How to Grow Elephant Ears or Taro


Although the common name elephant ears describes a number of plants in different genera, the taro plant is scientifically known as Colocasio esculenta. A tropical perennial plant, taro, when grown as an ornamental, is called elephant ears. The taro plant grows to 4 feet in height and is produced from an edible corm. In Hawaii, the corm is mashed to make poi. There are two ways to grow taro: upland and wetland. All taro plants require at least 200 frost-free days a year to thrive and do best when grown in United States Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 9 through 11.

Step 1

Plant taro in partial shade in an area that remains no cooler than 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2

Prepare the planting area by removing all weeds from within a 3-foot radius of where you intend to plant the taro.

Step 3

Amend the soil by mixing 3 inches of compost and 1 inch of peat moss into the top 8 inches of soil. For upland taro plantings, add 7-30-20 fertilizer, at 3 lbs. per 100 square feet of planting area. Use the rake to mix it into the soil.

Step 4

Plant the corm 6 inches deep, and cover with soil.

Step 5

Water the wetland taro plant until the water puddles and keep the soil wet. It is impossible to overwater the wetland taro plant. Water the upland taro plant until the soil is moist to a depth of 6 inches and keep it moist.

Step 6

Remove weeds as they appear. Taro plants do poorly when forced to compete with weeds for soil moisture and nutrients.

Step 7

Fertilize both types taro plant two months after planting and then again two months later and two months after that. Dig a 6-inch deep furrow, 6 inches away from the plant, and sprinkle 16-16-16 fertilizer, at the rate of 1 lb. per 100 square feet of planting area in the bottom of the furrow. Cover the furrow with soil, and water to a depth of 8 inches.

Tips and Warnings

  • All parts of the taro plant contain calcium oxalate, which can cause digestive problems if not cooked prior to eating.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Peat moss
  • Fertilizer
  • Rake


  • UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants: Elephant Ear and Taro
  • USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center: Taro
  • University of Hawaii: Taro
Keywords: grow elephant ears, grow taro plant, plant taro corm

About this Author

Victoria Hunter has been a freelance writer since 2005. She has a background in real estate sales, blogs professionally for LendingTree and has provided articles to national and regional real estate websites and publications. She has also created content for numerous real estate websites in the U.S. and Canada. Hunter holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.