Elephant ears are popular due to their massive leaves and variegated colors, ranging from green to purplish-black. They are mostly found growing on the swamps or heavily flooded soil. They have a large appetite that requires an excessive amount of water. It is now common to see elephant ears in a pond due to this characteristic.
Elephant ears can be planted in the middle or at the edge of a pond, but should only be kept partially submerged. These plants must be kept indoors in the winter by simply putting the pot in a saucer of water by a window that receives bright light and ensures to keep plenty of space to continue growing. Another option, if you don’t have enough space, is to let it die in the fall, cut the tubers, and store it in a cool dry place until spring comes.
In this article, we will tackle how to plant elephant ears in a pond and why they are a good addition to your aquatic plants.
Things You Need to Know About Elephant Ears
Elephant ear is the widely praised name of a set of tropical perennial plants. The most outstanding quality of this plant is its heart-shaped and humongous leaves that resemble an elephant’s ear. Elephant ears are abundantly grown and seen in Asian countries, on Pacific islands, and in Australia.
There are many ways to use elephant ear plants in your backyard. Aside from their wide variety of colors, you can use them as background plants, covers, and edging, especially in ponds and walkways. Some varieties of elephant ears also grow well in a pot or container.
- How Big Do Elephant Ears Grow?
Elephant ears can grow as high as 8 feet or more if you are growing them in a tropical region. It is an outdoor plant with a couple of thick leaves and a spongy area for its stalk. The leaves of elephant ears can grow up to 5 feet wide and at least 2 to 3 feet long.
Ensure that the soil is moist to wet, similar to tropical rainforests, when growing elephant ears. They thrive best with a consistent water supply and full to lightly shaded light.
- Do Elephant Ears Have Flowers?
Elephant ears are primarily grown for their foliage, although certain varieties might bloom. The flowers of elephant ears aren’t common in most Midwestern regions. The inflorescent variants are the aroid type of plant that has whitish or light yellowish spathe surrounding their interior lining.
Their flowers can grow large and have a strong fragrant and a striking appearance. But, in some cases, they hide under the foliage, and can sometimes bear fruits. These fruits can either have a yellowish to greenish appearance and contain many seeds.
- How Much Sun Does an Elephant Ear Need?
As previously mentioned, elephant ears thrive in full to partially shaded areas. Their need for sunlight depends on where you live, where you have planted the elephant ears, the weather conditions, and the water supply.
In cool and moist locations, the sunlight doesn’t need to be hotter than in dry areas. Also, an adequate amount of filtered sunlight is best for elephant ear plants, whether they are planted indoors or outdoors.
The growth of elephant ears may be at risk if they don’t receive adequate sunlight. If this happens, their leaves will turn yellowish or pale orange and you should move them immediately to a well-lit location. Make sure that your elephant ear gets ample and not excessive sunlight for the leaves might get burned otherwise.
- Do Elephant Ears Need Water?
For their healthy and optimal growth, elephant ears must have access to plenty of water. They thrive best in moist environments and organic soil, which can hold the plants during the summer months. It is important to water elephant ears daily, especially during the warmer months.
In the winter, you can decrease the amount of watering since, during this time, they don’t need as much water as they do the rest of the year. It is important, if you see signs of drought, that you water them immediately or increase the watering.
Common signs of drought and stress include withering and limping leaves. To prevent this from happening, line the elephant ear plants with water beads. However, in some cases, it is integral to check the plant regularly to know if it is getting adequate water.
- How Fast Do Elephant Ears Grow?
Elephant ears grow in about three weeks. During this period, you’ll notice growing roots. Then, you will see little shoots growing in the soil. When plating the tubers, remember that the bottom area, with a circular pattern, is the real top. If you are confused about which end it should be, have them planted on their sides and you’ll see green shoot up and roots on the other side.
- Is the Elephant Ear Plant Poisonous?
Elephant ears can be poisonous if ingested, especially in large amounts. The stem and leaves of elephant ears are tracked with oxalic acid, which can lead to an illness for your kids and pets. However, if you boil the leaves, the toxins in them will become harmless. Several cultures throughout the world have consumed elephant ears in this way for many years.
Aquatic plants create a welcoming and lively ambiance around backyard ponds. They provide color and vibrancy that add life and aesthetics to our garden setups. But, how many water plants can we have in a backyard pond? Read our article to find out.
How to Grow Elephant Ears in a Pond
Elephant ears have large-leaved plants that come in a family of tubers. There are different varieties of elephant ear plants. Sometimes, they are also referred to as taro plants or colocasia. This plant is a semi-tropical plant that needs to be kept or moved indoors in the winter.
Elephant ears typically grow in swamps or areas which have heavily flooded soils. That is the reason why homeowners love to have elephant ears in their backyard ponds, as they make perfect pond plants.
Growing elephant ears in a backyard pond is quite easy and simple since water is abundant there. If you only have a small space that can’t house a large elephant ear, consider planting one in a big pot. Adding this semi-tropical plant to your backyard pond is easy to do. Here are five steps to grow elephant ears in your pond.
Start by planting elephant ears from taro tubers indoors in March. Fill the pot with potting soil and bury it 2 to 3 inches deep. Place the pot in a warm room and watch the plant sprout. Since elephant ears are heavy feeders, water them every day until the water runs off the potholes. If your pot has a saucer, make sure it doesn’t have stagnant water in it to preserve the growing tender roots.
When the sprout starts appearing, move your elephant ears to a room with indirect sunlight. Elephant ears best thrive in slightly shaded areas. Also, don’t forget to fertilize the plants with a slow-releasing fertilizer. Just put and spread at least 2 inches of soil onto the top.
After eight weeks, remove the elephant ears from their pot. Brush off the soil attached to their tubers. Using a burlap, line the basket and fill it with an aquatic planting mix of at least 3 to 4 inches, and then, place them inside it. Add more planting around the elephant ears.
Press the soil around the plants and cover the top layer with ½ inch of pea gravel to keep the soil in the pot. Slowly submerge the plant into the pond and let bubbles escape. Depending on your preferences, elephant ears can be planted in the middle or at the edge of the pond. However, only keep them partially submerged.
In early summer or early fall, remove the plant from the pond. Cut the foliage back to the soil and dig out its tubers. Lay the tubers in a dry area for 2 to 3 days. Once it is dry, wrap the plant in sphagnum moss and newspaper, and keep it cool and in a dry place over the winter. When the cold season ends, around March, re-pot your elephant ears and grow new plants.
Elephant ears grow best under the light and in a full shade of sunlight. When growing them, make sure that the soil is fertile, rich in humus, slightly acidic, and moist to wet, and that the water is at least 8 inches deep.
These plants must be kept indoors in the winter by simply putting the pot in a saucer of water by a window that receives bright light. Also, make sure to keep plenty of space for your elephant ears to continue growing. Another option, if you don’t have enough space, is to let your elephant ears die in the fall, cut the tubers, and store them in a cool, dry place until spring comes.
Elephant ears can’t survive outdoors in the winter as the temperature would kill the plant’s foliage and damage its tubers. So if you live somewhere with harsh and cold winters, like in the Northern regions, it is best to pull out the plants and keep them indoors.
A pond without plants is somehow lifeless on the surface. Introducing your pond to pickerelweed is a great way to improve your pond and make it full of life. If you are not familiar with this plant, read our guide to growing pickerel in a pond to know more about this great addition to your water feature.
Now that you know everything about growing elephant ears in your backyard pond, you can incorporate them into it to add more beauty and tropical features to your pond. With the steps and care tips we have provided, maintaining and growing elephant ears will be handy, simple, and hassle-free.