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How to Grow Elephant Ear Plants

Elephant Ear plants are a big, leafy member of the Caladium family. We're talkin' big leaves, as big as an elephant's ear. The colorful leaves have a shape resembling an elephant's ear, too.

Homeowners are fascinated by this big-leaved plant that grows three to five feet tall. Originating in tropical and sub-tropical areas, they love sunshine, heat, and high humidity. They are easy to grow and will grow in sun or shade.

Note: this plant can be poisonous to children and pets.

Plant Propagation:

Elephant Ears are grown from tuberous bulbs. After the plants have died back in the fall, dig up bulbs. Clean and store them in a cool, dark area until planting the following spring.  

After planting your Elephant Ears, have patience. It may take several weeks for the plant to first emerge. Once it sprouts, a growing Elephant ear plant can grow at a fast pace.

In southern areas, they can remain in the ground over winter. Add a heavy layer of mulch to protect the bulbs from freezing.

How to Grow Elephant Ear Plants:

Plant bulbs in the spring.  Find a sunny location, as these plants like hot sun and humidity. Elephant ears prefer a rich, organic soil.  They are moisture lovers, yet the soil needs to drain well.

Note: Elephant Ear plants can be invasive. You may want to install a border edging 3"-6" deep into the soil around the plants.

Plant bulbs in early spring. Mix in plenty of compost and organic matter. Apply a nitrogen rich fertilizer once a month for optimum growth. Keep soil moist all season long.

Mulch around plants heavily every year to help retain water, and to replenish organic matter.

In the fall, dig up the bulbs for storage. The bulbs will survive over-wintering outdoors only in the warmest areas of the country.  

Insects and Disease:

Occasional problems with burrowing insects can occur. Use insecticides or organic repellents as needed.

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