The large, heart-shaped leaves of the elephant ear give the plant its name. Elephant ear plants grow like a fountain from the ground. As they get older, they seem to rise on a tree-like stalk. In cooler climates, elephant ears die back to the ground and reemerge from their roots in spring. In climates where the temperatures are frequently below 20 degrees Fahrenheit at night, elephant ear tubers will die if left in the ground. You can cut back an elephant ear to overwinter the plant in the ground or store the plant's tuber-like root indoors.
Examine the elephant ear plant before pruning. The majority of the plant's leaves should be killed by frost before you attempt to cut it back. Leaves that have been killed will appear mushy and brown.
Place an ordinary serrated kitchen knife at a point just above where the stalk grows from the stem. Do not attempt to remove the trunk of the elephant ear.
Slice through the stem of the elephant ear by pushing and pulling the knife in a sawing motion.