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Overwintering and storing elephant ear bulbs

How to Overwinter Elephant Ears in The Winter

Knowing how to store elephant ears in winter is vital if you want your plants to survive until the next year. These beautiful plants originate from tropical climates therefore they are not cold hardy and do not survive cold winters or frost.

The zone you live in (see USDA plant hardiness map below) will determine how you can care for your elephant ears during the winter months.

Elephant Ears in Zones 1-6

If you live in zones 1-6 then your elephant ears will not survive a winter in the ground outside. It is simply too cold for them. Follow the process below and you will be able to save them for next year:

  1. Once the first frost has arrived you will need to cut the stems of your elephant ear plant down to 6” in height.
  2. Then gently dig the tubers from the ground. Be careful not to cause any damage as this could impact their survival rate. Damaged tubers are much more likely to rot over the winter months.
  3. Next you will need to clean the tubers. Do this by gently rinsing them but make sure not to scrub the tubers as you do not want to cause any damage.
  4. Once you have done this, lay the tubers out in a warm room with good air circulation to dry out the tubers.
  5. After this you can transfer them into a pot or box and cover with a mix of peat moss and soil.
  6. Store it in a cool, dark place. This is essential in making sure the tubers stay dormant through the winter.

Elephant Ears in Zones 7-11

Zones 7-11 see elephant ears survive much better in the winter due to their warmer climates. This means that you can keep the tubers in the ground as long as they are covered for protection.

  1. Firstly, you must wait until the plant has naturally died back from the frost. If you cut it, it is more than likely that you will see the plant begin to rot.
  2. Gather leaves, grass, and moss and then use this to cover the plants. This is a natural insultation for the elephant ear bulbs.
  3. Finally, leave the elephant ear bulbs until the last spring frost and then uncover.

If you live in zone 7-11 you can also bring your tubers inside as suggested above.

USDA plant hardiness map
USDA plant hardiness map
The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones.