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Elephant Ears are giant leafy (mostly) tropical plants. Colocasias are what we primarily call “Elephant Ears,” but Alocasias (upright Elephant Ears) slip in there, too.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, when tropical plants in temperate places became the hot (pun intended) design trend, plant breeders selected, developed, and released elephant ears with varying leaf colors and sizes. They’re fantastic for quick summer greenery and a lush look in the landscape.

When & Where to Plant - Elephant Ears are warm-weather plants

Light: Most plants grow best in full sun to partial shade. ‘Black Beauty’ is an exception that performs well in partial to full shade.

Soil: Grow elephant ears in moist, loamy soil with a high organic matter content.

Spacing: Spacing depends on the variety you’re growing. You could need anywhere from 2 feet to 6 feet between plants to allow them enough room to spread out.

Planting: When planting new elephant ears or re-planting for the spring, set plants in the garden when nighttime temperatures are consistently 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Most elephant ears will grow to be at least 4 feet wide, so give them space! Plant plants 2-4 feet apart, 2 inches deep in moist, well-drained soil high in organic matter. You can grow the smaller varieties in large containers. (Large, as in whiskey-barrel-sized containers.) If growing in containers you’ll have to keep the soil evenly, constantly moist.

Watering: These are high water plants. The more water they get the bigger they’ll grow. Some varieties will even thrive when planted in a pot and grown as a marginal pond plant. (Pot fully submerged.) Containers will need to be watered daily during the summer. Plan on giving plants at least 2-3 inches of water per week.

Fertilizing: Elephant ears are heavy eaters, as well as drinkers. Fertilize monthly with a general fertilizer of choice. Organic slow-release fertilizers will last longer, so choose something like bonemeal or bloodmeal when possible.

Trimming & Pruning: Plants will produce new leaves throughout the growing season. Remove wilted, browning, or ratty leaves by cutting them off at the base of the plant.
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