How to plant Elephant ear

kroptaMarch 14, 2006

Just bought an elephant ear bulb at a Garden Show and forgot to ask directions.... How deep? And what is the best way to save bulb for next year? Thanks

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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I plant them 4 to 6 inches deep but only after the soil warms, about when you would plant corn or beans, or they will rot. Plant the pointy side up. I have not tried to keep a bulb over for a year but if I did I would keep it in the refrigerator in a bed of vermiculte to try to prevent both growth and drying out. Al

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 10:01AM
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leslie197(z5 MI)

You can pot it up now and get it started in the house if you want, but you probably won't want to take it outside in zone 5 until annual planting time in the latter half of May or so.

I never actually unpot mine as you are supposed to do and store dry over the winter. I just drag the things inside and out each year in their pots. I have 3 varieties. All winter over in their pots right next to my patio door (which faces south) limp along through our long winter putting out the occasional small leaf, and go into high gear once outside again.

Black Magic

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 1:19PM
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Hey Leslie,

Do yours die all the way back in the winter? I'm going to grow them for the first time this summer here in SW Ohio.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 3:11PM
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leslie197(z5 MI)


If I left them outside in their pots, they would all die for sure! We're too wet and cold here in Michigan. SW Ohio may or may not be warm enough in winter. I just don't know.

The normal procedure here is to dig them up and store them dry over the winter and restart them in spring. But they will work as potted plants indoors as well. One year when we were expecting an early freezing rain, I dragged the very large pots into the house. Never got them back out until the next spring! LOL

Inside in their pots by the patio door they live quite nicely all winter. What usually happens is that the large leaves (which are way to big inside the house anyway when they have been outside all summer) die off slowly, giving me back my kitchen :~), and are replaced by new smaller leaves which in the case of Black Magic are more olive color than black when inside the house. It still makes a pretty velvety-leaved plant.

Lime Zinger does the same, however Frydek seems to sulk. I stick it over in a sunless corner of the kitchen along with a single Clivia miniata in its own pot and let them sit out the winter without water. Frydek goes dormant. The Clivia keeps its leathery leaves and looks exactly the same for 3 or 4 months. In March/April I give them each a drink of water and Frydek reawakens. I continue watering it as it starts to put out leaves. The Clivia still sits there looking the same! I may or may not give it another drink of water until late May when I put it outside again. Both take copious amounts of water outside in summer and moderate (to almost none for the Clivia)amounts inside when they are waking up in spring.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2006 at 9:23AM
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I started with just a few bulbs 5+ years ago. I planted them in a sandy mixture of dirt, potting soil and sand. In the fall, before frost, I cut the leaves at the base of the ground then dig them up, and store them in the basement or under the house to keep from freezing then replace them in the sring after the chance of freezing. They have mulitiplied so much I give them to the neighbor hood. The last two years, I have left several in the ground to see what would happen, I heavily mulch them with old newspapers, then cover with chopped leaves in the fall. So far, they are growning great each spring. It is a lot easier, but I am taking a chance they could freeze. Zone 6

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 8:24AM
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In Fla they can b left in the ground all yr long but since moving to Indiana I dig them up in the fall n put the bulbs in a paper bag in my pantry til spring again...seems to do fine n i have them in full sun by my fountain.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 8:31PM
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I have a question about them also, I left mine in the garage, heated somewhat, for the winter in the pot and it did fine. Now they're sprouting since I brought it inside to warm up. I probably started with one bulb but what came up looks like 5 small sprouts coming up from smaller bulbs? Are these "babies" off the main bulb, can I dig them up separately and start in new pots? I loved this one and want to start a collection, too bad it wasn't as big as the first one I tried sev. yrs. ago, the leaves were huge! This one didn't get very big last year :( Guess I look for bigger bulb next time?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 9:46PM
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Hey Deb....I grow the elephant ears but dig them up and store in the basement...they usually produce alot of smaller bulbs that I just 'pop' off the mother bulb and plant seperately...from what I see...the main bulb will srout off of itself but that area eventually turns into a smaller bulb. Getting ready to plant them today...they have already started sprouting in the tub I stored them in. As for the size...depends on which you have...but the larger the bulb, the larger the plant gets...and the bulbs grow relatively fast each year...I bought larger bulbs, about 5" and they ended up growing about 5-6' tall...If you want the larger bulbs...check at lowes...if they still have them they are probably 50-70% off right now...this is when I buy my bulbs...I just buy whatever they have left.

I have the large green leaves....Anyone know where I can find the large purple elephant ear?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 8:49AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

Timely thread, even if old! I have one I started indoors about a month ago, it's finally sending up a shoot about 4 inches tall. The year before, I planted it directly outside, and it didn't get going until September!

I was planning to plant mine in the ground, but now Leslie has me re-thinking that. Hauling in the pot would be easier. I don't have much luck storing tubers of anything over the winter if I dig them up. Leslie, if you are still around; how big of a pot do you need to grow Black Magic? They are supposed to like it moist, don't they? I wonder if I could keep it moist enough in a pot. I assume for that reason that plastic would be better than clay.

Or, has anyone tried digging it up from the garden and transferring it to a pot in the fall?

MIdigger, I got Black Magic at Home Depot, bulb looks very different from the round green ones. Elongated. Sold in a bag like other bulbs, not loose in a bin like the green ones.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 3:51PM
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I am planting an Elephant Ear for the 1st time, could you tell me how often do you water and how much? I am in NJ, what zone is this?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 1:33PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hi Karen, welcome to Gardenweb!

You can find your zone at this page. Type your ZIP code in the box and hit enter. You are probably in Z6.

Elephant ear (assuming you're talking about Colocasia) likes very rich, fertile soil that never dries out. If direct sun, morning only is best. Hot afternoon sun can cause a wilted appearance and slower growth.

Are you using a pot or putting it in the ground?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 1:00PM
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