How to Plant Elephant Ear Bulbs Properly


Elephant ears are large leafy plants that look like, well, elephant ears. While the main species name is colocasia esculenta, there are several related species, including colocasia Black Magic, colocasia Illustris and alocasia macrorrhzia. It's important that you know which type of elephant ear bulb you have before you begin planting so that you plant properly. If you purchase your bulbs at a garden center, this information should be displayed prominently on the packaging.

Step 1

Find a location in which to plant. Elephant ears prefer full sun but will also grow in lightly shaded areas, such as in the front of a flower bed covered by an awning. Drainage is not much of an issue for these plants. They can thrive in very moist soil. Keep in mind that these plants grow fairly large and may block the sunlight from other plants in your garden if you place them in too close proximity.

Step 2

Dig a hole for your bulb. If you have the alocasia macrorrhzia colocasia Black Magic or colocasia Illustris variety, make the hole shallow, at about 3-inches. You want the bulb to sprout at the surface of the soil. If you have alocasia macrorrhzia or colocasia esculenta dig a hole that is at least 8-inches deep. These bulbs have the potential to grow very large.

Step 3

Put your elephant ear bulb in the hole root side down. Cover the bulb and fill the rest of the hole with soil. Pat it down gently.

Step 4

Water the bulb until the soil is completely soaked. Stop when water begins to pool. Water again to saturation each time you notice the soil has become dry.

Step 5

Check for sprouts starting at three weeks. Some elephant ears will take up to eight weeks to germinate, depending on the temperature and moistness of the soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you live in hardiness zones 1 to 7 (see resources), your bulbs may not survive the winter. Dig up your bulbs before the ground begins to freeze in the fall or winter and store them in a plastic bag filled with damp peat moss. You can plant them again next spring. Do not dig up your elephant ears if you live in a zone 8 or below. They will sit dormant over the winter and come back on their own.

Things You'll Need

  • Elephant ear bulbs
  • Shovel or trowel


  • Easy to Grow Bulbs

Who Can Help

  • USDA hardiness zones
Keywords: elephant ear, plant elephant ear, elephant ear bulbs

About this Author

Based in Washington, D.C., Kate Evelyn has been writing professionally since 2000. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications, including "Elle" magazine, "Brass|CU" magazine and the "Credit Union Times." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Western Maryland College.