elephant ear leaves

How to Grow the Elephant Ear Plant and Help It Thrive

The Elephant Ear plant is an herb that grows large leaves shaped like elephant ears, hence the name. Even though it’s an herb, it can grow as tall as 9 feet, which means you’re going to have to provide it with plenty of growing space. The Elephant Ear plant it a tropical herb, which makes it perfect for warmer climates. If you’d be interested in growing such a plant in your garden or backyard, you’re in the right place. We’ve created the complete guide to growing and taking care of it.

Elephant Ear Plant Growing Guide

1. Prepare the Planting Location

As we’ve already mentioned, the Elephant Ear plant can grow quite large. Not only that, but it also requires special growing conditions. This means you have to consider the most appropriate planting location before actually placing the plant in the ground. First of all, you should space the plants about three feet apart. This will allow them to grow unencumbered. Second of all, you shouldn’t plant them in an area that receives full sun. Partial shade is the perfect growing environment for the Elephant Ear plant. If you can afford it, space the plants even farther away from each other, like 5 feet away.

The quality of the soil is also important when choosing the right location for an Elephant Ear plant. The soil should be rich and organic for the best results. The size of the hole you dig for planting the tuber is relevant as well. It should be between 3 and 4 times the tuber’s size. When you plant the actual tuber, you should place it in such a way so that it’s 2 inches below ground level. This could mean you may have to add some extra loose soil into the hole.

Finally, you should also consider the time when you’re going to plant the Elephant Ear plant. The best time is in spring, when the soil starts warming up. Whatever you do, make sure there’s no possibility of a sudden frost before planting your tuber. The average temperature should be of 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Plant the Tuber

Planting the Elephant Ear plant is a process that doesn’t take a lot of time. You can find Elephant Ear bulbs right here. All you have to do is place the tuber in the hole you’ve already created. Make sure it lies with its top up and cover it with soil. As is the case with all recently planted herbs, the ground must be watered thoroughly in order to help the plant settle. Consider the fact that after you’ve properly watered the ground, the tuber should still be covered with a 2-inch layer of soil.

Since it’s impossible for you to know where exactly you’ve planted the Elephant Ear plant before it sprouts, we advise you to mark the spot using a stake, a stone, or any other kind of marker you have around the house. This will help you identify the location of your Elephant Ear tuber in the first few weeks it takes it to sprout. Speaking of the amount of time you’ll have to wait until your plant emerges from the ground, the exact period depends on the temperature of the ground and the air. Still, you should expect it to sprout 1 to 3 weeks later.

If you’re going to plant the bulbs in a container, which is something you can absolutely do, you’ll have to choose a deep and wide pot, in order for the roots to be able to grow unencumbered. Especially if you live in a colder climate, growing Elephant Ear plants in containers can prove to be an excellent idea. This will make it much easier for you to overwinter them.

3. Fertilize the Plant

One of the greatest things about the Elephant Ear plant is that you don’t have to worry about taking great care of it. As long as you plant it in average soil, it won’t have any issues developing. In terms of fertilization, for instance, you only need to fertilize it once a month. This will ensure an exquisite growth. You don’t need a special fertilizer either, just a common plant fertilizer will do.

spade containing some fertilizer granules

4. Water the Plant

Out of all the care rituals you have to keep in mind when it comes to the Elephant Ear plant, watering it is the most important one. If you don’t provide it with enough moisture, the leaves will become droopy. This will take away a lot of their charm. If you want to avoid this from happening, you should make sure your plant doesn’t stay dry for a long period of time. Even though the soil around the plant should have good drainage, the plant itself mustn’t lack moisture.

In case something happens and you don’t manage to water the plant as often, you should know that you can reinvigorate the droopy leaves if you water the plant as soon as you notice them. The leaves serve as an early warning that you shouldn’t ignore.

5. Maintain the Appearance of the Plant

As with any other plant that you want to keep looking great, every now and then, you’re going to have to maintain the appearance of the Elephant Ear plant by doing away with faded leaves. During the warm season, the leaves of this plant become its main attraction. They grow large, lush, and beautiful, and you’re going to want to keep them looking that way. Which is why whenever you notice leaves that have a brown edge, you should trim them away. Don’t worry about this damaging the look of your plants. New leaves are always eager to take the place of the old ones.

6. Don’t Forget About Winter Care

As we’ve already mentioned at the very beginning of this article, the Elephant Ear plant is a tropical herb, which is accustomed to relatively high temperatures. This means that in the winter, you won’t be able to keep it outside. When the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and stays that way for a couple of days, that’s a sign you should move the tubers inside.

A typical Elephant Ear plant should already have more than one tuber that has developed during its growing season. For the best results, we recommend not separating the tubers. However, if you’re going to do it anyway, it won’t cause any real damage. You can still use the tubers in the garden when spring arrives.

In order to make sure the tubers are ready to be stored away for winter, you have to cut most of the top growth above them, so basically the green part. You only need to leave about 1 inch of growth above each tuber. Before placing them in storage, you have to give them a few days to dry out completely. This implies leaving them exposed to open air circulation. The reason why storing away dry tubers is better than storing away moist ones is because the dryness will minimize the risk of them developing bacteria and mold.

The ideal place for storing the tubers is a dry and cool one, with a temperature of in between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. A paper bag would be perfect for the job. Especially one with a lot of holes, which are perfect for ventilation purposes. You can also store the tubers in garden vermiculite or sphagnum peat moss, but never in a plastic bag. When spring comes, feel free to plant the tubers in your garden once again.

7. Take Care of Pest Control

No guide to growing and taking care of the Elephant Ear plant would be complete without some information related to pest control. The good news is that this plant is quite hardy. As a result, there aren’t a lot of pests you should worry about. The bad news is that it isn’t completely free of pests either. For example, you might stumble upon spider mites on the leaves of your plant. Luckily, they are easy to eliminate. Just take a garden hose and spray them away. If this doesn’t help you get rid of them completely, try contacting a garden center. They can advise you on the least toxic way of eliminating them.

spider mite

Thrips are another kind of pest you might encounter on your Elephant Ear plant. Usually, these pests are a sign that you haven’t been watering your plant enough lately. This means that watering it as soon as you notice the thrips can help you get rid of them. Moreover, constantly providing your plant with water can help you prevent them.

Summing It All Up

We hope today’s guide on growing and caring for the Elephant Ear plant has managed to spark your interest in what concerns this tropical herb variety and planting it in your garden. As you were able to see, this plant doesn’t require constant maintenance, which is great news for people who don’t have that much time to take care of their garden. Whether you decide to grow it outdoors or in a container, its unique appearance will spruce up the look of your landscape in no time.

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Bonnie Enos

I spend my time in my garden trying to create the greatest outdoor space possible. My garden is my happy place and where you will always find me on a nice day. I take my experience and share it here for you to read!

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