How to Fertilize an Elephant Ear


The elephant ear plant (Colocasia esculenta) grows in tropical and subtropical areas. They can be grown in northern regions but the plants will need to be dug up to store or moved indoors in a container during the winter. There are several varieties of elephant ear plants available. The plants grow from large tubers which look similar to a potato. Elephant ears are often considered to be a wetland plant. A few varieties can successfully be grown in water but most species enjoy moist soil without waterlogged roots. The elephant ear is a heavy feeder and requires a regular fertilizing schedule to thrive.

Step 1

Fertilize the elephant ear plant every month in the spring, summer and early fall using a 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer according to the directions on the fertilizer label.

Step 2

Watch for yellow leaves on the elephant plant. If the new leaves emerge with a slightly yellowish tint apply Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) to the elephant ear plant. Mix 1/8 cup Epsom salt per one gallon of water and pour around the elephant ear plant. If the elephant ear plant is grown in a container, apply the Epsom salt and water along the edges of the planter.

Step 3

Work humus into the soil surrounding the elephant plant once a month to add valuable, natural fertilizer nutrients to the fertilizer. Use bark chips, decaying leaves or peat moss. Apply 2 to 3 inches to the topsoil as a mulch and also work the humus into the soil using a simple garden trowel. Do not dig too deeply or you will disturb the elephant plant's roots. Work up 1 inch of soil and then apply the humus material. Water thoroughly. The humus works as a mulch to help the plant retain water and prevent weed growth. Humus also adds nutrients to the soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • All parts of many elephant ear plants are toxic if consumed by humans or animals.

Things You'll Need

  • 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer
  • Epsom salt
  • Garden trowel
  • Mulch/humus


  • Central Florida Farms: Easy Elephant Ear Plant Cultivation Guide
  • Parker County Master Gardener: Elephant Ears
  • Easy To Grow Bulbs: Elephant Ears (Colocasia and Alocasia) Growing Information

Who Can Help

  • Mississippi State University: Elephant ears add a tropical flair to gardens
Keywords: fertilizing elephant ear plants, growing elephant ear plants, care of elephant ear plants

About this Author

Kimberly Sharpe is a freelance writer with a diverse background. She has worked as a Web writer for the past four years. She writes extensively for Associated Content where she is both a featured home improvement contributor (with special emphasis on gardening) and a parenting contributor. She also writes for Helium. She has worked professionally in the animal care and gardening fields.