Elephant ears/ taro not growing like they should

sf4023stJune 9, 2010

I have some small starts of your typical Colcasia esculenta and Alocasia ordora that are not growing so vigorously as expected. I've had luck getting the same sized starts to grow 3 or more feet with several huge leaves in only a few months last year. However, this was when I was in zone 7 and summer temperatures averaged 90-100 degrees. I'm now living in San Francisco and my plants this year are still little weaklings and it's already mid June. Could the weather here be affecting the growth rate?? I've seen different elephant ears at the SF botanical garden and they seems to be thriving and are of good size so I'm not sure why my plants aren't growing to fast like I've seen in the past. I've moved them to full sun and feed them with lots of water and pot them in manure compost but still they're not growing like on steroids. I also planted to taro tubers that I got from the Asian markets and they have yet to even sprout out of the ground (I planted before in zone 7 and they sprouted within a couple of weeks and where nice tall plants by the first month) Advice?

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lariann(z10 FL)

Soil temperature and available nutrients are the main factors aside from adequate light or sun. If soil temps are cool, they will be reluctant to sprout. Once growing, if you want them to grow as though on steroids, you need to give them a steady feed. I use a timed-release mix that releases according to temperature, and I get very heavy growth. My mix is a professional formulation, but you can get something similar at Home Depot, called "Dynamite". However, I'm in zone 10 and soil temps this time of year are quire warm.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 4:54PM
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Hi LariAnn

Thanks so much for the advice. I believe I'm in zone 17 and while winters here are mild the summer temperature rarely exceeds 85. I' assuming the slow or no growth is due to the cold soil. I still haven't seen any sprouts from my tubers and the plants I bought from Aroidgrower on Ebay are still the same size and not really doing anything (it's been about 2 months since I got them). I've put them in the sun and repotted them in larger pots with composted manure in hopes they'll get growing. Will keep you updated:)

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 4:07AM
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Hi, I'm in zone 9B/10A. It's winter here in Melbourne(Australia). I grow colocasia esculenta, alocasia macrorhiza, alocasia brisbanensis. They're growing well here, but at the moment they're very slow. Colocasia esculenta grows very fast. I bought this in autumn where temperature was still around 10 - 20C, and I moved the plant into bigger pot. I put the pot on a bowl of water for a month. When I moved that into the garden bed in the early winter, the plant was nearly root bound.
Melbourne zoo grow a lot of them here, they're in the pond and still looking healthy even though we just past couple of light frost here.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 12:26AM
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I have a one gallon Giant Jack Elephant Ear that isn't growing. It is in a big 15" pot, and I keep it watered well, and have fertlized it still to no avail. It has one leave on it and no new shoots either. How do I get it to grow, lol! Advice needed please!!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 3:53PM
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What are the temperatures in your area? if they are above 70F they should grow.. you may pull the plant out, remove the dirt and observe any areas for rot, if it is the case then cut the rotted area and let the plant dry out in shade for two days then re-plant it...

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 7:20AM
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Hi everyone,

I, too, have 2 elephant ear plants that are not growing vigorously. It grows one leaf at a time, and by the time the next leaf emerges the previous one dies. So for the entire summer I have had 2 one leaf elephant ear plants.

It has been 100+F every day for the last month so I am sure that has something to do with it. Also, I am afraid to fertilize it because it has been so hot. So I just water it with compost tea once a week. Is that enough?


    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 5:49PM
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whitbit(6 WV)

Elephant ears like LOTS of water. You cannot water them too much. If I were you, Nancy, I would water them every night. Give them a really good soaking. It has been in the upper 90s-100 here as well, and I just turn on my hose hookup and let it flood the garden for a few minutes.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 4:19PM
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eclayne(Z6a, MA)

Do you know what type of ears you're growing Nancy? While water is most important, too much sun on a part sun/shade Xanthosoma can cause leaf drop as well. I've read that some Colocasia hybrids and Alocasia are also sun sensitive.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 1:47PM
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peeper(z8B SC)

Temperature, water, and breathing ability all are interdependant to each other. If temperature is low and you have to much water surrounding roots then they cannot breath or feed and will therefore begin to rot. Yet if the soil temperature is hi with the same water quantity then due to evaporation and roots ability to absorb and desicate more water then the oxygen levels to the roots will increase allowing more food absorption and better growth. As I grow different ones each can have it's own challenges. Colocasia's seem to like denser soils whereas Alocasia's I tend to grow in a much more looser soil and let them go dry between waterings. I am spending a lot of money and time to remove all plants from my greenhouse and putting in hydronic heating in the ground. Roots will only thrive for tropicals if plant roots are kept above 76F, even if air temperatures drop into the 50's.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 6:03PM
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greenpassion(z4-z5 VT)

I have had no problem with my EE's this summer.They are all potted on my deck in huge planters. I have 2 huge Eleana's,both having been overwintered as plants in my house. I have a giant Black Stem (or violet stem?) EE that flowers continously, as well as an Illustris that also flowers. My problem is that I want to overwinter all these dormant, as bulbs, but a few years ago I unpotted an Eleana and there was only a mass of roots. Nothing to clean off and store. I am afraid to unpot the Black stem or illustris as I might find the same problem. Also, I have several huge Jack's Giants that I had to buy new this year-because last fall, I unpotted one from it's tub, and after an hour or so of cleaning and trying to find a bulb, I assumed there was one somewhere in the mass, I let it dry outside for a week or so, then stored it in a milk crate in my basement. It was fuzzy and rotten by spring. How can I overwinter Illustris and Eleana and violet stems as dormant bulbs??

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 12:08PM
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