Category: Bulbs Vegetables Ponds and Aquatics Tropicals and Tender Perennials
Height: 24-36 in. (60-90 cm) 36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
Spacing: 18-24 in. (45-60 cm) 24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
Hardiness: USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F) USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F) USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F) USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F) USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F) USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F) USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)
Sun Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade
Danger: Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Bloom Color: Gold (Yellow-Orange)
Bloom Time: Late Summer/Early Fall
Foliage: Grown for foliage Herbaceous Velvet/Fuzzy-Textured
Other details: Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens
Soil pH requirements: 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic) 6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
Patent Information: Non-patented
Propagation Methods: By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
Seed Collecting: N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed
I've been growing these for a few years here in zone 6 MA. However, if you want them to come back year after year, location is key. The elephant ears on the south side of my house grow very well as it is a zone 8 or better microclimate. They grow like weeds along the foundation of the house.
A few years prior, I had tried growing some along the stone wall in the northwest corner of the yard.....in a low spot that usually floods in winter and spring. Needless to say, they didn't come back the next year.
So bearing that in mind, I plan on planting a few more in my back yard's microclimate as they can go through winter in the ground without any problems there. My family and friends absolutely love them and so do I. For best results, I usually water them every other day and fertilize every 3 weeks or so during the growing season to make sure they get nice and large.
On Dec 16, 2010, oldaggie98 from Magnolia, TX wrote:
While the species can be aggressive an invasive at times keep in mind this is just the species. If you want clumping varieties that do not take over a space look into the new breeding work from John Cho out of Hawaii. His plants are in the Royal Hawaiian Colocasia program and include cultivars 'Diamond Head', 'Blue Hawaii', 'Hilo Bay', 'Pineapple Princess', 'Hawaiian Eye' and 'Kona Coffee' . I am sure there are other cultivars that can be considered clumpers but these are the only I have experience with so far. Does anyone else have experience with non-invasive varieties?
On Dec 1, 2010, crooker64 from Richmond, VA wrote:
In my garden in Richmond, Virginia, Colocasia esculenta illustris and (last season for the first time) Colocasia esculenta jet black wonder have grown well in partial shade. Though I've never had any of them flower (not fertilizing enough?). The former has overwintered many times w/o problem; but last spring, after a hard winter here, the plants didn't reappear. So this year I'm digging them up, just to be safe, which I did many years ago with success (drying out and storing in peat moss). I've read many online posts about how they demand constant watering, but that hasn't been the case in my experience; it can get very hot and dry here, from time to time (we had a pretty bad drought last summer after a wet spring), and the plants have lived through it with some normal watering (and sometimes not).
On Apr 5, 2010, stella from Raleigh, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:
I grow Colocasia in my North Carolina Garden and they do great in the heat of the summer. I never dig the bulbs in the winter and they come back just fine. Over time I have collected several cultivars...green-leaved, black-leaved, etc. and they all do well.
On Jun 4, 2009, StellysPapa from Dothan, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:
I really like the tropical look, and these elephant ears are one of the few tropical plants that grow and flourish without problems in my zone. Yes, they do multiply rapidly, but that is not a problem for me. If they start to creep out of their bed, I simply dig up the bulbs and move them or give them to a friend.
I would not get rid of them for anything.
On Dec 28, 2007, trinichef from Piarco Trinidad and Tobago wrote:
These plants thrive in wet marshy conditions with running water or adequate drainage. The young leaves can be boiled and eaten and is an excellent source of iodine the root( tuber) when mature is eaten.
In Trinidad & Tobago there are several vareities and most are wild but of the domesticated vareity the young leaves are harvested all year round and the root (tuber ) in the dry months of february to may.
To propagate the roots and to grow new plants you simply cut the root up and replant the pieces in soft moist loamy soil with adequate drainage. On close examination of the tuber you will notice little "eyelets" growing outwards from the root these are good places to start the cutting of the root.
To eat the root simply boil water, peel the root and cut it into smaller pieces and drop them into the boiling water with some salt. When its cooked it turns blue and is very soft.
It can be served boiled or boiled and fried in butter and is very delicious.
To cook the young leaves simply cut them up add a bit of lime and boil them in a little water then add salt to taste. You can also blend them up after they have been boiled to get a thick soup.
On May 12, 2006, yardjunkie from Hartselle, AL wrote:
They are beautiful but worse than a weed. I planted these the year before last ( 2004) and they spread like wildfire by the second year and now I'm trying to get rid of them. KEEP THEM CONTAINED IF YOU WANT THEM! Roundup won't kill them and if a sliver of a root is left in the gound they come back. They spread over 8 feet from the original planting space in 2 years and are even coming up in the middle of my pampas grass. Planter beware!
On Apr 28, 2006, Rootworker from Covington, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:
I planted my Elephant ear last year and it was BEAUTIFUL, even took some baby plants and put them in pots. However this year (April), I was expecting to see them again but it looks as if its not coming back.
On Jun 24, 2005, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:
I am an artist (oil painter) and this plant has become one of my favorite subjects for paintings. It has a great interplay of lights and shadows and lines with the very pronounced veins in its leaves. I grow them extensively in my yard. The largest of them now towers at about 9 ft high with a trunk about 1 ft in diameter and leaves that easily reach 3 - 4 ft long. They all die back with our winter freezes, but recover in the Spring and just keep on growing. They are hard to beat if you are looking for a "dramatic" plant of great proportions.
I'm adding these plants to my trade list as I'm now getting lots of new plants from the runners the large plants make. Contact me if you want some. I also have the "Illustris" variety to share.
On Jun 13, 2005, Moonglow from Corte Madera, CA wrote:
I've always wanted to grow taro in my own yard. It sure reminds me of the Philippines where I spent many years as a child. We've used it as "umbrellas" when caught in the rain...The tubers make yummy treats. The wilted leaves best sauteed in garlic and onions then simmered in coconut cream.
On May 2, 2005, ladyannne from Merced, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:
If you keep this potted and move it to a protected area for the winter, little damage is done. Even left in the ground, it will come back faithfully every spring. I am looking for other appropriate plants to grow around it in order to keep the 36" plus leaves upright, not an easy thing to do sometimes. A 24" pot will hold one plant for about five years before division is mandatory.
On Oct 28, 2004, winter_unfazed from Rural Webster County, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:
The positive is for growing, not eating. I remember this plant from living in the Caribbean. I know that people say everything tastes better when you're hungry, but the hungrier I got, the more nauseating dasheen tasted. It stinks and turns purple in the pot. It has huge leaves used by locals to wrap things, and grows well near riverbanks.
On Sep 28, 2004, BUFFY690 from Prosperity, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:
I had the same bulb planted in a different place near my pond last year and they were nice but I moved them in the spring and split it up and shared with a neighbor the piece I kept got tremendous and is blooming 9-28-04, I didn't know they bloomed so much, there have been 5 so far and it looks like they are still coming, the blooms are nearly 2 feet long, it bloomed last year but this plant did not reach it potential. I am getting ready to mulch things in for the year, in a couple of weeks it is predicted we will have our first frost around oct 10. So I better get cracking.
I love these plants so easy to grow and tropical looking.
I dug and seperated the small one off the main roots, My plant had 25 little baby bulbs under it.
This plant can be successfully divided, but expect a few “ears” to die when you do so. Don’t give up on it and assume the whole plant is dying when this happens! Keep it in shade until it begins to recover. Once it is making new leaves and the old leaves have stopped dying, put it in a sunny spot and give it lots of water (don’t worry about over watering this plant, because its natural habitat is in swampy areas) and it will absolutely thrive, making lots of beautiful new “ear” leaves.
On Jun 2, 2004, WendyBiologist from Austin, TX wrote:
While a beautiful addition to any pond or water garden, ANY cultivation should be carefully considered and CONTAINED (never planted "out"). Native alternatives to this showy, attractive plant (Colocasia) should be considered. This plant is highly agressive and an invader in many of our central Texas springfed waterways. It escapes cultivation easily, disrupts native plant communities (and species dependent on them), and is not readily reversible.
On May 11, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:
Living on the Big Island of Hawaii I am quite familiar with Taro and having been born in Cuba, I was also quite familiar with Malanga.....
I'm a haole that learned to like poi. As with everything, it depends on how its made. I cannot stand the thin, watery gruel you get served at tourist oriented luau. One of our neighbors makes wonderful thick poi. I also use the poi as a component in other recipes. Poi is best when eaten with other foods as a side dish. It helps cut the grease when eating rich and fatty kalua pig.
Used for centuries to feed both the young and the elderly in old Hawaii due to the healthy properties. Beneficial as a stomach soother and aid to digestion.
Can be peeled and sliced, boiled and seasoned with salt and pepper and a bit of butter, or even mashed, just as you would potatoes.
On Sep 2, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:
I was recently given some "taro" by a fellow member of our Koi and Watergarden Club--he had weeded out some that was overgrowing one of his ponds. I was intrigued, as I lived in Maui, Hawaii, for about a year and often admired the taro growing there in sunken, watery fields, surrounded by tropical looking banana plants and palm trees waving in the Hawaiian breeze. So I took one of his small plants, with a fleshy, tan-to-cream colored tuber with some long roots, and dutifully planted it into a three gallon pot, as I hadn't decided quite yet where to plant it in the ground here in my garden in Northcentral Florida, zone 8b.
In the past I have grown a lot of Alocasia macrorrhiza, a large "Elephant Ear" that is sold everywhere in the South in the Spring--in garden centers, Walmart, Home Depot, even grocery stores--usually in large bins or baskets for fifty cents or a dollar or so apiece. These tubers are often quite huge--four to six inches across, or larger, and brown, with hard ridges. My Mother, who was raised in South Louisiana, told me that the larger the tuber, the older the plant, and the larger the "ears" will be when they emerge. Over time they form huge clumps of large elephant ears--I've seen some old ones in the Tampa Bay area over ten feet tall.
Well, my "taro," in a little more than a month, has grown long, snake like roots, which first encircled the pot, and then came out of the pot, onto the ground. Also, despite being watered every day, and our frequent August deluges of rain, some of the leaves have turned yellow and died.
So now I think my new pot of "taro" is going to become a raffle item at our next Club meeting, as it looks as if it could become a "monster," gobbling up precious growing space in my sunny garden--I have a lot of shade under huge oak trees. And next Spring I will be on the lookout for my old reliable friend, Alocasia macrorrhiza, or the Giant Alocasia, which knows how to stay in its place. Oh, and by the way, I tasted poi in Maui once, and all I can say is "Ugh!" I guess it must be an acquired taste.
September 6, 2003: I've changed my mind about giving away this plant as I have just read that it contains hyaluronic acid, or HA, a substance found in starchy, deep rooted plants like sweet potatoes and highly colored regular potatoes, especially the Japanese varieties. HA is a natural component of the human body that acts as a lubricant and is used in medicine by injection to treat eye problems, joint pain and sports injuries, and quite a lot of other problems too. But it is best used by the body from food--apparently the tough fibers of these plants protect the vital nutrients and vitamins during cooking, making these types of plants super nutritious--so I think I will dig a small, shallow bed just for this plant, and meanwhile research for a better recipe than poi, which I don't think I could ever really eat on a regular basis.
On Sep 2, 2003, Toxicodendron from Piedmont, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:
I have grown these tubers for many years here in Missouri, digging them up for the winter. This is the first time they have bloomed for me, and they have produced multiple blooms on the same plants. Must be the prolonged hot nights we have had in August (above 70 degrees most of the time). Too bad I had to be out of town when the flower spathes opened; maybe I will get another picture before summer ends. I always add some composted cow manure and water copiously to get the biggest leaves.
My Grandfather received 10 lbs. from the Agriculture Dept. in 1913. I am still growing them from the same start. The Grand Kids love them perboiled, sliced and fried as french fries. I live in south Louisiana and they do real well in this climate.
Great outdoors. I have used in areas that are sprinklered every day but not in naturally moist areas.
To solve the hardiness problem I planted in pots in the ground. In late October I lifted the pots and put them in an indoor area which has large picture windows. THe new leaves are not as large, but still very nice. In the spring I'll reset them outdoors and see if they again do well.
Also it's a great plant for children. A bulb is easy for a child to plant and the plant soon ends up larger than they and my granddaughter loves to show everyone how HER elephant ear is doing.
On Oct 9, 2002, Michaelp from Orange Springs, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:
Edible Taro's-like Colocasia esculenta- [NOT ELEPHANT EAR]Grow like other Taro/better eating than Irish Potato [I think]/all parts of this plant should be cooked before eating, to destroy toxin. This is a nice looking plant.-NOTE -Elephant Ear is not edible-the eating of the leaves has caused death in children.The roots contain much more toxin than food types of Taro,too much to be safely removed by cooking.But I have used the leaves as a base for creating aphid spray.
On Aug 26, 2002, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:
These are great for playing hide-and-seek with your family. They thrive in heat and moisture, and multiply quickly, but not out of control in the colder northern climates. Superb in containers, also in the soil as long as they are kept moist.
On Mar 12, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:
A perennial tuber with huge heart-shaped leaves, often planted in or near water gardens. Velvety green leaves provide textured backdrop to other plants, or can be planted as a specimen. Leaves and stems may also be found in colors such as cranberry or dark purplish black, depending on variety.
Plant when danger of frost is past, and soil is sufficiently warm. Or start early in pots indoors, transplanting when night temperatures remain above 55 degrees F.
Should be dug up and stored in protected area in colder climates.
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
Jones, Alabama Kinsey, Alabama New Market, Alabama Clayton, California Corte Madera, California Davis, California Fairfield, California Merced, California Oak View, California Sacramento, California San Diego, California Thousand Oaks, California Bartow, Florida Boca Raton, Florida Haverhill, Florida Jacksonville, Florida Keystone Heights, Florida Lutz, Florida Naples, Florida Old Town, Florida Pensacola, Florida Rockledge, Florida Saint Augustine Shores, Florida Seffner, Florida Suncoast Estates, Florida Warrington, Florida Cordele, Georgia Flemington, Georgia Hawkinsville, Georgia Lumpkin, Georgia Marietta, Georgia Royston, Georgia Honomu, Hawaii Glen Ellyn, Illinois La Porte, Indiana Davenport, Iowa Houma, Louisiana Easton, Maryland Sterling, Massachusetts Learned, Mississippi Natchez, Mississippi St John, Mississippi Hamilton, New Jersey Roswell, New Mexico Fairport, New York Elizabeth City, North Carolina Fayetteville, North Carolina Raleigh, North Carolina Lotsee, Oklahoma Salem, Oregon East Sumter, South Carolina Lexington, South Carolina Prosperity, South Carolina Summerville, South Carolina Lake City, Tennessee Baytown, Texas Corpus Christi, Texas Dallas, Texas Elgin, Texas Fort Worth, Texas Galveston, Texas Houston, Texas Mckinney, Texas Shepherd, Texas Spring Branch, Texas Newport News, Virginia Richmond, Virginia Edgewood, Washington