Elephant Ears

Glenda - 35905October 1, 2000

I bought large elephant ear bulbs at walmart first of the year...planted them early spring and all I have seen since was just a few quarter size leaves come up from 1 bulb,a few weeks ago. These were really big bulbs and about $5.00 a piece! My guestion is what would you do now .....I usually leave them in the ground and mulch well for winter or would you dig up and start over? Happy to try any magic cures !

Also bought some perenial hibiscus ( kind in the box) and never saw them again! Guess it was me!


Glenda northeast Al.

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Heidi - l0

You can purchase Elephant Ear tubers at the grocery store - It is called Taro root, used by Hawaiians to make poy (sp?). I purhcased several roots at a fraction of the cost and have had great success. Live Inland So. California (very hot).The leaves and roots grow larger year to year. I also purchased a "bulb" from Wal-Mart, it was large and very quickly rotted in the soil - dug it up and it had some sort of worn. Try your neighborhood grocery, or speciality food store. Good luck!!! hiide

    Bookmark   October 2, 2000 at 8:31PM
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Glenda - 35905

Thanks for the tips. I will check out the grocery tomorrow!
I dug up my elephant ear today and haven't checked it real close yet but I don't believe it's the firm bulb I planted.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2000 at 1:41AM
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Brian - 7 Atlanta


Common elephant ears, colocasia esculenta (probably what you'd find in the supermarket if they only offer one kind) are hardy in AL, but there is definitely something wrong with the fact that they only produced tiny leaves this year. Since they haven't had a chance to build up energy this year I seriously doubt they'll make it over the winter. I'd dig them after first frost and store in a cool place over winter, but most likely they won't make it over winter whatever you do since they're in a weakened condition.

The most important thing is to figure out what this year's ears didn't like and correct it for next year. Did you plant them in moist/wet soil? Elephant ears also like lots of nitrogen (manure is best) and an organic soil but they should have put up leaves even in poor soil as long as it was moist. They'll grow in shallow water, but aren't at all tolerant of dry soils.

If you met these conditions for them, then you must have received really bad rhizomes from Walmart. I planted 5 this year, two of them the size of half a hot dog and they are all 6' tall now (have been for most of the summer). You don't need to start with a big rhizome with these, as they grow very rapidly in our summer heat and humidity.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2000 at 3:51PM
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I mulch mine over in TN and they are doing great. I have several that a friend gave me when the bulbs were small and they are large now, but the baseball sized one I bought from Wal-Mart has the biggest leaves I have ever gotten. I did buy one that was nice and firm & had a few eyes with the beginnings of shoots. Moving them around does not help, so choose where you want them & leave them there a few years, you'll know whenn they need thinning. Also, too much sun kills the leaves. I have noticed the 2 little ones I passed on to a friend put mine to shame. She mulches more than I do (two-income family, lol) with Black Magic Mulch. Also, hers are used as a screen for her central air unit so they get plenty of water. Try them again next spring and don't plant them till the ground is really warm - they are tropical. Does anyone have a black elephant ear up for trade? I have only heard of them - have never seen a picture much less the real thing! Cindy

    Bookmark   October 6, 2000 at 12:43AM
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Adrienne Simmons - 7

I bought an elephant ear bulb from Walmart about 3 years sgo and it has done great for me. Giant leaves every year except this last year when I guess it finally needed dividing. Perhaps it's your growing conditions.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2000 at 1:35AM
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Andy - 8/9 Japan

Five dollars a tuber! I feel a little less upset about produce prices here in Japan. where apples--in season--are a dollar apiece. And the lowly carrot--as my mother said--is 50 cents apiece. Taro is an indispensable part of Japanese cuisine. Nothing fancy mind you, but grated (raw) into a kind of gooey paste, mixed with soy sauce and eaten with hot white rice, it is a staple for breakfast.
As far as using it in the garden, well, you would get some strange looks. Actually, I think people would think you'd lost your mind. It is widely grown here, but only in the family vegetable garden. I put miscanthus in my garden--people thought I was mad. It's considered by most, but not all, to be a noxious weed. Ditto aspidistra. You'll likewise find that only in the vegetable patch. If you've ever eaten boxed sushi, you may have seen a leaf in there--cut in a zig-zag shape, prettily dividing one thing from another. That is an aspidistra leaf and it too is found only in the vegetable garden.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2001 at 6:58PM
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polly(z5b MO)

Hey Cindy!

Have you tried "Plant Delights"? They have an EXCELLENT catalog that has very exotic plants - also have several different kinds of ee's - I have several and they are wonderful (yes, one is a "black magic" and it is truly breathtaking.)

Sorry, don't have a link for it.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2001 at 3:37PM
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hayes - z8a alabama

ill have to say that plant delights does have a neat selection of elephant ears.....i even sent one locally "discovered" variety to him myself. its called 'ruffles'.

the problem i saw with some of walmarts elephant ears was that the supplying company stapled the labels directly to the bulb. i noticed that where the staples entered the bulb, there was a problem with rotting. eventually, many of these bulbs completely rotted except for a very small top portion. this top portion would have to produce new growth buds and probably explains your late emerging, tiny growth.
a fungicide application may have helped.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2001 at 5:21PM
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Doris - 7 - AL

Hi Hayes,
I am glad that you discovered 'Ruffles' and that it is now available. It's a 'must have' for gardeners who fancy large, interesting foliage. I have seen it in your garden and it is not only spectacular but hardy in zone 7.
Maybe you can give us some tips on how to prepare a bed for these beauties.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2001 at 6:00AM
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Diane - 9

I just purchased some elephant ear bulbs but don't know when to plant them. Since they are in the caladium family do I wait until the ground is warm. We've had a cold, wet winter and the ground is saturated.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2001 at 1:14PM
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This is the first time I've seen this web site and boy am I glad. I too had purchased elephant ear bulbs from Wal-Mart and I had problems when trying to plant them. There was an "X" marked on the bulb and I'm still not sure which end goes up, but anyway when I planted it,nothing happened. A couple of months later I dug up the bulb and turned it the opposite direction of the "X" and it started to grow. It was really big, however the next summer it only sprouted out smaller leaves and didn't do so well.
(which end goes up?)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2001 at 3:47PM
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Virginia - USDA Zone 8

Let's see. Look closely at the newly purchased bulb and see the little root "hairs" that grow outward? If you can see closely enough, you may be able to plant the bulb so the little "hairs" grow downward. If you are unable to tell, you might try planting it sideways and the leaves should be able to tell how to find sunlight on their own. Years ago a friend of mine had one particular elephant ear plant that grew enormous, while all her others were of average height. She later discovered a very small water leak in a pipe underground that graced this plant with moisture during the heat/drought of the Alabama summer. The plant received loads of afternoon sun, too. Good growing!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2001 at 8:29PM
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Annachief Mn3Zone

Who is growing Elephant Ears in a cool climate? I am in zone three and was wondering if they would grow up here. How deep and exactly how wet do they like the soil?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2001 at 9:01AM
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Dan Boudreaux 8b

Those of you having problems growing elephant ears. Count your blessings. They took over my yard in New Orleans.
We'll leave them alone, now that we're living in Mississippi. I'd hate to lose another yard to elephant ears.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2001 at 10:19PM
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Barbara z7b VA

I am fairly new to EE. I grew them one summer and I am growing them again this year. The main thing I've been told is that they must be started in warm soil (at least 60 degrees and up) and are real water hogs.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2001 at 6:31AM
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Ronda upstate SC

Find where your air-conditioner pumps out condensation and plant an elephant ear RIGHT THERE. the hotter it gets the more water your EE will get. Talk about happy!!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2001 at 12:51AM
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This is a picture of my sister's 2 year old elephant ears
grown in eastern oklahoma

    Bookmark   May 4, 2001 at 12:00PM
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vikki083(Z7 WA State)

I will try again to show a picture of my sister's two year old elephant ears.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2001 at 3:42PM
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Bonnyleigh z7 NC

After hearing you all talk about elephant ears you have me wondering, is it too late to plant one? If not, what kind of container should i plant one in? I don't really have a nice sunny wet spot in my yard.. but it will certainly receive water at my house.. lol...

    Bookmark   May 8, 2001 at 9:46PM
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bighunk Zone 9

I live in New orleans, and happened to pick up a small 6" pot black elephant ear in March 2000 at Home Depot. It got to be about 4' high summer 2000. In March 2001, I split it apart, and now I have 10 growing beautifully.

This coming winter / spring, I intend to do some trading of my Black Elephant Ears, top cannas, and the Blackie Sweet Potato Vine, for some other cannas, daylilies, and Bearded Iris.

If anyone is interested, keep me in mind for this trading. I can trade the potato vine in a couple of weeks. I ran out of cuttings for now.
Cajun in New Orleans = cajun4@home.com

    Bookmark   May 12, 2001 at 12:05PM
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Laila atlanta

Ive got to say, I can't believe that you are having trouble with these things. They were one of the first items that I purchased for my garden. I stuck them in and then realized that they looked terrible so I moved them or so I thought. Now I have them growing in two places in my yard. I tried to move the ones I missed to a second location and now I have them growing in three places. I dug up some black eyed susans to transplant and now I have elephant ears growing all over my yard. It seems that they are popping up everywhere, are they a weed? or am I just crazy!!!! I guess its a good thing that I like them. They all started off with these tiny little leaves and then gradually got larger and larger. Even the ones that looked all rotten and nasty had shoots. Beats me why they are so hardy, they sure don't do well in a cut flower arrangement. Laila

    Bookmark   July 13, 2001 at 1:36AM
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Shirley 4 sometimes 5

To Annachief--I am growing a black ee for the first time this summer in Wisconsin--have had temps high at 97 and lows in the 40s. I have an insert inside a whiskey barrel and have small dahlias and lime licorice planted with it--the black leaf has a chartreuse eye. It's doing wonderfully.

I'm not sure how to take care of it for the winter--do I put in peat moss and check whether it's too dry during the winter months--like dahlias and tuberous begonias? Can anyone help?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2001 at 10:11PM
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To purchase "black magic" (black elephant ears) you can go to this website and buy them. They are a little higher than what I just paid for mine the other day for but if you can't find them anywhere else, this is the place...and they are definately worth it!


    Bookmark   January 14, 2002 at 3:24AM
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Hi Cindy,

If you're STILL looking for 'Black Magic' elephant ears, I have lots of them... let me know if you have anything to trade!


    Bookmark   January 30, 2002 at 8:49PM
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joanmary_z10(z10 Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

Bryan, I'd love some 'Black Magic' elephant ears. Can send viola odorata right now, or your choice from my list later. Joanmary

    Bookmark   February 4, 2002 at 11:12PM
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I purchased 3 bulbs at WalMart, It took about 3-4 weeks for them to come up but they are doing well. 2 are coming up from 1 bulb. I hope I love them- sounds like they can become invasive. I just love growing from seeds and bulbs- watching the growth.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2002 at 2:06AM
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I live in Arkansas, I have some friends who have some HUGE Elepant ears, about 5ft across, with winter coming what is the best way to prepare them. We often get snow and Ice and stays in the freeze zone alot. Any sugguestions would be most appreciated. Thanks Ellie

    Bookmark   September 22, 2002 at 11:53AM
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sheryl_ontario(Muncho Lake, BC z2)

Elephant ears and taro grow great in the pond and look marvelous in there! The are not winter hardy here, in zone 4 and have to be brought in.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2002 at 3:36PM
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bama35640(Z7A AL)

I have no problem with them overwintering in the ground in North Alabama Zone 7A. I just make sure I cut the tops off after the first freeze gets them and dump some mulch on top. Bob

    Bookmark   October 1, 2002 at 5:04PM
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I bought Illustris and Fontansia (a black stemmed ee) from plant delights. They were very small. The illustris came up and is now quite beautiful. The Fontansia had some sort of problem and they have sent a replacement which just arrived. They have a wonderful selection of... well, Plant Delights. I will order from them again.

My elephant ears are planted on a southeastern slope that finishes at the creek. They get plenty of sun. Water has been adequate most years except this one when the creek ran dry. I mulch them with leaves once the foliage dies down and they bounce back bigger and more beautiful every year. They make an outstanding addition to any garden. I love the tropic look they have. Mine are planted in line with a black fig, illustris ee, Australian purple cannas, and maybe I'll add a few hostas this fall.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2002 at 2:25PM
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I have some old EE's that are going on 30 years now. They have even bloomed a few times. The bloom is a large pointed oval-like thing. I have them planted under/around my window AC unit. I don't use chemical fertlizers--just veggie scraps. They surivive >100 F temps and as low as 30 with no problems. Sun will kill them quite easily here. If they freeze back--cut them and enjoy them again. If your ground freezes, you may want to bring them in for a winter visit.
My EE bulbs vary from babies about 1-2 in diam. and big ones about 4-5 in. diam. As long as you leave the tops of the bulbs above ground, in a wet/moist soil, in shade or mostly shade, you should be sucessful.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2002 at 5:31AM
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Elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) is on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council's List of Invasive Species. It is listed as Category I (Invasive exotics that are altering native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures or ecological functions, or hybridizing with natives) for the entire state. Beware of this botanical thug!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2002 at 7:40PM
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Datawgal(8/9 SC)

Thug is a good description for the ee's in my garden. They were beautiful the first year then this past summer they multiplied like crazy and the leaves were all very small. After the neighbors started complaining about my "weeds" I tried everything to remove them, even resorted to Round Up when digging them up didn't do it. Nothing has worked and it is a constant battle.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2002 at 7:03AM
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Mike_In_Georgia(7 B)

well of course alocasia/colocasia are bog plants, ever see a bog plant that in its native habitat or closely resembling it that was not somewhat invasive?? very few!
people that live in warm winter climates should always check for the plants potential to become a pest.
I often hear of people bragging about a plants spread rate or reproductive prowess and wonder if they ever really consider why the plant has such a fast grwoth rate.
here we are blessed wiht Oriental wisteria, japanese honeysuckle, kudzu, obedient plant, buttefly bush, privet and so have our own battles to fight as well.
fortunately our cold weather keeps Elephant Ears in their place.
the old addage "Right plant in the right place" does not just mean the plants size.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2003 at 10:52AM
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Datawgal(8/9 SC)

You are right Mike, bog plants can be invasive and I purposely planted the Elephant Ears in a boggy spot so they could spread. Little else would grow there and it would have been perfect if the EE's had developed the large leaves. However, mine reverted to low, weedy little plants with the largest leaves only measuring about 5". Unfortunately we do not have the cold here to keep thugs in check. Although I have dug and dug and used RU there are still dozens of the monsters coming up. If I can get them out I am going to try Louisiana Iris - usually easier to keep in control.
Do you really have problems with butterfly bush? I was not aware that could be invasive.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2003 at 12:45PM
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Mike_In_Georgia(7 B)

Unfortunately yes!
Buddleia (Davidii especailly) has reseeded in every open patch of land that it can find, well not every one but enough that it is now becoming a future problem.
and of course if you have ever seen a davidii that has not had upkeep you realize that this can be one big old ugly plant.
its the reseeding thats the problem , not the spreading roots.
But then again thats exactly how Japanese honeysuckle(halls honeysuckle) spreads (via seed, birds eating berries, depositing seeds) so most people do not relaize they are a problem becise the invasiveness is in the wild or soemone elses yard.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2003 at 10:16AM
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rylaff(8b/Niceville FL)

These just "came up" in my yard. Never planted them. That is the way they are here in Florida.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2003 at 7:54PM
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Rylaff - WOW! And to think of all the postings by folks who want to know what to do to get them big like that!!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2003 at 11:01AM
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ccoldwater(NW Oklahoma)

My family has grown ee's for about 3 years. We have bulbs that are larger than my head and the leaves get to be about 7' long. We have no problem with them being invasive, but that might be because we dig thim up every fall. We grow them everywhere. We store the bulbs in the garage in 50 gallon drums in ceder shavings and then we replace the ceder shavings once during the winter to keep moisture down so that the bulbs dont rot. We started out with 6 bulbs 3 years ago and now have over 200 and we give away a lot of the baby bulbs to friends and family, but they dont have as good of luck with them. The ee's look great when planted with caster beans. It looks so tropical. We get the ee's to grow so big by using homemade compost that is mixed with cattle maunure that we get from our farm. We think this is why they grow so much we also have a small sprinkler system that runs off of our acture sprinklers that waters the plants twice a day for about 10 min. People love the way our landscaping is because it looks tropical.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2003 at 2:20PM
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I have some elephant ears that I have been growing inside(purchased them online a few months ago). Anyway, lately I have noticed a lot of bugs on the plants and I want them outside asap! Also they are VERY huge and taking up a lot of space. Will they die if I put them outside now and put a lot of mulch down?? I live just outside of Virginia Beach area. Thanks in advance...

    Bookmark   April 1, 2003 at 4:24PM
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geogirl(z7a/b MS)

Don't know if you are still monitoring this thread but I thought about a suggestion for killing your EE. How about Boiling water...lots of it. I have used this method on my wild onion and I find it is the only thing that kills the pesky bulb.

Of course, EE bulbs would be bigger so it will take more water and repeated applications to "cook it" well enough to kill it, but it is worth a shot.


    Bookmark   April 9, 2003 at 12:28AM
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Carole_Ruth(z8 Fla)

I purchased a Mickey Mouse elephant ear plant and it is beautiful and looks just like the mickey mouse. I need to know, if anyone knows if it will over-winter in zone 8. Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2003 at 3:29PM
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Carole's plant sounds like one of the Cupheas and not the elephant ears being discussed here, which are Colocasias.

Some Cupheas will overwinter in zone 8; others will be winter-killed, at least in some years, and some varieties will self-seed so it doesn't matter. You need to know which variety of Cuphea you have.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2003 at 5:59PM
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I was wondering if I can cut my elephant ears off before frost.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2003 at 9:16PM
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gardnpondr(Zone 8)

rylaff, oh my gosh!!!!!!!!!!!!! those are mega fine! I need to be living in Fla.......lol
That's the way I want them to look beside my fountain! I just love those big leaves!! ODOM!
I have one with a bloom in my pond filter. It's so pretty but the plant isn't anywhere near that large!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2003 at 11:14PM
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rootdiggernc(Z-7A NC)

How's everyones EE's (brought in) surviving the winter? Mine are hanging on, putting out a new leaf about the time one dies. Not getting any bigger, just maintaining so far. Did have a problem with mites when I first brought them in, but that seems under control now.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2003 at 11:56AM
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rightcross(zone 9 - FL)

I just ordered some wild taro bulbs from ebay. Some of them were mushy so I hope they'll grow. I am planting them in pots inside so they'll get a jump start on sring. How deeply do I plant them??? Any other suggestions??

    Bookmark   December 26, 2003 at 10:57AM
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shadow98fl(z9 FL ahs10)

I am trying, again, to plant an elephant ear bulb. Some say sun-some say no. Can I plant a ee bulb where it will get hot afternoon sun, or will it just droop every afternoon? I am very limited as far as shade is concerned in my yard. (I'm half-way between Tampa & Orlando)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2004 at 4:50PM
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Basic EEs (colocasia esculenta/taro) will grow like weeds in Fla. in part sun or even full sun, if you plant them in an area with good soil that is kept very well watered (moist or even bog like).

Here in Tx., the temps are higher and the humidity is lower, so they appreciate just a bit more shade here.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2004 at 11:32PM
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Rookiethumb(Zone 8 Fay, NC)

I moved into this house last fall and didn't know I should bring the EE bulbs in. My husband cut back the dead leaves after the frost because they looked bad. Now my bulbs are too clumped and too squishy. Should I dig them up and see which will dry, and try to plant them again when the weather warms up, or just leave them and see what happens? They were 4 foot tall with 8 inch to 16 inch across leaves when we moved in. They looked great where they were and I would love to save them if possible.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2004 at 10:52AM
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rootdiggernc(Z-7A NC)

It may be a little early yet to count them out, even in your zone. They like good warm soil temps before they peek up. Years when my big moma bulb would freeze out I'd have babies come up from around and under it. If they're the regular esculenta just mulch them heavy next fall (after a frost knocks them down) and they should be fine.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2004 at 3:14PM
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I planted some black EE's in the drainage ditch in front of my house and now they are half way down the block! Also the green ones (dont know how they got started) have taken over the ditch, are invading the yard and have almost ruined the garden. Have pulled all last summer and sprayed this spring, they are amazingly resistant to Round Up. No more EE's for me!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2004 at 10:13PM
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bunnysnowphotographs(z8B LA USA)

My neighbor had the same problem with her elephant ears, as the soil was prepared in a hurry and not properly. Elephant ears grow wild in Costa Rica, as I learned a few weeks ago when visiting the rainforest. Consider the environment of the rain forest. There is lots of organic matter breaking down (composting) in the soil all the time and there is mulch on top of the rainforest beds, which will continue to break down.

Elephant ears like lots of organic matter in the soil that is at almost all stages of decomposition. I read about this three years before going to Costa Rica. When trying to help my neighbor's elephant ear rhizome, which was huge (even though the plant was tiny), a little piece broke off.

The piece was about 1.25 inches in diameter. Now listen, because this is amazing. I put the little tidbit of an elephant ear in a pot filled with decomposed yard and vegetable wastes, including spent coffee grounds, some bone meal, and composted manure. All had decomposed so the soil was friable. It spent all spring, summer, and fall outside (I live in zone 8B). When the temperature dropped below 50 deg.,I mulched the elephant ears. I brought the pot into the garage and took it out when it warmed to 55 deg. nights. By summer of 2003, the pot broke open and I re-planted the now, large elephant ear rhizome in the finished compost pile, in an area nearest to a leaky water spigot. The spigot had leaked every time the water was turned on or the hose was set to go off elsewhere in the garden; plus, the area did not drain well, which led to a blooming mosquito problem. To me it seemed to be a perfect place for the elephant ears. After all, for several years, vegetable and yard wastes were decomposing there, plus there was a water source. Elephant ears like rich soil with decomposed cow manure, and lots of water. The area only received early morning sun because it was on the east side of the house. But last year, just months after planting the elephant ear, it grew 7 feet tall, to my husband's disgust --he likes small plantings.

Also, the winter of 2003, was chilly but we did not have a hard freeze that normally would kill back my huge split leaf philadendron (which I also much with leaves). And to make certain that the elephant ears did not die, when the temps plummented to the upper 30's, I covered the elephant ears with a cotton sheet clothes pinned together, so as not to blow off.

Hence, it is now March of 2004, and I imagine it will do well. Already several leaves are reaching for the sky because I added more spent coffee grounds (a good source of nitrogen) and vegetable wastes to the compost area, along with yard wastes. When the compost is ready, the earth worms come. And, they are returning.

By the way, my neighbor thinks she can cheat and grow the elephant ears better with chemical fertilizers and peat. It is my understanding that peat is nutritionless, and to prove it, her plant is still sickly and...

    Bookmark   March 20, 2004 at 3:56AM
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greenelbows(z9--so LA)

My this thread has been going a long time! Just to add a few things I've learned, mostly since I found the aroid forum here about a year ago--There are elephant ears and elephant ears. Some are hardy at least to z7 and maybe farther. Some of them are truly tropical and will probably not be safe north of z10. (If you're afraid they'll spread, try some of those!) The Mickey Mouse elephant ears are not reliably hardy here in z9 (tho'maybe in the right place?) and their botanical name I learned on the aroid forum is--take a deep breath here--Xanthosoma atrovirens variagata, and some sources add monstrosa, which is for the extra ruffling and pleating. It is not a cuphea! I know cuphea too. There is a poster on the aroid forum who sells her surplus locally, and she says they almost all like full sun (z8). I have a few that don't, but I followed the advise to plant 'Black Magic' in part sun/part shade, and it was dark green with a purple tinge. In full sun it is gorgeous. It's one that's hardy to z7 they say. It is also a clumper, and this is an important point. Some spread by runners--I have one I knew did this and planted it in a big pot. It sneaks its little runners around other plants and out the back side of the pot and comes up ten or fifteen feet away. The clumpers, like 'Black Magic', make pups up tight against the plant and are actually kind of hard to get off without damaging the plant. They are getting very popular so new varieties are being hunted in the wild, in vegetable patches in SEAsia, and in hybridizers' benches, and there are LOTS more than there were only a few years ago, or at least available in the general trade. HTH

    Bookmark   March 20, 2004 at 5:42PM
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vhunter(8b East TX)

What is eating the emerging tips of my EE's and how do I treat it??

Desperate for any help.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2004 at 11:49PM
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josephine_sc(7/8 Clemson, SC)

I got my current supply of elephant ears from one my Dad dug out of a drainage ditch in front of his house in Charleston, SC. It was transplanted by Hurricaine Hugo.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2004 at 7:03AM
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chereese(z7 AL)

The side of my house is over run with EE. I hate them. I tried to thin them out by pulling them up by the root with no avail. HELP. Dont want EEs growing rampid. My EEs are at least 7 feet tall.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2004 at 10:56PM
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maypop(z7 NC)

I live just off the Cape Fear River just north of Fayetteville, North Carolina, so I have combination soil. Red clay, the kind a shovel won't penetrate clay, and sand. I moved some elephant ears from where we used to live and just dug a hole to plant them. They didn't seem to do well, so I moved them again, or so I thought. Now I have several plants, but only one doing well, it is planted in loose sand. The problem is that it is planted in a place that gets rain runoff from our roof. And it is planted in front of my power meter. The power company sends meter readers out, and he has indicated that its like fighting the jungle to read our meter. I was going to move it, but didn't have the heart to do it this year, because when I started digging I saw new shoots. When would be the best time to move an elephant ear?

    Bookmark   May 2, 2004 at 12:32PM
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Now would be a good time, just got done moving and dividing a bunch of them last week. They'll be fine. Just water them in well after transplanting.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2004 at 2:10AM
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lovenmyrubys(Z5 NY)

Which end up-- Do these shoots go down or up when planting? Seems like the little hairs are growing towards the shoots.
This is supposed to be a giant ee w/4ft leaves. If I were to plant this in a pot---how big of a pot would you recommend?
Thanks for your help-I'm gonna need it this year!

Here is a link that might be useful: Picture of EE with shoots

    Bookmark   May 3, 2004 at 1:33PM
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My goodness this IS a long string! I'm kind of new to GardenWeb so just now thought about looking for some info on my EEs. Here in Central Texas they have to be planted in the shade of the house, under trees, etc. I planted one 4 years ago and it has always had large leaves, until this year. There are a bunch of them, but pretty small. I've never grown them before, but I assume they are like irises, cannas, etc. and need to be divided. When is the best time to do that and do I do it like I would any other tuber?

I would also like to ask about some Easter Lilies I planted 3 years ago. At our church we can purchase lilies for Easter in memory of family members, etc. so these were plants I put into the ground after they stopped blooming in the house. They are blooming this year again but not quie as many blooms as in the past. They are in a sunny spot. This was my first experience with lilies also. Do you divide them as well?

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated! Myra

    Bookmark   May 17, 2004 at 11:10AM
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My pride and joy is my elephant ears. I'm in Atlanta and my house faces west. I found all my bulbs in the yard of a condemed house that was scheduled to be demolished. I dug them up 3 years ago in May when they had about a foot of growth and took the 16 largest bulbs (grapefruit size) and planted them down the northside of my house. This Georgia clay is really hard here and I tilled in about 3 forty pound bags of cow manure for a 30' foot bed. I mulched them with pine straw and kept the ground moist. They thrived the first year with very little bulb division. When it started getting cold, I gave them a really thick mulching to get through the winter. The second year, I added more manure and they divided like crazy. This is the third year and as soon as the shoots started coming up at the begining of last month, I started thinning them out (to what I thought was the original 16 bulbs) and added more manure and pine straw. These are a little over 2' feet high now and I am finding that I could have taken a lot more than the 20 or so bulbs I thinned out that are already about a foot high. So far I have had no problems establishing this new bed this year. I think what has really made the difference here in Georgia is the combination of the manure, mulching, lots of water and getting the original bulbs established. Also, since the mulch breaks down and adding the manure, it elevated the beds slightly and they have good drainage.

Myra, I would suggest you try adding some manure to your 4 year old EE since it may have taken all the nutrients from your soil and keep the ground mulched and moist. It should do it wonders. I have divided Easter lillies when they slowed down blooming and they did quite well the next year.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2004 at 3:50AM
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Please send me all your EEs that you do not want!! :)
Mine from Walmart did nothing at all this year. I love them and am working on an area in my yard that will include many many EES.. I planted 24 this year!! They get a bit expensive after awhile..and here you all are talking about killing them..just goes to show that one mans trash is another's treasure!!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2004 at 12:03PM
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I just bought 3 EE bulbs (taro) at a local grocer. My ground is mostly the hard red dirt that NC is known for. Any suggestions as to how I should go about planting my EE's for the best results?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2004 at 8:15AM
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Elephant ears require 3 things to grow well:

1. Heat. Southern US supplies that in abundance.

2. Water. The more water, the bigger the elephant ear. They'll grow fine in a pond, but constantly wet soil works as well. If your soil is only moist not wet, try tilling up more ground so their roots can spread further in search of water.

3. Fertilizer. The more nitrogen, the bigger the elephant ear. Cheap, 90 cent-per-40lb-bag Wal-mart cow manure works wonders.

Shade is optional. Given enough water, elephant ears grow great in full, all-day sun. If your ears aren't growing well, they're missing one of these things.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2004 at 11:15AM
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Vallari(Zone 8 E.VA)

I just dug up what I thought was ALL the elephant ears in my yard only to see that not only didn't I dig in all the places there were bulbs, but also there were "roots" left behind that have delivered more ears. Would you like some of them this fall for free? I have green and a pretty purplish black.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2004 at 3:09PM
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Vallari(Zone 8 E.VA)

I forgot to mention I don't even water them and they are huge.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2004 at 3:19PM
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OOPS!!! wrong info I gave you about mine from "Wallymart"..they have all survived, even with my ignorance, and they are tall as me...growing like cats and dogs!!! I have no clue what was the matter, soil temp., etc?, but they look great and you can almost see them growing day by day..I never gave up and gave them their 2xweek dose of manure tea. I think I had better give that one up, before they grow and tower over the house.
"so sorry wallymart:( ..:)..

    Bookmark   June 4, 2004 at 7:07PM
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I would love to have some of those that are dark purplish...I have been searching around my area and have had no luck finding any of the black or dark purple variety!!! I can send you some of mine as well...I have colocasia gigantia that are already at a 3' leaf size. :)

    Bookmark   June 16, 2004 at 3:14PM
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dollladie(5 Indiana)

Question - I planted a large bulb (from Wal-Mart) 2 months ago - I'm now seeing little sprouts. Did not know about the water requirements, so it looks dry and has heaved out of its planter. Can this be saved??? We had heavy downpours last night, and I have bought some manure and mulch today. I want this plant to make it (it will be living in a large planter so I can bring it in easily in the Fall)

    Bookmark   July 4, 2004 at 2:46PM
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NinaGarden(LI, New York)

Boy! Walmart must sell a lot of elephant ears. I bought mine in a local nursery. They did great with Miracle Grow once a week. They grew to an unbelieveable size. I bought 3 bulbs and planted them in March. They began to emerge the middle of June. The ones I have in part shade grew bigger leaves however, fewer leaves than the ones I grew in mostly sun. I am in zone 6B (zones are weird on Long Island because of the ocean)but I am going to dig them up since we can dip below zero sometimes. I am not concerned about them taking over my garden.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2004 at 10:49AM
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PuraVida(Costa Rica)

Mine were small the first year, with a good amount of water and well mulched lots of rich organic matter, this is how they are now about three years later.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2004 at 4:05PM
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angelfairy(Z-8 S.AL)

These look like my Alocasia 'Robusta'. Last year mine reached 15' tall with 8' leaves! Was the talk of our friends and even the delivery men wanted to know what they were so they could buy some.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2005 at 6:12PM
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china1940(Z5 MO)

Why do some of my elephant ears have bulbs to dig at the end of the season and some have nothing there, even to the plant grew large? I bought them from Walmart

    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 11:03AM
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matheaux(z 8b SE N.C.)

Just wondering if it was safe to plant EEs's in the beginning of April, live in coastal NC 8a.
good idea to plant in pots and bring in if too cold (below 45 degrees) and then place in ground, or will that be too much of a shock?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2005 at 11:09PM
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I bought 2 black ee 2 mos.ago they are doing great. I even had to divide and repot. I found starting them potted in the shade gets them very large mine are 4' already. Once you get the size plant you want move them into a sunny locaton and water well. This increases the black color.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 3:27AM
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Oh my, has this thread really been going from Oct 2000 until now, June 2005 -wow- I'm new to this site and that is i-m-p-r-e-s-s-i-v-e! And now I'm scared, I put in EE's this around my inground pool because I thought they'd look tropical and cute...but now it sounds like I planted a monster..guess maybe they'll be swimming with me next year instead of next to me! Oh well.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 9:50PM
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xcoolnanny(z7 MD)

I am new to this forum so forgive me if I do something dumb. This is my first EE plant, and it was growing gang-busters - then one by one the leaves are becoming discolored, then yellow looking like they are dying. I can't see any obvious bug. It's growing in full sun and getting lots of water and has been fed. Anybody got any suggestions to help me?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2005 at 2:05PM
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If they are lower leaves, this is natural . I just spent the day trimming off the bottom yellow /brown leaves from my thousands of EE . They are just the common green ones but are very tropical looking and provide wonderful shade in the summer .

    Bookmark   July 9, 2005 at 4:00PM
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newbie73(z7 TN)

New to EE's. Mine are doing great. The largest is about 5' tall with 3.5' leaves. They are planted around our AC unit. All of the sudden, I came around to check on them and three of the four plants had fallen over. The stalks are fine. They fell right at ground level. I have staked them with panty hose for now, but I can tell they do NOT like that at all.

I'm thinking I need to add some manure to perhaps strengthen the root system? Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 9:28PM
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lindseyrose(8b/9 Texas)

Just planted some EE bulbs that I got for 65 cents each at a local garden center! (I know they were marked down because it is a bit late to plant them but I thought at that price I'd give it a try!) I planted them the last week of May, we've gotten plenty of rain, and 2 out of 3 are coming up fast!

My question is, while I was careful to plant the right side up (maybe I wasn't successful on that third one!), is it possible that I planted one backwards? Is there a front and back to the bulb? It looks like the first leaf one of the plants is putting out is going to face the wall behind it, and not the sidewalk. Oops!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2006 at 12:04AM
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woody_ga(7a GA)


I'd bet they are getting enough water!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 9:12PM
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I have large elephant ears growing for the first time in front of my house and I noticed tonight they have what look like what is going to be a bloom almost like a lily? Is this normal? Any info would be appreciated.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2006 at 8:57PM
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Daniel 8

Hey, I just got an EE plant from someone on craigslist. They gave it to me in a plastic bag, and I was unable to get it into a pot for 2-3 days. I put some water in the plastic bag, but admit I didn't really take care of it for those first few days. Once I had the pot, I gave the plant plenty of water, but it took me another day to get it any soil. Now it is dying :( Is there anything I can do to help it live? If I cut off the stem, will a new one grow or something? I am completely new to plants. I would like to save the poor thing, but don't know how! Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 7:29PM
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Putting water in a plastic bag with a bulb does nothing but induce rot, shame on you! Anyway, I've had very good luck with my elephant ears, here's a picture of one of my plants. It was planted in the spring just after frost, watered twice a day and fertilized, (I make my own fertilizer mixtures) This plant when I dug it up had many flower buds on it, and the plant probably weighed a good 80- 90 pounds before I cut the leaves up and brought the bulb in. I had to water it every time I went outside, the leaves could have been used as blinds for the window in the pic below..... I love these plants.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 12:36PM
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We have been growing an elephant ear for 3 years now and winter it indoors (we are in zone 6). It is a beautiful plant with large leaves, about 5' tall. Last year the plant produced flowers and one was fertilized. We now have 10 baby elephant ears. We noticed last year that when the seed pods were forming, the leaves were much smaller. Once the one flower was fertilized, the leaves grew larger again. This year, we have had 5 flowers and the leaves are getting smaller and smaller. We don't know if any of the flowers actually fertilized yet, but we really want the larger leaves, not the flowers and seed pods. Should we just cut the flowers off? Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 11:24AM
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Well, I put three ee bulbs in the ground last week and I am anxiously awaiting some spouts to come out of the ground. I live in Niceville, Florida just like the poster who had the photo of beautiful ee's so I'm hoping that mine will be impressive also. I have planted them before and nothing ever came up so I'm a little sceptical. We'll see!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 11:52PM
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rootdiggernc(Z-7A NC)

JD, they really appreciate a lot of fertilizer. I usually add some manure once they have a little growth going on, with those that are already established. New ones I work it into the soil when I plant them, then feed often once they start growing.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 10:48AM
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treeguy123(AL 7b)

I bought two Elephant Ear bulbs that were labeled 'Elephant Ear Mammoth' from Wal-Mart. The bulbs are round and about 3 to 4 inches wide. Does anybody know the exact scientific name of this? I think it might be Colocasia esculenta but I'm not sure. I'm in zone 7a but many winters here are only 7b temperatures.

Can I leave the bulbs in the ground all year here??? What is the best way to plant this Elephant Ear Plant having a heavy silty clay soil at my location? Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 7:41PM
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I have many, many large elephant ears around my place and thru the years, I keep digging up new bulbs and makeing new gardens all the time with them. Recently, I heard rumor that either the root or bloom could be harvested and cooked and was really healthy. I would like to know if anyone has heard of this and if so, what are the conditions of the bulb or bloom being eaten.?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2007 at 4:20PM
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I have a question I think I already know the answer to! My husband dug up my large elephant ears and I told him to leave them where they were and I would get them later to cut out the bulbs. Well, we had our first frost plus some snow. Is it still worth trying to save the bulbs that were pulled already out of the ground. I'm a little sick about loosing them. lol Just got busy with kids and their activities. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 4:02PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

You have nothing to lose whatsoever. Go pull them out of the snow and give them a good inspection. If they're not soft and mushy (roots, not stems), they are probably okay. Snow does insulate against cold to some degree. If the roots are in good shape, lay them on a tarp in your garage or basement (not freezing, though) and let them dry for about a week. Cut the stems off, and save them for next spring. If they're mushy, give them the old heave ho.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 11:02PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Yikes! I mis-read your post, shawnee. I thought you were referring to cannas. I'd still follow the advice, except, you might should pot up the roots if they're still in good shape. They're winter-hardy for me (too winter hardy, actually. they're invasive here), and I never have to dig them up. If this isn't enough help to give you confidence, I can understand that. You might want to start a brand new post with your question (if the roots are still in good shape). There are so many answers on this thread, it will be hard for some to get it to open, and a fresh question might get more attention. Sorry for the goof.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 11:38PM
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staceybeth(7 MA)

Hi all, I am interested in buying some EE's for my ever-growing garden. All my plants are in pots with the exception of my giant hosta. I would love to buy some EE's but dont know what kind to get that would be okay in a large pot and also suitable for my zone in MASS. Please help if you can. Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 11:47AM
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woody_ga(7a GA)

There are a lot of sources. Plant Delights (already mentioned) and Brent and Becky's are two of them. You can get smaller varieties that might do better in planters.

Here is a link that might be useful: Brent and Becky's

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 12:34PM
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Moved into rental house last summer- elephant ears were huge. Owner's said to just cut them back and leave the bulbs in the gound. It is now late March and they aren't doing anything and appear to be rotting when poked - white, mushy, smell like elmer's glue. Are they dead? Any hope?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 2:23PM
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I bought a softball size root at Walmart more than 2 months ago and planted it immediately in a large pot in my family room. Kept it moist. When nothing grew I unearthed it to find about 50% of the root soft & mushy with no sign of life. I threw it in a baggie to take back to Walmart & left it in a corner. 1 week later I noticed a growth on the firm side. Should I cut away the soft spots & replant it? If so do I need to add a fungicide although I don't see any sign of fungus? Thanks for any help.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 11:58AM
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Robin Byrd 76026

How long does it take for the Jacks giants to get giant?? Also, planted a upright in the spring and I got what looks like a bloom of some sort but it is dying, just the bloom not the ears, should I plant that or what.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 4:15PM
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Hello everyone. I am desperately looking for a colocasia gigantea thailand giant strain
If anyone has one that they are willing to swop or sell I will be forever gratefull. I have been wanting one of these for ages. PLEASE email me at beeoliv@yahoo.co.uk Thanks

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 7:10PM
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