Elephant ear plants are perennial offshoots of tuberous taro roots. Taro is most frequently grown in wet, tropical areas that have high humidity. Because of this, elephant ear plants need constant moisture and partial to full sunlight to really thrive. Elephant ear plants can be grown either inside or outside.
Plant the elephant ear plant in a large, heavy pot with a reservoir. The plant requires a constant source of moisture; a pot with a water reservoir allows the elephant ear to drink as the soil dries out.
Set the elephant ear plant near a south-facing window for maximum partial sunlight exposure. Make sure it is kept warm at all times and, if possible, store it in a humid area (such as in a greenhouse, by a kitchen or bathroom or near an indoor swimming pool). Using a grow light can be helpful if you cannot provide the plant with adequate warmth or sunlight.
Keep the plant away from direct sources of dry heat, such as radiators. They will dry out the soil and leaves.
Make a diluted blend of half liquid fertilizer and half water, and give it to the elephant ear plant once a week. To determine how much fertilizer to give the plant, consult the back of the bottle; it should tell you the amount that a potted plant requires. Cut that amount in half to make the solution.
Harden off the elephant ear plant before moving it outside for the summer. Wait until after the last frost; then put it outside every day for a week, gradually increasing the length of time each day. This helps the plant adjust to the cooler temperatures.
Place the potted elephant ear plant in an area that gets full sunshine. If planting it in the ground, select a spot that is very moist and that gets full sun. The soil does not have to be particularly well drained, but it does need to be rich and deep.
Water the elephant ear plant at least once a day. If it is in a pot without a reservoir or planted in a raised bed, it may need more frequent watering. The dirt should be completely soaked each time the plant is watered.
Give the elephant ear plant a full-strength dose of liquid fertilizer once a week. Elephant ear plants grow rapidly, especially when planted in the ground, and can sap the soil of its nutrients very quickly. The fertilizer gives it a boost.
Adjust the elephant ear plant's fertilizer and water as needed. If the plant isn't growing quickly outdoors, it's likely not getting enough water or nutrients. It may also need more sunlight; moving it to a sunnier area can help.
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Katie Leigh is a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago. A Loyola University New Orleans graduate with a bachelor's degree in communications, Leigh has worked as a copy editor, page designer and reporter for several daily newspapers and specialty publications since 2005.