A tropical plant.
Black Magic Elephant Ears
Elephant ear plants or colocasia esculenta as they are scientifically known is a large tropical rainforest plant. Their large green or black leaves can grow in excess of five feet and look quite similar to the ears of an elephant.
Because of their great size they make an excellent focal point of tropical landscaping. They can be grown in containers, mixed in beds or used as borders. They are especially beautifully when colors are mixed or when planted with their smaller cousins the colorful caladiums.
Elephant ears are easy to grow and do well in hot, humid conditions. While not native to Florida they have over the years become a landscaping staple in the Sunshine State.
Their roots or tubers should be planted in the spring once the risk of frost is over. Provide an area with adequate drainage in rich organic soil. Once planted they need little care other than water and a monthly boost of nitrogen rich fertilizer. They are water hogs and can not tolerate overly dry conditions. In fact, plants too dry will droop or wilt significantly.
They can not tolerate freezing weather and in cold climates the tubers should be dug up and stored until spring. In warmer areas they may be cut to the tubers and bedded down with a thick layer of mulch. During the dormant period watering should be limited.
Some people consider elephant ears an invasive plant and they will take over a garden and spread quickly. This fact should be taken into account when choosing placement of the plants. While dormant the tubers can be divided or replanted to limit overcrowding.
In the United States elephants ears are planted for their ornamental beauty and ease of growth but other counties cook and eat the tubers. However, if not fully cooked the roots can cause severe stomach upset. Care should be taken while cutting back the leaves as the clear sap can be a skin irritant and if eaten the leaves are poisonous.
Image by turtlemom4bacon via Flickr : A Colorful Caladium
Elephant Ears in Garden. Photo owned by PR Mace
Nighttime Elephant Ears after a Rainstorm. Photo owned by PR Mace