Q. How do I overwinter elephant's ears?
Two closely related plant genera, Colocasia (taro) and Alocasia, are commonly referred to as elephant's ears. They can be treated in an identical manner. Tropical plants in the Arum family, elephant's ears cannot survive winter outdoors in the Northeast. It is convenient to grow them in pots so that they can easily be moved indoors for the winter. Water them often, feed lightly, and move them back outdoors when the weather gets warm again (late May in the New York area).
Alternatively, elephant's ears with large tubers can be lifted from the soil and stored dry. Let a first frost kill the top growth, and then remove the leaves and stems. Carefully dig up the tubers, allow them to dry for a few hours, then shake off the excess soil. Store the dry tubers in a box or mesh bag between layers of peat moss. Place the box/bag in a dark, cool (45-50°F) place until early summer.
Note that some of the newer varieties of Colocasia do not form large tubers and so cannot be stored dry due to inadequate food reserves. These small-tuber varieties must be stored in pots.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service