Office Baby - Giant Elephant Ear

AinsworthCEAugust 12, 2014

Hello! New to the forum and aspiring to be a pro green thumb :-)

I have a dilemma with a plant that I think needs to be repotted but now am unsure of what to do. I work in an office with an elephant ear plant and I am fairly certain that the plant is root bound and in much need to be propagated (term might be misused, I was planning on separating the three stalks into separate pots.) As you can see the plant has grown so much that pot has fallen over and I have to prop it up.

Since elephant ears are a bulb plant, and I found that they naturally regrow the stalks annually after winter. My question is, what now? Do I replant with the stalks that have grown sideways and hope they correct? Or do I chop the stalks and replant the (supposed) three bulbs? This is also in hopes that the three stalks means that there are three bulbs.

Any guidance would be SEVERLY appreciated. Thank you, Mr. Green.

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Closer view of the stalks.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 10:26AM
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I thought someone would have answered your post by now, so here's my 2 cents of what I would do. Take it outside with another person to help you and try to get it out of the pot, I think you'll be amazed at the amount of bulbs that are in the pot, see how hard it will be to separate the bulbs, I've used a serrated knife, then it will be up to you how you want to proceed. Once they get re-potted into bigger pot or pots and a good well draining soil they will grow like crazy. I'll be looking forward to seeing pictures when your done. I'm sure others will come along with some more advice for you.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 8:32PM
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I had several 25 gallon pots filled to overflowing with elephant ears. The pots weighed several hundred pounds a piece, so I tipped them on the side, shoved a sharp shovel into the mass, and shoveled out some of the sprouts to repot. Amazingly, even sprouts that had very little root mass started to grow quickly, and the resulting plants looked much better than the mother. I kept the mother plant for the remainder of the summer, and it again filled its container to overflowing. I think I'll let the frost kill the top, and then separate some of the many bulbs to plant next spring. These plants propagate like crazy.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 9:33PM
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Thank you very much for the feedback! I'm slowly becoming more comfortable with this process. This plant is 15 years old and they've tasked me with the surgery/replanting process :-)

A couple questions:

1) Will replanting the existing stalks straighten them out or will it continue to lean out of the pot? If not, I will need to cut the stalks for atheistic reasons.

2) If I cut the stalks, will the original bulb continue to grow?

3) Do you have any links to show once I get to the roots, how to tell the difference between bulbs and shoots?

4) The pots we purchased are the same size as the one in the picture (25 gal). How many bulbs or shoots will be comfortable in one pot?

5) Is moisture control potting mix a good soil for this plant?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 8:22AM
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Jason J

WOW I wouldn't necessary call that a baby....that thing is huge!

I am not sure if I would do much to it, It looks healthy, and I couldn't imagine having 3 25gal pots of ears in an office. Then it would look awkward to have a single stalk in each pot.

The leaning of the plant, towards the typical of a plant grown indoors, that hasn't been rotated.

If I were to do anything, I would take the plant(s) out of the original container, shake off all the soil, do some root pruning and then place it back in the container with fresh soil.

I would then place the plant in a large heavy ceramic container to keep it stable and from falling over..

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 4:25PM
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This is an Alocasia macrorrhizos, they don't have "bulbs". Bulbs are like onions whereas these have tubers. As was already mentioned, these plants are leaning towards the light, and the stems would be thinner/weaker because of the low light and lower temperatures than what's natural for it. The whole stem is part of the tuber and in the South Pacific they're grown as food. But it takes special preparation to get the toxicity out of them. The above ground stem can get taller than a person and the leaves quite huge, if you have a suitable climate. But your existing stems will remain curved.

They propagate very easily. If you put many in the one pot that will slow down their growth just through competition. But also they'll develop thinner and weaker stems. They'll try to grow away from one another and towards maximum light. The fewer you have together the stronger and straighter the stems should be, if you balance the light. All a bit of a juggling act.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 8:56PM
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Thank you for the responses! After repotting, can I rotate the plant when it's leaned this much?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:41AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Rotating it often should keep it from leaning at all.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 12:36PM
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How can I address this issue now that it has leaned this far?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 1:19PM
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You can't straighten out those stems. The drastic way to get upright plants is to first remove most of the leaves. Then cut the stems through or even just below the curve. Allow the cut surface to dry/callous over for a couple of days. Then you can plant those (shorter) tops vertically making sure you regularly rotate the pot to equalise the light around the plant. The original plants if left in the pot should also grow a bit straighter if you do the same with the light, although they will tend to grow out from each other.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 6:31PM
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