All About Elephant Ears
By Katie Elzer-Peters, gardening expert and writer.
Elephant Ears, loved for their tropical foliage come in countless colors and sizes.
The elephant ears you grow in your garden are probably edible, though not as tasty as the fried dough concoction you buy at the state fair. Several species and genera of plants go by the name “elephant ear” due to the shapes of their leaves. The two main groups are colocasias (edible plants are in this genus) and alocasias (upright elephant ears).
Colocasias are also called “taro,” and the corms (bulb-like structure that you plant in the spring) are boiled and mashed to make a traditional food called “poi.” I’m not a big fan of poi, but if you go to a luau, you’ll be able to taste it. Look for the purple paste-like concoction on the menu.
Right Plant Right Place
Winter Care for Elephant Ears
Every gardener can grow elephant ears, but not every gardener can grow elephant ears as a hardy perennial/bulb. Many varieties are cold hardy to zone 7b and have to be lifted and stored for the winter in zones 7a to zone 3.
To store elephant ears for winter wait until a frost has knocked back the foliage. Then dig up the corm (bulb-like structure) and cut off the foliage. Clean off the soil and store the corms in a cool, dry place until spring.
You can also overwinter elephant ears as houseplants. Cut off all but a few of the youngest leaves and pot up. Bring inside to a sunny location and water when the soil is dry. Plants won’t grow as much as they will outside during the summer, but this method of overwintering will give you a head start on the spring.