Last Updated on June 13, 2022 by Real Men Sow
Colocasia esculenta, also known as taro or elephant ear plants, is prized for its large and velvety leaves that are heart-shaped in black, purple and lime green. It is a tender perennial that can be grown outdoors in the UK in the summer in a pot, or in a border. This combination looks great with other exotic looking plants like bananas, tree ferns, and begonias. It is a good choice for growing around a pond’s edge as it loves moist soil.
Can You Eat Elephant Ear Plants?
Elephant Ear plants have edible tubers, which taste like sweet potatoes or yams, and leaves are its main purpose. It can be grown in swampy, wet areas or paddy fields. Colocasia can be grown indoors as a houseplant all year. The leaves are evergreen but will die if the temperature drops below 21°C. Raw consumption of any part of the plant can cause skin irritation.
How To Grow Elephant Ear Plants?
Colocasia requires warmth, humidity, and moist soil. To thrive outside, plant in shade and moist soil in a protected area. In autumn, bring it indoors. For houseplants, provide bright but indirect lighting and a humid environment. It doesn’t matter where you grow it, use a balanced liquid fertilizer such as seaweed to feed it once a month. Keep the soil moist.
Where To Grow Elephant Ear Plants (Colocasia)
Plant in partial shade or dappled light in moist soil if you are growing outdoors in the summer. Your elephant ears will grow best in a warm, humid environment. If temperatures drop below 21°C, your plant will lose its leaves in winter.
How To Plant Colocasia
Before planting colocasia plants in the ground, you should wait for the last frosts to have passed by in late spring. You should add lots of organic matter to your planting hole. It should also be about the same size as your root ball. Remember to water well.
Can You Plant Elephant Ear Plants In Containters?
Planting a colocasia in pots requires a large container, approximately 25cm by 25cm, with drainage holes. Then, plant the colocasia into a peat-free, multi-purpose compost. Plant colocasia corms in pots with their pointed sides facing up. The soil should be about two centimeters below where the tuber is located. Place the tuber on a sunny windowill or in a warm greenhouse.
Caring For Colocasia
Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer to your plants wherever you grow them. Frosts can kill your colocasia. In autumn, you should dig up the plant, remove the leaves, and then store them in a dry, cool place. The tubers can be replanted and brought back to life in the spring of the next year by placing them in an indoor or outdoor greenhouse.
If your colocasia is in a pot you can bring it inside and use it as a winter houseplant. It will need to be kept at temperatures above 21°C. Otherwise, it will become dormant and begin to lose its leaves. Winter: Water sparingly
How To Propagate Colocasia
Corms (bulbs) are used to grow colocasia. To get the best results, plant the corms indoors or in a glass greenhouse in spring.
- The multipurpose, peat-free compost should be poured into the container.
- Place the corm facing up with the pointed end (or most rings) facing upwards. You can top up the container with compost and make sure the tip is only covered.
- Add water to the bowl and let it sit in a warm place indoors.
Harvesting And Uses
If you are growing taro for food, harvest the tubers in autumn when the leaves begin to fall. They can be boiled or fried as potatoes. You can harvest the leaves all year, but do not remove any of the foliage. The tubers are not good for storage so you should eat them within a few days.
Growing Colocasia: Problem Solving
- Young leaves can be attractive for slugs or snails so make sure you protect them.
- If the soil in spring is too cold or wet, the tubers could rot.
- Whitefly and spider mites can affect indoor colocasia plants.
- The leaves may turn yellow due to poor watering or feeding. Make sure you are giving your plants the proper care. Alternatively, the plant could be dormant during autumn if it’s below 21°C.
Advice On Buying Elephant Ear Plants
- For planting in spring, you can purchase colocasia corms. A ready-grown plant may also be available.
- You can grow them indoors or outdoors, so make sure you have enough space. It can grow to 1.5m in height and spread out.
- Visit a specialist exotic plant nursery to get the best selection, or order online
Best Varieties Of Colocasia To Grow
- Black Magic – Eye-catching black velvety leaves (H x S: 1.5m x 1.5m)
- Illustris – Very dark leaves with prominent green veins. (H x S: 1m x 60cm)
- Mojito – Bright green leaves with black speckles (H x S: 1m x 75c)