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How to Grow Elephant Ear From a Bulb

By Melissa Lewis ; Updated September 21, 2017

Elephant ears--also called Colocasia esculenta, Araceae or taro--are large-leafed plants grown in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11. Some gardeners grow elephant ears to harvest their edible root structures, which are commonly called bulbs and tubers (they look like tubers) but are actually corms. The bulbs (corms) are ready to harvest 6 to 8 months after planting, but can continue on to grow as an ornamental plant if desired.

Choose a planting location that is in full sun. Elephant ears can also tolerate some shade, if necessary. Elephant ears love water, and those planted near a water source, such as a stream or pond, may become invasive in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.

Improve the soil conditions, if necessary. Elephant ears need soil that drains well. To tell if your soil is well draining, check the ground after a hard rain. If a puddle remains after 5 hours, the soil is not well draining. Improve the soil by tilling the top 12 to 18 inches and mixing in several inches of organic matter (e.g., compost, sand, peat).

Plant the bulbs about 2 to 3 inches below the soil. Elephant ear bulbs lay on their side and should be spaced about 2 feet apart from one another.

Backfill the soil and tamp it down well to get rid of any air pockets. Water the bulbs well and cover the planting site with about 2 to 3 inches of mulch (e.g., bark, wood chips).

Keep the soil moist after planting, even during the winter months in zones 9 to 11, where elephant ears are an evergreen. However, in zone 8, stop watering it during the fall before the plant goes dormant in the winter. Begin to keep the soil moist again in the spring.


Things You Will Need

  • Garden rake or tiller
  • Organic matter
  • Water
  • Mulch


About the Author


Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.