The elephant ear is a tropical plant that can grow leaves up to 2 feet wide and up to 6 feet long. Elephant ear plants, in wetlands conditions, can grow so quickly and so large that they are classified as an invasive plant. Similar in shape to a Caladium, which come in a variety of colors but are much smaller, an elephant ear plant can make a stunning addition to a garden design that is in need of height or a focal point.
Plant the elephant ear tubers in well-drained, acidic soil that's high in organic matter. The plant's natural habitat is along ponds and lakes in wetlands where the soil is rich and moist. Emulating that environment will provide the best results.
Choose a partially shaded area for best results. Elephant ears can tolerate full sun, but must be planted near a body of water or have full access to ample amounts of water to thrive in sunny areas.
Add compost around the plant each spring. This adds organic matter to the soil. Using a shovel, place a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost around the base of the plant. Spread it about 12 inches from the plant. Work the compost into the soil with a garden rake, if desired. You also may leave it to settle on its own.
Provide ample water to your elephant ear. For fastest growth, water each day to keep the soil damp or even wet during its growing season. During the winter, when the plant is dormant, it is best to keep the tubers of the root system dry.
Divide the plant in the fall by cutting off the side-growing tubers beneath the ground using a shovel or sharp knife. If the plant is being kept within USDA hardiness zones 8, 9 or above, the plant will survive continuously throughout the year. Occasionally frost may kill off some leaves but the plant will rejuvenate in the spring. For hardiness zones that have hard freezes, remove the tubers from the ground and keep them dry. Plant them again in the spring.