Elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta or Alocasia spp. ) can have invasive roots if planted in the right conditions. They grow from a large, tuber-like corm, and the roots can easily spread if given a lot of moisture, nutrient availability, and warm temperatures.
Over-watering can cause them to spread aggressively as can over-fertilizing. It is best to plant them in containers so as to contain their root system, or grow them in an area that can be kept cut back.
In general, the plants are easy to care for and relatively easy to keep in check.
Do I need to dig up my elephant ears?
No, you typically do not need to dig up your elephant ears. Depending on the climate and the time of year, they will either go dormant (die back in the cold months) or stay evergreen depending on their species.
It is recommended to only dig up elephant ears if you are moving and need to take them with you or if there is disease or pest issues that require you to remove them from the soil. If you are transplanting elephant ears, make sure you select a location with a well-draining soil and that gets full sun.
Make sure to dig a large hole and amend the soil with compost before planting in order to give your elephant ears the best chance at survival. Additionally, it is important to water the elephant ears regularly and make sure the soil does not dry out.
Can elephant ears be left in the ground?
Yes, elephant ears can be left in the ground over the winter. This is a great way to keep them coming back year after year. To get the best results, cut the stems of the plant back to just above the ground and mulch or cover the area with a thick layer of straw or leaves.
This will help protect the tuberous roots over the winter by insulating them and will also help keep them moist and prevent them from drying out. If you live in an area where the ground does not freeze, you may not need to provide extra protection.
However, if you live in a region with cold winters, you may want to dig up the tuberous roots so that they are not exposed to the freezing temperatures. Store the roots in a cool and dry location until temperatures warm up in the spring, before replanting.
How do I get rid of elephant plants?
The best way to get rid of an elephant plant is to carefully remove the entire plant, roots and all. To do this, dig a hole around the base of the plant and be sure to remove as much of the root system as possible.
Dispose of the entire plant; do not compost or burn it as this could spread the plant further. If the plant has spread and regrown, fully remove all foliage, stems, and seed pods. For particularly large infestations, consider using a layer of black plastic mulch to solarize the soil and prevent the spread of further growth.
Finally, be sure to monitor the area closely for any signs of new growth and repeat the removal process if necessary.
Do elephant ears come back every year?
Yes, elephant ears generally come back every year. This is due to their bulbs or corms that are planted in spring and then bloom in late summer. Occasionally, however, if the conditions are not right, an elephant ear may not return the following year.
Unfavorable factors such as too much moisture, heat, or dryness can make it difficult for the bulb to survive the winter and successfully produce more leaves the following year. But, with the correct care, you can often expect the plant to return each spring.
Generally, to encourage the plant to come back, it’s important to make sure it’s in a well-drained area and to mulch heavily in late fall with a thick layer of organic material like leaves. The mulch will help keep the soil around the bulb warm, insulate it from temperature changes, and provide nutrients for the new growth when spring arrives.
Should I mulch around elephant ears?
Yes, mulching around elephant ears is an important maintenance step for your garden. Mulching helps to reduce weeds, conserve moisture, and increase the organic matter in Garden beds. In the case of elephant ears, mulch is beneficial to help retain moisture and provide insulation from the hot temperatures.
It’s best to use a much type that is moisture retentive and biodegradable to maintain these benefits long term. It should be added in a 2-3 inch layer, especially during the hot months. Be sure to keep the mulch away from the base of the plant as it can cause rot and insect infestations.
Replenish the mulch as needed, typically every 3-4 months depending on climate and rainfall, to maintain the optimal moisture level for your elephant ears.
Will deer eat elephant ear?
That depends on the species of deer. Some species of deer, such as mule deer, may nibble on the leaves or stems of elephant ear plants, but most deer will avoid eating them. Elephants ear plants contain large quantities of oxalic acid, which is toxic to most animals, so deer will avoid it.
Additionally, deer tend to prefer more nutritious foods such as grasses, certain kinds of shrubs, and other leafy plants. So if you want to keep deer away from your elephant ears, the best course of action is to provide them with plenty of other plants they’re more likely to eat.
Is 40 degrees too cold for elephant ears?
Whether or not 40 degrees is too cold for elephant ears depends on the variety of the elephant ears. Some varieties of elephant ears are hardy enough to be able to tolerate temperatures as low as 40 degrees, while other varieties may struggle to survive temperatures that low.
In most cases, if a variety of elephant ear is planted in an area that frequently experiences temperatures in the 40s, it is in your best interest to provide some sort of protection, such as mulch or an insulation layer for the roots, to ensure their survival.
Potted elephant ears might do better in a warmer environment, like indoors, if temperatures in your area frequently get that cold.
Does cold weather kill elephant ears?
No, cold weather typically does not kill elephant ears. These tropical plants are resilient and tolerant of temperatures down to 35 degrees Fahrenheit, making them suitable for growing in many parts of the country.
When exposed to extreme cold (below 25 degrees for an extended period of time), elephant ears may suffer cold damage, which can cause the foliage to turn brown and die back. To protect elephant ears from winter cold, it’s important to provide adequate winter protection, such as mulching and wrapping plants with a blanket or burlap.
Additionally, be sure to water regularly during dry periods, as keeping the soil moist is essential for preventing cold injury.
Will elephant ears survive a hard freeze?
It depends on the type of elephant ear plant you have. Some varieties are tropical and do not tolerate cold temperatures and may not survive a hard freeze. Others, such as Colocasia esculenta, are hardy in USDA zones 7 to 11 and are more likely to survive a hard freeze.
To determine if your particular variety will survive a hard freeze, consult a gardening guide or reference material. In general, it is best to take precautions to protect tropical elephant ear plants from hard freezes, such as covering the plant with frost cloth or mulching around the base of the plant.
To prepare a hardy elephant ear for the winter, cut back the foliage after the first frost and cover the base of the plant with several inches of mulch. With the right precautions, both tropical and hardy elephant ear varieties have the potential to survive a hard freeze.
Do elephant ears need to be dug up for winter?
Yes, elephant ears should be dug up and stored for winter, especially in areas where temperatures dip below freezing and temperatures remain below freezing for more than a few hours. Without protection, the roots will be damaged and the plant could die.
To store elephant ears for winter, dig up the entire plant and shake off any excess soil. Cut off any dead leaves and discard them. Place the plant in a pot or tray and fill it with moistened peat moss.
Cover the entire root system with the peat moss, but leave an inch or two at the top of the pot exposed so you can check the moisture of the moss. Place the pot in a warm area with lots of indirect light and check it periodically during winter to ensure that the moss remains slightly moist to the touch.
When spring arrives, you can replant the rhizomes directly in the garden and enjoy your elephant ears all summer.
Can you start elephant ears indoors?
Yes, it is possible to start elephant ears indoors. Elephant ears, or colocasias, are tropical plants that can be grown indoors as houseplants. When grown indoors, elephant ears are usually planted in a 12-inch container using well-draining potting soil.
The soil should be kept continuously moist, but not soggy or overly wet. Elephant ears need bright indirect light, so a grow light may be necessary if a bright window is not available. As part of their growth cycle, elephant ears will need to be fertilized every two weeks with a balanced fertilizer.
With the proper care and attention, elephant ears can thrive indoors and produce large, ornamental foliage.
Do you cut elephant ears back in the winter?
Yes, you can cut back elephant ears in the winter. It is best to cut the plant back before the cold temperatures and frost arrive in your area. This will give the plant the best chance to provide healthy growth in the spring.
When cutting back elephant ears, be sure to cut the foliage to a few inches above the soil surface. You can remove any dead or diseased leaves or stalks as well. After all of the foliage is cut back, add a thick layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant.
This will help protect the root system over the winter and provide extra nutrients to the soil.
What is fertilizer for elephant ears?
Fertilizing is a key part of growing elephant ears, as it helps to keep plants healthy, promote growth, and bring out the beautiful foliage. The best fertilizer for elephant ears is one that’s high in nitrogen and potassium, while also containing trace elements like phosphate and iron.
Look for a fertilizer that is labeled specifically for foliage such as plants, shrubs, and trees. If you live in a cooler region, you may not need to fertilize during the winter months. However, during the growing season and when the plants are actively growing, they will benefit from an application of fertilizer.
For indoor and container-grown elephant ears, use a balanced liquid fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 that’s diluted to half-strength and applied once a month. For outdoor plants, a controlled-release or timed-release fertilizer is best, as it slowly releases nutrients over the course of the year and doesn’t require frequent applications.
For both indoor and outdoor plants, opt for an organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion or compost tea whenever possible, as these are gentler on the environment and won’t burn the foliage.
Which plants like Epsom salts?
Many plants benefit from the addition of Epsom salts. This is because Epsom salt is a natural mineral compound made up of magnesium and sulfate, which are essential plant nutrients. Plants that typically do best with the addition of Epsom salt are tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, roses, peppers, tomatoes, and houseplants.
Additionally, some trees may benefit from it, such as evergreens and maples, and it can even be beneficial to the grass in a lawn.
Tomatoes and peppers benefit from Epsom salt because they need magnesium to produce strong cell walls, which results in better fruit production. Magnesium also helps these plants take in a higher level of phosphorus, leading to larger and more abundant yields.
Courgettes benefit from magnesium to strengthen their shoots and also helps to grow and maintain healthy fruits.
Roses require magnesium to develop chlorophyll in their leaves and to increase blooming, while also preventing yellow leaves and other disease and pest issues.
Houseplants can benefit from the addition of Epsom salts to their soil, as magnesium helps them to absorb nutrients from the soil. This is particularly helpful for plants in containers or pots, as they may not be getting enough nutrients from their limited soil.
Magnesium also helps regulate how plants absorb water and can help to produce beautiful, vibrant foliage.
It is always important to remember that too much of any nutrient, even one that is beneficial like Epsom salt, can damage or even kill your plants. Refer to the instructions on the package when adding Epsom salt to your plants.
What causes elephant ears to turn yellow?
Yellowing elephant ears are caused by a variety of possible issues, including nutrient deficiencies, fungal or bacterial diseases, and even cold weather. Nutrient deficiencies, such as nitrogen or magnesium deficiency, can cause yellowing of the leaves starting at the tip and progressing toward the base of the plant.
Other nutrient deficiencies such as phosphorus can also cause yellowing between the veins, creating a mosaic of yellowing marks. Fungal and bacterial diseases can also cause yellowing, as well as other discoloration such as spots, rings and streaks.
Cold temperatures can also turn the leaves yellow, though this is less common. To diagnose and treat the cause of yellowing elephant ears, it is best to take a sample to your local garden center or nursery for a professional diagnosis.
Should I cut off yellow elephant ear leaves?
The decision whether or not to cut off yellow elephant ear leaves should be based on the cause of them becoming yellow. If the yellowing is due to overwatering, then cutting off the leaves can help reduce the stress.
However, if the yellowing is due to insufficient light, then cutting off the leaves will not help as it does not solve the underlying light deficiency problem. While cutting off the yellow leaves can cause the plant to look aesthetically better and improve air circulation, it can also decrease the plant’s energy reserves and leave the plant vulnerable to disease.
Therefore, it may be best to only cut off the yellow leaves if they start to become a nuisance or if they are clearly dead. If you choose to cut off the leaves, make sure to use sterilized garden scissors or shears and start by removing the oldest leaves first.
After that, keep an eye on the plant to make sure that new yellow leaves are not forming.