Big leaves and bold vein patterns make elephant’s ear easy to spot. Popular indoors and outdoors, elephant’s ear brings bold shape and pattern 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. Elephant’s ear tolerates moist soils in the landscape but grows best when kept on the dry side indoors.
What to Pair With Elephant's Ear
Plant elephant's ear wherever moist soil prevails. It is striking alongside ponds where its massive leaves create beautiful reflections in the water. It also grows well in containers and will anchor a large pot planting 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
Elephant's ear grows best in part shade or filtered sun. Prolonged direct sunlight can scorch its dark leaves, leaving them marred 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, elephant's ear 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. Many gardeners 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 a great size 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
African mask plant
Alocasia amazonica is an exotic foliage plant featuring large, leathery arrowhead leaves in shades of olive green, bronze, or maroon. It grows 3 feet tall. Zones 9-11
'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.
Giant upright elephant's ear
Alocasia macrorrhiza bears huge, glossy leaves shaped like alligator heads on rigid stems. This clumping plant grows to 8 feet tall. Zones 7-10