Elephant ear plants are very impressive. They have a bold texture and dramatic foliage. Their huge leaves can measure up to two feet across, and that is where the elephant ear plant gets its name. According to Meadow View, their foliage colors range from lime green to black like. These plants do well, especially in the summer, but you should plant them during spring. They can do well even in growing pots. However, it is essential to follow several guidelines. Elephant ear plants belong to 2 groups of plants, namely Alocasia and Colocasia, which can be grown as houseplants or in the garden. Note that Colocasia are larger than the Alocasia, and they are mostly planted outdoors. Alocasias are commonly planted as houseplants. When buying dormant elephant ear plants, you should expect the bulb-like structure of the corms. Corms can be defined as underground stems that are swollen. Note that, while bulbs come from compressed leaves, corms are all stems, and you should therefore not expect to see any layers when you cut into them. The elephant ear plants also produce offsets, which you can break off and plant elsewhere. To ensure that these plants grow properly, you need to take good care of them from the first stage of planting them.
Planting elephant ear corms outdoors
The elephant ear plants are tropical and are not able to stand frost. According to Epic Gardening, ensure that there are no dangers of frost when planting your corms. The daytime temperatures should also be above 70 degrees. It is advisable to select an area that receives sun partly or fully but with good organic soil rich in moisture. After selecting the most appropriate part, it is time to prepare the bed. You should turn the soil under to an 8 inches depth. You should then remove stones and clumps of grass using a rake. Many elephant ear plants respond favorably to soils containing organic matter. Compost is a great form of organic matter containing a great balance of nutrients and a suitable pH level. You can add it to your planting area any time you want. Suppose compost is unavailable; top dress the soil once you plant the elephant ear plants, with 1 to 2 inches of organic mulch that will start breaking down into compost. A soil test will show which soil amendments are required for the coming season at the end of the growing season. The following are the steps you can take:
- Dig a hole to ensure that the top of the bulb is four inches deeper than the soil line. Cover it with four inches of soil.
- Plant elephant ear bulbs two to four feet apart so that the growing tip is up.
- Establish the tubers individually in six-inch pots utilizing high-quality seed-starting or potting oil. They need warm soil to emerge. Thus consider utilizing a heat mat.
- The elephant ear plant does not survive during the winter outdoors. You should dig the plant in the fall and store it indoors over winter.
The other points to note include:
- Cut the plants back to within two to four inches of the ground several days after the first frost.
- Dig the plants carefully with a potato fork or spade.
- Enable the base to dry for a day so that they feel dry when you touch them.
- Store them in vermiculite or peat moss in the coolest part of your home, especially the crawlspace or basement.
How to grow elephant ear plants inside containers
In the opinion of this site, elephant ear plants do their best in containers as long as you plant them in containers of the right size and provide them with adequate sunlight and proper soil. The size of container to purchase for your plant depends on the variety you grow. If you provide your plants with large pots and give their roots adequate space to thrive and grow, you do not have to re-pot them too fast. In addition, larger pots dry out more slowly. Thus, you do not have to water them often. Bear in mind that elephant ear plants prefer reliably moist soil to grow to their maximum size.
- Colocasia species usually require pots, which are 18 or more inches wide and 16 inches deep.
- Alocasia cultivars require pots that are 36 inches wide.
If you prefer using a smaller pot so that you can size up gradually, choose a container that is two or more inches larger than the pot at the garden nursery. If possible, choose a container made of non-porous material. Fiberglass, plastic, or glazed clay are suitable choices since they encourage moisture retention. The container should have drainage holes beneath it so that the water can run out. Adding compost to a commercial potting mix will also improve its moisture-retaining qualities while enhancing nutrition. The elephant ear plants feed heavily. You can also apply fertilizer to them once per month. Follow the directions on the package to enhance growth, or treat them to a slow-release fertilizer when the season begins. Plants that grow in containers can get overwintered if you place them in a cool basement or porch.
Tips on how to properly grow elephant ear plants
The two major problems that can arise as you care for Alocasia plants include cool temperatures and dry air. These things are challenging to replicate inside homes. Therefore, scientists have created tips to assist homeowners. Plants appreciate medium to high humidity. To increase humidity every day, you can take the following step:
- Place a tray of pebbles with water under your plant to evaporate.
- Mist your plant every day.
- Place it close to a humidifier.
Issues with elephant ears
- 1. Leaves are crispy or dry: Crispy, dry leaves occur because of low humidity. To address this, you can raise humidity levels.
- 2. Brown leaves: The elephant ear plant can have brown leaves because of cold or overwatering. Look at your watering schedule and make sure that the soil is moist but not soggy. Place the plant in an area that is warm enough, such as 15 degrees Celsius or more.
- 3. Root or stem rot, crown, or leaf spot: These diseases occur because of overwatering, and they often appear as black or dark brown spots on the leaves with a yellowish rim surrounding them. You can prevent this by avoiding overwatering, keeping the leaves dry, and providing them with excellent air circulation. If a plant does not get infected, remove the damaged and infected leaves immediately and use an organic fungicide to treat it.
- 4. Patchy or brown leaves: This occurs because of light, mainly direct sunlight. This can also happen if you move the plant from a dark area to a very bright one too quickly. The plant might not adapt to its surroundings sufficiently.
- 5. Pests: To prevent invasions of Mealybugs, spider mites, or aphids, spray your plants using soapy, warm water every few weeks. This can prevent dust from accumulating on the large leaves. If the plants have a pest infestation, spray it with ultra-fine insecticidal oil like Neem oil to exterminate the pests and eggs.