All About Elephant Ear Plant: Information, Guide, and Tips

The elephant ear plant is not a strange plant because it grows in any part of the world. Having large enough leaves, this grower has a variety of functions ranging from decoration to health purposes.

Naming this plant is also not a joke. If you see, the large leaves are indeed reminiscent of elephant ears. Are you interested in planting this variety?

Read this review first until the end.


Background Knowledge

Elephant ears is the common name for a group of tropical perennial plants grown for their large, heart-shaped leaves.
Elephant Ear

As discussed above, this plant has broad leaves (20-150 cm), reminiscent of elephant ears. This grower has several types with various species spread throughout the world.

But in general, this plant grows about 3 meters tall. Usually, it will thrive in a humid area but gets a lot of sunlight but not directly.

The elephant ear plant reproduces by rhizomes, but it also develops inflorescences in the leaf part.

It is a kind of herbaceous perennial plant that is edible but requires treatment to avoid toxins. Its corm, popularly known as Taro, is a staple food ingredient in many tropical regions.

Generally, several characteristics of this plant are:

  • Most species have green leaves, but some are black or purplish.
  • It has a single leaf that grows in a rosette of roots.
  • Most bones of the leaves are pinnate with white color
  • The shape of the flowers is compound, round, with a bisexual stem tip.
  • Having the yellow crown.

Although they look similar, elephant ear plants are divided into several types. The explanation is in the next section.

Common Elephant Ear Plant Types

There are two types of elephant ears: alocasias and colocasias. Colocasias display their leaves with tip of the heart pointing down.
Elephant Ear Plant Varieties

Talking about the elephant ear plant, we can draw the main characteristic about the shape of its leaves. However, you need to know that several genera have different characters.

Here is the explanation:

  1. Colocasia

The elephant ear plant (Colocasia) provides a bold tropical effect in nearly any landscape setting. In fact, these plants are commonly grown for their large, tropical-looking foliage, which is reminiscent of elephant ears.
Colocasia Elephant Ear Plant

When it comes to elephant ear plants, most people refer to colocasia. This type is the choice for gardeners because the variety is easy to grow and has various benefits.

It grows in Asia, Papua New Guinea, and parts of Australia.

Generally, this type thrives in swampy areas. To date, approximately 200 species of Colocasia have been on the taxonomic list.

This plant is the most notable because it has a height of up to 3 feet. The heart-shaped leaves are large, reaching up to 8 feet (2.5 meters).

Uniquely, various parts of this plant are the main ingredients for many Indian dishes. Other countries also use taro for food and drink because people believe in the nutritional content inside.

  1. Alocasia

Tropical plants in the Alocasia genus feature stunning foliage that can become the centerpiece of a garden or room.

Just like colocasia, alocasia also thrives in Asia. Its blooms can reach 6 feet and have arrow-shaped foliage.

This plant is also quite common as a cultivator.

  1. Xanthosoma

Xanthosoma is not typically thought of as a houseplant. In tropical countries, they are farmed for their starchy tubers, and almost everywhere else they are the collectors' plants known as elephant ears and grown in botanical gardens and greenhouses.

In addition to the arrow-like foliage, the Xanthosoma genera also have beautiful veins.

This plant comes from tropical America and needs a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit 20 degrees Celsius) to grow well.

Most species of Xanthosoma are also edible, but this plant does not appear on the list of cultivated plants because it cannot survive high temperatures.

  1. Caladium

It grows in a wet soil, in partial shade. They do exceptionally well surrounding a pond as a bog plant, where they can get as much moisture as they want. Their size is dependent on how much water they are given, so for smaller plants, plant them in a pot where you can adjust it as needed.

Besides colocasia, caladium is also the target of many gardeners. This perennial plant is easy to grow, especially in USDA Zone 8.

However, this genera is physically different from the others.

It is small in size as it only reaches a height of 2 feet. In addition, its foliage is generally only 8-12 inches. The mini size makes it look unique.

Beware of the Poison

Elephant ears contain a protein called asparagine and oxalic acid, which cause poisonous reactions to those who eat the plant.
Elephant Ear Plant Poisonous

As we know, elephant ear plants have many benefits, both as decoration and food. However, you also have to be careful with this plant.

It is because the elephant ear plant contains calcium oxalate in various parts. This substance forms sharp crystals, harming humans and animals that interact with it.

If exposed, living things will experience various conditions ranging from itching and even death. But luckily, the poison will disappear after you cook it.

Therefore, when planting, harvesting, or carrying out maintenance, you need gloves and safety precautions.

How to Grow

Elephant ears usually sprout three to eight weeks from planting. Sprouting occurs when the weather begins to warm in spring. They will sprout faster in warmer climates than in cooler climates. To speed up the process, you can start them inside and move them outdoors once it warms up.
Grow Elephant Ear Plant

Before planting an elephant ear plant, you first need to know the type. Colocasia is a watering type that requires a lot of water.

Therefore, ponds are the best location.

Meanwhile, Alocasia does not like a boggy environment, so you need to provide a planting medium that can absorb water well.

Stagnant water will rot and die. But in general, all elephant ear plants need a growing medium that is acidic and slightly gritty.

They need a lot of sunlight, but not directly. Warm temperatures will also make them thrive.

The most common way to start planting is using bulbs. After preparing the best planting media, you can immediately plant and bury it at a depth of 2-3 inches.

Then take good care of it.

Indoor plantings will take about eight weeks to germinate. If you use pot, start placing them outdoors after a week and treat them well.

Some Problems You May Encounter

The most common elephant ear plant disease is fungal leaf blight. It produces tiny round lesions on the ornamental leaves that may ooze fluid and turn purple or yellow when dry.
Elephant Ear Problems

Although it is easy to grow, you may face various problems when growing and caring for elephant ear plants.

Therefore you also have to know how to deal with it.

Control the Growth

If growing in pots use a rich, organic potting soil and plant them at the same depth. Harden off elephant ear plants for about a week prior to placing them outdoors.
Control Elephant Ear Growth

When having the right conditions, the elephant ear plant can grow uncontrollably. It can propagate to various locations so that it turns into a pest.

Hence, it will lead you to a new problem.

Therefore, you need to plan which areas are the locations for plants to grow from the start. Please be diligent in tidying up, either by pruning or repotting to keep its growth under control.

Sick Plants

Other concerns for elephant ear leaves turning brown might be pest infestations. Insects that nibble the edges or suck sap from the leaves may cause this damage. Look for pests such as aphids, mealybugs and mites.
Elephant Ear Pests

To identify the condition of the plant, you can look at the leaves. If the appearance does not look fresh, curly, pale, and stunted, the grower may be malnourished.

As a solution, you can provide fertilizer or additional intake they need. Dry leaves can also indicate dehydration, and you need to water them more.

Plants that are sick from pests also need treatment. In this case, you can use pesticides or soapy water to repel the intruders.

If any plants die, remove them immediately to avoid spreading to others.

In addition, unfavorable environmental conditions can also make plants less healthy. Make sure you place them at the humidity and temperature.

Elephant Ear Plant Care

Provide consistent moisture during the growing season and do not allow the soil to dry out. Regular water is the key to growing bountiful Elephant Ears.
Elephant Ear Care

After successfully growing, then intensive care is no longer needed. The only thing you need to do is make sure that the environmental conditions are good enough for the plants.

Please note these points:

  • For any reason, avoid placing it in direct sun exposure. If you have to, give a little protection.
  • Watering is a necessary process to provide nutrients as well as moisture. But you need to keep the water from pooling and triggering spoilage.
  • A good time to water is before 10 am or 5 pm. Do it once a day.
  • The correct way to water is to use a spray and direct it to the planting medium.
  • To keep it beautiful, you also need to clean the plants from dust with a damp cloth.
  • Giving fertilizer will make them grow well, but you only need to do it every two weeks.
  • Pruning is also a critical process to get rid of dry parts while accelerating regeneration.

There is nothing complicated about elephant ear plant care. You also have to check whether some pests or weeds can interfere with its growth.

Taking Care Indoor Elephant Ear Plant

To care for elephant ears, grow the plants in moist, well-draining soil that is slightly acidic. Elephant ear plants require plenty of humidity and need regular watering to grow fast.
Caring Elephant Ear Indoor

Because this plant is quite tall, it will be easier to place it outdoors. In addition, natural conditions will also make it develop quickly.

But can we plant it indoors?

The answer is certainly yes. As long as you can provide the right environment, the elephant ear plant will continue to thrive in the room.

Placing it indoors actually provides an advantage because it does not have to face the sun directly. As is known, this plant likes sunlight.

However, direct exposure will make it easy to dry and change color as if burned. Thereupon, do the following things:

  • Place it in a location that gets a lot of sunlight but provides a little barrier to keep it shady.
  • Because this plant likes humid conditions, you can use a humidifier indoors.
  • Another way to retain moisture is to place wet rock under the pot.
  • There is no need to water too often to avoid root rot.
  • Use a planting medium that can absorb water and is peat-rich.
  • Set the room temperature between 18-24 degrees Celsius.
  • Sometimes you can also take it outside to get more sunlight.-

In addition to the steps above, you can also apply the same treatment method with outdoor plants. Prune the dry areas and apply fertilizer if necessary.

Black Elephant Ear Plant

Colocasia esculenta, “Black Magic”, also known as “black elephant ears plant”. This is a gorgeous plant with large green leaves.
Black Elephant Ear

While most of these plants are green, there is a unique type with black color. People call it elephant ears black magic, which belongs to the Colocasia class.

The dusty color is not truly black but a mix with purple.

It can grow up to 2 feet in height and is generally a great decoration choice for patios, patios, and gardens.

But even though this variety looks different, it has similar treatment to the others. Please keep the plant at the right temperature and humidity and never leave it in direct sunlight.


Elephant ears are impressive plants that are prized for their dramatic foliage and bold texture.
Elephant Ear Plant

The elephant ear plant is a particular plant that can act as both a decoration and food source. Despite the treatment is being easy, you need to be careful because of the poison in some parts.

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