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Growing Elephant Ear Plants – GIY Plants

Growing elephant ear plants in garden. Clump of all green elephant ears with fence in background.

Elephant ear plants are a stunning addition to any garden. They can transform a space into an exotic paradise with their lush, tropical foliage reminiscent of elephant ears. In this guide, we’ll explore how to grow and care for elephant ear plants indoors and outdoors.

What Are Elephant Ear Plants?

Elephant ears are tropical plants known for their large leaves throughout the growing season. Common types of elephant ears include colocasia, alocasia, and xanthosoma. These plants are often grown outdoors in the garden but can also be planted indoors as a houseplant.

Elephant Ears Care: Essential Tips

Potted elephant ears sitting outside window of home. Elephant ears care tips.

Light Requirements

Elephant ears can be planted in full sun to partial shade. They prefer growing in a part-shade or dappled sun location. The more sun you give elephant ears, the more you will have to water the plant.

Soil and Watering

Elephant ears grow best in rich, moist soil. They thrive in boggy areas, marshes, swampland, or water gardens. Keep the soil wet but not soggy. In some climates, you may need to water the plants daily or several times per day.

Temperature and Climate

Elephant ears are tropical plants that thrive in warm climates. They will be evergreen in USDA zone 10 or slightly warmer but may die back to the ground in zones 8 to 9, returning in the spring.

Fertilizing Elephant Ears

Like many tropical plants, elephant ears are heavy feeders. Apply a water-soluble, high-nitrogen fertilizer every two to three weeks to keep the plant healthy.

How to Plant Elephant Ears

Elephant ear bulb sitting on table with soil and garden hand tools. Everything you need for how to plant elephant ears.

Planting in the Garden

Plant elephant ears about 4 inches deep in the garden. Space the plants at least 2 feet apart for smaller elephant ears and 4 feet apart for larger varieties. These fast-growing plants will achieve their full size within two months.

Planting in Containers

Elephant ears can be grown as container plants. Use a potting mix with organic matter that helps hold moisture. Container-grown plants may need watering twice daily in warm weather.

Propagating Elephant Ears

From Tubers

Elephant ears likely grow from a tuber. You can propagate elephant ears by dividing the tuber at the end of the growing season. Store the tuber in a dry, cool spot until the following spring.

From Seeds

Less commonly, elephant ears are grown from seed. Sprinkle the seeds on top of a seed-starting mix and keep the mix damp.

Common Problems and Solutions

Pests and Plant Diseases

The most common elephant ear plant diseases include fungal leaf blight and Pythium rot. Spider mites may also infest the plant. Regularly inspect the plants and take appropriate action if needed.

Yellowing or Drooping Leaves

If the leaves turn yellow or sag, they need more or less sunlight, water, or fertilizer. Cut back the yellow leaves and adjust care as needed.

Growing Elephant Ears Indoors

Elephant ears can be grown indoors as houseplants. Place the plant near a bright window but not directly on the windowsill. Keep the soil consistently moist and mist the plant to provide humidity.

Overwintering Elephant Ears

Dig up the tubers before the first frost in colder climates and store them in a cool basement or garage. They can be replanted outdoors in the spring.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of elephant ear plants?

Elephant ear plants are categorized into three main types: Colocasia, Alocasia, and Xanthosoma.

Can I grow elephant ear plants indoors?

Yes, elephant ear plants can be grown indoors and in a garden. They make great indoor plants and can add a tropical touch to your home.

How do I care for elephant ear plants?

Elephant ear plants require well-draining soil and regular watering. They also need partial shade or filtered sunlight. Additionally, you can fertilize the plant every 4-6 weeks during the growing season and support the plants if necessary.

Are elephant ear plants easy to grow?

Yes, elephant ear plants are relatively easy to grow. They are known for their robust growth and can thrive in various conditions.

How do I plant and grow elephant ear bulbs?

To plant elephant ear bulbs:
1. Dig a hole deep enough for the bulb and plant it with the pointy side facing up.
2. Cover the bulb with soil and water thoroughly.
3. Place the bulbs in a location that receives partial shade or filtered sunlight.

Do elephant ear plants require any special care?

Elephant ear plants require regular watering, well-draining soil, and partial shade or filtered sunlight. They will also benefit from occasional fertilization and support as they grow.

Can elephant ears be left in the ground during winter?

Elephant ears are perennial plants in zones 9 and above. In colder regions (below zone 9), the bulbs must be dug up and stored indoors during winter.

What are some common plant diseases that can affect elephant ear plants?

Some common plant diseases affecting elephant ear plants include leaf spot, bacterial soft rot, and root rot. Proper care and regular inspection can help prevent these diseases.

How often should I fertilize my elephant ear plants?

It is recommended to fertilize elephant ear plants every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. Use a balanced fertilizer and follow the instructions on the package.

Can I bring my elephant ear indoors during the winter?

Yes, if you live in a region with colder winters, bringing your elephant ear plants indoors during the winter is advised. Please place them in a location where they can receive sufficient light.


Growing elephant ear plants is an exciting venture. Whether planted outdoors in the garden or indoors as a houseplant, these tropical beauties add a touch of the exotic to any space. With proper care, elephant ears will grow and thrive, providing lush foliage throughout the growing season. Follow our guide, and you’ll have beautiful elephant ears in your garden or home in no time.

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