How to Winter Over Elephant Ears


Elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) is a topical plant with large, heart-shaped leaves that can grow 2 to 3 feet long. Elephant ears grow from tubers, bulb-like underground structures. This plant is hardy down to USDA zone 8, which means it will survive the winter outdoors in areas where the temperature stays above 20 degrees F. In all other areas, elephant ears takes special care to survive frost.

Step 1

Watch the elephant ears around the first light frost. When the foliage turns light brown, this is an indication the plant is going dormant.

Step 2

Cut the plant back to 2 to 4 inches from the ground with pruning shears a few days after this frost. Carefully dig up the tubers with a potato fork or spade.

Step 3

Wash the soil off the tubers with water. Set them out to dry out of the sun until they are dry to the touch.

Step 4

Store the elephant ears tubers in a milk crate surrounded by sawdust or peat moss. This will provide the tubers with enough moisture to last through the winter. Place them in a cool area, such as a cellar or crawl space.

Step 5

Re-pot the tubers indoors in a pot filled with half peat and half perlite, six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Keep the plant moist. This will give the elephant ears a head start for the growing season.

Things You'll Need

  • Potato fork or spade
  • Milk crate
  • Sawdust or peat moss
  • Pot
  • Peat
  • Perlite


  • Iowa State University Extension: Growing Elephant Ears
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Storing Tender Bulbs and Bulblike Structures
  • University of Illinois Extension: Overwintering Tropical Plants
Keywords: winterize elephant ears, elephant ear care, storing 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.