How to Care for Elephant Ears in Northern Climates


Elephant ears, also called taro or Colocasia esculenta, produce 2- to 3-foot long heart-shaped leaves that span at least 1 foot across. They originate from the Asian tropics and are hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11, where the temperature does not drop below 20 degrees F. This does not occur in the north, where the plant must be grown as an annual. Create the right environment during the growing season and overwinter it during the cooler weather to help keep elephant ears in production.

Step 1

Plant the elephant ears after the threat of frost passes in an area with full sun and moist or wet soil.

Step 2

Dig 2 inches into the ground with a spade, mixing in a healthy amount of organic compost. Plant tubers with the corms facing down.

Step 3

Soak the taro with water. Keep it wet during the spring, summer and fall. Water it more frequently if the corm was planted in drier, more well-drained soil. The plant loves the humidity created by full sun exposure and lots of water.

Step 4

Fertilize the elephant ears weekly during the growing season with a complete, liquid fertilizer. Follow the directions on the package for application instructions.

Step 5

Dig up the corms of the elephant ears after the foliage turns yellow or dies from the first frost. Allow the corms to dry indoors with the remaining foliage, in an area away from the sun. Store the corms in sphagnum peat in a cool room with temperatures between 50 and 55 degrees F. Re-plant the corms in spring after the danger of frost passes.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Organic compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Sphagnum peat


  • Floridata: Colocasia esculenta
  • University of Minnesota Master Gardener: Elephant Ear Care
  • University of Minnesota: Storing Tender Bulbs and Bulblike Structures
  • North Carolina State University: Colocasia esculenta
Keywords: elephant ear care, watering elephant ears, fertilizing elephant ears, overwintering elephant ears

About this Author

Sarah Morse recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature. She has been freelancing for three months and got her start writing for an environmental website.