How to Kill Elephant Ears


Elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta), also known as taro, are given their name thanks to the giant elephant ear-shaped foliage that tops the underground corm. Though they're often grown for ornamental purposes and are non-invasive, you may occasionally need to kill and remove the plant to make room for new plants or while renovating your landscape.

Step 1

Stop watering the elephant ears. In the wild, they often grow in wetlands and require consistent soil moisture. Drying out the planting site dehydrates the plant and will kill it over the course of several weeks.

Step 2

Dig out the plant as an alternative to drying it. This method is faster than dehydration. Use a spade to remove the entire plant, including its underground corm. Avoid breaking its corm or leaving behind pieces of it, as these can sprout into new plants.

Step 3

Spray the elephant ear plant with a systemic glyphosate herbicide for a low-labor method of killing the plant. Mist the herbicide onto all exposed portions of the elephant ear. The plant will absorb the chemical and die within two weeks.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't ingest any portion of the elephant ear's foliage, as it can cause severe mouth and throat irritations.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Glyphosate herbicide


  • "Burpee: The Complete Vegetable & Herb Gardener"; Karan Cutler, et al.; 1997
  • University of Minnesota: Elephant Ear FAQ
Keywords: kill elephant ears, remove elephant ears, spray elephant ears

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.