Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > April 2013 > Planting an Elephant...Ear, that is

Planting an Elephant...Ear, that is

Elephant ears are native to Polynesia and Southeast Asia where they are called “Taro.” It is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world, having been cultivated for over 10,000 years as a food crop. I’d much rather grow one than eat one, however. 
My backyard is sandwiched between a huge weeping willow one side and numerous smaller oaks and maples on the other side. In my shady backyard, elephant ears provide drama and lush tropical foliage. Like other Arum family members, they are not generally bothered by pests so are especially good in “Deer Country.” They grow best in moist soil and shade. They will tolerate sun with a constant water source, however. Consistent moisture and compost-enriched soil will give you the largest plants.
Elephants Ears are reliably hardy to zone 8 but have wintered over in zone 7 with winter protection. Still, to be safe, they can be dug and stored cool (but not freezing), dark and dry over the winter. Like their cousins, the caladiums, they can take four to six weeks to break dormancy, so for earliest show, I start them indoors when the tubers are first available in March and move outside after the first of May.
Some varieties of Alocasia are often called Elephant Ears, too. They are related to the colocasias and caladiums and can be treated much the same way. They are not quite as hardy here so digging and storing over the winter is best. Most Alocasias tend to hold their leaves up—rather than arching over--and are often called “Upright Elephant Ears.” 
There are so many new cultivars these days that it can be hard to decide which ones to plant. Colocasia “Black Magic” has burgundy/purple foliage which is quite dramatic, as does Alocasia “Plumbea Nigra.” Both need just a little sun to keep the color more intense. Another newer introduction (and probably my favorite) is the two-foot tall Alocasia “Hilo Beauty” with golden spots all over velvety green leaves. 
Which ever one you try, it can be fun to plant an Elephant in your yard.
Posted: 4/1/2013 by Bonnie Pega | with 4 comment(s)
Filed under: BonniePega, Bonnie'sGarden
Hey Lou! I don't take call in orders. My mehracnt account is for dog boarding and we take Pay Pal for plants. It is 100% secure, however I understand if you're uncomfortable with this. Just send in a check to the farm: Dancing Creek Farm, 244 West Fork Rd, Cascade, VA 24069 Make check to Dancing Creek Farm. I'll ship it next week if you email your address or just send it to me on Face Book.
5/22/2013 5:45:06 AM

I just moved to a house with a shady lawn. These will work great!
4/5/2013 7:03:03 PM

I always learn so much from you! Thanks for your inspiring information!
4/4/2013 11:57:10 AM

I saw an Elephant Ear growing in a pot at the nursery last year and it was sensational. There are very few large plants that look good in the shade and I cannot wait to plant them in my gardens and in some pots. thanks for the tips. love this blog.
4/4/2013 10:27:00 AM

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