Elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) are tropical plants that thrive in sunlight or shade and need a humid environment. In northern regions, such as USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6, elephant ears grow from tubers, or corms, which are dug up each fall and planted again in the spring. It is possible to bring the plant into the house for the winter and return it to the outside when danger from frost has passed.
Till the soil as soon as possible in the spring. Remove rocks or debris from the soil. Break up large clumps of dirt. Mix in a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, according to package directions. Rake the surface smooth.
Plant the elephant ear corms at a depth of 1 to 2 inches with the tops upright. Space the tubers 3 to 5 feet apart. Saturate the soil to a depth of 8 to12 inches. Add more soil to the planting site, if necessary, so the corms remain at the planted depth. Place a marker to remember where the elephant ears are planted.
Begin a weekly watering regime when shoots begin to form, usually in three to four weeks. Prevent the soil from drying out. Water more frequently to keep the elephant ears from drooping during extremely hot or dry periods.
Fertilize with a standard fertilizer every two to three weeks during the growing season. Cut back any dead or dying leaves as the plant grows.
Dig up the elephant ear tubers early in the fall when temperatures start falling below 50 degrees F. Lift the tubers from the soil with a garden fork, being careful not to damage them. Store the tubers in a paper bag in a cool, dry place during the winter. Divide the tubers before replanting in the spring.