How to Store Elephant Ears Over Winter

Overview

Elephant ears, a popular member of the Caladium family, are well known for their big leaves that resemble the ear's of an elephant. The leaves can be green, burgundy or variegated white and shades of green, extending color and adding textural depth from summer into fall. The plants are easy to grow in both sun and shade. Elephant ear plants grow from tuberous bulbs, which can be saved and grown for many years with proper care.

Step 1

Cut the elephant ear plant leaves back in the fall, after they have died back. Leaves should be cut back to the ground.

Step 2

Use a hand spade to dig up the bulbs if you live in an area . Use care so you do not nick or damage the tubers.

Step 3

Shake off excess soil. Wipe bulbs clean with a cloth or paper towel. Do not wash them in water.

Step 4

Store bulbs in paper bag with several handfuls of peat moss to keep them from drying out. Label the bag with name of bulb and close bag. Store in a cool, dark area until spring. University of Illinois Extension Specialist advises against storing the bulbs in an unheated garage or basement, as they may be damaged if temperatures dip below 60 degrees.

Step 5

Cover with mulch in the South. Elephant ear bulbs can remain in the ground during winter months in warm-weather areas, says bulb retailer Van Bourgondien, but should be covered with a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to protect bulbs from occasional cold snaps.

Tips and Warnings

  • Elephant ears are invasive and can easily take over a flower bed.

Things You'll Need

  • Elephant ear plants
  • Paper bag
  • Hand spade or shovel
  • Mulch
  • Peat moss

References

  • "Foliage"; Nancy J. Ondra and Rob Cardillo; 2007.
  • "Fallscaping: Extending Your Garden Season Into Autumn"; Nancy J. Ondra and Stephanie Cohen; 2007
  • Van Bourgondien: Garden Guide-Elephant Ears
  • University of Illinois Extension: Plant Palette-Caladium
Keywords: caladium, elephant ear, autumn garden

About this Author

Carmel Perez Snyder is a freelance writer living in Florida. She attended the University of Missouri and has been a journalist for more than 12 years. Her work has appeared in the AARP Bulletin, the Oklahoma Gazette, the Amarillo Globe-News, and eHow.