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Elephant Ears Questions & Answers

What Month Should You Plant Elephant Ear Bulbs?
Elephant ear bulbs should be planted in spring once all signs of frost are gone. As these plants are native to tropical climates they will only begin to grow once the soil is warm so, plant the bulbs after the soil has reached a temperature of 65ºF.

Do Elephant Ears Come Back Every Year?
Almost all varieties are perennial and will come back every summer. They thrive best in the south as they prefer dry soil in the winter.

How Long Does It Take Elephant Ears to Grow from Bulbs?
It usually takes 3-8 weeks for elephant ears to sprout. It also depends on what your climate is like, warmer climates cause elephant ears to sprout faster than cooler climates. If you are in a colder climate then you can begin the process inside and transfer the bulbs outside when all signs of frost have gone.

Should You Soak Elephant Ear Bulbs Before Planting?
Once you have planted the elephant ear bulbs you need to thoroughly soak the soil. Continue to regularly water the soil throughout the growing season.

Do Elephant Ears Need a Lot of Water?
You should aim to give these plants approximately 2-3 inches of water a week. Elephant ears are also big eaters so, fertilize them monthly with a general fertilizer.

Will Elephant Ears Come Back After a Freeze?
Although elephant ear plants can survive in zones 8 to 9, the foliage will die back after cold periods.

Can I Leave My Elephant Ears in The Ground?
Yes, in zones 7-11 (find your zone here). These hardiness zones will provide good accommodation for elephant ears during the colder months if the soil is covered and protected. Let the stems of the elephant ear naturally die back as cutting them can lead to rot, and then cover the ground for the winter.

Do you Dig Up Elephant Ears in The Fall?
If you want to save your elephant ears for the spring then dig up them up during the fall before the temperature drops.

Will Elephant Ears Survive Winter?
Elephant ears are only hardy in zones 9-11 and do not survive freezing temperatures if left alone. In colder zones you can treat your elephant ears as annuals or store the tubers indoors and replant during the next spring.

How do you winterize elephant ears?
It's an easy process: After your first frost, cut the stems to about 6 inches tall.
Put the tubers in a grocery bag, plastic pot or bulb rate and cover with a mix of peat moss and soil. Add water to the container and store it in a cool, dark place to ensure the tuber stays dormant throughout the winter. Read more about overwintering elephant ears.

Why Do Elephant Ear Plant Cry?
Elephant ears let you know when they have been overwatered by dripping water from the tip of their leaves with is also known as “weeping”.

How do you make elephant ear plants bigger?
The golden rule to make your elephant ears grow as big as possible:
"more water + more nutrients = more elephant ear".

Do Elephant Ears get Flowers?
Elephant ears are predominantly foliage plants however, they can bloom although flowers are not common in the Midwest area.

Which Side of an Elephant Ear Bulb Should You Plant Up?
This is probably the most popular question asked by beginners when they start gardening. The answer does depend on the variety of bulb but usually the pointed end should be facing upwards. Read more about which side of the bulb should be planted up.

Why Do Elephant Ears Leaves Turn Yellow?
Yellowing leaves can be a common cause of underwatering. If you see your elephant ears turning yellow then it is lightly to be a sign that the plant needs more water. 

What can I do about the leaves of my elephant ears turning yellow?
If the new leaves emerge with a slightly yellowish tint apply Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) to the elephant ear plant. Mix 1/8 cup Epsom salt per one gallon of water and pour around the elephant ear plant. If the elephant ear plant is grown in a container, apply the Epsom salt and water along the edges of the planter.

Are Elephant Ears Poisonous to Dogs?
Elephant ears can be toxic to your dog and can even be fatal if not treat right away. If your dog ingests any part of the plant you need to take it to the vets immediately as symptoms can include swollen airways with can be deadly.

What Month Do Elephant Ears Bloom?
Elephant ears should be planted in the spring, after the first frost and will begin to flower from late spring to early fall. It will also depend on the zone you live in, zones 9-11 see elephant ears bloom earlier than cooler zones.

Can I Grow Elephant Ears in Water?
Many varieties grow in swamps and marshes so can propagate in water. After the last frost you can plant elephant ears in water by sinking the pots to the rim in a pond.

What's the best soil for elephant ears?
If using potting soil, choose one that's rich in organic material and mixed with peat and perlite to create an artificial wetland or bog that will hold moisture. If you're mixing your own soil, use well drained, crumbly loam with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Avoid rocky soils, which can deform the corms.

What planting zone do I live in?

USDA plant hardiness map:

USDA plant hardiness map

How cold can elephant ears tolerate?
Elephant ears cannot tolerate temperatures below 50 degrees.

How did elephant ears get their name?
The elephant's-ear plant gets its name from the leaves, which are shaped like a large ear or shield.

What is the real name for elephant ears plant?
Colocasia esculenta. Its commonly also called taro.

Is caladium an elephant ear?
Alocasia, Caladium, and Colocasia, are all considered part of the Elephant Ear family.

Do you offer full grown elephant ear plants or only bulbs?
We only offer elephant ear bulbs.

How should I fertilize my elephant ears?
Fertilize the elephant ears plant every month in the spring, summer and early fall. You can use a 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer according to the directions on the fertilizer label.

Can I use Miracle Grow on elephant ears?
You can also use all-purpose Miracle Grow to feed Elephant Ears plants.

Are elephant ears edible?
Colocasias are the only ones actually used as a food crop. Grown commercially in Hawaii and also often found in Asian markets, the tubers of Colocasia Esculenta (more commonly known as taro) can be cooked down into a starchy edible paste called poi. Our advice: Always stick to the grocery stores for the roots!

How do you plant elephant ear bulbs?
Dig a hole so that the top of the bulb is 4-5 inches deeper than the soil line. Cover with 1-2 inches of soil. Read more in our elephant ear bulb growing guide.

Can elephant ears grow in pots?
If you prefer not to plant your elephant ear plants in the ground, container or pot growing is perfectly acceptable for elephant ears. Elephant ears do well in containers so long as you provide them with the right sized container, proper soil, and adequate sunlight. Read more about growing elephant ear bulbs in pots here.

Where is the best place to plant elephant ears?
Elephant Ears perform best in sun or part shade. While most can be grown in partial shade, the darker colored varieties are best grown in full sun. Provide a sheltered location to protect the decorative leaves from strong winds.

Can I transplant my elephant ears?
The ideal time for transplanting elephant ears is when new growth appears in spring. Elephant ears sprout from bulbs in spring and quickly grow into large, spreading clumps. In frost-free areas elephant ears can be transplanted any time of year, but transplanting when the plants are small is easiest. In areas of that experience frosts, elephant ears must be transplanted after the final local average frost date. If late frosts threaten after the plants have been transplanted, cover elephant ears with old sheets or several layers of newspaper overnight.

Something is eating up my elephant ear leaves. What should I do?
The most likely candidates are caterpillars, weevils, mealybugs and beetles. Wash them off the leaves and apply a horticultural soap to prevent their return. Fungal issues also plague in-ground plants when irrigation water splashes on the leaves.

How often do elephant ears get new leaves?
The growth expected from elephant ears is moderate. During the active growing season you can expect around 1 leaf every month or slightly less than this. If you notice that your plant hasn't produced any new growth in the past 6 months then it might not be very happy for some reason.

How do you propagate elephant ear bulbs?
Elephant ear bulbs can be propagated by dividing the bulbs or by planting offsets that have developed at the base of the plant. They can also be propagated by seed, although this method is less common.

What is the difference in-between Colocasia and Alocasia plants? 

There many differences in-between the two, but one simple way to tell them apart is that Colocasia have leaves with the tips pointing downwards and most Alocasia have leaves pointing upwards. Find out more about Colocasia vs Alocasia here.

Updated 03/11/2023