Want to add some greenery to your living space? An Elephant’s Ear plant can be the perfect addition to your home.
Alocasia x Amazonica, or better known as Elephant’s Ear, is an exotic house plant that will bring lush and tropical forests to your mind. It comes from Southeast Africa, which is also why it is sometimes called the African mask plant.
Elephant’s Ear plants come from the Araceae family and they are very popular options for gardeners, landscapers, and interior designers.
What makes the Elephant’s Ear plants special? First of all, their leaves are really big, varying in size from 4 to 6 ft wide long. They can be easily noticed thanks to their deep-green leaves that are decorated with white, silver, or light green veins.
What’s more, the leaves of the Elephant’s Ears plant are roughly serrated, which, in some cases, makes the leaf color appear as an almost purple-green. The leaves are arrow-shaped, which gives the plants a bold tropical effect.
Want to learn more about how to plant, grow, and care for your Elephant’s Ear? Keep reading our guide to learn more!
About Elephant’s Ear a.k.a. Alocasia x Amazonica
- It is believed that the Elephant’s Ears plant was introduced to southern Africa by Portuguese traders before 1500. In addition to that, the plant was very popular in Victorian times.
- Elephant’s Ear plants can be used in many ways, including as background plants, ground covers, or even edging around ponds or along the walkway or patio area in your garden.
- They are really popular on Instagram these days as many people use them as background in their pictures. What’s more, many interior designers love to use it in their projects.
- Gretchen Fullido, the Star Patrol host, loves these tropical plants and named her beautiful Alocasia ‘Cher’.
- Most Elephant’s Ear cultivars are well adapted to growing in containers and they can also be grown as aquatic plants.
- Some types even have culinary uses as their corms and leaves are edible. Yet, in their raw form, the plants contain an irritant that can cause severe acridity, and discomfort to the lips, mouth, or throat.
- The corms of Elephant’s Ear plant are sometimes cooked and used in desserts.
- Elephant’s Ears also has medicinal uses. For example, macerated leaves can be used as a poultice on infected sores. Also, the stem leaf, when cut and rubbed on insect stings, can help prevent swelling and pain.
- Elephant’s Ear plants are dangerous and poisonous if ingested in large quantities. So, they need to be kept away from children and pets. Poisoning with Elephant’s Ear can lead to symptoms such as stomach upset, oral irritation, or redness, pain, and burning of the eyes.
- Elephant’s Ear plants should not be exposed to direct sunlight.
- Temperature preferred: average to warm, about 65-75°F/18-24°C
- The Elephant’s Ear plant requires bright but indirect light in the room where you grow them. They can survive in 80% shade but actually survive better in about 60% shade.
Elephant’s Ear Features: An Overview
- There are three common types of Elephant’s Ear, including Caladium (also called Angel Wings and defined by their incredible range of colors, from green to white and red/pink), Colocasia (they can produce calla lily-like flowers), and Alocasia (unlike other Elephant’s Ear plants, their leaves point upwards).
- Elephant’s Ear plants can reach up to 6ft (200 meters) tall.
- The first signs of growth after planting an Elephant’s Ear plant will appear in 1 to 3 weeks.
- Giant Elephant’s Ear plants have leaves that are, in extreme cases, larger than a human.
- The leaves of the Elephant’s Ear plant are large, flat, and have a broadly-ovate shape
- The most common color for the leaves of this plant is rich emerald green. Yet, the foliage of some cultivars can be black, brown, or gold.
- Typically, the leaves of the Elephant’s Ear have a matte finish. The high-gloss shine is pretty rare.
- In rare cases, the Elephant’s Ear plant can produce fruits that look like a cluster of berries. The fruits are either green or yellow and have many seeds.
- Some Elephant’s Ear plants spread along the ground if planted outdoors, but others grow in clumps. So, if you don’t want to worry that your garden will be covered with them, better pick a clumping variety.
- Sometimes, these plants might bloom. This doesn’t happen very often and it is impossible to predict It has been reported that Elephant’s Ear plants typically bloom in spring after they are moved outdoors and fertilized.
- The flowers that bloom from the Elephant’s Ear plant look very much like calla lilies and they are typically white or yellow.
Growing Elephant’s Ear
As mentioned before, the Elephant’s Ear will thrive in partial shade. Thus, it is important, especially during the warm season, not to expose your Elephant’s Ear plant to direct, bright sunlight. Also, if you plant it outdoors, look for the area in your garden that only gets partial sunlight throughout the day.
It is essential to consider the temperatures in your area if you plant your Elephant’s Ear outdoors. The ideal temperatures for these plants are between 65-75°F (18-24°C) during the day and no lower than 60°F (15°C) during the night. If your area’s climate is cooler than that, you’ll have to replant your Elephant’s Ear each year.
The area where you’ll plant your Elephant’s Ear plant, be it outdoors or indoors, should have rich soil that is moist, but also well-drained. That’s because, like most plants, Elephant’s Ears don’t like wet feet.
Big, green Elephant’s Ear plants are typically easier to grow as they are more tolerant of variable moisture conditions. On the flip side, darker-leaved plants are more susceptible to overwatering, as they prefer to stay dry for many days.
Expect your Elephant’s Ear plant to grow very rapidly, even during a short growing season.
Planting Elephant’s Ear
It is essential to remember that most of Elephant’s Ear plants prefer to be planted in rich, moist soil. Also, they prefer partial shade. So, keep these aspects in mind when you plant them, be it in your garden or in a pot.
If you plan on growing Elephant’s Ear plants outdoors, in your garden, wait for the threat of frost or subzero temperatures to pass.
The Elephant’s Ear bulbs need to be planted at about 2 to 3 inches deep, with the blunt end downwards. If you plant the bulbs indoors, remember to use rich, organic potting soil and to plant them at the same depth. Choose a container that’s at least 18 inches (45 cm) wide and 16 inches (40 cm) deep.
If you later decide to replant the Elephant’s Ear plant outdoors after you’ve kept it indoors in a pot, you need to give it time to adjust to its new environment before you replant it.
Watering Elephant’s Ear
Most Elephant’s Ear plants thrive in moist soil and prefer humidity. But, remember not to overwater them because these plants don’t like soggy soil.
It is best to water them in the morning so that the plants stay dry overnight. Also, you should always water the plants from below, near their roots in order to prevent the leaves from getting too wet. However, if you notice that your plant’s leaves become darker, cut back on watering.
During the cold season, you should water your Elephant’s Ear plants less frequently and make sure you allow the soil to become dry between waterings. What’s more, during the cold months, you should also stop fertilizing. However, during the other seasons, you should fertilize your plant once a month. You can use an all-purpose fertilizer, diluted by half.
Propagating Elephant’s Ear
Propagating Elephant’s Ear is a little bit different than how it is with most plants. Unfortunately, the Elephant’s Ear can’t be propagated from cuttings as many plants do. But don’t worry, you can divide the tubers of a healthy parent plant to propagate it.
It is best to propagate the plant during the fall. All you have to do is plant the tubers in pots and store them during the winter to protect them from freezing temperatures. Then, in spring, you can plant them outdoors if you want to have them in your garden.
For the highest chance of success with propagating Elephant’s Ear, it’s best to wait for the parent plant to go dormant in the fall, and for its leaves to die off. Once your plant has become dormant, you can remove it from its pot or from its in-ground outdoor location.
Dividing the new tubers during the fall helps as it will put less stress on the parent plant. Why? Because in the cold autumn months, the parent plant isn’t actively growing, so you can separate the new tubers without doing any damage.
Elephant’s Ear plants are perfect for both your indoors and outdoors areas. Whether you want to make your home or your garden look more exotic, these tropical-looking plants are perfect additions to your space. If you love Boho and Jungalow styles, these plants are a must-have.
As long as you protect them from direct sun exposure and make sure they have a humid and moist place to grow, Elephant’s Ear plants will reward you with their impressive foliage.