Elephant Ear question

Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady LakeAugust 18, 2012

In the spring I purchased and planted some elephant ear bulbs in my gardening area. Thanks to some bad information, I planted them in a nice, bright, full sun spot (shame on you Florida-Friendly Database!). Since then, I have learned that for Central Florida they actually prefer partial shade. That said, they do seem to be doing quite well in their spot (I have to do a little extra watering on days when we get no rain [using collected rainwater, of course]) with one exception and I'm not sure if this is natural growth or not.

The outer leaf is constantly yellowing and then dying. I would almost think it was sun-burn, but it is only the outer leaf that is yellowing, the inner shafts and leaves are nice and lush looking. About a week after the outer leaf has died, a new leaf will start rising from the center and the next outer leaf will start to yellow. So there is always at least 3-4 leaves per plant. This cycle makes me think that it is just the way that they grow. But I have seen other elephant ears that have almost double the number of leaves and no yellow ones. The soil they are in is sandy, but it was amended with Black Kow when I planted the bulbs. I know there are a huge number of Elephant Ear varieties, but does this sound like natural growth or nutrient deficiency or too much sun or something else entirely?

Thank you in advance.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
theoj(Z9 FL)

The Elephant Ear is a no-care, sun or shade, any kind of soil, water or not, plant it and forget it, plant. I've had them 20 years here and my mother had them 20 years or more before that. Some leaves yellow no matter what you do. Cut them off or leave them. They propagate freely, live forever. Put them in the front yard and you may find them later in the back yard. (I think they dance at night). The older ones can get about 4 feet in width and they have a crazy bloom.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 7:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Would have to agree with you Not sure about the "dancing" but they sure know how to get around lol
I remember calling the extention office for growing tips
and their reply was "ON purpose"lol
The usual ones called "elephant ears " will get the biggest,hold the leaves longer in shade with lots of water
and some enriched soil.
Most amazing are those that pop up in the parrot cage where they are chewed to the ground at least twice a week
Do they die no they wait for rain and pop up again.lol
I'm still a big fan of EE and yes I grow them "on purpose!! lol gary

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 3:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Agree that they will grow in any exposure, but if you want the really big leaves, mostly shade is best, IME (a few miles north of AL/FL border.) I moved this bulb this spring from a much more sunny location where it had been for a few years and it's making leaves about 10x bigger than before. (The babies bulbs that were with it were also put in more shady locations and are all much bigger than the mama ever was in too much sun.) I also have a mini-compost pile at the base of it, and put mostly greens there, like watermelon rinds and other kitchen scraps that "melt" quickly in the heat. Next to it is a 5-gallon bucket with a slit in the bottom. I fill up the bucket and it takes a couple hours to drip out, which I try to do just before the sun hits it, so it has ample moisture during that time, about 90 minutes of direct sun. Otherwise, the leaves fall over. After they do that, they might or might not stand back up so I put a tomato cage around it. The newest leaf on this plant is about 6 ft. tall and about 3 ft. long, which is about 8" longer than the last leaf. Constantly losing a leaf is common but happens more slowly if there is ample moisture and plenty of organic matter in the soil. I usually leave the dying leaf connected but bend it back to rot near the bulb.

Unfortunately, I don't usually have rain water for it, but start by dumping the water from the bucket our dog uses for his water bowl (which came from the hose the day before,) then fill the rest with the hose. With splashing and the dripping that happens before the bucket is full, I estimate it, and the other plants sharing the root space, are using about 6 gallons of water per day, some of which is probably taken by a large oak tree nearby.

Just an ordinary Colocasia esculenta I got from Lowe's about 10 years ago. The leaf that is leaning out didn't seem like it would bend into the tomato cage without breaking and since it was the oldest (going to yellow and die soon,) I didn't make any effort to cage that one:

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 9:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake

Okay, great. Thank you for that answer. So the yellowing and dying is just part of the natural growth cycle, though accelerated by the sun exposure.

Unfortunately, I don't have any truly shady areas in my yard. There's a large Live Oak in my southern neighbor's yard, but the small amount of shade it provides in the summer is taken up by my lanai and a footpath. The vast majority of my Elephant Ears are planted on the NW corner of my house, which sounds like they should get 'some' shade, but here in Florida, the north side of the house means nothing during the summer months. However, next spring I plan on moving my EE's a bit south of their current location so that they should get shade from the house until 11:00-11:30. They'll get the brunt of the afternoon sun until about 17:30-18:00 when the Live Oaks to the west of me start blocking the sun again. Maybe not ideal for huge leaves, but better than getting nailed all day from sun-up to sun-down as they currently are.

Thanks for the answers and tips.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 11:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tropicalgardenerwpb(USDA 10)

You may wish you exercised caution putting Elephant Ear plants in your garden as mature plants put out numerous pups - even after removal of the parent. Years ago I was drawn to the Colocasia for its tropical appearance, we enjoyed its large leaves and interesting blooms; it was a feature specimen in our entry garden (photo) where dappled shade of a Live Oak provided protection from harsh sun and strong winds. However, keeping up the garden meant removing multiple volunteers. At first, this was a bonus, since I had plants to share or exchange with friends and neighbors. Eventually tiring of the chore of keeping our tropical garden looking neat or tidy, I redesigned that part of our yard and removed nice looking ones to nursery pots and threw away more than I could count. Within a week or two of resting the bed, countless pups sprouted to the surface... Years later, I still find them - like weeds - popping up in other potted plants and distant areas of our yard. My advice would be to keep them in a confined area, keep a dish underneath them if growing in a container, and don't even reuse or move the dirt they're growing in!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 2:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Unfortunately, I planted black elephant ears next to my pond years ago. They were attractive but very soon became invasive. It took me years to get rid of them.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 3:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Love the pictured plant, tropicalgardenerwpb, seriously HUGE leaves! Also like the vignette as a whole, very attractive! I don't think they flower here, so no seeds to "infect" the dirt, at least not this one I've been growing in a pot for years, then in the ground for the past 4 years - which is now about a dozen separated plants. An excellent cautionary tale for the warmer zones!

In addition to nurturing one special plant for the "wow factor" of the big leaves, I'm hoping to get enough going to be a food source for our family. The Wiki article seems quite lean, compared to other edible plants, until you go to taro instead. If that many cultures are eating it, I'm sure I can find something delicious to do with this "free food" too.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 4:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake

Well, it seems I was fretting over nothing. I must be doing something that at least one of the plants likes. Over the past two weeks it has been sending up one flower after the other. Which is a real treat for me because despite reading that they do indeed flower, I had never seen one in bloom. But this brings up a new question:

I never see anything at the flower, gathering pollen or anything else. The EE is also well known for it's ability to spread via tubers (as some on this thread have said). So my question would be, does the flower serve any kind of reproductive purpose?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 12:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
theoj(Z9 FL)

I see no 'useful' purpose to the Elephant Ear, other than they like my yard and take up space. They're going to use my yard whether I like it or not. If I pull them up, they come right back anyway. Birds, butterflies, snakes, etc. don't seem to mind them, Elephant Ears just fit in and call it home.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 1:07PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
A good firespike replacement?
Two and a half years ago I got some 'blue' (magenta)...
Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake
Growing milkweed (A. tuberosa) from seed in Central Fl.
Hi! I'm new here, and I'd like to see if anyone has...
looking for more info on this tree
I was given a pod off a "Giant Star Potato",...
Miami/CoralGables ... 10b meet
Good morning everyone, I just saw Silvia//Oakland/9b...
African Irises just bloomed; they're pretty
The plants bloomed nine mos after being stuck in the...
stewbrew FL_10b
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™