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Elephant Ear Bulbs – Every dedicated gardener enjoys having a diverse collection of both flowering and leafy greens in his or her yard or garden. A landscape with a variety of colors and textures comes together to form an appealing composition. It is never too late to go on a search for new plants.
There is one plant that always manages to draw people’s attention. It doesn’t bloom, but that isn’t a problem for me. The reason for this is because it has gorgeous, big, and luxuriant leaves. They were available in a variety of sizes, styles, and colors, ranging from powerful dark emerald to beautiful, softer lime green. The contrast between the deep hue of the leaf and the bright color of the stem is frequently very pleasing.
You’re almost certain to have seen it; it’s difficult to ignore even while driving by it. By virtue of its immense size, this magnificent plant will never be forced to hide in a corner. Have you figured out what kind of plant we’re talking about? That would be the delicious and appropriately called elephant ear, to be precise.
It has acquired the reputation of being a difficult plant to cultivate. However, this is not the case. It is easy to make errors while working with this lush foliage, but they are also simple to correct. We will show you how to plant and care for an elephant ear in this article so that you, too, may appreciate the beauty of this magnificent plant.
Elephant ear plants are a simple plant to grow. Although they will thrive in full sun if given rich, wet soil, most of these plants will do better if they are placed in partial shade. Once the danger of frost or freezing temperatures has passed in your region, the tubers may be planted straight into the open ground outside. Plant the tubers about 2 to 3 inches (5-8 cm) deep, blunt end down, in a well-drained location.
Also acceptable is the practice of transplanting elephant ear bulbs inside about eight weeks before the final frost date. If you are growing them in pots, use a rich, organic potting soil and make sure they are all planted at the same depth. Elephant ear plants should be hardened off for approximately a week before transplanting them outside.
What exactly is the Elephant Ear Plant?
Elephant ears have a variety of applications in the yard, and they are easy to grow. These plants are available in a wide range of colors and sizes. Plants such as elephant ear may be used as a backdrop for other plants, as ground cover, or as edging, particularly around ponds, along walks, or around patio enclosures. Their most frequent use, on the other hand, is as an accent or focal point. Many of them are even well suited to growing in pots or other containers.
A strong tropical impression is created by the elephant ear plant (Colocasia), which may be used in almost any landscape environment. This plant is often cultivated for its enormous, tropical-looking leaves, which are evocative of elephant ears, rather than for any other reason. Continue reading to find out more about how to care for an elephant ear plant in detail.
Many different types of herbaceous perennials are known by the common name “elephant ear.” They are distinguished by their enormous arrow-shaped leaves, and many of them are indigenous to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia and the Philippines. However, they grow well in USDA zones 8 through 11, where they are not robust enough to survive cold conditions.
The taro plant (Colocasia esculenta) and the gigantic elephant ear plant (Alocasia macrorrhizos) are two of the most frequent varieties of this lush greenery. Alocasia and Colocasia are both members of the Araceae family of plants.
The big, brilliant green leaves of these two popular species are the primary reason they are cultivated. They provide a tropical atmosphere to any landscape setting, whether they are planted as an annual or as a perennial plant. Both kinds of tubers are edible, as are their roots. In general, taro plants reach heights of 3 to 6 feet and spread out to produce leaves that are about 2 feet in length.
Depending on the species, giant elephant ears may grow up to 15 feet tall with a spread of about half that height. Approximately 6 feet long and 4 feet broad, the green leaves have wavy edges and may grow up to 6 feet in length and width. Both kinds are fast-growing, so you won’t have to wait long until you see the wide leaves adorning your garden or containers in your yard.
Despite the fact that Colocasia has the greatest number of variations, both it and Alocasia have a variety of kinds with foliage that is available in a variety of sizes and hues.
Elephant Ear Bulbs: How to Plant Them
There isn’t a difference between growing all elephant ears the same manner, no matter which type you choose for your garden. The same climatic conditions must be met by all of them in order to thrive.
The first and most important guideline is to wait until there is no risk of frost before planting your elephant ears.
Keep in mind that they are tropical plants that require temperatures over 55°F at night and temperatures above 70°F during the day. When temps go below 50°F, the odds of your elephant ear thriving are minimal to none.
In order to ensure a warm growth season, tubers should be planted in the spring when soil temperatures and outside circumstances are continuously warm.
Planting the elephant ear bulbs in a container and growing them inside in a warm and bright area is another option for getting this addition to your garden developing as early as possible. Once the weather outside has warmed up, you may transfer the pot to the outside.
Preferable Growing Conditions
In spite of the fact that elephant ears are regarded to be minimal care, choosing a place that fits all of their requirements will result in the most development.
Location of the site and lighting
Elephant ears should be grown in a protected location where they will not be exposed to high winds in order to maintain their beautiful leaves. When there is a lot of wind, the leaves may get shredded quickly. Elephant ears do best in full sun to moderate shade, although they may also thrive in partial shade.
Choose a position that offers a little midday shade or filtered sunlight, especially if you live in a very hot area. The presence of sunlight will guarantee that the color of your variety’s foliage remains dark and vivid, especially if your variety has darker-colored foliage.
It is recommended that if you decide to grow this plant inside, you put the pots in an area where they will get enough sunshine.
Elephant ears like soil that is wet and rich in organic materials, according to the USDA. If your soil is lacking in the nutrients that organic matter offers, you may amend it with compost or manure to improve its fertility. Work the compost or manure into the top 6 to 8 inches of the native soil by spreading it over the area you have chosen and working it into the soil.
If you’re growing the tubers in pots, be sure to use a healthy potting mix or potting soil that’s high in vitamins and minerals. Fertilize the soil according to the instructions on the potting mix package.
A bulb should always be planted with the pointed end facing up in the soil when it is planted in the ground. The bulb of this leafy plant, on the other hand, is very round. It may be difficult to distinguish between the top and the bottom of an elephant ear bulb’s bulb.
What are you going to do? Take the elephant ear bulbs in your palm and rub your fingertips over the surface with your fingers. If you look closely, you will see that part of it is smooth, while others are lumpy. The bottom of the bulb is the roughest portion, to put it mildly. The bumps you feel will stimulate the growth of the roots. The smooth side is the one that goes up.
Don’t allow this additional step put you off your game. It doesn’t matter whether you put the bulb upside down; it will still begin to grow. It will just take a few extra days for the plant to emerge from the earth.
Planting Bulb Depth and Spacing Dimensions
Dig a hole that is 2 to 3 inches deep, depending on whether you are growing these leafy greens in pots or directly in the garden. Carefully place the bulb into the hole and fill it up around it with dirt. Space each bulb 2 to 4 feet apart if you’re growing many elephant ears at once.
For varieties with very big leaves to thrive, they must be grown in large pots with plenty of room to spare. Ideally, you don’t want them to become disproportionately top heavy.
The first sprouts may appear several weeks after the tuber is planted outside, after all frost dangers have passed. If you plant your potatoes outdoors after all dangers of frost have passed, you will see the first sprouts peeking out of the soil several weeks after the tuber is planted.
How to Care for an Elephant Ear Plant
Keep the soil surrounding the bulbs wet to ensure that they continue to develop into lush, green leaves. Water on a regular basis, particularly if the weather is hot and dry outside.
In order to keep the soil moist, you may need to water it on a daily, or every other day, basis.
Adding a layer of mulch to the soil will aid in the retention of moisture. Spread organic mulch evenly to create a 2- to 3-inch layer around the base of the tree, taking care not to compact it against the trunk.
If you’re growing the bulb in a container, water it until the top inch of soil is no longer moist. By inserting your finger several inches deep into the potting soil, you may easily determine the moisture content of the soil. If it seems to be dry, fill the pot with water until the water flows out of the bottom drain holes.
Elephant ears fall into dormancy throughout the winter, which causes their development to be severely slowed. Reduce the frequency of watering to once per week or two during the dormant season.
Elephant ears like to be fed on a regular basis during the growth season, which runs from spring through summer. The tubers should be fertilized with a water-soluble fertilizer mix that is administered every three to four weeks after they have sprung new growth. Slow-release mixes, which slowly break down and release fertilizer over a period of many months, are another option. Once the plants have gone into dormancy, stop fertilizing them.
Elephant ears need minimal maintenance after they have become established. Watering plants on a regular basis, particularly those in containers, may be necessary during dry periods, so plan beforehand. You may also wish to add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil on a regular basis, but this is not strictly required.
Elephant ears are unable to withstand the cold outdoors. Temperatures below freezing destroy foliage and cause harm to tubers. It is necessary to dig up the plants and keep them indoors in places with severe, cold winters (such as those in the northernmost parts of the country).
After the first frost in your region, prune the leaves down to a couple of inches (5 cm) in height and gently dig up the plants. Allow the tubers to dry out for a day or two before storing them in peat moss or shavings to prevent them from rotting. It is best to store them in a cold, dark location, such as a basement or crawlspace. Container plants may be brought inside or overwintered in a basement or sheltered porch during the winter months.