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If you’re looking to add some tropical flair to your home or garden, growing elephant ears in pots is a great option. These plants, also known as Colocasia and Alocasia, are known for their large, striking leaves that can add a dramatic touch to any space. Plus, growing them in pots means you can enjoy their beauty even if you don’t have a lot of outdoor space.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of growing elephant ears in containers, from selecting the right pot to caring for your plants throughout the year. So whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, get ready to discover everything you need to know about growing elephant ears in pots.

Elephant Ear Plant 101

With their huge leaves that unfurl quickly in the right temperature and water conditions, elephant ear plants can be a stunning addition to any space. These plants, also known as Colocasia and Alocasia, belong to the Araceae family and are native to Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Elephant ear plants come in a variety of species, each with its unique characteristics. They are known for their large, heart-shaped leaves that resemble elephant’s ears, hence the name. These leaves can grow up to three feet in length and two feet in width, making them a statement-making addition to any garden or patio.

Elephant ears are a tropical plant and thrive in warm, humid environments. They grow quickly during the summer months, with some species capable of producing new leaves every week. However, they are sensitive to cold temperatures and should be protected during the winter months in colder climates.

When it comes to choosing between Colocasia and Alocasia, there are some differences to consider. Colocasia species typically have wider leaves and grow taller than Alocasia. Alocasia, on the other hand, has more pointed leaves and a more compact growth habit. Both species can be grown in pots, but Alocasia requires a larger container due to its more extensive root system.

Difference Between Elephant Ears and Taro Plants

Taro plants, also known as Colocasia esculenta, are a type of elephant ear plant that is commonly grown for its edible root. The leaves are also quite attractive and can be grown as ornamental plants. Elephant ear plants, on the other hand, are grown purely for their decorative value.

Taro and Elephant Ear plants are often confused with each other due to their similar appearance. However, there are some key differences between the two. Taro leaves are a little softer to the touch and have a curvy, almost ruffled edge. Elephant ear leaves are thicker and have a more jagged edge. The color of taro leaves can range from light green to dark purple, while elephant ear leaves tend to be darker green or black.

The underground stem (large tuber) of taro is cooked for a long time before eating, while elephant ears need to be boiled for an extended period of time before they are safe to consume. Taro is native to Southeast Asia, while elephant ear plants are native to tropical regions around the world.

Best Pot For Elephant Ears – How to Choose

When it comes to growing elephant ears in pots, choosing the right container is an important first step. The right pot will provide enough space for the plant to grow and develop a strong root system. Here are a few things to consider when choosing the right pot for your elephant ear plant:


Elephant ear plants can grow quite large, so it’s important to choose a container that is big enough to accommodate their size. A good rule of thumb is to select a pot that is at least 14 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep.

The precise measurement of your pot may also depend on the type of elephant ear you’re purchasing. Colocasia species typically need pots that are at least 18 inches wide and 16 inches deep, while Alocasia cultivars need pots that are at least 36 inches wide.

Non-Porous Material

When selecting a pot for your elephant ear, consider using a non-porous material like plastic or glazed ceramic. These materials will help retain moisture in the soil, which is important for keeping your plant healthy. Non-porous containers also help prevent the soil from drying out too quickly, especially during hot weather.

Drainage Holes

Proper drainage is a must for growing elephant ears in pots. Without adequate drainage, the soil can become waterlogged, which can lead to root rot and other problems. Be sure to choose a pot with drainage holes and fill it with a well-draining potting mix. You can also add a layer of gravel or broken pottery to the bottom of the pot to help improve drainage.

Soil For Elephant Ears In Pots

The ideal soil should be rich in organic matter, well-draining, and have a pH level between 5.5 and 7.0. Here are some tips for selecting the best soil for your elephant ears:

1. Use a High-Quality Soil Mix

Using a high-quality soil mix is important for growing elephant ears in pots. You can either purchase a pre-made soil mix or make your own. A good soil mix for elephant ears should contain a mixture of peat moss, compost, vermiculite, perlite, and organic matter. This will provide the plant with the necessary nutrients and moisture retention.

2. Good Drainage

To keep your elephant ears healthy and happy, it’s important to give them moist soil to grow in. However, these plants are not fans of standing water. Adding a layer of gravel or sand underneath the soil can help prevent water from accumulating around the roots and improve drainage.

3. Add Organic Matter

Adding organic matter to the soil mix can improve the soil’s structure and nutrient content. You can use compost, well-rotted manure, or leaf mold to add organic matter to your soil mix. This will help the plant grow strong and healthy.

4. Avoid Heavy Soil

Elephant ears prefer a loose, well-draining soil. Heavy soil can cause water to accumulate in the pot, which can lead to root rot. To avoid this, make sure your soil mix is light and airy. You can add perlite or vermiculite to improve the soil’s texture and drainage.

5. Consider pH Levels

Elephant ears prefer soil with a pH level between 5.5 and 7.0. You can test your soil’s pH level using a soil testing kit, which can be purchased at most garden centers. If your soil’s pH level is too low or too high, you can adjust it by adding lime or sulfur to the soil mix.

Planting An Elephant Ear In A Pot

Planting Bulbs

Elephant ears can be grown from bulbs or tubers. An elephant ear tuber is a large, underground stem that is part of the Colocasia, Alocasia, and Xanthosoma species of plants. It is typically shaped like a potato and can be used to propagate new plants.

If you’re starting from bulbs, plant them in the spring when the temperature ranges from 60°F to 85°F. The end with the concentric circles is the top of the bulb. If you’re ever in doubt about which end is up, plant a bulb on its side; it’ll send the green up and the roots down.

Planting Tubers

If you’re starting from tubers, plant them in the spring after all danger of frost has passed. Make sure the soil is well-draining and amend it with compost or other organic matter. Plant the tuber with the flat side down and the pointy end up. Cover the tuber with 2-3 inches of soil.

Planting Seedlings

If you’re starting from seedlings, plant them in the spring after all danger of frost has passed. Choose a pot that’s at least 18 inches wide and 16 inches deep for colocasia species, or at least 36 inches wide for alocasia cultivars. Fill the pot with a well-draining potting mix and plant the seedling at the same depth it was in its nursery pot.

Do You Have to Dig Up Elephant Ears Every Year?

In colder climates, you may need to dig up your elephant ears and store them indoors for the winter. In warmer climates, you can leave them in the ground year-round. If you’re growing them in pots, you can bring them indoors for the winter or move them to a protected area outside. Just make sure they’re not exposed to freezing temperatures.

Watering Elephant Ears

When growing elephant ears in pots, it is important to keep the soil moist. Elephant ears evolved in regions with moist soils, so they need lots of water during the heat of summer.

You should water your pots daily using the method of deep watering in the summer. This means watering until the water runs out of the bottom of the pot. You should also check the soil moisture level regularly to avoid over or under watering.

Fertilizer Requirements

In addition to regular watering, fertilizing is also important for growing healthy elephant ears. A slow-release fertilizer is a great option for elephant ears in pots.

This type of fertilizer releases nutrients over a period of time, providing a steady supply of nutrients to your plants. You can apply slow-release fertilizer once a month during the growing season.

Alternatively, you can use a balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. This type of fertilizer can be applied every two weeks during the growing season. Be sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for the correct amount to apply.

When applying fertilizer, it is important to avoid getting it on the leaves or stem of the plant. This can cause fertilizer burn, which can damage or kill the plant. Instead, apply the fertilizer directly to the soil around the plant.

Do Elephant ears Like sun or Shade?

Elephant ears prefer bright, indirect light, so it’s best to place them in a spot that receives partial shade or filtered sun. If you’re growing them indoors, place them near a window that gets bright, indirect light.

While elephant ears can tolerate full sun, it’s important to note that they may require more water and care in hotter temperatures. If you live in a region with very hot summers, it’s best to provide some shade during the hottest parts of the day to prevent the leaves from burning.

In terms of temperature, elephant ears prefer warm temperatures and can be damaged by frost. When planting elephant ears in pots, wait until the daytime temperatures are consistently above 60°F (15°C) before planting them outside. During the growing season, aim to keep the daytime temperatures around 70-80°F (21-27°C) to promote healthy growth.

If you live in a region with cooler temperatures, you can still grow elephant ears in pots. Simply bring them indoors before the first frost and place them in a spot that receives bright, indirect light. During the winter months, aim to keep the temperature around 60-70°F (15-21°C) to prevent the bulbs from going dormant.

Elephant Ears as Indoor Plants

Yes, elephant ears can be grown as indoor plants. Elephant ears thrive in filtered light year-round and can survive for long periods of time indoors. When it comes to growing elephant ears indoors, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

an elephant ear plant in a pot indoors near a window with white sheer curtains

Indoor Plant Care

When growing elephant ears indoors, it’s important to keep them in a bright location. These plants prefer bright, indirect light, so place them near a window that gets plenty of light. If you don’t have a bright location, you can use artificial lighting to supplement natural light.


Elephant ears thrive in humid conditions, so it’s important to keep the air around them moist. You can increase humidity by placing a tray of water near the plant or by using a humidifier. You can also mist the leaves of the plant regularly to keep them moist.


When it comes to watering elephant ears, it’s important to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. These plants prefer well-draining soil, so be sure to choose a pot with drainage holes. Water your elephant ear plant when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

Overwintering Elephant Ears In Pots

If you live in a region with freezing temperatures, you might wonder if you can leave your elephant ears in pots over winter. The answer is yes, you can, but you need to take some precautions to ensure they survive the cold.

Preparing for Overwintering

Before the first frost, it’s essential to prepare your elephant ear plants for overwintering. Cut back the foliage and dig up the bulbs from the soil. Shake off the excess soil and let them dry for a day or two.

Storing Elephant Ears

Once the bulbs are dry, store them in a cool, dry place, such as a basement or garage, where the temperature is between 50-60°F. You can also store them in a cardboard box filled with peat moss or sawdust. Make sure the bulbs are not touching each other and that the storage area is well-ventilated.

Checking the Bulbs

Check the bulbs every few weeks to make sure they are not rotting or drying out. If they are too dry, mist them with a spray bottle. If they are rotting, remove the affected parts with a clean, sharp knife.

Planting in Spring

In the spring, plant the bulbs in pots filled with well-draining soil. Water them thoroughly and place them in a sunny location. Once the leaves start to emerge, fertilize them with a balanced fertilizer every two weeks.

Pest and Disease Management

Several pests can affect elephant ear plants, including spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs. If you notice any of these pests on your plants, you can use an insecticidal soap or neem oil to control them. Make sure to follow the instructions on the product label and apply it to both the top and bottom of the leaves.


Elephant ear plants can experience a range of problems, including drooping leaves and drought stress. If your plants are drooping, it could be a sign that they need more water. Make sure to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. If your plants are experiencing drought stress, you can mist them or use a humidifier to increase the humidity around them.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are a common problem for elephant ear plants, especially if they are grown indoors. These pests can be difficult to see with the naked eye, but you may notice webbing on the leaves. To control spider mites, you can use a miticide or insecticidal soap. Make sure to apply the product to both the top and bottom of the leaves.


Elephant ear plants are sensitive to drought and can quickly become stressed if they don’t receive enough water. Make sure to water your plants regularly and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. You can also mist your plants or use a humidifier to increase the humidity around them.

Drooping Leaves

If your elephant ear plants are drooping, it could be a sign that they need more water. Make sure to water your plants regularly and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. If your plants are still drooping after watering, it could be a sign of a more serious problem, such as root rot or a pest infestation. In this case, you may need to repot your plants or use an insecticide or fungicide to control the problem.

Propagating Elephant Ears

If you want to propagate your elephant ear plants, you have a few options available to you. The most common method is through division, which involves separating the tubers of a healthy parent plant. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Dig up the parent plant in the fall, after the leaves have started to turn brown and die back.
  2. Use a clean, sharp knife or garden shears to cut the tubers apart, making sure each section has at least one growing point.
  3. Replant the tubers in containers or store them for the winter and plant them outdoors in the spring.
  4. Pick a location with well-draining soil and plenty of sunlight, and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

Propagation through division is a great way to create new elephant ear plants without having to buy new ones. It’s also a good way to keep your existing plants healthy and vigorous.

Another option for propagating elephant ear plants is through cuttings. However, this method is less reliable than division, and it can take a long time for the cuttings to root and grow into new plants. If you want to try propagating through cuttings, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Take a cutting from a healthy parent plant, making sure it has at least one node.
  2. Dip the end of the cutting in rooting hormone, if desired.
  3. Plant the cutting in a pot filled with well-draining soil.
  4. Keep the soil moist and the cutting in a warm, humid location until it starts to root and grow.

Propagation through cuttings can be a fun and rewarding experiment, but it’s not the most reliable way to create new elephant ear plants. If you’re looking for a surefire method, stick with division.

Pruning and Repotting Elephant Ears

Pruning is an important part of elephant ear plant care, as it helps to keep the plant healthy and looking its best. You should prune your elephant ear plant regularly to remove any yellowing or damaged leaves, as well as to encourage new growth.

To prune your elephant ear plant, simply use a pair of sharp, clean pruners to snip off any yellowing or damaged leaves as close to the base of the plant as possible. You can also remove any leaves that are blocking light from reaching the rest of the plant.


Repotting is another important task when it comes to elephant ear plant care. As your plant grows, it will eventually outgrow its current pot and need to be repotted into a larger container.

To repot your elephant ear plant, start by choosing a pot that is one or two sizes larger than its current pot. Fill the bottom of the new pot with fresh potting soil, and then carefully remove the plant from its old pot, taking care not to damage the roots.

Gently loosen the roots and remove any dead or damaged ones, and then place the plant in the new pot. Fill in around the plant with fresh potting soil, making sure to leave enough room for watering.

Water your newly repotted elephant ear plant thoroughly, and then place it in a bright, sunny spot where it can continue to grow and thrive.

By pruning and repotting your elephant ear plant regularly, you can help ensure that it stays healthy and beautiful for years to come.

Special Considerations


Elephant ears contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause skin irritation and are toxic if ingested. Therefore, it’s important to handle the plants with care and keep them away from children and pets. If you have young children or pets, you may want to consider growing other plants instead.


Some species of elephant ears can be invasive if planted in the ground, so growing them in pots can be a good way to control their spread. However, it’s important to choose a pot that is large enough to accommodate the plant’s growth and prevent it from becoming root-bound.

Elephant Ears in Different Regions

Different regions have different growing conditions that can affect the success of your elephant ear plants.

In Asia, where elephant ears originate from, the climate is tropical and humid. This means that elephant ears thrive in warm and moist conditions with plenty of rainfall. If you live in a region with a similar climate, such as parts of Southern California or Florida, your elephant ear plants should do well with regular watering and fertilizing.

In Africa, elephant ears are also found in tropical regions with high humidity and rainfall. However, some parts of Africa can have drier conditions, which may require more frequent watering and attention to soil moisture levels. If you live in a region with a similar climate, make sure to monitor your plants closely and adjust your watering schedule as needed.

In the United States, elephant ears can be grown in USDA zones 8 through 11. These zones have mild to warm temperatures and plenty of rainfall, which make them ideal for growing elephant ears. If you live in a cooler region, you may need to bring your plants indoors during the winter months or provide them with extra protection to ensure their survival.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best pots for growing large elephant ear plants?

When selecting a pot for your elephant ear plant, it’s important to choose one that is large enough to accommodate the plant’s root system. A pot that is at least 18 inches in diameter and depth is recommended. Additionally, make sure that the pot has drainage holes to prevent water from pooling at the bottom.

How do you care for elephant ear plants in pots?

Elephant ear plants require regular watering to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. They also benefit from regular fertilization during the growing season. It’s important to monitor the plant for pests and diseases, and to remove any damaged or diseased leaves promptly.

Can elephant ears grow well indoors in pots?

While elephant ear plants are typically grown outdoors, they can also be grown indoors in pots. However, they require bright, indirect light and high humidity to thrive. Consider placing a humidifier near the plant or misting it regularly to increase humidity levels.

What are the different types of elephant ear plants that can be grown in pots?

There are several different types of elephant ear plants that can be grown in pots, including Colocasia and Alocasia varieties. These plants come in a range of leaf colors and patterns, from solid green to variegated and even black.

When should you repot elephant ear plants in pots?

Elephant ear plants should be repotted every 1-2 years to prevent the roots from becoming overcrowded. Signs that it’s time to repot include roots growing out of the drainage holes, slowed growth, or wilting leaves.

Do elephant ears prefer sun or shade when grown in pots?

Elephant ear plants prefer partial shade to full shade when grown in pots. They can be grown in full sun, but may require more frequent watering and may be more susceptible to leaf scorch.

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