Planting and Growing Elephant Ear from Bulbs

Published on September 14th 2020
An Elephant Ear plant
The long, graceful stems and large, broad leaves of Alocasia and Colocasia are reminiscent of a long lost jungle paradise. So it’s no wonder these voluptuous, heart-shaped perennials make swoon-worthy patio and house plants. But instead of wrestling fully grown specimens home, why not try your hand at growing them from bulbs? It's much more rewarding and cheaper too.
Got your eye on some Elephant Ear bulbs and wondering how and where to plant them? Read on for our top tips on taking good care of these gentle giants.

What are Elephant Ear bulbs?

Alocasia and Colocasia both grow from bulb-like structures called corms. Once they develop roots, stems will emerge out of the soil. As the plant develops and spreads, more corms form. Each of these new bulbs will generally form another plant or can be harvested and set aside to be planted later.
A green plant in a garden

How to plant Elephant Ears?

Planting Elephant Ear bulbs is a simple spring activity. Simply find your location, dig a hole two to three inches deeper than the size of your bulb, and cover with soil.

Elephant Ear bulbs - which way is up?

In general, the bulb should have a slightly pointy end, which should face up. Water lightly until you begin to see stems emerge from the soil.

What soil do Elephant Ears prefer?

Elephant Ears do best in a balanced, well-draining soil mixture. Soil should hold moisture and be full of organic fertilizer.
A person sitting on a bench

Do Elephant Ears prefer sun or shade?

Depending on the variety, Elephant Ears can acclimate to the light you have available. Many tolerate full to partial sun, but most thrive in partial shade. Indoor, most Elephant Ears will best near your brightest window, as indoor light (even near a window) is much lower than the shadiest corner of your yard. Move the plant away if you see signs of sunburn.

How to water Elephant Ear bulbs

Elephant Ears are naturally found in damp, humid environments, so they won't thank you if you let them dry out. However, the corms can rot if watered too aggressively before the roots and stems have formed. As your plant grows, gradually up your watering to accommodate your specific variety.

Can Elephant Ear Bulbs survive winter?

Elephant Ears are warm weather plants requiring high humidity and will generally die off in the winter in growing zones nine or lower. Some variations (check for cold hardiness on your variety) are cold tolerant down to zone six. Because of this, corms should be planted in late winter or early spring when nighttime temperatures are above 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. In fall, they will also need to be cut back and protected from frost with mulch or dug up and either potted as houseplants or removed from all vegetation and stored to be used as new plants the following spring.
A green plant in a garden

Where to get elephant Ear bulbs?

Elephant Ear bulbs are generally available at nurseries, plant, and big box stores throughout late winter and early spring. As mentioned above, you can also dig up Elephant Ear at the end of the growing season and divide any newly formed corms from the original plant with a sharp knife or shears. Each corm can be stored in a dark, dry place to be replanted in Spring. Check out these varieties:

Elephant Ear Tips

  • Elephant Ear plants can grow up to four feet wide so consider how much space you have before you plant them.
  • If growing in containers, be extra cautious that they do not dry out.
  • Fertilize throughout the growing season. Those large leaves use a lot of energy.
  • Wear gloves if propagating by stem as the sap can irritate the skin.

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