Grow elephant ears in warmer weather. And create a tropical garden look. Easy to grow. Elephant ears add a bold, dramatic look to any outdoor space.
If you are searching for an easy care tropical plant, plant Elephant Ears. In some areas they are called Colocasia or Taro plants. Elephant Ears love hot, humid climates. Typically, hardy from zones 8 to 10. Treat Colocasia as an annual in zones lower than zone 8.
Large leaved Colocasia plants are grown for its beautiful, dramatic foliage. The many Colocasia plants have leaves in various colors. Some have leaves that grow in solid colors or in splotchy patterns. The most common color is a rich emerald green color. However, elephant ears can be found with foliage colors that are in shades of lime green, chartreuse, purple, and near black colors. Large Elephant Ear leaves are mostly arrow shaped. But some have rounded shaped leaves. Foliage patterns are found in a marble or splotched look. The plant stem colors are in shades of green, light pink, or dark-like stripes.
Leaves vary in glossiness. More common are the matte finish. Less common are a high gloss shine. Some Colocasia have thick minor veins and major side veins of a contrasting color. Major vein colors are in shades of green, purple, creamy ivory, yellow, or pink.
Growing Colocasia Instructions
Elephant ears love rich, slightly moist but well draining soil conditions. Prepare soil by adding compost or topsoil. This adds nutrients and improves the soil water retention capacity.
Colocasia can be planted in large containers as well. Use as a plant specimen or in a container. Some Colocasia can be grown in bogs or rain gardens. They are moisture loving plants.
Fertilize frequently with an organic fertilizer. Every 2 to 3 weeks. However, the larger the plant the more frequent watering and fertilizing is needed. Rich organic soil with loads of composted material is best for Elephant ears.
Colocasia produces new leaves as the older leaves die off during the growing season. The tubers will be firm and heavy with a dry exterior in warmer climates.
Cooler Climate areas (zones 3 to 8)
Colocasia plants can be grown in zones 3 to 8 once temperatures have warmed. Plant in the ground after all danger of frost has passed. Begin growing in the Spring indoors. Then replant outdoors. Tubers only grow in warm soil. Plant when soil temperature is above 65ºF.
- Once ground soil is warm, loosen the ground soil. Ground soil should be tilled about 8 inches deep. Make a hole about 5 inches deep. Be sure to select a garden spot that is sheltered from the wind. High winds can damage the leaves.
- Place the Elephant Ears tuber in the hole. The pointy side faces upward. Tubers should be 1 inch below the soil surface.
- Using soil cover the tuber completely. Water thoroughly.
The Colocasia plant’s energy is redirected to bulb production as the Fall season approaches. Leaf production slowly begins to diminished. Bulb size increases as energy is redirected there. Roots begin to die off.
Most Elephant Ears will not survive temperatures that fall below 65ºF. To reuse the tubers the following year, removed them from the ground. Dig tubers out of the ground before the Fall temperatures drop. Remove the tuber by lifting from the ground. After the root ball has dried, cut back the stems and any remaining leaves. Carefully remove any soil from the tuber. Continue to let the tuber dry. Once dry, wrap the tuber in paper. Store in a warm, dark, dry area. Temperatures should remain between 50 to 60ºF.
Tubers can be stored indoors, in a basement, or warm inside area of your home. Divide tubers either in the Fall or Spring. Divide before storing for the Fall. Or in the Spring, before replanting the tubers.
Tropical Asia Native
Colocasia is a native of the tropical Asian areas. A staple food to locals in parts of the Southeastern Asian countries. Native plant to swamps and moist areas.
Some people are sensitive to the stem fluids of the Colocasia plant. The juices contain calcium oxalate. Some people experience skin or eye irritation. Wear gloves before handling the tubers if you are sensitive to the fluids. Or thoroughly wash after coming in contact with the tubers.
Plant Elephant Ears for a stunning garden look. We think you won’t be disappointed! We’ve selected 15 elephant ears plants. This is a small sampling of the varieties that are available. Check with your local nursery, as they may have even more varieties available. Take a look at these 15 beauties. And you’ll see why so many gardens love these plants. Be sure to let us know what you think.
Jennings Dwarf Elephant Ears
Jennings Dwarf Elephant Ears is also known as Colocasia affinis Jenningsii. Jennings Dwarf Elephant Ear has a velvety charcoal leaf face with central charcoal veining. A giant silver blotch appears in the center of each leaf. Grows in zones 8 to 10. Best in part Sun to part shade and light shade conditions. Tops out at 18 inches tall. Loves moisture in the garden. Over the Summer months, Jennings has small yellow flowers. Native to China and the Himalayan Mountains.
2. Silver Leaf Dwarf Elephant Ears
Silver Leaf Dwarf Elephant Ears is also known as Colocasia fallax. Silver Leaf Elephant Ear has rounded patterned velvety leaves. Leaves are medium green. Highlighted by a wide silver streak down the center vein with smaller silver veins radiating from the center leaf edge. Summer months brings small yellow flowers. Grows in zones 7b to 10 in part Sun and part shade to full shade. Reaches 18 inches tall. Shade loving and moisture loving dwarf elephant ears plant. Native to China, Thailand, and Vietnam. From Alan and Frank Galloway.
Medium Size Colocasia
3. Colocasia Distant Memory
Colocasia ‘Distant Memory’ is a tropical plant. Forms large, dark glossy mahogany leaves. Distant Memory is shorter and fuller than the ‘Black Swan’ Colocasia. Grows in a clumping nature. Fast grower with near black shades. Grows in hardiness zones 8 to 10. Likes part Sun and part shade to full Sun conditions. Distant Memory tops out at 4 to 4 1/2 feet tall. The spread is between 5 to 5 1/2 wide. Likes consistent watering conditions with fertile soil quality. Resistant to deer and rabbits. Grows in a wide range of garden and container styles. Colocasia looks fantastic in Asian, formal, or modern garden spaces.
4. Smiley Face Elephant Ears
Smiley Face Elephant Ears has 3 foot tall green stalks. Stalks topped with light green leaves. Each leaf adorned with dusty black blotches between the leaf veins. Grows in zones 7b to 10. Likes part Sun and part shade to light shade conditions. Tops out at 36 inches tall. Branches horizontally by it’s spreading runners. A unique find.
Found in Ozzie Johnson’s Georgia garden. Ozzie is a plant explorer. Named after Ozzie’s ever present smile. Ozzie acquired the Smiley Face plant in either China or Vietnam. Recent introduction since 2018.
5. Blue Hawaii Elephant Ears
Blue Hawaii Elephant Ears also known as Colocasia esculenta Blue Hawaii. The Blue Hawaii plant has medium green 12 inch long leaves. Leaves are highlighted by dramatic purple veins. The veins on the back of the leaves appear in a cranberry color instead of purple. Grows in zones 7b to 10 in full Sun. Reaches 30 inches tall. Originated in Eastern Asia. Grows best in rich, moist soil conditions.
A 2008 John Cho hybrid.
6. Hawaiian Punch Elephant Ears
Hawaiian Punch Elephant Ears is also known as Colocasia esculenta Hawaiian Punch. A compact clump growing Elephant Ears plant. Leaves are a glossy green with bright red stems. Grows in zones 7b to 10. Likes part Sun and part shade to full Sun. Reaches 36 inches tall. Native to Eastern Asia.
A 2012 release from the Royal Hawaiian Elephant Ears series. From John Cho in Hawaii.
7. Lemon-Lime Gecko Elephant Ears
Lemon-Lime Gecko Elephant Ears is also known as Colocasia esculenta Lemon-Lime Gecko. Lemon Lime Gecko Elephant Ears is an upright plant. The stems are dark purple with highlights of flesh colored streaks. Foliage leaves are green with flecks of lime green. Grows in zones 7b to 10 in part Sun and part shade to full Sun. Reaches to 4 1/2 feet tall. Native to Eastern Asia.
A 2013 Brian Williams elephant ears hybrid.
8. Mojito Elephant Ears
Mojito Elephant Ears is also known as Colocasia esculenta Mojito. Mojito Elephant Ear has medium green leaves. Leaves have dark purple flecks throughout the leaves. Grows in zones 7b to 10. Loves part Sun and part shade to full Sun garden conditions. Tops out at 36 inches tall. An Eastern Asian native.
Found at Agristarts in Florida.
9. Black Beauty Elephant Ears
Black Beauty Elephant Ears is also known as Colocasia esculenta var. antiquorum Black Beauty. Black Beauty Elephant Ear plant has intense black leaf color. Grows in zones 7 to 10. Loves full Sun to light shade garden conditions. Reaches 30 inches tall. An Eastern Asias native.
Found at Agristarts in Florida for 2006 introduction.
10. Imperial Gigante Elephant Ears
The Imperial Gigante Elephant Ears is also known as Colocasia (xLeucocolocasia) Imperial Gigante. Imperial Gigante Elephant Ears has tightly clumping growth. Leaves are 2 feet long by 16 inches wide. Olive green leaves are highlighted by multi-shaded muted black patterns. Muted black patterns appear between green leaf veins. Narrow spathe white flowers appear in the Fall. Grows in zones 8 to 10. Loves part Sun and part shade to full Sun garden conditions. Reaches 48 inches tall.
A Brian Williams (Kentucky) elephant ears hybrid.
11. Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’
Colocasia gigantea Thailand Giant has frosted green leaves. Leaves are 5 feet long and 4 feet wide. Produces perfumed blooms that are white, lily-like flowers. Grows in zones 8 to 10. Likes full Sun to part Sun and part shade garden conditions. Thailand Giant tops out at 9 feet tall! And has a spread of 9 feet wide as well. In tropical locations, it has been reported to grow up to 20 feet tall. Resistant to deer and rabbits. A rapid growth rate. Grows in a wide range of garden and container styles. Colocasia adds drama to any Asian, formal, or modern garden space. Plant as a specimen plant. Use as a focal point.
Grown for its gorgeous foliage. Originally acquired by collecting wild seeds in Thailand. Forever grateful to Petra Schmidt of Plant Delights Nursery for this incredible seed collection.
12. Black Swan Colocasia
Black Swan Colocasia has foliage that is in near-black shades. The dark, near-black leaves of Black Swan are smaller than the Thailand Giant Colocasia. The plant forms an upright arching habit. Stems are jet black and glossy. The stems create a single bottom clump. Grows in zones 8 to 10. Loves full Sun to part Sun and part shade garden conditions. Reaches between 5 1/2 to 6 feet tall! Has a spread of 5 to 7 feet wide. Resistant to deer and rabbits. A rapid growth rate. Easy to grow in a wide range of garden and container styles. Colocasia is stunning in any Asian, formal, or modern garden style. Plant as a specimen plant. Use as a focal point.
13. Coffee Cups Elephant Ears
Coffee Cups Elephant Ears is also known as Colocasia Coffee Cups. Coffee Cups Elephant Ear has glossy olive green leaves. Stems are a dark purple, black color. Grows in zones 8 to 10 in full Sun. Reaches up to 6 feet tall. A unique feature of Coffee Cups is the leaf cupping during rainfall. Leaves of Coffee Cups fill with rainwater. Once it is full it then dumps the rainwater. Then refills again. Fascinating! Above ground runners appear in the Fall season.
Discovered in the wild by Indonesian botanist Gregor Hambali. Brought to the US by Alan Galloway.
14. Laos Giant Elephant Ears
Laos Giant Elephant Ears is also known as Colocasia (Leucocasia) gigantea Laosy Giant. Laos Giant Elephant Ears has giant upright leaves. The leaves are about one third larger than the Thailand Giant. Clusters of pure white flowers appear in late Summer. Grows in zones 8 to 11. Likes part Sun and part shade to full Sun conditions. Reaches up to 9 feet tall. Native to Laos.
Laos Giant is from a seed strain from 2011 Alan Galloway seed collection.
15. Noble Gigante Elephant Ears
Noble Gigante Elephant Ears is also known as Colocasia (xLeucocolocasia) Noble Gigante. Grows in zones 8 to 10. Best in part Sun and part shade to full Sun conditions. Tops out at 5 feet tall. Leaves are 3 feet long, and a grey-black color.
Another Brian Williams (Kentucky) elephant ears hybrid.
The best companion plants to use with Elephant Ears plants are summer blooming plants. Canna is an excellent choice. Canna’s upright growth habit look amazing next to the Elephant Ears plants. Bright colored annuals and Summer bulbs will also look great with Colocasia.
Plant either in garden beds with annuals. Or plant in large containers with bright blooming flowers.
These are just a few Colocasia or Elephant Ears plants available. Easy to grow in your garden. Plant gigantic elephant ears for a bold garden look. Grow bright colored elephant ears for a dramatic garden effect. Create a bold, dramatic garden with these stunning Colocasia plants.
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If you try any of these Elephant Ears plants let us know how you make out. And if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us. We always are ready to help you out. Thank you for stopping by.