There's no legend behind the common name of this plant – take a look at it, and it becomes self-explanatory. These strong-stemmed, dramatically-veined plants are giving tropical vibes and appreciate the environment mimicking their natural habitat. The Elephant Ears plant is a mood-changer, so we strongly recommend you give it a try.
You may find that there is a range of plants that look like elephant ears. That's because this name unites a few genera within the Araceae family, probably the most diverse and numerous family of tropical plants. The most common genera are Alocasia and Colocasia - those are the ones you have in mind when thinking about elephant ears plants. They both have a number of species varying in size and color. Grown at home, the leaves are not likely to reach those dramatic sizes they would in the wilderness. However, you can still grow these plants in containers at home or in the garden, providing certain conditions vital for the elephant ears plant care.
Common names for the Colocasia genus, which we will be mostly talking about, include taro, black taro, black magic, and potato of the tropics. This may stem from the important role the plant plays in some Oceanic, African, and South Asian cultures and mythology. If cooked right, Colocasia plants are edible in various ways. Still, we recommend to minimize the contact since the leaves of the plant are toxic to humans and animals.
Don't let the soil dry out, it should always be slightly moist. Reduce the water volume during winter. Colocasia plant care calls for wet conditions, but it should always be accompanied by well-drained soil. A slightly acidic substrate will do best for them. If you can't provide consistent watering, consider putting some mulch or organic matter around the planter so that the soil stays moist longer.
The elephant ears plants are susceptible towards frost and cold drafts. Provide a temperature range of 65-80˚F (18-25˚C) for the plants to keep them happy. High humidity is a vital point for them, which may demand some discipline from you. You may also keep them close to other tropical plants so that they cooperate and share a microclimate.
Colocasia will tolerate both full sun and full shade. However, it's best to opt for a shadier area for the environment to resemble the natural one. This will influence the growthrate of the green pet. Remember that excess exposure to direct sunrays might result in sunburns of foliage.
Pests & Common Diseases
Elephant ears plants are susceptible to bugs, but those are usually easily dealt with by simply washing them away. The most common signs of a pest infection will be the appearance of holes in the leaves. Applying neem oil should be a carefully considered action in case you keep your plants outdoor where the use of oil may cause sunburns. Neem oil is an effective method of fighting any pests which is not harmful to the plant; however, make sure that the green pets are in the shade. If they are not, cover them during the afternoon hours.
Drying out is another common issue and always a danger with tropical plants. Since yellowing of the leaves can signify both under and overwatering, keep in mind your watering routine to find out which approach suits better. Only water the soil and not the leaves to avoid fungal infections such as leaf spot or leaf blight, the plant is prone to them. Remove the affected leaves and apply some copper fungicide should this problem occur.
- Colocasia Elephant Ears Plant will appreciate fertilizing it every two or three weeks with a water-soluble slow-release fertilizer.
- Pruning the plant is vital for its health, especially if you expect it to go dormant for the winter. Do so with sterilized utensils.
- The division is the best and easiest way to propagate the Elephant Ears plant, and it will also prevent it from being overcrowded. Propagation is done in spring to minimize the stress.
- Mature plants are likely to bloom with bright, sweet-smelling flowers. To increase the likelihood of flowering, bring the indoor plant outside once it gets sufficiently warm and provide proper irrigation and feeding.
Alocasia vs. Colocasia
These two genera are closely related and often get confused with each other. One easy visual tip to help with differentiation is that Alocasia species are more glossy and are rather heart-shaped, while Colocasia species leaves are more matte and round in shape. Colocasia will tolerate wetter and sunnier conditions than Alocasia.
How to plant Elephant Ears
Choose large containers with a proper drainage system to plant your Elephant Ears. Adding organic matter to the soil will help retain the necessary moisture, while perlite will assist with aeration and draining.
Where to plant Elephant Ears
Both indoor and outdoor options will work if you provide proper care for your colocasia. The plant will fall dormant once the temperatures fall lower than 50˚F (10˚C) but will come back in the spring. Frost and wind are still to be avoided. Planting it near a sunny window is a good option.
Colocasia is likely to become a prominent member of your (plant?) family, caring for which won't be too much of a bother. There is a number of colorful and characteristic species to choose from for maximum aesthetic pleasure. The elephant ears plant has a long, culturally rich history and is definitely worth your time and attention.