how to winter over my elephant ear

calla_lilly96(z6 IN)September 16, 2005

I have to bring my elephant ears in this winter and I was wondering if there is a way to maybe cut them back to the ground and just save the bulb until next year, which as many as I have that would be good, or do I have to bring the whole plants in?



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I would... I'd let it go dormant and bring in the "bulb" that's a lot easier than trying to keep it green.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 12:37PM
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Could you explain in a little more detail about the dormant part. Some of the leaves on my elephant ears are turning yellow but new leaves are coming. Should I take them inside now and let the leaves die and then dig out the bulb and place in sand. Not exactly sure but like the idea I don't have to try and winter over those huge leaves. They have done very well here in northern Wisconsin this year surprising.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 7:37PM
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I am in Missouri, zone 5b, and we left ours in the ground last winter. We heaped a foot of peat moss over it and it was planted against the north wall of the house, but it survived. We moved in April, so dug it up and planted it here at our new place - it is growing beautifully. You might give it a try - the key is to keep it dry as much as possible. If you decide to leave it in the ground, put lots of mulch over it. Frost will take care of the leaves. If you decide to dig it up, your method sounds like the way to do it.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 8:47PM
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calla_lilly96(z6 IN)

thank you all for your info, I don't have mine planted against the house so they will get no warmth this winter so I will have to bring them in. So I can leave them out until the foniage dies back then dig the bulb up. But what do I do with it when I bring it in Terriann said put them in sand? I haven't heared that how does that work? I was just going to wrap them in newspaper and put them in a rubbermaid is that wrong?

thanks so much,

    Bookmark   September 18, 2005 at 10:13AM
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They need air or moisture will accumulate and they will rot. I store my tropical bulbs in a cloth bag of peat moss and store in my cool basement where it's dark.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2005 at 11:42AM
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calla_lilly96(z6 IN)

Great thanks so much, I didn't give a thought to them rotting. It dipped to 43 last night so I guess It won't be long!

thank you,

    Bookmark   September 30, 2005 at 6:53AM
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suzannesks(z 7 WA.)

Calla....after you digg up the bulb, you have to dry the bulb before you store it.I just put mine on a piece of newspaper for a week, keep turning it so as it gets dry all over. Then,I put all my bulbs in cedar shavings or peat moss and place then in lunch bags,,,this way the lunch bags allows them to breath,so they will not rot from the inside out:)Make sure to label the bag so as you remember whats in there. LOL!This is the way I store all my Begonia bulbs too.Works great.***Suzanne

    Bookmark   October 1, 2005 at 10:56AM
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unautre(8B San Antonio TX)

what scientific name is "elephant ear". it seems to apply almost anything with big leaves. :)

I have 4 Colocasia "blackstem" that have grown well and flowered in the last couple of months.

Are these bulb plants to be dug up, or will then be ok in the ground here in San Antonio TX, like my red amaryllis are?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2005 at 7:23PM
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lashawn87(z4 IA)

I also have an elephant ear for the first time and I have it in a pretty big pot. Would the plant be ok inside if I didn't cut it back? I could use some greenery in my house.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2005 at 9:50PM
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suzannesks(z 7 WA.)

Elephant Ear/Co-lo-CA-see-a (Taro-Araceae)
Tuberous bulb,and in northern climates it must be dug up,so while its dormant it must be kept dry.Warmer climates it can be left in ground and mulched.***Suzanne

    Bookmark   October 2, 2005 at 3:42PM
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bigbucks(z5 MI)

I have several Elephant Ears in a wood barrel on my deck. Do I wait for the frost to kill the foliage, or can I dig them out now while they are still green and let them dry out?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 3:05PM
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calla_lilly96(z6 IN)

thank you all so much, I feel confident about wintering them over now. I love the black elephant ears and told my self if I can winter these over then next spring I would get a black one, do they take the same care as the green or are they more picky?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 6:55AM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

The common EEs you have can be dug now and the stems cut to 6 inches to make them easier to handle. You will probably find the original bulb has several pups and the original may be partly rotted. Cut away any part that is rotted and dry out the bulb. The stems will be hard to dry completely. If you can peel them away without damaging the bulb, do it. If not cut them down as much as possible and let the cut dry (it's called a scab or callus). If the pups get separated, that is ok. Let them dry throughly too. You can dust everything lightly with a fungicidal bulb dust. Wrap the bulbs loosely in newspaper and store the bulbs in either a corrigated cardboard box or a wood slat bushel basket. Do not use plastic in any form. It will cause the bulbs to rot. It's best if the bulbs don't touch each other. Fill the box with lots of crumpled newspaper and store in a dry area with temps below 45 and above 38oF. In Wisconsin that means against an outside wall in an area thats being heated or an inside wall where there is no heat.
Many of the other colocasias and alocasias don't develop bulbs as large as the EEs but can grow many smaller bulbs. The secret is to not let them freeze and keep them dry until spring. In the spring, when you take them out of the paper they may have sprouts already growing. Treat them gently. If the sprouts are damaged, it may cause the bulb to rot at that spot. Some of the smaller colocasias do nicely as houseplants. Sandy

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 5:33AM
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In case you're wondering, elephant ears, colocasias, alocasias, xanthosomas, are all aroids. There is an Aroid Forum here, with lots of great ideas on growing them. These are only part of the family araceae. It also includes arisaemas (jack-in-the-pulpit), arums, amorphophallus, xanthosomas, calla lilies, spathyphyllum, philodendrum, typhonium, syngonium, monstera, to name a few. They are all noted for their spathe like flowers. Some of the flowers smell good, and some smell like dead meat (amorphophallus, dracunculus vulgare-Voodoo lily).

A lady on the forum recently suggested storing bulbs in pantyhose - yep! She said dry them off well, dust them with the fungicide, stick them in knee high pantyhose, and hang the pantyhose in a cool closet (for air circulation). I thought, what a concept, and less risk for rot! Thought I'd share that with you.

If you're interested in seeing some of the different species, go to the International Aroid Society's website (, and look at the gallary photos. I love 'em.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2005 at 6:37PM
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calla_lilly96(z6 IN)

pantyhoe is really a neat idea, has anyone used them as ties when staking plants they are wonderfull they never cut in to the plant


    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 12:27PM
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Calla - yes, that's about all I use now, because they have some "give" in them to allow for wind, and you can't see them on the stake, like you can the bright green plant ties.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 3:32PM
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If you do not have a basement or garage...where can you store these bulbs?

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 6:08PM
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I live in Florida and let them alone in the garden. if they are small I will use a large tomaot cgae and place this around them. Then add a plastic bag over them for the night. Remove it in the morning when the sun is out. This also works great for any small plant that is in my front yard.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 9:59PM
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There is a lot of conflicting information online about how to overwinter Colocasia/Alocasia/Xanthosomas. (As far as the bulb drying part goes) Some sites say wait until the first frost to pull up so that the plant knows to go dormant and send the nutritients down to the bulb and some places say to pull it up before the first frost or it will kill the plant. Which is it? Or maybe it doesn't really matter since both ways seems to work for people.
I have Colocasia Esculenta Black Magic and it's outside in high 40's low 50's right now and it's still sending up new leaves so maybe I should wait until first frost?

Also the drying part I'm a bit perplexed about. Do you let them dry OUTSIDE until they are dry or bring them inside to dry? It's in the 40's here in central Ohio now so not sure if I should leave outside with the bulb fully exposed. How long does it take to dry? Do I cut everything off except for the actual bulb itself? (roots, leaves etc) Does anyone know if there is some sort of online visual tutorial or video somewhere? Sorry for all the questions but I want to make sure I get it right so I can enjoy this plant for years to come.

p.s. I already saw aphids on it outside multiple times after using an organic insecticide so there is no way I'm bringing it into the house still in dirt! :)

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 4:35PM
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I live in central Ohio and wondered if I could winter my EE indoors with help of a grow light, or if I should cut them back to the bulb and let them go dormant for the winter. I like the pantyhose trick with the crumpled newspaper. Please advise your thots. If I must cut them back, shud I cut them as close to the bulb as possible?

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 3:07PM
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