How to Care for Elephant Ears


The elephant ear plant (Colocasia esculenta), sometimes called "taro," is a large tropical plant native to Hawaii. It is adorned by large, floppy leaves. If grown in hot, humid locations it may produce an attractive white flower. These plants do well as border plants or alongside walls or porch rails. They can be left in the ground during the winter in very warm locations, but if you live in a location where winter temperatures dip below freezing, it is best to bring them indoors.

Step 1

Select a location in the garden that's in full or partial shade for the majority of the day. Amend the soil with 3 inches of organic compost per each planting hole or the right amounts to achieve a pH of 6.5.

Step 2

Plant elephant ear corms after all danger of frost has passed. Plant the corms with the rounded end pointing down. Cover the corms with 4 inches of soil.

Step 3

Water until the soil is saturated. Water again when the soil no longer clings to your finger. Keep the elephant ear plants moist at all times.

Step 4

Add a 3-inch layer of mulch to hold in moisture and prevent weeds from growing around the plants.

Step 5

Feed weekly with a water soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer, mixed as instructed on the package.

Step 6

Prune back in the elephant ear in the fall, leaving only a 3-inch piece of foliage above soil level.

Step 7

Remove the corms from the garden in late fall, before the first frost, if you live in Zone 7 or below. Wipe off any moisture, place them into a container and cover with a layer of peat moss. Place the container in a warm, dry location until it is time to replant the elephant ear in spring.

Tips and Warnings

  • The stems and leaves of elephant ear plants are poisonous, so take proper precautions if you have children or pets.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden spade
  • Organic compost
  • Water-soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer
  • Mulch
  • Container
  • Peat moss


  • University of Minnesota: Elephant Ear Care
  • Planting Flower Bulbs: Information About Elephant's Ear Plants...
  • Emily Compost: Elephant Ear
Keywords: elephant ear, elephant's ear, plant, grow, houseplants, corms

About this Author

Annita Lawson has been working as a freelance writer since 2004. Her work has been published in various web and print outlets, including The Dabbling Mum, A Virtuous Woman, and Pediatrics for Parents. Lawson is pursuing an Associate of Arts degree at Southeast Kentucky Community College. She enjoys sharing all that she has learned about parenting, healthy eating and living a frugal lifestyle.