Plants A to Z

How to Grow and Care for Elephant’s Ear

The Alocasia genus of tropical plants has magnificent foliage that can become the focal point or area. Elephant's ear gets its name from the large rhizomes or tubers that develop giant heart-shaped or arrow-shaped ears.

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It is usual to keep them as houseplants, but they are also frequently hauled outside and entirely buried in the ground to create a more natural impression during the summer months.

Growing conditions for alocasias are ideal, and certain species are deemed invasive when they are present in sufficient numbers, notably in areas around the Gulf Coast of the United States.

As a result, check with your local government before growing this species in the garden. Because the leaves are poisonous to humans and animals, you should avoid these plants if you have children or pets.

Care for Elephant’s ear plant 

These plants may develop quickly, even in northern locations with a short growing season. Alocasia plants can generate a new leaf every week during the hot summer months, and each new leaf can be twice the size of the previous week's. Leaf shapes range from thin arrowheads to huge heart-shaped leaves with vibrant veins and various textures, including thick, waxy, slippery, and glossy.

The plant will begin to rest once it enters its dormant stage (late fall and winter). The plant's rapid leaf growth will slow down, and it will likely remain unchanged throughout the winter. Continue to look after it, and the rapid growth will come back the next growing season.


Depending on the cultivar, requirements range from shade to full sun. Check with the grower or vendor to see if the plant has been sun-trained.

Leaf color is superior in plants that flourish in brighter surroundings. Most Alocasia species can thrive in the shade, although they prefer filtered sunlight that is slightly brighter. The larger kinds can be bred to withstand the full force of the tropical sun.


Elephant's ear should be planted in a loose, well-drained potting soil or crumbly loamy soil.


Alocasia plants that thrive in water should be maintained wet all year. With these plants, there is a narrow line to be walked. It's critical to keep the soil damp but not wet while planting.

Because the plant is dormant during the winter, they require less water. Allow the top several inches of soil to become almost completely dry before watering. This will aid in maintaining an even moisture level in the soil. The plant is more sensitive to fungal diseases when the soil condition is wet.

Humidity and Temperature

Elephant ear plants will die if the temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. During the winter, certain kinds will die down and re-sprout from the rhizome. They require and thrive in highly humid conditions.

Place your plant on a tray packed with pebbles and add water until the humidity level rises to just below the bottom of the pot. Keep them away from draughts coming in through the windows, doors, and air conditioning.


Alocasias, huge species, can be heavy feeders. During the growing season, apply liquid fertilizer or granule fertilizer in tiny amounts regularly.

Elephant Ears Come in a Variety of Shapes and Sizes

  • 'Kris' boasts long pointed leaves with white veins and scalloped white borders, as well as exceptionally dark green foliage.
  • 'Zebrina' has arrow-shaped leaves and zebra-like stalks.
  • 'Giant Taro': grows up to 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide, with 3 to 4 foot long and 2 to 4 foot wide leaves.
  • 'Silver Dragon' has silvery-green foliage with dark green veins.


Trimming your Alocasia's fading leaves is all it takes to prune it.

Alocasia propagation

The majority of Alocasia plants can be grown by rhizome or clump division. Cut a bit of the underground rhizome and place it in its container. Maintain a warm, moist environment until new growth appears.

Elephant's Ear Potting and Repotting

Alocasia variations should be repotted into larger pots every year with fresh, free-draining potting soil. It's also a good idea to divide the rhizome once a year to maintain the plant manageable and expand your collection.

Common Plant Pests and Diseases

Despite their beauty, these plants are susceptible to several diseases, including crown, stem, root rot, leaf spot, and Xanthomonas infection. Disease symptoms include black or dark brown patches on the leaves with a golden rim around them.

The disease can be avoided by following proper watering procedures; do not overwater these plants. Maintain good air circulation around and near the plant by keeping the foliage dry.

Mealybugs, scale, aphids, and spider mites are common pests of Alocasia. Spray the plant with warm soapy water every few weeks to keep pests away and maintain it dust-free. Use ultra-fine insecticide oil or neem oil if an infestation occurs. These products will kill the problems and their eggs.

Elephant's Ear: How to Make It Bloom

Alocasias have a conventional spathe and spadix when they bloom, but the flower is usually uninteresting. These plants are said to blossom in the spring after being moved outside, however elephant ears are primarily planted for their leaves.

Elephant's Ear Issues that People Have

Elephant ears are simple plants to cultivate as long as you provide them with the proper quantity of light and water. Are you having issues with yours? Hopefully, these fixes may be of assistance to you.

  • Leaves that are turning yellow

Your elephant's ear could be turning yellow for a variety of causes. It's most likely a watering issue—too much or too little water might produce discoloration. Elephant ears are heavy drinkers, consuming many inches of water every week. It's possible that the yellowing is due to the amount of food you're giving them.

They also require plenty of sunlight, and if they don't get enough, leaf yellowing can occur. Their leaves might also turn yellow if they're kept in an insufficiently large container: when was the last time you replanted? Are they shackled to their pot? Repotting could be the solution. Elephant ears may eventually go dormant.

  • Leaves that are shriveled or drooping

Elephant ear leaves can droop or shrivel if exposed to too much or too little light or fertilizer. Make the necessary adjustments, and your plant will repay you with lush foliage!

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Elissa Sanci
Elissa Sanci
Elissa Sanci, the owner of the website, and senior writer of New York Garden; graduated from Santa Barbara City College – a famous public school in California with many diverse training professions, and she majored in horticulture.