Elephant's Ear

Elephant’s Ears
Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
Giant upright elephant's ear
Credit: Ed Gohlich
Giant upright elephant's ear

Elephant’s Ears

Huge leaves and bold vein patterns make elephant’s ear easy to spot. Popular indoors and outdoors, this tropical plant makes an eye-catching statement, no matter where it is planted. Call on it to serve as a focal point where its easy-care foliage will add interest throughout the growing season and year-round indoors.

genus name
  • Alocasia
  • Part Sun
plant type
  • 1 to 3 feet
  • 3 to 8 feet
  • 1 to 6 feet
foliage color
special features
  • 10
  • 11

Colorful Combinations

Elephant's ear will thrive wherever moist soil prevails and temperatures are warm. It is striking alongside ponds where its massive leaves create beautiful reflections in the water. It also grows well in a large pot, anchoring a container garden with ease. Pair this tropical plant with other easy-to-grow tropicals for a lush, vibrant garden. Colorful planting partners include canna, coleus, ginger, caladium, sweet potato vine, and philodendron.

Elephant's Ear Care Must-Knows

Elephant's ear grows best in part shade or filtered sun. Prolonged direct sunlight can scorch its leaves, marring them for the duration of the season. Plant elephant's ear in a location where it receives morning sunlight and afternoon shade. A great plant for a shaded porch or patio, it thrives when planted in large containers. Well-drained, moist soil that is high in organic matter is ideal for elephant's ear.

Often started from rhizomes or tuberous roots, elephant's ear can be planted indoors in large nursery pots 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost in spring and moved outdoors as soon as the nighttime temperatures are above 50°F. In cool climates, start plants indoors or purchase transplants at the nursery to maximize the enjoyment of this warm-temperature-loving plant.

Many elephant's ear plants grow best when their roots are not disturbed after they begin to grow. Sink the potted plant into the ground so the rim of the pot is level with the surrounding grade. Water and fertilize outdoor elephant's ear regularly. Indoor plants grow best when soil is allowed to dry out slightly before watering. Also, fertilize indoor plants with a houseplant fertilizer in spring and summer and cease fertilizing in fall and winter.

Overwinter elephant's ear in cool regions by bringing in potted plants before the first frost. Place plants in a cool, humid location and reduce watering in winter. Cold climate gardeners can grow elephant's ear as annual plants, purchasing new plants each year.

New Types of Elephant's Ear

Elephant's ear is becoming a popular houseplant. It has held court in the garden for years, but it is making bold statements indoors thanks to some showy leaf varieties that are sized for growing indoors. Add houseplant types of elephant's ear to end tables, desktops, and mantels for a touch of tropical plant life indoors.

More Varieties of Elephant's Ear

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'Black Magic' elephant's ear

The purple-black leaves of Alocasia infernalis 'Black Magic' have a brilliant sheen that makes them look like they have been lacquered. Slow growing and 10 to 12 inches tall. Tropical.

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Credit: Ed Gohlich

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