Elephant ears are foliage plants related to caladiums and are grown for their large, colorful leaves. Elephant ears come in a range of sizes depending on variety, growing from 3 to 5 feet tall. The small and medium sized elephant ear plants are well suited for growing in pots for use on decks, patios, balconies and as indoor plants. Elephant ears are natives of tropical and subtropical areas and thrive in areas of sun, heat and high humidity.
Silver dollar (Colocasia fallax ‘Silver Dollar’) is a dwarf variety of elephant ear well suited to growing in pots with a mature height of about 15 inches. Silver dollar is hardy in USDA Zones 7b to 10 and is a native of China. The plant thrives in areas of light shade and prefers a very moist soil. The velvety foliage is rounded and medium green in color with a distinct silver band in the center with silver veins extending from the silver center to the leaf edges. Silver dollar blooms with yellow flowers in the form of spathe and spadix all through the summer. The plant is slow growing and forms a 4-foot patch in about two years.
The dwarf elephant ear (Colocasia affinis ‘Jenningsii’) has a mature height and spread of 1 to 3 feet. The relatively small size of the plant makes it an ideal choice for growing in pots and other containers as either indoor or outdoor plants. Jenningsii has dark green, velvety foliage with a large silvery splash of color in the center. There are smaller veins starting from the center and extending to the foliage edges. Jenningsii is hardy in USDA Zones 9 to 11 and thrives in wet soil and areas of partial shade. Jenningsii has a clump-forming growth habit and is a low-maintenance plant. Propagate the plant by dividing the tubers during winter or early spring.
'Lime Zinger' (Xanthosoma aurea) is a medium-sized plant with a full height of 3 to 5 feet. The size of 'Lime Zinger' makes it a good choice for growing in larger pots for use on shaded decks and patios. it is hardy in USDA Zones 9 to 11 and grows best in areas of sun or shade and a fertile, moist soil. With heart-shaped, 2-foot-long, chartreuse foliage, 'Lime Zinger' has a rapid growth rate and a clumping growth habit. Use in combination with other foliage plants in a large container or by itself as a focal point.