How To Plant Elephant Ear Bulb [ Full Guide ]

If you’re looking to add a touch of tropical flair to your garden, elephant ear plants are an excellent choice. These large, heart-shaped leaves and striking foliage make them a standout addition to any landscape. One of the most popular ways to grow elephant ear plants is by planting their bulbs. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the process of planting elephant ear bulbs, from understanding the bulbs to selecting the right location and preparing the soil for optimal growth.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Elephant Ear Bulb

To quickly summarize, here are the essential steps to plant elephant ear bulbs:

  1. Understanding the Elephant Ear Bulb: Learn about the characteristics and requirements of the elephant ear bulb.
  2. Choosing the Right Location for Planting: Select a suitable spot with the right sun exposure and soil conditions.
  3. Preparing the Soil for Optimal Growth: Ensure the soil is well-draining and enriched with organic matter.
  4. How to Plant the Elephant Ear Bulb: Plant the bulb at the right depth and maintain proper spacing.
  5. Conclusion

Now, let’s delve into each of these steps in detail.

Understanding The Elephant Ear Bulb

Before you start planting elephant ear bulbs, it’s important to understand the nature of the bulbs. Elephant ear bulbs are actually tubers, which are modified underground stems that store nutrients for the plant. These tubers should be planted in the spring, after the danger of frost has passed and the soil has started to warm up.

When selecting your elephant ear bulbs, choose ones that are firm, plump, and free from any signs of decay or damage. The size of the bulb will depend on the variety, so be sure to check the specific requirements for the type of elephant ear plant you have.

Choosing The Right Location For Planting

Elephant ear plants thrive in warm, tropical environments and require plenty of sunlight to flourish. When choosing a location for planting, look for a spot that receives partial to full sun. While elephant ear plants can tolerate some shade, they typically prefer a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight each day for optimal growth.

In addition to sunlight, it’s crucial to consider the soil conditions. Elephant ear plants prefer moist, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Avoid areas with heavy clay soil that tends to retain water, as this can lead to root rot and other issues. If your soil is heavy, consider amending it with compost or well-rotted manure to improve its drainage and fertility.

Preparing The Soil For Optimal Growth

To ensure that your elephant ear bulbs have the best start, it’s important to prepare the soil properly. Start by clearing the area of any weeds or debris, and then work the soil to a depth of about 10 to 12 inches. This will help loosen the soil and improve aeration, which is essential for root development.

Next, incorporate organic matter into the soil to improve its fertility and moisture retention. Well-rotted compost, leaf mold, or aged manure are excellent choices for enriching the soil. Work the organic matter into the soil thoroughly, ensuring that it is evenly distributed throughout the planting area.

How To Plant The Elephant Ear Bulb

Once you’ve selected the right location and prepared the soil, it’s time to plant the elephant ear bulbs. Follow these steps for successful planting:

Step 1: Digging The Hole

Use a shovel or garden trowel to dig a hole that is approximately 2 to 3 times the diameter of the bulb. The depth of the hole should be such that the top of the bulb sits about 2 inches below the soil surface.

Step 2: Positioning The Bulb

Place the elephant ear bulb in the center of the hole with the pointed end facing upwards. If you’re planting multiple bulbs, ensure that there is enough space between them, typically 2 to 3 feet, to allow for proper growth.

Step 3: Filling The Hole

Carefully backfill the hole with the soil, tamping it down lightly as you go to remove any air pockets. Water the newly planted bulbs thoroughly to settle the soil and provide moisture.

Step 4: Mulching

Consider applying a layer of organic mulch, such as shredded bark or straw, around the planted bulbs. This will help conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate the soil temperature.

Step 5: Watering And Maintenance

Throughout the growing season, be sure to water the elephant ear plants regularly to keep the soil consistently moist. However, avoid overwatering, as this can lead to rotting of the tubers. Additionally, consider fertilizing the plants with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks to support their growth.

Planting elephant ear bulbs is a rewarding and relatively simple process that can add a dramatic touch to your garden. By understanding the nature of the bulbs, choosing the right location, and properly preparing the soil, you can set the stage for healthy and vibrant elephant ear plants. With the proper care and attention, these stunning tropical beauties are sure to thrive and become a focal point in your outdoor space. Whether you’re a gardening enthusiast or a beginner, planting elephant ear bulbs is a delightful way to introduce a touch of the tropics to your landscape.

Fertilizing And Watering Techniques

Elephant ear plants, also known as Colocasia or Alocasia, are tropical plants that are beloved for their large, vibrant leaves. They can add a touch of exotic beauty to both indoor and outdoor spaces. These plants are typically grown from bulbs, and knowing how to properly plant and care for them is key to their successful growth.

  1. Soil Preparation: Before planting the elephant ear bulb, it is crucial to prepare the soil. Elephant ears prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Start by loosening the soil and removing any weeds or debris. Incorporate compost or well-rotted manure into the soil to improve its fertility and moisture retention.

  2. Choosing the right fertilizer: Elephant ear plants are heavy feeders and require regular fertilization to thrive. Opt for a balanced, slow-release fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10-10 or 14-14-14. This will provide a steady supply of nutrients over time. Avoid using high nitrogen fertilizers, as they can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of bulb development.

  3. Fertilization schedule: Start fertilizing elephant ear plants two weeks after planting and continue every 4-6 weeks throughout the growing season. Apply the fertilizer according to the package instructions, ensuring even coverage around the plant. Water the area thoroughly after each application to help the nutrients penetrate the soil.

  4. Watering requirements: Elephant ear plants require consistent moisture to grow well. Water the plants regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Avoid letting the soil dry out completely between waterings. Using mulch around the plants can help retain soil moisture. Be aware that potted plants may require more frequent watering, as they tend to dry out faster than those in the ground.

RELATED  How To Plant Bare Root Hosta [ Full Guide ]

Protecting The Bulb From Pests And Disease

  1. Inspecting the bulb: Before planting the bulb, thoroughly inspect it for any signs of damage or disease. Look for soft spots, mold, or discoloration. Diseased or damaged bulbs should be discarded to prevent the spread of infection.

  2. Proper planting depth: Planting the bulb at the correct depth is essential for its protection. Dig a hole in the prepared soil that is just deep enough to cover the bulb with about an inch or two of soil. Planting too deep can lead to rot, while planting too shallow may expose the bulb to damage or drying out.

  3. Applying fungicides: To prevent fungal diseases, such as root rot or leaf blight, you can apply a preventative fungicide before planting the bulb. Follow the instructions on the fungicide label for proper application and dosage. This is especially important if you have had issues with fungal diseases in your garden before.

  4. Regular inspection and maintenance: Monitor your elephant ear plants regularly for any signs of pests or diseases. Common pests that can affect these plants include aphids, spider mites, and snails. If you notice any pests, remove them by hand or treat the plants with an appropriate insecticide. Additionally, promptly remove any yellowing or diseased leaves to prevent the spread of infection.

Tips For Growing Elephant Ear Plants In Containers

  1. Choosing the right container: When growing elephant ear plants in containers, choose a pot that is at least 12-16 inches in diameter and has drainage holes. A larger container will allow the plant’s root system to spread and grow properly. Additionally, ensure that the pot is heavy and stable, as these plants can become top-heavy and may tip over if the container is too lightweight.

  2. Potting mix: Use a well-draining potting mix that is specifically formulated for container plants. Avoid heavy garden soil, as it can lead to waterlogging and root rot. Adding perlite or coco coir to the potting mix can further improve drainage. Fill the container about two-thirds full with the potting mix.

  3. Planting the bulb: Place the elephant ear bulb on top of the potting mix, positioning the pointy end facing upward. Gently press the bulb into the soil, making sure it is secure but not buried too deeply. Leave about an inch of the bulb exposed above the soil surface.

  4. Watering container plants: Container-grown elephant ear plants may require more frequent watering than those planted in the ground. Check the moisture level in the soil regularly and water whenever the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. Water the container deeply until the water flows out through the drainage holes, ensuring thorough saturation.

  5. Positioning the container: Elephant ear plants thrive in bright, indirect sunlight. Place the container in a spot that receives at least six hours of indirect sunlight per day. Avoid placing the container in direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves. If growing indoors, place the container near a window that provides bright, indirect light.

  6. Container maintenance: Elephant ear plants grown in containers may require more frequent fertilization than those planted in the ground. Follow the fertilizing schedule mentioned earlier, applying a slow-release, balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. Additionally, check the container for any signs of root bound. If the roots start to circle the bottom of the pot, it’s time to repot the plant into a larger container.

Enhancing Growth With Mulching

Mulching is a beneficial practice for growing elephant ear plants. Here’s how you can use mulch to enhance growth:

  1. Choosing the right mulch: Opt for organic mulches, such as compost, shredded leaves, or straw, as they contribute to soil fertility as they break down. These mulches also help retain moisture in the soil and suppress weed growth.

  2. Applying the mulch: After planting the elephant ear bulb, spread a layer of mulch around the base of the plant, being careful not to bury the bulb. Apply the mulch to a depth of 2-3 inches. Make sure to leave a small gap around the stem to prevent moisture accumulation and potential rot.

  3. Mulch maintenance: Check the mulch regularly and replenish it if it starts to break down or becomes thin. Mulch that has become matted or compacted can impede water penetration and airflow, so fluff it up occasionally to maintain its effectiveness.

Propagation Methods For Elephant Ear Bulbs

  1. Division: The most common method of propagating elephant ear plants is through division. This can be done in early spring before the plant starts actively growing. Carefully dig up the plant, ensuring that the entire root system is intact. Separate the bulb into multiple sections, each with an equal share of healthy roots and shoots. Replant the divided bulbs in pots or in the ground, following the planting instructions mentioned earlier.

  2. Cutting and rooting: Elephant ear plants can also be propagated by taking stem cuttings. Select a healthy stem from the main plant and cut it just below a node. Remove any lower leaves, leaving a few at the top. Place the cutting in a container filled with a well-draining potting mix. Keep the soil consistently moist and provide the cutting with bright, indirect light. In a few weeks, roots will develop, and the cutting can be transplanted into a larger container or planted in the ground.

  3. Growing from offsets: Some elephant ear plants produce offsets, which are smaller bulbs that develop around the main plant. When these offsets are large enough, they can be carefully separated from the parent plant and planted individually. Make sure each offset has healthy roots before planting. Treat the offsets like mature bulbs, following the planting and care instructions mentioned earlier.

Growing elephant ear plants from bulbs can be a rewarding experience. By following the proper planting techniques, providing adequate fertilization and watering, protecting the bulbs from pests and disease, and utilizing mulching, you can ensure the successful growth of these tropical beauties. Additionally, knowing different propagation methods allows you to expand your collection or share these stunning plants with others. With a little care and attention, your elephant ear plants will thrive and bring a touch of lushness to your garden or indoor space.

Planting Elephant Ear Bulbs

Elephant ear plants (Colocasia) are known for their stunning, large, and unique foliage that resembles the shape of an elephant’s ear, hence the name. These tropical plants are great additions to any garden or landscape, adding a touch of drama and exoticism. Planting elephant ear bulbs is a straightforward process, but it does require some specific steps to ensure optimal growth and success.

RELATED  How To Plant Black Eyed Peas [ Full Guide ]

Elephant ear bulbs can be planted in both containers and garden beds, depending on your preference and the available space. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you successfully plant elephant ear bulbs:

  1. Choose the right bulbs: When selecting elephant ear bulbs, look for large, firm bulbs without any signs of damage or rot. Young elephant ear plants can also be started from corms, which are small, solid stems that serve as storage organs.

  2. Select the planting location: Elephant ears are tropical plants that thrive in moist, well-drained soil and partial shade. Choose a location that receives morning sun and afternoon shade for the best results. Since elephant ear plants can reach large sizes, adequate space should be available for them to spread out.

  3. Prepare the soil: Elephant ears prefer rich, organic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7. To prepare the soil, add compost or well-rotted manure to improve its fertility and drainage. You can also mix in some sand or peat moss to enhance the drainage capacity.

  4. Plant the bulbs: Dig a hole that is about 2-3 times the size of the bulbs. Place the bulbs in the hole with the pointed end facing up. The top of the bulb should be about 1-2 inches below the soil surface. Fill the hole with soil, gently firming it around the bulb to remove any air pockets.

  5. Water thoroughly: After planting, give the bulbs a thorough watering to settle them into the soil and ensure good initial hydration. Keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy during the growing season.

  6. Mulch: Applying a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or shredded bark, around the planted bulbs helps conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Be careful not to heap mulch against the bulbs, as this can promote rotting.

  7. Maintain consistent moisture: Elephant ear plants require regular watering, especially during hot, dry weather. The soil should be evenly moist but not waterlogged or overly saturated. To retain moisture, consider using a soaker hose or drip irrigation system.

  8. Fertilize regularly: Elephant ears are heavy feeders and benefit from regular fertilization throughout the growing season. Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer or organic options like compost or fish emulsion. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates and frequency.

  9. Provide support if necessary: As elephant ear plants grow, they may require support to prevent them from toppling over. Using stakes or bamboo poles can help provide stability, especially in areas prone to strong winds.

  10. Monitor for pests and diseases: Keep an eye out for common pests like aphids, spider mites, or slugs, which can occasionally infest elephant ear plants. Regularly inspect the leaves for signs of damage or disease, such as yellowing, spotting, or wilting. Treat any issues promptly with appropriate organic or chemical controls.

  11. Prune away damaged or dead leaves: To maintain the overall health and appearance of your elephant ear plant, remove any damaged or dead leaves as they appear. This helps improve airflow and prevents the spread of diseases or pests.

  12. Divide and transplant: Over time, elephant ear plants can multiply and spread rapidly. To control their growth and promote healthier plants, consider dividing and transplanting them every few years during the dormant season. Dig up the bulbs, separate them carefully, and replant them in desired locations, ensuring adequate spacing.

Overwintering Techniques

In regions with cold winters, elephant ear plants are not hardy and will not survive outdoors. However, with proper overwintering techniques, you can save the bulbs and replant them in the following spring. Follow these steps to successfully overwinter your elephant ear bulbs:

  1. Prepare for dormancy: As temperatures drop in the fall, elephant ear plants will naturally enter a dormant phase. Before the first frost, reduce watering gradually to allow the plant to prepare for dormancy. Once the leaves turn yellow and wither, it is a sign that the plant is entering dormancy.

  2. Dig up the bulbs: Carefully dig up the bulbs by loosening the soil around them. Take care not to damage or bruise the bulbs during the process. Shake off excess soil gently or rinse it off with water.

  3. Clean and dry the bulbs: After digging up the bulbs, remove any remaining soil and debris. Allow them to air dry for a few days in a well-ventilated area to prevent rotting.

  4. Inspect and prepare for storage: Before storing the bulbs, inspect them for any signs of damage or disease. Discard any bulbs that appear soft, mushy, or infected. For added protection against potential rot or fungal growth, you can dust the bulbs with a fungicide powder.

  5. Choose a storage location: Find a cool, dark, and well-ventilated area for storing the bulbs over the winter. The ideal temperature range for storage is between 50-60°F (10-15°C). Basements, garages, or crawl spaces are usually suitable for this purpose.

  6. Use proper storage containers: Place the bulbs in storage containers such as cardboard boxes, mesh bags, or plastic bins. Make sure the containers have adequate drainage holes or ventilation to prevent mold or mildew. You can also add some dry peat moss or vermiculite as a moisture-absorbing medium around the bulbs to keep them dry during storage.

  7. Check periodically: While in storage, periodically check the bulbs for any signs of decay or dehydration. Discard any bulbs that have started rotting or have become excessively dried out. Spraying water lightly on the medium or bulb occasionally can help maintain proper moisture levels.

  8. Replant in the spring: When the danger of frost has passed and the soil temperature reaches a consistent 60°F (15°C), you can begin replanting the bulbs in the garden or containers following the steps mentioned in the previous section.

Remember that overwintering techniques may vary depending on your climate, so adjust these steps accordingly to suit your specific conditions.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

While elephant ear plants are relatively hardy, they can encounter a few common issues. Here are some troubleshooting tips for the most frequently encountered problems:

  1. Yellowing or wilting leaves: If the leaves of your elephant ear plant are turning yellow or wilting, it could be a sign of either overwatering or underwatering. Check the moisture level of the soil and adjust your watering accordingly. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering can cause dehydration and nutrient deficiencies.

  2. Pest infestations: Pests like aphids, spider mites, and slugs can occasionally attack elephant ear plants. If you notice small insects, webbing, or holes in the leaves, it’s likely an infestation. Use organic insecticidal soap, neem oil, or other appropriate insecticides to treat the affected plants. Regularly inspect your plants for early signs of infestation to prevent widespread damage.

  3. Diseases: Elephant ear plants can become susceptible to diseases like fungal leaf spots, root rot, and bacterial blight. To prevent these issues, ensure proper air circulation, avoid overwatering, and maintain good hygiene in the garden. If you spot any signs of diseases, such as browning or spotting leaves, remove and dispose of the affected foliage immediately. Treat the plants with fungicides if necessary.

  4. Slow growth or lack of foliage: Insufficient light or improper nutrient levels can result in slow growth or sparse foliage in elephant ear plants. Make sure they receive adequate partial shade and provide regular fertilization with a balanced fertilizer. Monitor the plant’s growth and adjust its location or feeding regimen if necessary.

  5. Bulb rot: Bulb rot is a common issue, especially during the overwintering period. To prevent bulb rot, ensure that the bulbs are fully dried before storing them. Choose a well-ventilated storage location and periodically check for signs of rot or mold. Prevent excessive moisture or condensation by allowing adequate airflow around the bulbs.

  6. Incorrect planting depth: Elephant ear bulbs should be planted with the top of the bulb just slightly below the soil surface, about 1-2 inches deep. Planting them too deep can inhibit growth, while planting them too shallow may expose the bulbs and result in desiccation. Take care to follow the recommended planting depth for optimal growth.

RELATED  How To Plant Succulent Cutting [ Full Guide ]

If you encounter persistent or severe problems with your elephant ear plants, consult with a local horticulturist or garden center for further advice and assistance.

Harvesting And Storing Elephant Ear Plants

Although elephant ear leaves are not typically harvested for consumption, the plants can be harvested for their bulbs and stored for future use. Here’s how to harvest and store elephant ear plants:

  1. Wait for dormancy: Similar to overwintering techniques, the best time to harvest elephant ear plants is when they have entered dormancy, usually in the fall. The leaves will have turned yellow and withered, indicating that the plant is ready for harvest.

  2. Dig up the bulbs: Gently dig up the bulbs, taking care not to damage them. Use a garden fork or shovel to loosen the soil around the bulbs and lift them out of the ground.

  3. Clean and dry the bulbs: Remove any excess soil clinging to the bulbs. Rinse them lightly with water, if necessary, to remove any remaining dirt. Allow the bulbs to air dry for a few days in a well-ventilated area.

  4. Inspect and store: Once the bulbs are dry, inspect them for any signs of damage or disease. Discard any bulbs that appear rotten, mushy, or infected. Store the healthy bulbs in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated area, following the same storage techniques as mentioned earlier.

By harvesting and storing your elephant ear bulbs, you can propagate new plants, share them with friends, or create a stockpile for next year’s planting.

Creative Ideas For Incorporating Elephant Ear Plants In Landscaping

Elephant ear plants can add a unique and tropical touch to any landscape or garden design. Here are some creative ideas for incorporating these impressive plants:

  1. Backyard focal point: Plant a group of elephant ear plants in the center or at the back of a garden bed to create a dramatic focal point. The large, vibrant leaves will draw attention and provide a strong visual impact.

  2. Poolside planting: Elephant ear plants thrive in moist conditions, making them an excellent choice for poolside planting. Their lush foliage can soften the edge of the pool and create a sense of lush exoticism.

  3. Container gardening: Elephant ear plants do well in large containers or pots. Place them on a patio, deck, or balcony to bring a tropical feel to small outdoor spaces. Combine different varieties and colors for an eye-catching display.

  4. Understory planting: Utilize the shade-loving nature of elephant ear plants by incorporating them as understory plants beneath taller trees or taller shrubs. The contrasting leaf textures and colors can add depth and interest to the shaded areas.

  5. Border edging: Create a bold border along walkways or garden beds by planting a row of elephant ear plants. Their impressive size and foliage will make a statement and add an architectural touch to the landscape.

  6. Water garden elegance: Elephant ear plants add an elegant touch to water gardens or ponds. Plant them along the water’s edge or in containers placed in shallow water. Their reflective leaves and striking presence will enhance the tranquility of the water feature.

  7. Mixed plantings: Combine elephant ear plants with other tropical or exotic plants like cannas, gingers, or bananas for a lush and vibrant tropical garden display. The combination of different leaf shapes, heights, and colors will create a visually stunning landscape.

  8. Indoor ornamentals: Certain elephant ear varieties can be grown indoors as ornamental houseplants. Provide them with bright, indirect light and consistent humidity levels. They can add a tropical touch to indoor spaces, such as living rooms or conservatories.

Remember to consider the specific growing requirements and space constraints when integrating elephant ear plants into your landscaping design.


Planting elephant ear bulbs is an exciting endeavor that can add a touch of exoticism and drama to your garden or landscape. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully plant and grow elephant ear plants, overwinter the bulbs, troubleshoot common issues, harvest and store plants, and incorporate them creatively into your landscaping design. Whether used as focal points, poolside plantings, border edging, or indoor ornamentals, elephant ear plants are sure to captivate with their impressive size and unique foliage. So, embrace the tropical allure of these plants and enjoy the beauty they bring to your outdoor space.


What Is The Best Time Of Year To Plant Elephant Ear Bulbs?

Spring is the best time to plant elephant ear bulbs, after the threat of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up.

How Deep Should I Plant The Elephant Ear Bulbs?

Elephant ear bulbs should be planted 4-6 inches deep, with the pointed end facing up.

What Kind Of Soil Is Best For Planting Elephant Ear Bulbs?

Elephant ear bulbs prefer well-drained, nutrient-rich soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0.

How Much Sun Do Elephant Ear Bulbs Need?

Elephant ear bulbs thrive in partial to full sun, but they can also tolerate some shade.

How Often Should I Water My Newly Planted Elephant Ear Bulbs?

Keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy for the first few weeks after planting, then water deeply once a week throughout the growing season.