elephant ear plant

Elephant Ear Plant: All You Need To Know About This Plant

The elephant ear plant is a tropical perennial big leaf plant valued for its huge leaves rather than the blooms. Elephant ear refers to multiple plant species in three plant genera: Colocasia, Alocasia, and Xanthosoma. Colocasia esculenta, popularly known as taro, is the most prevalent. These fast-growing plants reach maturity in two months and are often planted in the spring after all threat of frost has gone and soil temperatures have reached at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You may also plant them later in the spring or early summer.

elephant ear plant indoor
elephant ear plant indoor

Elephant ears, regardless of species, are striking, exotic plants with gigantic heart-shaped leaves that are utilized as accent plants or as a highlight in tropical-themed water or bog gardens. In the tropics, its leaves may grow 3 feet long and 2 feet broad; in cooler areas, they remain smaller but still have stunning leaves. 

Plants in warm zones (8 and above) can be kept in the ground as perennials, whilst plants in cooler zones are either treated as annuals, dumped at the end of the season, or dug up and stored indoors for planting the following spring. In tropical locations, Colocasia esculenta plants are invasive. They are also harmful to both animals and humans. Keep reading to enjoy the information about an indoor elephant ear plant.

How To Take Care Of An Elephant Ear Plant

how to plant elephant ear bulbs
how to plant elephant ear bulbs

Don’t know how to care for your elephant ear plant? Read more to know about elephant ear plant care below.


Elephant ears may be grown in full sun to part shade, although it loves to grow in part shade or dappled sun. Darker leaf cultivars require more sunlight to keep their color.


Elephant ears thrive on rich, humusy soil that is damp but not humid. This plant thrives in bogs, marshes, swamps, and in water gardens.


Keep elephant ear plants wet at all times. They can even live in 6 inches of standing water, however, it is better to water the plant when the soil is moist but not saturated, and never allow the soil to completely dry out. In some areas, especially if growing in pots, these plants will require daily or several times per day watering. Allow the soil’s surface to guide you. If it doesn’t feel moist, add water until it does.

Temperature & Humidity

Elephant ears are tropical plants that thrive under conditions similar to their natural habitat. In USDA zones 10 or somewhat warmer, they will be evergreen, but in zones 8 to 9, they will likely die back to the ground and reappear in the spring. This plant thrives in dampness and requires continual watering. The plant will perish in colder climates unless the tubers, corms, or root structures are dug out and kept for the winter.


The giant elephant ear plant like many other large-leaved tropical plants is a voracious eater. Every two to three weeks, use a water-soluble high-nitrogen fertilizer.

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Elephant Ear Plant Types

elephant ear plant flower
elephant ear plant flower

The most prevalent species is Colocasia esculenta, sometimes known as taro. Popular kinds of plants in the Alocasia and Xanthosoma genera include:

  • Black Magic was the first black cultivar to be developed, with dusty purple-black leaves. The leaves fold slightly upwards. If you want to have a black leaves plant, this black elephant ear plant is a good choice for you.
  • Blue Hawaii is a Royal Hawaiian Series member with medium green leaves with dark purple-black veins and maroon undersides. This purple elephant ear plant may be a great choice to decor your house.
  • Coffee Cups: A hardy hybrid with smaller leaves that fold inward to make a cup shape.
  • Illustris: This plant, also known as C. esculenta var. antiquorum, has dark green matte leaves with vivid green veins. Instead of tubers or corms, the plants propagate by subterranean runners.
  • Lime Zinger is a dazzling chartreuse green cultivar of the Xanthosoma genus.
  • Mojito: This cultivar has dull green leaves that are flecked, speckled, and streaked with black.


pink elephant ear plant
pink elephant ear plant

Throughout the growing season, these plants continue to develop new leaves. Remove old leaves as they die to maintain the plant looking bright. Winter trimming is required to keep your plant alive after the winter season if you live in zone 8 and expect freezing temperatures. When the foliage of an elephant ear plant goes brown, cut it back two or three days after the first deadly frost. Put on gloves and sterilize sharp pruning shears. Snip off the leaves around the plant’s base, leaving about 2 inches above the ground. Make smooth, straight cuts without ripping or tearing.

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How To Propagate Elephant Ear

when to plant elephant ear bulbs
when to plant elephant ear bulbs

Elephant ear is best propagated by division towards the conclusion of the growing season in the fall. Colocasia esculenta, the most common type of elephant ear, develops from corms, whilst Alocasia and Xanthosoma species grow from hard, corm-like roots or rhizomes. Division keeps the plant from being overcrowded in one area and revitalizes its development. Alocasia and Xanthosoma are occasionally reproduced by collecting and sowing seeds from the blooms, although this is time-consuming, laborious, and inconsistent. Seeds obtained from hybrid plants do not create plants that are identical to their parents.

Here’s how to divide your plant to multiply it:

  1. Collect the following items: gloves, a sterile knife, a tray or plate, newspaper or butcher’s paper, and a paper bag or cardboard box.
  2. Dig up the tuber or corm at the conclusion of the growing season. Keep your skin safe from the sap by wearing gloves.
  3. Split the tuber into clumps with at least one growing node using a sharp, sterilized knife. Cut through the tuber or corm, then leave it to dry and scab over on a tray or plate. Keep it dry, cool, and out of direct sunlight.
  4. Wrap the root piece in paper and keep it in a dry, cool place (above freezing temperatures) in a box or sturdy paper bag until the threat of frost has passed the next spring. If you reside in a warm area, you may immediately transplant the tuber or rhizome pieces in the garden or a container. Check the root piece for rot every few weeks if it is overwintering. If it turns dark or mushy, throw it out.
  5. Plant tuber roots with the growing nodes pointing upward. Replant corm or rhizome-type roots 4 inches deep, pointed side up. Plants should be spaced at least 2 feet apart for smaller cultivars and 4 feet apart for bigger kinds.

Common Plant Diseases & Pests

elephant ear plant poisonous
elephant ear plant poisonous

Fungal leaf blight is the most frequent elephant ear plant disease.3 If detected early, it is treatable. When this fungus infects a plant, it can generate tell-tale sores that exude fluid and become purple or yellowish. It may also result in fuzzy growth on the leaves. If left alone, it has the potential to infect the entire plant. Remove any collapsed leaves to cure it. Phyllosticta, another fungus, can generate little speckled leaf patches or blotches. 

Use a copper-based fungicide to address both diseases. Also, instead of watering the leaves, irrigate the soil.

Pythium rot can kill plants and is generally caused by soil being moist for several days or weeks. Yellowing in areas or distinct regions on the leaves or stem might be seen. The root structure will seem black and slimy if you take it out of the ground. A plant with this type of root rot cannot be saved. Remove it completely. If your plant was in a container, remove any affected soil and sanitize the container.

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Spider mites enjoy this plant because of its shadow potential and the texture of its leaves. Spider mite damage appears as little yellow or brown patches on the leaves. Leaf drop and reduced development can result from an infestation. Webbing on the plant is another indicator of spider mites. To remove spider mites, use a constant spray of water from a hose to wash them away. To keep them at bay, use organic measures such as insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.

Common Problems With Elephant Ear

elephant ear plant care indoors
elephant ear plant care indoors

Elephant ears are easy to cultivate, fast-growing, and resistant to most pests and diseases. However, because they enjoy being in the water, fungal diseases are their greatest concern.

Yellowing Of The Leaves

If the leaves become yellow, this may indicate that plants require more or less sunshine, water, or fertilizer. Alternatively, the plant might be resting for the season. Remove the golden leaves and restore them the following spring.

Dropped Leaves

Elephant ears droop when light, water, or fertilizer levels are out of balance. Large leaves can also droop if they get too heavy, which can be remedied by using supports to support the plants. Plants will also suffer if temperatures are too low.

Pale Leaves Or Stunted Leaves

Deformed, smaller, or pale leaves often indicate that your plant requires more nutrients, light, or water. Move your plant, give it additional water, or fertilize it.


Wilting indicates that the plant is getting too much light, too much heat, and not enough water. Consider shifting your plant to a shadier location and watering it more regularly.


Elephant ear is a big tropical foliage plant with stunning heart-shaped or arrow-shaped leaves. They must be dug out and stored before winter approaches in colder places. Hope you like our post about information about the elephant ear plant and know how to grow this kind of plant.


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