfortunately they are taking over my patio area.
I have two questions,
1)How easy is it to get rid of Elephant Ears or at least reduce the numbers from taking over my area?
2)Do these plants attract Cockroaches?

I hope somebody can help me with my problems please



S Golis said...

If you grow your elephant ears in a container outdoors during the summer months then you will need to spray them with houseplant bug spray before you bring the plant indoors.

The best way to put a stop to the Elephant ears from spreading when grown in the tropical region is to divide and transplant. Elephant ears propagated from their root tubers. Dig up and divide the tubers annually in spring before growth begins or divide your overwintered tubers immediately before planting them back out to the garden. That is the only way I know of to prevent the elephant ears from becoming overgrown.