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Giant Elephant Ears

Posted by sodbuster (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 17, 06 at 7:15

I think I should put myself on restriction from going to town on my days off. I am guilty of impulse buying. I bought some bulbs at WallyWorld Monday. Being a man, of course, I went thru the box and selected the largest of the bulbs. Gezzzzzzz 'o pete, these things are huge!

Anyway, how intrusive are the roots ? There is very little information on the tag stapled to the bulb.
I try to be careful of what I plant close to the foundation of my house, so will they eventually create a problem? If the spot I want to plant them is a shady spot will this be ok, or do I need to pick a spot away from the house in full sun?

This is another man thing........asking important questions AFTER the purchase!

David


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Giant Elephant Ears

The roots are not very intrusive, and if you put it in a restricted area of growth, like next to your house, it will probably be fine. They do multiply, but slowly. As they multiply, you can remove the pups and plant them elsewhere if you like. If this is regular C. esculenta, which just plain "elephant ears" are, they do like more sun, and PLENTY of water. It's a bit early to plant them out. I would wait until between April 15 and the first of May. They like a well-drained soil. I started adding pine bark to my planting holes (I dig big ones for my EEs). They also are greedy when it comes to food. Feed them a high phosphorus fertilizer. I know - sounds weird, but it's good for the tubers/roots.

You can also buy these at the Asian markets - REALLY HUGE tubers. I saw some there that were fantastically large. Also you can buy malanga - which is Xanthosoma atrovirens - another type of elephant ear - all in the aroid family. If you ever see Imperial Taro at the Asian market - that is Colocasia 'Illustris' - the elephant ear that is mottled green and black. They can also be called eddoes.

Have fun!

Susan


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RE: Giant Elephant Ears

Susan,

Which Asian market in Oklahoma do you get these bulbs from? I have only seen bulbs that seem to have a portion cut from them---either the top or the bottom. I shopped at the market in Oklahoma City on Military near NW 23rd.

I'm anxious to know because I love EE's.

Thanks,
Robin in southern Logan County


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RE: Giant Elephant Ears

Thank you so much, Susan, for your help.


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RE: Giant Elephant Ears

You can get them at the Buy for Less on 23rd & Penn, or the Asian market on Classen, or the big one just a block east of Classen around 27th or so. You can't miss it, it has fake palm trees in front of it. I haven't personally been there, but others have.

I bought malanga tubers at the Buy for Less, and they are starting to sprout. This is supposedly going to be Xanthosoma atrovirens - a pretty elephant ear sort. Check out the aroid forum, there is a post on malanga tubers sprouting and Keiko has posted about a couple of different ones that you get from malanga. When you buy them at the supermarket, they are cheap enough to replace each year if they don't make it. Or, you can plant them in pots and bring the pots into an unheated garage when they go dormant.

I don't think it matters if part of it is cut as long as you get an "eye", kind of like potatoes. They will grow from the eye. You can cut them up like potatoes so long as you have a portion with an eye in it, just let them harden off before you plant them, like you would potatoes before you plant them. People have dug them up and left parts in the ground and the things have come back from tiny pieces left behind.

Susan


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RE: Giant Elephant Ears

I've grown elephant ears for about 20 years, and have around 40 varieties. They are amongst my favorite plants, especially the xanthosomas. My experience has been that Colocasia esculenta, the common EE found at Wal*Mart, prefers more shade than most varieties. I've grown them to eight feet tall in mostly shade. They really suffer during the heat of the day without vast amounts of water. Most of my other elephant ears are grown in full sun. There are a few varieties that prefer shade, though.

I encourage everyone to try the xanthosomas. They have a more heart shaped leaf, get HUGE, and are gorgeous. Thanks Susan, for the heads up on where to purchase the tubers in OKC. Buying them at the market is a very economical way to get unusual elephant ears.


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RE: Giant Elephant Ears

I am a beginner and not knowing any better left my EE out to Winter! They were huge and Beautiful last Summer! Will they come back or have I done them in? Also, I left out my cannas! UGH!


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RE: Giant Elephant Ears

I leave cannas out all year, but I dont cut them back as far as some people. I leave some of the growth on them so they are insulated. I am not sure that what happens but it seems to help. My cannas are on the south side of my home and they come back gangbusters every year. In fact, to the point that they can get kind of invasive, like the neighbors are telling me they have my cannas coming up on their side of the fence. The cannas on the north fence do not get as tall or thick every year but they do come back. I think we have more trouble due to the drought for the last several years than with cold. I have lost more from lack of moisture than from cold. My elephant ears are a different story, I usually just treat them as annuals if I forget to dig them up or just dont want to go out in the cold and dig them up, however, a few I have mulched fairly heavy and I will get some growth but not like the intial year. I am going to try to get a wider variety and try some that tolerate a little more sun and let them compete with the cannas this spring. I will keep ya posted. Nice to meet you and good luck with your new passion, cause it probably will become one after you really get into it. I am from Seminole, where do you reside?


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RE: Giant Elephant Ears

Jenn - did you leave it in the ground or in a pot? If in a pot, it's probably a goner, but in the ground, depending on where located (south facing would be best), I'm sure it's probably okay and will produce new growth. Be patient, these are sometimes the latest things in the garden to come back.

Common elephant ears (colocasia esculenta) is hardy in Oklahoma. I don't even mulch mine. There are others that are hardy as well - Colocasia esculenta 'Illustris', 'Black Ruffles', 'Black Magic', 'Burgandy Stem', 'Chicago Harlequin', Fontanesii, 'Ruffles', Alocasia macrorhiza (upright elephant ear), and many others, I'm sure.

If you lose your C. esculenta, do not despair. You can buy absolutely humongous tubers at the Asian supermarkets around the Asian district, and at many other grocers, as Taro. You won't see tubers that size at the garden centers. And you won't see the exorbitant prices either.

All colocasias can take pond situations or can grow in the ground with lots of moisture as well. However, alocasias take a bit drier situation than the colocasias. Most will take more sun than you would think. Mine tended to get spindly in the shade, so I moved them to the front yard, and they did much better.

There is one Alocasia that is absolutely gorgeous, IMHO. It's called A. lutea - it has yellow stems and yellow veins in the bright green leaves. I don't think you'll find it in the stores - it's possible - but I bought mine at Brent & Becky's bulbs, for $8 each (I got 2), and they came in 4" pots, but with beautiful growth on them. I highly recommend buying from them.

Susan


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So, I am planting my elephant ears on the wrong side of the house. Well, thanks Susan where have you been all these years when I go waste my money buying new ones cause I could not figure it out. Okay, I am not the brightest bulb in the pack. Is Brent and Beckys a mail order or a store in your area?

I seem to be following you around tonight asking questions, hope you dont mind. Thanks. Stephanie


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Hee hee! Don't mind at all, Stephanie! Love to talk gardening, etc.

Brent and Becky's Bulbs is a mail and online ordering thru their internet website, too. I'll give you a link to their website. They may not have the EEs listed yet. They have great bulbs, too.

Locally, I've purchased several alocasias and colocasias at Horn's on NW Expressway and Classen. He keeps his in the greenhouse, and come late spring, you'll see quite a variety. They are a bit expensive, though. Same thing with Satterlee's on May Avenue. They carry quite a few, too, but they are even higher than Horn's. I've gotten a few at Lowe's and HD for cheaper than Horn's and Satterlee's. But, actually B&B is the most reasonable source, even paying postage.

If you want to try xanthosomas, you can buy these at the Asian stores for really cheap. They are called "malanga" tubers. Look for the white and the purple malanga. The white is a velvety green color, and the purple has purple stems and velvety dark green leaves. Just plant them around the middle to end of May about 6" deep in the ground, and they'll come up.

If you like EEs, one of these days you might want to try arisaemas (Jack-in-the-Pulpits), most of which are hardy in the ground here. They like very well-drained soil, and dry conditions after they go dormant. These are lovely plants that throw up foliage in late spring-early summer, and then produce a spathe (flower, if the tuber is old enough), followed by red berries. They die back in the heat of summer. Also, you might like amorphophallus konjac. It doesn't go dormant until mid-fall. It has a spotted stem and a beautiful umbrella of cut foliage. To me they're easier than bulbs, and even tho they are supposed to be hardy here in Oklahoma, I just let the foliage die back completely (brown), remove the bulb from the pot, clean it off, and set it on my kitchen shelf. Doesn't need any special storage treatment. In spring, when it starts to grow a little point at the top (which is the leaf), I'll take it and pot it up again. Feed them tons of high phosphorous food (to increase the size of the tuber), and then do the same thing come fall. I didn't feed mine enough this summer (it got too hot to do much of anything), so my tuber was smaller. During the foliage growth, a new tuber develops on top of the old tuber, and when you unpot the plant, you separate the new tuber from the old. Very easy to do.

I also grow pinellia tripartita and sauramatum venosum. All of these are aroids, too. Calla lilies are also aroids. Peace lily is, too. Anything that produces a spathe-like flower belongs to the group of plants called aroids. Also includes philodendrums, arums, and anthuriums. I have a few arum maculatums in my yard, too. You can buy the tubers in a package at TLC. The leaves come up in the fall and last all winter. The foliage is green with white veins. Very pretty something to look at during the winter months.

Not all alocasias and colocasias are hardy. The death mask alocasia and its hybrids definitely are not. But they make nice houseplants if you want to grow them.

Susan

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


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Susan, thanks so much. What size do the arum maculatums usually get to be, I would have to figure out where to put them, as well as sun, shady, bitter cold winds, or south side etc. I love to go the TLC and just be a looky lou but you can get some great ideas.

I see I will need to get my plant dictionary out to keep up with all of your suggestions. ARe you a Master Gardener or just really really smart? Thanks for the link, I did notice that today Cottage Farms is back on QVC, which I have purchased before and never been disappointed. But I have a quiet crush of Phillip who is the Cottage Farm guru so he could probably sell me sticks and I would think they were great. Anyway, I like some of the exotics they sell, I got giant begonias from Roberta's garden one year and they were amazing.

So, I am going to do some studing and bone up on butterflies so I will know what I am attracting to my backyard. Thanks.


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Not a Master Gardener; just a really intense reader and researcher. I also participated on the Aroid Forum here at GW for a long time. I learned a lot from people like Wolflover who posts here, too.

When I am truly interested in a particular gardening subject, I get grossly overcome by it and have to study, study, study. I am by no means "fail proof" in my gardening efforts, though.

By "giant begonias", do you mean the hardy begonias that you can grow outside all year in the ground? This one is Begonia evansiana. It has large heart-shaped dark green leaves with a maroon underside. Or, are you talking about the tuberous begonias (well, B. evansiana is tuberous also, but is hardy while the others aren't, and the foliage is more of the focal point than the flowers, albeit they are pretty, too)? If you don't have it, I can send you some tubers of the hardy begonia as well. They like shade and well-draining soil.

Arum maculatums can get about 10" tall and like shade. I went out the other day, and there were those beautiful green/white leaves poking up out of the packed sleet! I was surprised they didn't get badly damaged. Arum maculatum is very hardy and will eventually spread to make a nice little patch for your winter garden when nothing else is green.

There are some really nice aroid nurseries out there; I just mentioned B&B because they are the most affordable. Brian's Aroids also has some nice ones that he sells on Ebay and he truly is a master of the unusual.

Susan


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Susan, I did not keep the packing slip that had the genus on it when I ordered. OOPS----I will try to locate on the web site to let you know. These are bigger than any begonias I had ever laid eyes on, no heart shaped leaf, just regular begonias until they got ready to bloom and then it was like they are on steroids. I dont think it will be hard to find but I will give it a shot this week-end. I am going to see my grandkids this week-end so I will not have a chance to look until Sunday night but I will. The blooms were as large as you hand though and everyone who saw them thought I was just the best gardener. I just planted them and keep them feed and watered and in the shade during the really hot weather. I am going to get some tubers and bulbs from B&B. Should I mention your name, maybe you could get a discount? Just kidding, chat more later. Stephanie


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RE: Giant Elephant Ears

You probably got a form of Begoniaceae sempervirens. This is the bedding begonia. There are some new, improved hybrids out there. Another one I like for pots, is the Dragon Wings. They have angel wing foliage and bloom profusely all summer long on a shady porch, deck, or backyard. I overwinter mine one year, and boy, did they look ratty by spring. In May, I cut them way back to a good node, and they sprang back like a house on fire!

Talk at ya later!

Susan


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RE: Giant Elephant Ears

Does anyone know of an asian market in the Tulsa/Broken Arrow area where I could try the xanthosomas elephant ears?


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RE: Giant Elephant Ears

I forgot all about getting tubers from the asian mkts

thanks for the reminder all!


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RE: Giant Elephant Ears

I don't live in your area so can't answer that question....but I have also found them at natural food markets and gourmet food markets like Whole Foods and Central Market. If you have either of those two or similar stores in your area, check there!

Dawn


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I think I'm out of luck in my area. I called about 10 asian markets around here and no one even knew what they were. Guess I'll try Walmart's bulbs again and hope this one doesn't rot.


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You have to ask for taro or malangas when you call the asian markets (two different things). Taro is actually colocasia esculenta, the typical green elephant ear. If you are lucky they may have Imperial Taro (which is the black and green mottled leaf EE).

Malanga is xanthosoma. The whitish, tannish tuber is regular xanthosoma with the green leaf. The purplish tubers are saggitifolia, which has purple stems and a velvety green leaf.

I hope this helps. Buy for Less here in OKC carries them, so if you have a Buy for Less, check with them, too. I would call the asian places back again and ask for taro and malanga, though.

Susan


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Thanks Susan. No wonder when I asked them they were puzzled. I'll try calling with the proper name. Unfortunately no Buy for Less in Tulsa. Thanks again.


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In Tulsa, go over on Garnett around 21st or thereabouts. There is a big asian grocery on the west side of Garnett. I think it is in the same shopping center as the Hancock fabrics, but I can't be sure because I haven't been over there in a few years. They had a ton of amazing produce there.

There used to be a Buy For Less in Tulsa. Admiral and Lewis I think. The store closed and now there is a Mexican market there. The grocery dept isn't much but I have never in my life seen a meat market like that. Fresh flank steak, fresh chorizo, whole chickens, everything cut to order.

Sorry to get off topic.. I'm hungry. 'scuse me I need to go eat supper and go to bed. Worked way too late.


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RE: Giant Elephant Ears

Okay, I was up yesterday morning at 4:00 am and puttering around the house. I ordered a set of three EE from Cottage Farms. One is almost black in color, the other varigated, and one just the big heart shaped leaves. I will not know the species until they arrive but they looked so pretty and the only ones I had were from Wally World. I live in the boonies so there are no Asian Markets handy and I really dont want to drive to OKC or Tulsa just for EE's. My DH thinks I am obsessed with gardening anyway.

But I did not have to pay an arm and leg for the different EEs and by the time you pay for the gas etc to travel to find the EEs I figured it was cheaper.

Susan, I plan on planting them on the south side so I will have them in the sun and should not have to worry about winter rot like I had on the north side. Now that the fence is back up and I have all the junk thrown away I am going to town on that side. I want to walk out my kitchen door and have a good view.

Stephanie


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RE: Giant Elephant Ears

Steph, you probably got Colocasia esculenta (regular green), C. esculenta 'Black Magic, and the variegated could be C. esculenta 'Hilo Beauty', 'Yellow Splash', or several other kinds. I usually mix in some cedar mulch (the finer grade) with my soil for drainage. That hint was given to me by an avid grower. They are also heavy feeders.

If you get a chance, try Xanthosoma 'Lime Beauty'. It's supposed to be hardy here, too, and is a beautiful lime green color, and it grows very fast.

Susan


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where can i get the Lime Beauty Susan?


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Its called Lime Zinger, and is a Xanthosoma. I don't know if you'll find it locally. Horn's had a few last year for about $15. They grow really fast, though, as I mentioned. Pot it up or plant in the ground, either one. Use some of the cedar mulch (the finer stuff) to mix with your soil, and feed it regularly. It is really a beautiful plant!

A friend of mine in Florida sent me a tuber with no foliage on it. By the end of the summer it was 3' tall and about as wide. I gave it to my ex-husband who loves plants, too. I will check and see if he has a little sucker on his. If so, maybe I can talk him into giving it to me and I'll give it to you.

Susan


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so i live in az and vegas and u mentioned to someone to go to an asian market to get ee's do u know where in vegas or what kind of asian market like korean or chinese or just asian in general? and the giant one is called the imperial toro right thats what i ask for?


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RE: Giant Elephant Ears

You'll just have to look around the various stores and see what you find because different ethnic markets sell them under different names like taro or malanga. As far as a specific market, any asian-type market ought to have them, as should any organic supermarket like Whole Foods or Wild Oats or Central market. And, since this is the Oklahoma Gardening Forum, I am not sure that anyone here would be able to recommend where in Las Vegas you could find an asian-type market, but you might try asking that on the forum I've linked for you below.

Good luck,

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Nevada Gardening Forum


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I bought 3 e.e. bulbs from wal-mart this spring and planted them as directed and started to get concerned when nothing happened untill a couple of weeks ago. Now i am astonished at how rapid they are growing. They will take over the walkway soon and the Miss does not like that. can I move them now? Or should i wait untill fall when i bring them in the house? Oh ya just joined gardenweb, hello everyone.


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RE: Giant Elephant Ears

I don't know how hot it is where you live, but this is not the best time to move plants. Having said that, EEs are very tough and I've moved them in the middle of summer before. To move them, though, you need to remove most of the foliage and they'll basically be starting over.

Dawn


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