How to Plant Elephant Ears

Overview

Elephant ears are two species, colocasia esculenta and alocasia macrorrhiza. Both are closely related to caladiums and both resemble the ears of an elephant. Elephant ears emerge from large oval shaped bulbs. They are happy in dry soil and moist soil, and tolerate a wide range of pH and soil types, making them easy to grow. Give elephant ears room to grow as they will shade out smaller neighbors. Elephant ears are available in black, black with green veins as well as green and purple. Whichever color you choose, elephant ears will bring tropical flair to your garden.

Planting elephant ear bulbs in a garden

Step 1

Plant bulbs in late spring when soil temperatures are more than 55 degrees.

Step 2

Select firm bulbs without blemishes or signs of fungus or insect damage.

Step 3

Choose a spot with full sun or light shade. The more sun your elephant ear plant receives, the brighter its color will be.

Step 4

Dig a hole wide enough for the bulb to be placed vertically in the soil and deep enough that the tip of the bulb will be 4 to 6 inches below the soil surface.

Step 5

Place the bulb in the hole with the pointier end up. This is the end from which the foliage will emerge.

Step 6

Cover the bulb with 4 to 6 inches of soil. Water well. Foliage will emerge in 3 to 8 weeks, depending on variety.

Planting elephant ear bulbs in containers

Step 1

Choose a decorative container at least 18 inches deep and wide.

Step 2

Fill the bottom 1/3 of the container with gravel or small stones. The added weight will prevent the container from tipping over as the elephant ear grows.

Step 3

Fill the container to the top with a general purpose potting soil. Leave a hole in the middle just enough for the bulb and deep enough to place the tip of the bulb 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface.

Step 4

Place the bulb vertically in the hole with the pointier tip toward the surface. Cover with 1 to 2 inches of soil. Water well.

Step 5

Place the container in an area where it will receive 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.

Tips and Warnings

  • Planting too deeply will prevent foliage from emerging. Always choose a shallower hole over one that is too deep. Planting elephant ear bulbs in soil that is cold (less than 55 degrees) may cause the bulb to rot and die. Gardeners in Northern areas should lift their elephant ear bulbs every fall and store indoors.

Things You'll Need

  • Elephant ear bulb
  • Hand trowel
  • Decorative container at least 18 inches wide and deep
  • Gravel or small stones
  • General purpose potting soil

References

  • Easy to grow bulbs; planting elephant ear bulbs
  • Taylor's Master Guide to Gardening; Houghton Mifflin Company; 1994
Keywords: Planting elephant ear bulbs, Elephant ear plants, Planting bulbs