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Growing Elephant Ears: Understanding Their Needs and Requirements

Whether you’re a gardener looking to spruce up your outdoor space or a houseplant enthusiast wanting to add a tropical vibe to your interior decor, elephant ears are the perfect way to go! These air-purifying plants filter toxins like formaldehyde, and come in varieties such as heart-leaf, elephant ear, and sellous philodendrons. With their large, bold leaves and glossy black finishes, they make any space look stunning. But be careful! All parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested, and the sap in the leaves can cause skin and eye irritation. Read on to find out how to care for your elephant ear plants, and how to tell them apart from taro!

Care Tips for Growing Purple Elephant Ears

Growing elephant ears indoors can be a great way to add color and texture to your home. Purple elephant ears are especially striking and will make a statement in any room. To ensure your purple elephant ear houseplant thrives, it is important to provide the right environment.When caring for purple elephant ears, it is important to place them in an area with bright, indirect light as direct sunlight can burn the leaves of the plant. Additionally, misting your plant will help provide humidity and keep the soil moist.

Elephant ears will grow in the sun or shade, so make sure they get some shade during the middle of the day if you put them in a hot, sunny location. Plants associated with the tropical zone include elephant ears and they can be grown outdoors year-round in zones 9-11.

While they can take full sun in these areas, it is best to provide some shade during the hottest part of the day. Too much sunlight can burn their leaves and too little sunlight can cause them to yellow.

The dark purple elephant ear or black magic colocasia is a new variety of the popular and well-known Colocasia Esculenta or Asian taro and has its origin tied to the tropical forests of deep Asia. This type of elephant ear stands out from other varieties due to its striking, deep purple color that adds a unique look to any garden. It also grows quite large, up to four feet tall in some cases, so it can be an impressive addition to your outdoor space.

Alocasia is another type of elephant ear that prefers well drained soil and a little shade. They hold the tip of their leaves out or upward, unlike Colocasias which show their leaves with the tip of their hearts pointing down. Alocasias are also less tolerant to direct sunlight and need more consistent humidity.

It is important to note that there is a common misconception that wild taro is the same as elephant ear (Xanthosoma sagittifolium). Taro and elephant ear are herbaceous perennials with large leaves up to six feet long, however, the attachment of the leaf from the petiole distinguishes Taro from elephant ears.

Caring for Elephant Ears in Pots

Despite their beauty, it is important to note that elephant ears can be toxic. The leaves and stems of the elephant ear plant are the most toxic parts of the plant. If you come into contact with them, your eyes may sting and burn for hours, and even touching them can cause skin irritation or itching. To avoid any adverse effects from handling your elephant ears, always wear gloves when caring for or moving your plants around.

Despite their potential risks, elephant ears can survive in pots. In fact, they make a great addition to outdoor patio planters and containers. Growing elephant ears in pots is an easy way to add a fun, tropical vibe to your outdoor areas without too much effort.

However, when choosing a pot for your elephant ears, it is important to select one that is deep enough. Choose a container that is at least 18 inches wide and 16 inches deep, or 36 inches wide for the larger Alocasia varieties. You won’t need to repot these plants for a long time if you use large pots, as it will allow them to develop to their fullest potential.

When it comes to watering, during the growing season, your elephant ear should be watered once a week. The soil should remain moist but not soggy. It is also important to maintain high humidity levels for your elephant ear plant – ideally between 65 and 75F.

During the summer, containers will need to be watered daily. Water your plants at least 2-3 inches per week. Heavy eaters and drinkers, elephant ears are fertile and will require regular fertilizing during the growing season.

If the elephant ear is dying, it might be due to lack of nutrition in the soil or the soil type is not suited for growing the plant. Nitrogen is needed by the plants in plenty. The leaves should be fertilized, but not in large quantities to prevent burning,” explains Mr Osiolo.

When it comes to pest control, liquid Glyphosate has been effective on elephant ear above the water line, but not on plants in the water. They are broad spectrum, systemic herbicides. Herbicides that are systemic are absorbed by the plant and move to the location where they are needed.

Another issue that can affect your elephant ear plant is overwatering. Overwatered plants may develop crown or leaf spot, stem or root rot, which is characterized by dark brown or black spots surrounded by a yellowish rim on the leaves. To prevent this from happening, it is important to keep the leaves dry and provide good air circulation around your plants.

To determine if your elephant ear needs water, check the soil to see if it is slightly moist. If the soil is dry, then definitely give your plant some water. Additionally, if the leaves are wilting or drooping, this could also be a sign that your elephant ear needs more water.

Identifying and Preventing Fungal Blight in Black Stem Elephant Ear Plants

Another common issue that can affect your elephant ear plant is fungal leaf blight. This is a fungal disease caused by certain types of fungi and can cause the leaves to turn purple or yellow due to the oozing of fluid. Symptoms include dark spots with fuzzy growth when the fungus is in full bloom. To prevent this from happening, it is important to keep the leaves dry, provide good air circulation around your plants, and avoid overwatering them.

Colocasia esculenta ‘Fontanesii’ (Black Stem Elephant Ear) is a tuberous, frost-tender perennial that features large, bold heart-shaped blue-green leaves with dark green veins and glossy black finishes. Topping off the striking purple-black leaf stalks are clusters of white flowers in summer. This unique plant adds a dramatic look to gardens and containers.

When it comes to distinguishing between taro and elephant ears, one of the key differences is the attachment of the leaf from the petiole. In taro, the petiole is attached to the leaf several inches from the base of the ‘V’ of its leaf, while in elephant ears, their petioles are attached directly at their bases.

At maturity, the Black Stem Elephant Ear will be 6 feet tall with a spread of 6 feet. It grows very fast and is best in full sun to partial shade. It likes to grow in average to wet conditions and will tolerate some standing water.

It is important to note that all parts of the Black Stem Elephant Ear are poisonous if eaten and can be a skin and eye irritant. Therefore, it is best to keep this plant away from children and pets. It can also be grown as a houseplant, making sure to provide enough light for optimal growth.

In addition to its striking appearance, the Black Stem Elephant Ear is also known for its air-purifying abilities. Philodendrons, including heart-leaf, elephant ear and sellous philodendrons are effective at filtering toxins such as formaldehyde from the air. Therefore, this plant can be a great addition to your home or garden if you’re looking for something that will not only look beautiful but also provide some additional benefits.


The elephant ear is a beautiful and striking addition to any garden, patio, or home. It can be grown outdoors in zones 9-11 and be grown as a houseplant in a bright area with indirect light. It is also important to make sure it is not overwatered as it can cause root rot and other diseases. While it is a beautiful plant, it is important to remember that all parts of the plant are poisonous if eaten and can cause skin and eye irritation.