How to Plant Elephant Ear Plants

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The elephant ear (colocasia esculenta), is grown for its large heart-shaped purple, green or variegated foliage, and as a popular food source. It can grow from 3-9 feet tall with leaves up to 6 feet. It does well in light shade, usually growing larger then when it's planted in full sun. It makes a showy border plant that's a valuable addition to almost any garden but can become invasive in areas south of zone 8.

Step 1

Locate a place in your garden that has full sun or partial shade. It should have moist humus-rich soil. If your soil consists of a clay or sand, you can amend it by adding compost or organic matter.

Step 2

Dig a hole 8-10 inches deep for large bulbs and 2-3 inches deep for small bulbs. Space them about 12-18 inches apart. Plant the bulb with its tip up and roots facing down.

Step 3

Water the elephant ear after planting and give it a through soaking. Keep the soil moist during the growing season, don't let it dry out.

Step 4

Fertilize elephant ears once a month with a slow release, water-soluble fertilizer. You can use a 20-20-20 fertilizer.

Step 5

The bulbs can stay in the ground south of zone 8 but you should lift and store them in northern zones. A few days after the first frost, cut the foliage back to 2-4 inches. Dig up the bulbs and allow them to dry. Place them in a box filled with peat moss and store it in a crawl space or a cool basement.

Tips and Warnings

  • Parts of the plant are poisonous. Wear gloves when you're handling the plant because the juice from its leaves can cause rashes.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost (if needed)


  • General aroid care
  • Elephant's ear plants
  • Info on elephant's ear plants
Keywords: growing elephant ears, elephant ear plants, hot to grow elephant ears

About this Author

Liz Ward is a Visual Communications Designer and writer. Ward's articles are published on and Ward has written for Demand Studios and Text Broker. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Design and a Minor in photography from Purdue University. She is also a master gardener.

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