Elephant ears are large-leaved plants that come from a tuber. They are also known as the taro plant or colocasia, a semi-tropical plant that needs to be moved indoors for winter. The leaves are massive and can come in variegated colors or even purplish-black. Elephant ears are heavy feeders that also need an excessive amount of water. They can be found in nature growing on the edges of swamps or even in heavily flooded soils. For this reason they make excellent pond plants and will add a tropical touch to the garden water feature.
Start the taro tubers indoors in March. Bury them 2 to 3 inches into a pot filled with potting soil. Keep the pot in a warm room to sprout. Water them daily until water runs out of the drainage holes. Empty the saucer of water so the tender new roots are not sitting in stagnant water.
Move the plant to a room with indirect lighting after the sprout appears. The elephant ear does best in semi-shady locations. Fertilize the plant with a slow-release fertilizer worked into the top 2 inches of soil. Use the amount recommended by the manufacturer.
Remove the plant from its pot eight weeks after you started the tubers. Brush off as much potting soil as you can. Line the basket with burlap and fill it with 3 to 4 inches of aquatic planting mix. Place the plant inside. Fill around the edges with more planting mix.
Press the soil down and around the plant. Cover the top 1/2 inch of the soil surface with pea gravel to keep the soil in the pot. Submerge the plant into the pond at an angle to let bubbles escape. The elephant ear can be grown in a middle area of the pond or on the edge and only partially submerged.
Remove the pot in late summer or early fall. Cut back the foliage to the soil and dig out the tuber. Lay it out somewhere to dry for two or three days. When it is dry wrap it in sphagnum moss and newspaper and store it over winter in a cool, dry place. Repot it in March and start growing elephant ear anew.