How and When to Plant Elephant Ear Bulbs

Elephant ear is the typical title for numerous groups of perennial crops, like Colocasia esculenta (taro) and Alocasia macrorrhizos (giant elephant ear), the two varieties most acquainted to gardeners.

These vivid tropical crops are recognized for their spectacularly large leaves, which give them their name. Gardeners really like them for their showy foliage, tropical feel, and quick increasing time. They make a stunning addition to any backyard garden and can be grown as annuals or perennials.

Although there are several sorts of elephant ears, they are all planted the very same way. We’ll walk through the methods and get you set up for the greatest, brightest elephant ears in your backyard or in containers.

Before You Start: Prep for Success

Prior to you dive into planting your elephant ear bulbs, it’s vital to get to know the plant, determine what kind you want in your space, and strategy in advance for best treatment.

The very first determination you want to make is regardless of whether to choose taro or huge elephant ear. This is dependent on how much obtainable place you have in your yard and how large you want the plant to be. Taro vegetation normally grow 3–6 ft tall and have leaves two feet in length. Giant elephant ears can increase up to fifteen ft tall, with leaves six ft prolonged and four ft broad.

When you’ve manufactured that selection, you will want to settle on a variety. Although elephant ears are most generally seen in a vivid inexperienced color, there are numerous other versions that can include range to your landscaping.

Whichever you decide on, you will stick to the same planting guidelines. All elephant ear bulbs are planted the identical way and require the very same conditions to prosper.

elephant ear plant
Image Credit: Zabed Alam, Shutterstock

When to Plant Elephant Ears

Elephant ears are tropical plants, which implies that you must constantly wait to plant the bulbs right up until following the last frost of the year. The tubers will not grow until the soil is at least 65°, which means late June for most northern climates.

To establish whether you will grow elephant ears as perennials or annuals, you will want to know your hardiness zone. In zones nine-eleven, elephant ears can be developed in the ground yr-spherical, but in zones 3-8, in which it is cooler, you have to plant them in the spring as annuals. They will not survive freezing temperatures.

Elephant ears will expand in both solar or shade, but if you plant them in a location with sufficient sunlight, make positive they can get shade around midday.

What Kind of Soil to Use for Elephant Ears

Elephant ears are recognized in the gardening neighborhood as “big eaters,” that means they call for a good deal of fertilizer to develop and prosper. They do greatest with abundant, moist soil mixed with organic make a difference, this sort of as compost.

They also favor a soil pH among five.5 and 7.. If you require to adjust your soil’s pH, you can insert lime to increase it or sulfur to lower it.

Prior to you plant your bulbs, get ready the garden mattress by turning the soil and digging a gap to a depth of eight inches. Make confident to eliminate any grass, stones, or other particles from the soil, then degree out the bed when you’re concluded.

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Planting Elephant Ear Bulbs in Your Garden

Now that you’ve obtained your bulbs and your yard ready, it is time to plant your elephant ears. Adhere to these basic actions to get your bulbs planted effectively:

  • Dig your holes: They need to be 2–5 inches deep, depending on the side of your bulbs. The holes should be 2–4 feet apart from each other.
  • Plant the bulbs: Place them in the holes with the pointy side up. The top of the bulb should be about 1 inch below the surface.
  • Add the finishing touches: Cover the bulbs with soil and water thoroughly.

Planting elephant ear bulbs is easy, but your perform doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve planted them, you will need to make positive you care for them adequately, which we’ll cover later on in this post.

Elephant’s Ear
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Planting Elephant Ear Bulbs in Containers

Elephant ears do just as properly in containers as they do in the floor, offered you care for them properly. You’ll need to adhere to the same problems as you would in the yard, creating certain they get ample sunshine, heat, and moist, properly-fertilized soil.

To plant your bulbs in containers, stick to these guidelines:

  • Choose the right container: Elephant ear plants are large, so check how big yours is going to become and pick a container with proper dimensions.It’s also important to choose a container made of a non-porous material for maximum moisture retention, and to make sure it has holes for drainage in the bottom.
  • Find the right spot: You’ll need to ensure your plants will get the right amount of sun.
  • Fill the container with soil: It’s not recommended to use soil directly from your garden, as you could be introducing bacteria or pests to the sterile bulbs. Choose a commercial potting soil instead.
  • Plant your bulbs: You’ll want to make the hole big enough to accommodate the tuber with an inch of soil above it.
  • Water thoroughly: Elephant ears love moisture, so don’t be shy. Just make sure the pot has adequate drainage, as they don’t like standing water.

It’s that straightforward to plant elephant ear bulbs in containers. Subsequent, you will need to have to ensure that you’re caring for them correctly so they can develop quickly and thrive as adult plants.

elephant ear plant in pot
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Caring for Your Elephant Ear Plants

Elephant ears are as effortless to care for as they are to plant. Here are some suggestions and tips to assist you give your elephant ear vegetation just what they need to have to flourish in your backyard or container.

  • Fertilize routinely: Once you see new growth from your plants, you can start fertilizing them. They benefit from a granular or liquid fertilizer applied every 2-3 weeks.
  • Prune & weed: Cut back any leaves that turn brown or straggly and keep the garden bed or container free from weeds that might compete with your elephant ears for nutrients.
  • Prepare for colder weather: If you live in a zone where elephant ears can’t grow year-round, you can choose to winterize your plants or dig up the bulbs for winter to plant again in the spring. You can bring plants in containers inside, but you should reduce their watering over the winter.

Elephant ears are not particularly high-maintenance vegetation. As long as you recognize what their demands are, you will be capable to enjoy their flamboyant foliage in your backyard or even in your home.


Any individual can expand and enjoy elephant ears, no make a difference in which they stay. They are gorgeous tropical plants that have become well-known with gardeners and landscapers around the world, and it’s straightforward to see why. With their huge leaves and bright hues, they make a spectacular addition to any outdoor or indoor space.



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