How To Care For and Grow Elephant Ears Plants

Elephant ears are perennial tubers from the origin Colocasia esculenta, pronounced as [kol-oh-KAY-see-uh] [es-kew-LEN-tuh]. 

The family Araceae [a-RAY-see-ee] is often called aroid or arum, referring to the arrow-like features.

Botanically, elephant ears can either refer to the Colocasia or Alocasia genus. They’re also commonly called:

  • Yam-Yam
  • Taro 
  • Cocoyam
  • Caladium
  • Amadumbe

The Basics of Elephant Ears Plant Care

How Big Do Elephant Ears Grow

Depending on the genus and the climate, elephant ears plants can range between 2′ to 15′ feet tall. The shortest types are often the caladiums. The foliage itself is around 8″ to 12″ inches long.

Elephant ears are resilient and known to grow almost all year round. They also have a rapid growth cycle.

Do Elephant Ears Flower and Have a Fragrance?

Although elephant ears have blooming flowers during summer and spring, they’re rare. It’s hard to see them in midwestern climates, but they’re aroid-like, with spathe and spadix. During winter, elephant ears can become stagnant in their growth.

Elephant ears are grown for two reasons: their pretty foliage and their heavenly scent. Their foliage (heart-shaped or arrow-shaped) combines a mix of fruity and herbal scents. The good news is their foliage lasts all year long!

The not-so-good news is that the foliage can be toxic if ingested raw. Cooked, on the other hand, the foliage, tuber, and stem are all edible!

What Lighting and Temperatures Do Elephant Ears Need to Grow Best?

Elephant ears can be grown either indoors or outdoors. For indoor growth, it needs indirect light. Meanwhile, outdoor growth requires partial shade but plants grow well in full sun when protected. 

You can shift from indoors to outdoors during the summer. You don’t always need to transplant. Just immerse the pot into the soil outside.

Ideally, you should keep elephant ears out of strong air currents. They grow best in humid areas and with a minimum of 60° degrees Fahrenheit. They can survive in climate zones 9 to 11.

Do Elephant Ears Require Lots of Water?

Elephant ear plants are demanding when it comes to water. Always keep an eye on the soil. The plants like moist soils but not swampy soil.

Yellow leaves are usually signs that a plant needs water, fertilizer, or both.

They are heavy feeders and need a balanced fertilizer during the growing season.

What Soil Mix Is Best Potting and Transplanting

Plant elephant ear bulbs in any loose loam soil. Give your pot enough drainage to avoid overwatering. Always use a pot with drainage holes. Acidic soil (5.5 to 6.5) works best for elephant ears.

When repotting your plants, try to go up in size every now and then. This gives better room for rhizome growth. We recommend you do this annually.

If you want to transplant outdoors, try to keep a pace of around 4 feet spacing between each plant and the other. They can spread 2 feet wide.

What Kind Of Grooming and Maintenance Do Elephant Ears Need?

Pruning and repotting are going to be the only major maintenance processes you’ll need to do for elephant ears at home.

Pale leaves with dead spots can be pruned away regularly. Once annually, you should tame the rhizomes and re-pot your elephant ears.

How to Propagate Elephant Ears Plants

You can propagate elephant ears by planting bulbs or tubers. Here’s how to do it:

  • Select healthy tbulbs or ubers from a parent and carefully cut them from the plant. A moderate size will do; make sure it’s not infected.
  • Place the fresh-cut rhizome barely under the surface of the loose soil, about 5 inches deep.
  • Keep the soil moist and the area well-lit.
  • If you’re planting in open spaces, don’t forget to maintain spaces for spreading!
  • It’s crucial to look out for their water and nutrient needs until they mature. Elephant ears mature in about 5 to 10 months.

Pests or Diseases of Elephant Ears Plants

Like most other plants with abundant foliage, elephant ears are susceptible to spider mites, aphids, and other foliage diseases. 

If you notice these issues, know that they can be tamed easily. Just try to stay on top of it with any plant insecticide. Natural ones work well in these cases.

Elephant ears’ foliage can also droop or fade in color. Again, this is probably due to un-moderated water and feeding cycles. 

If your elephant ears seem dull and limp, test if you’re overdoing or underdoing the watering and fertilizing, then adjust as necessary.

Inadequate drainage can also create an ideal environment for pests and infections.

Suggested Uses for Elephant Ears

Elephant ears have one of the most garden-ready foliage you’ll ever see. The leaves are either heart-shaped or arrow-shaped, and they are also heavenly scented. That makes a perfect ornamental houseplant. 

However, you’ll need to remember that elephant ears might be toxic if ingested raw. So, if you have little kids or overly curious pets, it might be a good idea to keep the plant outdoors.