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Quick Overview

MAMMOTH ELEPHANT EAR – Colocasia esculenta

FULL SUN, PARTIAL SHADE Possibly originally native to Malaysia and tropical parts of Central Asia, the Elephant Ear progressed rapidly to the tropical regions of South and Central America, Africa, Asia, Australia and Polynesia. They have been a part of American and European gardens since the mid-1800s when Victorians began to show them in their newly constructed conservatories.

In Hardiness Zones 1-7, start roots indoors in February-April and transplant outside when the nighttime temperatures reach 55 degrees. In Hardiness Zones 8 and higher, roots can be started outside when the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed. Plant the roots in organically rich soil amended with bone meal. Keep the soil moist, but do not allow the roots to stand in water.

In Zones 1-7, the roots need to be lifted when the nighttime temperatures fall below 55 degrees. Roots should be stored in a cool, dry, dark area. In Zones 8 and higher, roots can be left in the ground after the plant dies back, if heavily mulched.

Mammoth Elephant Ears are the largest “bulbs” that Harvesting History Heirlooms offers. They are actually tuberous roots, not true bulbs. They are also an important food source for many tropical societies. The starchy substance they produce is known as poi. Colocasia esculenta bulbs are sold in four sizes: medium, large, extra-large and mammoth. Harvesting History Heirlooms only sells mammoth-sized bulbs. The plants produce elegantly arched stems with huge uniformly colored green leaves 18-30 inches long. They make stunning specimen plants for the home, the deck or patio or the yard.

Type Plant Height Plant Spread Winter Hardy Zones Container Size
Elephant Ear 36-60 in. 36-60 in. 8-10 14″ Good

18′-24″ Ideal

Mammoth Elephant Ear, Colocasia Esculenta

The Elephant Ears that are commercially available today belong to two distinct genus: Alocasia and Colocasia. They are members of a large family of generally tropical plants which include Caladiums, Calla Lilies, and Philodendrons. The Elephant Ears are most closely related to Caladiums.

The plants are similar, but not identical, in color, shape, size and planting requirements. The Alocasia are commonly referred to as upright elephant ears because their giant stems grow straight up with the tips of their leaves pointing towards the sky. Generally, they are larger plants than the Colocasias, reaching heights of 8-12 feet. The Colocasias have graceful arching stems with the tips of the leaves pointing towards the ground. These plants generally reach a height of 6-10 feet.

All Elephant Ears grow best when nighttime temperatures are at least 70 degrees Farenheit. They require a rich, heavily organic soil, high nitrogen fertilizer and frequent watering. They can be grown in large (Minimum 18 in. diameter) containers is they are heavily watered and fertilized.

They are considered tropical herbs, because their roots are edible. The Colocasia esculenta roots are known as taro, an important food crop in Hawaii and Polynesia from which Poi is made. The Japanese prepare and eat the Colocasia roots like potatoes.

The size of the container that the bulb is planted in dictates the size of the plant that eventually grows from the bulb. The Mammoth Elephant Ear bulbs should be grown in the largest possible containers.

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