How to Winterize Elephant Ears

Overview

Elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) are tropical bulbs that require winter protection in areas that experience freezing temperatures. There are three methods of handling the bulbs to ensure that they will survive and grow the following year. You may simply dig the plant, bulb and all, and pot it as a large houseplant to bring indoors for the winter. The other methods allow the bulbs to go dormant for storage.

Bare-Bulb Storage

Step 1

Trim yellow or brown leaves from your elephant ear plants as the plant begins to go dormant in early fall. If a frost occurs before you get the foliage trimmed, the foliage will die and turn black. Trim off the dead foliage immediately after a frost. Leave about 4 inches of stem at the top of the bulb.

Step 2

Dig around the bulb to loosen the soil, then lift it from the ground. Gently brush away soil particles.

Step 3

Place the bulb in an open, protected place where it will not be subjected to frost or freezing and allow it to dry overnight. A porch or garage makes an ideal spot.

Step 4

Place the bulb in a bag with dry peat, vermiculite or clean sawdust. Do not moisten the packing material. Keep the bulb dry in storage.

Step 5

Store the bagged bulb in a dry area over the winter. A basement or crawlspace is ideal. Protect the bulb from freezing temperatures.

Potted-Bulb Storage

Step 1

Trim off the foliage on a potted elephant ear plant in the fall before the first frost. Leave about 4 inches of stem on the bulb.

Step 2

Apply a layer of mulch about 2 inches deep over the bulb in the container.

Step 3

Store the container in a cool garage or basement where the temperature range is 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 4

Lightly water the container every two months so the soil does not dry out completely.

Things You'll Need

  • Potting container
  • Storage bag

References

  • Parker County, Texas Master Gardener: Elephant Ears
  • Iowa State University: Growing Elephant Ears
  • Floridata: Colocasia esculenta
  • Hortchat: Elephant Ear

Who Can Help

  • University of Minnesota: Elephant Ear Care
Keywords: winterize elephant ears, elephant ear storage, winter bulb storage, elephant ear care, dormant elephant ears

About this Author

Fern Fischer writes about quilting and sewing, and she professionally restores antique quilts to preserve these historical pieces of women's art. She also covers topics of organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family. For over 35 years, her work has been published in print and online.