Elephant Ears: End of Season Care
In warm areas where elephant ears are hardy, simply cut the plants back after a freeze and mulch on top of the plants for extra winter protections. In zones 7 to 3, plants have to be brought inside.
You can choose to cut back the leaves, dig up the corm, and store it in a cool, dry place for the winter. Alternatively, you can cut back all but a couple of leaves, dig up the corm, and plant it in a container to grow as a houseplant during the winter. Make sure to harden off these plants in the spring before re-introducing them to the garden. (Start by moving pots to a covered porch for a few days when the temperature is right, before planting in the ground.)
Dividing & Transplanting: Elephant ears reproduce via offsets and seeds. Seeds are rare unless you hand-pollinate the plants. When you purchase elephant ears, you'll receive a big corm. If you dig the corm up in the fall after a season of growth, you'll see smaller offsets forming. Those can be broken off and planted in the spring.
To divide running varieties, simply dig up a section of the plant and replant elsewhere.
It's a good idea to wear gloves and long sleeves when pruning off ratty leaves, as plants have a natural chemical compound in them that can cause skin irritation in some people.
Elephant Ears: Extra Info
Colocasias are important food crops around the world. If you’ve ever heard of taro-that’s an elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta). A Polynesian dish made from the cooked and mashed up corms of elephant ears, poi, is frequently served at traditional Hawaiian luaus and plate lunch restaurants. It’s an acquired taste.
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