How to Winter an Elephant Ears Plant


Elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) are big, splashy, tropical plants with leaves measuring 3 to 5 feet in length, varying in color from green, dark purple, and variegated green and white. Elephant ears won't tolerate cold winters. If you want your elephant ear plant to live another year to impress visitors to your garden, dig the elephant ear plant and bring the bulbs indoors for the winter months.

Step 1

Dig the elephant ear bulbs in autumn, using a garden fork, after the first frost of the season wilts the leaves. Use garden shears to cut the leaves to no more than 2 to 4 inches. Remove excess soil from the bulbs and put the bulbs in a cool, dry place for 24 hours.

Step 2

Place the elephant ear bulbs in a cardboard box filled with peat moss, bark mulch or sawdust. Store the box in a garage or basement where the temperature will be between 40 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Don't allow the elephant ear bulbs to freeze.

Step 3

Check the elephant ear bulbs every month. Discard any bulbs that are soft or rotten. Mist shriveled bulbs with a small amount of water, and return them to the box.

Step 4

Replant elephant ear bulbs after the last frost of the season. Choose a place where the plants will be exposed to morning sunlight but protected from the rays of the afternoon sun. Dig a hole for each bulb, and add a small handful of bone meal to the bottom of the hole. Plant the elephant ear bulb, then water the area deeply.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden fork
  • Garden shears
  • Cardboard box
  • Peat moss, bark mulch or sawdust
  • Mister
  • Shovel
  • Bone meal


  • University of Illinois: Overwintering Tropical Plants
  • Iowa State University: Growing Elephant Ear
Keywords: elephant ear plant, elephant ear bulbs, winter an elephant ear plant

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.