How to Plant Elephant Ear Bulbs

Foliage plants, like the elephant ear (_Colocasia spp._), create texture and balance in the landscape. They work equally well in planters and in garden beds. Elephant ear bulbs, which are really tubers grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11, growing between 1 and 6 feet tall depending on the variety. Plant elephant ears in the spring. In frost-prone regions, plant only when the danger of frost has passed. In some locations, elephant ears have invasive tendencies.

Planting in the Ground

Plant elephant ear bulbs in a bright sunny spot that gets six or more hours of sun per day, or in partial shade; in partial shade, leaves will be smaller and stalks will be longer than when planted in full sun. Though the tubers tolerate many soil conditions with some tolerating soggy soils, they perform best in rich soil that drains well.

Step 1

Clear the bed by pulling weeds, removing weed roots and getting rid of stones and sticks.

Step 2

Spread compost, seasoned manure or peat 3 to 4 inches deep over the surface of the planting area. Dig the soil amendment into the soil 12 inches deep. Use a garden fork or a tiller to blend the soil.

Step 3

Add 10-10-10 fertilizer to the surface of the tilled soil using 1 cup for each 25 square foot area, then dig the fertilizer into the soil with the tiller or garden fork. Water the fertilizer into the soil.

Step 4

Dig a hole 2 inches deeper than the height of the elephant ear bulb using a small garden trowel.

Step 5

Identify the bottom of the bulb. The bottom has holes and rough spots while the top is slightly more pointed.

Step 6

Set the bulb in the hole bottom side down and cover it with soil. There should be a 2-inch-deep layer of soil between the top of the bulb and the soil surface.

Step 7

Space additional elephant ear bulbs 24 to 48 inches apart in the bed. This creates some overlap of the leaves on larger varieties while giving the bulbs room to grow. Plant smaller varieties closer to 24 inches apart and larger types 48 inches apart.

Step 8

Water the area until the soil is damp down to the bottom of the newly planted bulbs. Water through the growing season to keep the soil consistently moist. #

Planting in Containers

You can plant elephant ear bulbs in containers, either alone or as part of a mixed container with other plants of varying heights, colors and textures. It can take elephant ears approximately six weeks to germinate.

Step 1

Select a container that is at least 18 inches in diameter and depth; ensure it has one or more drain holes in the bottom.

Step 2

Fill the planter with potting soil up to 1 inch below the top of the pot -- gently tamp down the soil -- and mix about 1 tablespoon of 10-10-10 granular fertilizer into the soil. Suggested measurements vary by brand, so ensure you follow your label's directions.

Step 3

Set the elephant ear bulb in the center of the pot if planting alone, planting so that the top of the bulb is covered with 2 inches of potting soil.

Step 4

Water the planter until the potting soil is thoroughly damp. Keep the soil moist through the growing season, watering when the surface starts to dry out.