Please Save my Elephant Ear!!!!

wandering_willow(6 NYC)November 14, 2011

Hey Everyone,

I have a nice elephant ear pictured below that a friend gave me about 8 months ago, planted as is with the bulb exposed. It has thrived and become one of my favorite plants, I know it needs to be repotted, but since I never got around to it I was going to wait till spring.

All of a sudden, yesterday, I touched it and to my dismay found that part of the exposed bulb had essentially disappeared under the papery shell - it felt hollow! Thankfully the majority of the plant is still hard as a rock, and producing tons and new leaves and seems happy, but I don't know what's going on? Is it rotting, is the concavity going to spread? Do I need to cut that part out? I haven't broken through the "shell" to see what is inside (should I?) but I stuck a pen through a small hole, it is like 2/3 and inch deep, and about all the way up (from about 1/2 inch above the soil line) on one side, but not a full half, of the bulb. I assumed rot would have started at the soil, but it actually seems firm right at the soil line?

It had a battle with mealy bug before, but I thought I had it under control. Can anyone help me rescue this beloved plant? (Should I cut away the hollow part and sterilize? if so, how?) Should I leave it alone cause it otherwise looks happy? Please help! (Picture taken just 5mins ago - sorry for the size, I can't seem to get it to reformat)

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If it were me, I would unpot it and take a look at the bulbs and the roots, and check for any rot. Personally, I might separate some of the bulbs to grow them individually. I grew one of these in my garden, from a bulb I bought in the grocery store, and know they grow many offsets.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 7:23PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hello Wandering,

From a fellow NYer, I say hi & welcome. You may not know there's an Aroid Forum here at Gardenweb (Aroids are the large family of plants to which this belongs). They may have suggestions for you there as well.

Looks interesting & nice as is to me (after a quick cleanup).

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 10:07PM
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dellis326 (Danny)

I would unpot it to check it out, Around the hole you found if there are any soft or brown or otherwise "un-normal" looking tissue cut it off with an exacto knife or something very sharp like that and then apply dried, powdered cinnamon to the wound as an anti fungal. If it isn't mushy you should hold off doing anything to it

I would also leave it together but in a bigger pot with a very fast draining medium but to separate or not is up to you, there would be merits to either choice.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 10:47PM
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wandering_willow(6 NYC)

hey everyone,

Thank you so much for your help! I carved away the bit that was soft, put cinnamon on the wound, and repotted in a larger pot in mostly perlite... All the roots looked ok, thick, white, and healthy - the mushy part oddly stopped almost an inch above the roots... I don't know why that part would rot... but I carved it away and am hoping for the best!

Thank you again!! (Also thanks Pirate_Girl for the welcome from a fellow new yorker! :) )

Thank you all so much!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 1:04AM
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dellis326 (Danny)

Well there's no way of telling what caused the rotting. since it was above the soil line it likely hadn't anything to do with watering but at this point there isn't a way to figure it out. Possibly an insect wound got infected or some other injury.

You may find that at some point the perlite won't be heavy enough to hold your plant up so keep in mind for the next time you repot it to try to find something heavier.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 11:58PM
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Willow, I agree with Dellis..Perlite probably won't hold the plant erect..

Could the rotting be caused by over-watering?

There's so many EE varieties. Many go dormant when days shorten. As soon as you notice yellowing leaves or halting growth, cut back or stop watering and fertilizing.

Has your EE flowered this year? Do you know its variety?

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 4:04PM
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