11 Elephant Ears (Colocasia, Alocasia, and Xanthosoma) 2022
Elephants are the largest existing land animals. Three living species are currently recognised: the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant. They are an informal grouping within the proboscidean family Elephantidae.
- Family: Elephantidae
- Order: Proboscidea
- Mass: Asian elephant: 4,000 kg, African bush elephant: 6,000 kg, African forest elephant: 2,700 – 6,000 kg
- Lifespan: Asian elephant: 48 years, African bush elephant: 60 – 70 years, African forest elephant: 60 – 70 years
- Gestation period: Asian elephant: 18 – 22 months, African bush elephant: 22 months
- Height: Asian elephant: 2.8 m, African bush elephant: 3.2 m
All about the Elephant Ear plant (Alocasia)
Elephant ears are a spectacular plant to add to your garden; the foliage makes everyone who sees it stop and look twice. It is easy to mistake plants with large leaves for elephant ears, but native to the tropical region. There are different types of elephant ears available to grow in your garden.
Origin of the Elephant Ears plant
Elephant ears originate from the tropical region of the United States; You can only grow them in the ground if you live in USDA zones 10 and 11. However, anyone can grow elephant ears in containers as houseplants or summer annuals.
Let’s take a look at all the information you need to know before growing elephant ears in your garden!
Varieties of elephant ears
When you look at all the different elephant ears, you will see a wide range of sizes. Some can be almost 10 feet tall, but other varieties are only two feet tall. Some grow best in the shade, while others need to live in full sun.
These are some popular types of elephant ears that you can grow in your garden.
These are the first types of elephant ears you can find. Colocasia is native to the swampy regions of Asia, and there are more than 200 species of Colocasia. That means you can find the perfect crop for your garden.
Colocasia leaves can reach up to three feet long and two feet wide; that’s some big leaves! These plants display their leaves with the tip pointing down. The leaves are heart-shaped, and some of these plants can grow up to eight feet tall.
Colocasia plants prefer to grow in full sun and need constant moisture. All the Colocasia varieties are heat lovers, but they don’t mind a little protection from the afternoon sun.
If you are looking for a plant that will turn heads, choose the Black Magic variety. The leaves are dark, bluish-black leaves. You can highlight the leaves by placing contrasting red, orange, or yellow flowers nearby. Those colours make the blue and black stand out.
In late summer, Colocasia Black Magic plants are typically three to five feet tall.
When you grow the Black Stem variety, you will notice that the plant has beautiful burgundy to black stems that lead to arrow-shaped blue-green leaves. Under the right conditions, this variety can reach up to two meters in height in a few months.
If you live in a colder region, Black Stem is best grown in a warm, sheltered location in a container.
Colocasia Diamond Head produces broad, bluish-black leaves that are shallow and shiny. They reflect light, creating a dramatic effect in your garden.
To achieve the best possible leaf colour, be sure to plant Diamond Head in full sunlight and provide plenty of moisture. The mature size is three to four feet tall, and the leaves grow up to two feet wide.
Here is a newer cultivar from Hawaii. It has shiny lime-green leaves with dark red veins on the back with dark red stems.
Hawaiian Punch reaches a meter in height at full maturity, making it smaller than other varieties. Works excellent for potting and gardening in tight spaces.
If you want a variegated elephant ear plant, you’ll love the Colocasia Mojito. This plant has variegated foliage with unique black and blue stripes and dots. No leaf is the same, making it unique and exciting to your garden.
Mojito plants reach a mature size of two to three feet tall to be grown in containers and small gardens. They won’t overwhelm your garden beds.
Here is a variety of dark green matte leaves with a purple-black shading. The veins and petioles are bright green, creating a great contrast on each leaf. If you grow Illustris in full sunlight, you can expect the colour to be more intense.
cup of tea
Here is another variety of Colocasia to add to your garden. Teacup Colocasia has glossy bluish-grey leaves with burgundy ribs and stems. The leaves are curved and point upwards, creating a kind of cup or saucer at the base of the leaves that will collect water. When full of water, the leaves turn down and spill out.
Caladium is the type of elephant ear most often found in garden nurseries. These plants are perennial and hardy in USDA zones 8 through 11.
The main difference about Caladium varieties is that they are smaller species. Some of the species only reach two feet in height, and some have leaves that are only eight to 12 inches long. Most of these cultivars grow best in partial sunlight.
Caladium Pink Symphony has pink, and cream spotted leaves with green veins and a point at the end. These are smaller plants with shorter stems and small leaves. It typically matures at 14 inches tall and 16 inches wide to grow in containers.
Pink Symphony is a shade-loving plant that prefers well-drained, clay soil. They work great in shaded areas or as a garden accent.
Here is a Caladium cultivar with variegated cream and green leaves. It is not a large plant, suitable for pots or small gardens. You can place Iceberg in a partially shaded area for optimal growth.
Rose Glow is a hybrid cultivar of Caladium with medium green leaves with a bright pink centre and white edges around the pink centre. As the leaves begin to mature, you’ll notice more white developing along the midribs, adding to the contrast with the pink centre.
Rose Glow grows best in partial shade in shaded areas. Works well as a houseplant with bright light exposure. Once mature, these plants reach up to two feet tall and 14 inches wide.
If you want a vibrant leaf variety, Red Flash, often called Angel Wings, has large, heart-shaped, olive-green leaves with bright red veins and pink dots. Later, calla-like flowers appear in the summer, but they’re easy to miss because these plants typically reach up to three feet tall and two feet wide.
Red Flash is more sun tolerant than other Caladium varieties. You can use it in borders for splashes of colour or grow them in containers. They also work well as houseplants.
This elephant ear variety produces calla lily-like flowers, and the plants are typically six feet tall. Alocasia plants have arrow-shaped foliage. Many of the leaves have black, tan, or dark purple stripes.
One difference from Alocasia elephant ears is that the tip of the leaves points up or up. They also need more well-drained soil and some shade for optimal growth. Find a spot that has bright, indirect sunlight and moist soil.
Often grown as a houseplant, Amazonica is an elephant ear variety with narrow, dark green leaves with wavy edges. Leaves can grow up to two feet long, with creamy white ribs and margins.
Occasionally, the plant will produce yellow flowers that look like calla lilies. The plant can grow up to three feet tall and grows best in partial shade with rich, moist soil at full maturity.
This variety reaches up to five feet tall with paddle-shaped leaves as pretty as significant. Odora is one of the largest growers in the Alocasia family and is one of the few that can easily withstand cooler temperatures in zone 8.
Growing in the right conditions can cause plants to grow to massive sizes. Some can reach up to ten or 15 feet tall. The leaves are thick and durable, and as it grows, the stem becomes more of a trunk.
This variety has sturdy stems and upward-facing leaves; you will notice that the leaves are broad and paddle-shaped. It’s an excellent choice for container gardening or growing near your patio. You can also extend this as a houseplant in the winter months.
This is the least common type of elephant ear. The plants require temperatures consistently above 68℉, which means that many places in the United States cannot grow these plants. This species is native to tropical America.
Xanthosoma plants have arrow-shaped leaves with decorative veins, making them a beautiful addition if you can grow them in your region. There are dozens of species, but these are some of the most attractive options.
This variety of Xanthosoma produces glossy chartreuse-yellow heart-shaped leaves that add distinctive colour to your garden. Plants seem to glow at times. These plants typically reach up to four feet tall, loving hot, humid summers.
This is one of the most beautiful varieties of Xanthosoma elephant ears that you can grow. Linden plants grow up to 20 inches tall with green leaves that have white to silver veining throughout. It is a rather showy plant that needs to be kept warm at all times.
Sometimes called blue taro or black taro, elephant ear plants grow large, dark green leaves with purple veins and stems. It is one of the few edible types.
Violaceum plants typically reach five to six feet tall and wide, so they work well in containers or your garden beds.
And many more…
Chances are you didn’t know there were so many different types of elephant ears, but there are hundreds! All cultivars can be divided into one of these four types. Choose the style that works best for your garden and region, and then you can find the cultivar or species you most want to grow.
Tricks for planting elephant ears
Grow elephant ears from seed
Sprinkle elephant ear seeds on top of a seed starter mix. Gently sprinkle some seed starting mix on top of that, don’t cover it entirely with the soil mix. Mist the top of the soil with a mist bottle and keep the mixture moist but not soggy. Seedlings can appear as early as three weeks or as late as three months. Keep the tray in a place with indirect but bright light.
Grow elephant ears in the right place
Elephant ears thrive in rich, evenly moist organic soil. Never let your soil dry out, especially in summer. Most can be grown in a few inches of standing water (6 inches or 15 cm) and added to water gardens.
- Amend native soils as needed to increase their organic matter with compost, manure, ground bark, or similar material.
- Elephant ears do best in the sun or partial shade. While most can be grown in partial shade, the darker coloured varieties are best grown in full sun.
- Provide a sheltered spot to protect decorative leaves from strong winds.
- Frost sensitive elephant ears are tropical winter-hardy plants in hardiness zones 8-11; however, keep in mind that hardiness varies between species and cultivars. In zone 8-9, elephant ears generally survive the winter if left on the ground. They usually die back to the ground and return in the spring once the ground temperature warms. In zones 10 to 11, the plants are almost always green. In cooler climates (zones 3-7), tubers are planted in the spring after the danger of frost has passed and are generally treated as annuals. However, if you want to save your bulbs for next spring, you can dig them up before the first frost and store them over the winter before replanting them the following spring.
Transplant elephant ears
Elephant ear is sometimes grown in large containers as patio plants, but it is essential to use a potting mix with lots of organic matter to help retain moisture. Potted plants require considerably more watering than buried plants; you may even need to water them twice a day in hot weather. Use the most significant pots that are practical to stay in scale with the enormous leaves because high-volume containers are easier to keep moist. Consider using perlite to help aerate the soil, help with drainage, and use containers with ample drainage holes; these plants like moist soil but not constantly soggy soil.
spend the winter
In colder climates, you can dig up the bulbs or tubers before the first frost and keep them in a cool (but not freezing) basement or garage. The roots are overwintered in the same way as canna bulbs and dahlia tubers. After raising the rooting structure, place it for a week in a warm place or at room temperature with air circulation to dry the tube. Airing it out will discourage rot or decay. Wrap the root piece in paper and place it in a box. Check on it periodically to make sure it isn’t rotting. If you have more than one, wrap each one separately. Once the threat of frost is over, replant them in the spring.
Elephant ear plant care
Once established, elephant ears require little attention. During periods of drought, you may want to water plants regularly, especially those grown in pots. Although not necessary, you may also wish to apply a slow-release fertilizer to the soil periodically.
Elephant ears cannot survive the winter outdoors. Freezing temperatures kill foliage and damage tubers. Therefore, the plants should be dug up and stored indoors in areas with harsh, cold winters (such as those in more northern regions).
Cut the foliage back a couple of inches (5 cm) after the first frost in your area, then carefully dig up the plants. Let the tubers dry for two days, and then store them in peat or shavings. Please put them in a cool, dark area, like a basement or crawl space. Potted plants can be moved indoors or wintered in a sheltered basement or porch.
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Summary of care:
- Provide consistent moisture throughout the growing season and not allow the soil to dry out. Regular water is the key to developing large elephant ears.
- Elephant ears are greedy eaters. Apply a liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks to promote a brilliant display.
- Keep plants mulched to a depth of 2 inches in beds (5 cm), 1 inch in pots (2.5 cm).
- Elephant ears continually produce new leaves throughout the growing season. Older leaves that gradually dieback can be removed to keep plants neat.
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Here is a selection of the best current deals on elephant ears:
Frequently asked questions about elephant ears.
Are Elephant Ear Plants Poisonous?
Elephant ear plants are poisonous if eaten in large quantities. The leaves and stems of the plant contain oxalic acid, which can cause serious illness in children or pets. However, cooking renders the toxins harmless, and many cultures have safely consumed them for years (precisely taro root or Colocasia esculenta). See more common poisonous plants for dogs and cats.
Do Elephant Ear Plants Bloom?
Yes, they can bloom; however, it is unfamiliar or predictable. Some gardeners report that they bloom (called spathes) in the spring after taking their plants outdoors and fertilizing them, while other gardeners never see them bloom. These plants are grown primarily for their tropical foliage.
Are Elephant Ear Plants Perennial?
Most are perennials in Zone 9 and warmer, returning each summer. If you’re gardening in colder areas, you can treat them as annuals or dig up the tubers before the first frost and keep them in a cool, dry place through the winter.
When do elephant ear plants sprout?
Elephant ears generally sprout three to eight weeks after planting. Budding occurs when the weather starts to warm up in spring. They will grow faster in warmer climates than in cooler temperatures. You can create them indoors and move them outdoors once it speeds up the process.
Why are my elephant ear plants turning yellow?
If the leaves turn yellow, it could mean there is a problem. Try changing the amount of sunlight or water the plant receives and possibly apply a fertilizer. Alternatively, the plant can be dormant for the season. Cut off the yellow leaves and wait for them to come back next spring.
Do elephant ears spread?
Some elephant ear plants spread out on the ground, while others grow in clumps. Runners will quickly form a large mass of plantings, both good and bad. If you’re worried about them spreading out of control, choose a clumping variety.
Can elephant ears grow in full sun?
Full sun is not ideal for most; they grow best in bright but indirect sunlight. Too much sunlight can scorch the leaves, while too little sunlight can cause yellowing. Certain varieties can tolerate full sun.
Can you plant elephant ear plants in a pot?
Yes, elephant ears can be planted in pots. Since they get pretty significant, you’ll want to select a roomy and stable container. Container-grown plants can easily be moved indoors when cold weather arrives and enjoy houseplants.
Why are my elephant ear plants falling over?
Elephant ears can fail because there is a problem. Try adjusting the amount of light or water or apply fertilizer. Another reason for the drop is that large leaves become too heavy. Staking can help support plants and prevent them from falling over. Plants will also drop if temperatures are too cold for them.
What are 10 facts about elephants?
Top 10 facts about elephants
They’re the world’s largest land animal. …
You can tell the two species apart by their ears. …
Their trunks have mad skills. …
Their tusks are actually teeth. …
They’ve got thick skin. …
Elephants are constantly eating. …
They communicate through vibrations. …
Calves can stand within 20 minutes of birth.
How many hearts do elephants have?
One of its four hearts, a branchial heart, pumps blood to the entire body while the other three are considered accessory pumps. They thrive on the bottom of the ocean floor, where oxygen is scarce, scavenging for fish or even dead carcasses to feed on.
What is special about elephants?
Elephants are the largest land animals on Earth, and they’re one of the most unique-looking animals, too. With their characteristic long noses, or trunks; large, floppy ears; and wide, thick legs, there is no other animal with a similar physique.
Is elephant a peaceful animal?
Elephants are the largest land animals on Earth. They are extremely sophisticated, peaceful creatures, revered by people across the world. … For example, while elephants are gigantic when compared to other land animals, they’re minuscule when compared to whales.
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11 Elephant Ears (Colocasia, Alocasia, and Xanthosoma) 2022