Elephant Ear, Fordhook Giant
Tropical foliage plants with huge leaves.
Sun The amount of sunlight this product needs daily in order to perform well in the garden. Full sun means 6 hours of direct sun per day; partial sun means 2-4 hours of direct sun per day; shade means little or no direct sun.
Full Sun, Part Sun
Height The typical height of this product at maturity.
Spread The width of the plant at maturity.
Ornamental Use Ways in which the product may be used in the garden for ornamental effect.
Life Cycle This refers to whether a plant is an annual, biennial or perennial. Annuals complete their life cycles in one year; biennials produce foliage the first year and bloom and go to seed the second year; perennials can live for more than two years.
Growth Habit The genetic tendency of a plant to grow in a certain shape, such as vining or bush like.
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Start Indoors Starting seeds indoors is called Indoor Sow or Indirect Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds indoors in the spring or summerTransplant When to transplant bulbs or roots in the garden for springStart Outdoors Starting seeds outdoors is called Outdoor Sow or Direct Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds outdoors in the spring or summerStart Indoors Fall Starting seeds indoors in the fall called Indoor Sow or Indirect Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds outdoors in the fallTransplant Fall Transplant Fall-When to transplant bulbs or roots in the garden for fallStart Outdoors Fall Starting seeds outdoors in the fall is called Outdoor Sow or Direct Sow and these dates are when to sow seeds outdoors in the fallJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
How to Plant Elephant Ear Tubers:
- Plant elephant ear bulbs outside after all danger of frost has passed and daytime temperatures remain above 70 degrees. Elephant Ears are tropical plants and cannot tolerate any frost. They only emerge when the soil is warm.
- Select a location in full sun or part sun with a good, rich, moist, organic soil.
- Prepare the bed for elephant ears by turning the soil under to a depth of 8 inches. Then, level with a rake to remove clumps of grass and stones.
- Most elephant ear plants respond well to soils amended with organic matter. Compost is a wonderful form of organic matter with a good balance of nutrients and an ideal pH level, and it can be added to your planting area at any time. If compost is not available, top dress the soil after planting with 1-2 inches of organic mulch, which will begin to breakdown into compost. After the growing season, a soil test will indicate what soil amendments are needed for the following season.
- Plant elephant ear bulbs 2-4 feet apart. Plant so the growing tip is up.
- Dig a hole so that the top of the bulb is 4 inches deeper than the soil line. Cover with 4 inches of soil.
- Tubers may be started inside 6-8 weeks before all danger of frost has passed. Plant the tubers individually in 6 inch pots using a good quality potting soil or seed starting soil. They require a warm soil in order to emerge so consider using a heat mat.
Planting Potted Elephant Ear Plants in the Garden:
- Select a location in full or part sun with quality soil that is moist, rich, and organic.
- To properly prepare the bed for growing elephant ears, start by turning the soil under to a depth of 8 inches. After, level the soil with a rake to remove clumps of grass and stones.
- Again, most elehpant ear plants respond well to soils amended with organic matter. Compost is a nurtient rich form of organic matter that has an ideal pH level, and can be added to your planting area at any time. If compost is not available in your area, then top dress the soil after planting with 1-2 inches of organic mulch, which will breakdown into compost over time. After the growing season, you can test the soil to find out what amendments are needed for the following season.
- Plants should stand 2-4 feet apart in the garden.
- Dig a hole for each plant large enough to amply accommodate the root ball.
- Set level with or a little deeper than the surrounding soil. Fill with soil to the top of the root ball. Press soil down firmly with your hand leaving a slight depression around the plant to hold water.
- Water thoroughly, so that a puddle forms in the saucer you have created. This settles the plants in, drives out air pockets and results in good root-to-soil contact.
- Use the plant tag as a location marker.
Growing Elephant Ears In Your Garden
- Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating.
- Mulches also help retain soil moisture and maintain even soil temperatures. For annuals an organic mulch of shredded leaves lends a natural look to the bed and will improve the soil as it breaks down in time. Always keep mulches off a plant’s stems to prevent possible rot.
- Keep elephant ear plants well-watered during the growing season, especially during dry spells. Plants need about 1 inch of rain per week during the growing season. Use a rain gauge to check to see if you need to add water. It's best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
- After new growth appears, a light fertilizer may be applied. Keep granular fertilizers away from the plant crown and foliage to avoid burn injury. Use low rates of a slow release fertilizer, as higher rates may encourage root rots. Elephant Ears benefit from a granular fertilizer every 2-3 weeks.
- Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
- Many gardeners remove any flower stalks that develop to keep the strength in the plant.
- Elephant Ears are only hardy in zone 10. In other locations in the fall, after the first frost or when the foliage begins to die back, dig up the bulbs with the soil and tops clinging to them. Let bulbs dry inside, out of direct sun with plenty of air circulation. Remove the leaves when they are easily tugged away from the bulb, shake off the soil, do not wash. Store bulbs in dry peat moss, perlite, or vermiculite. Do not store the bulbs below 50 degrees.
- Elephant ears are great for adding a tropical feel to your garden.
- They may be planted in large containers.
- Elephant ear foliage adds drama to large flower arrangements.
- Plants cannot tolerate temperatures below 50 degrees.