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Elephant ears bring to mind lush, tropical forests, adding drama to both gardens and containers. The most recognized forms have heart- or arrow-shaped leaves (often oversized) with decorative veining, inspiring the common name elephant ears. No plant satisfies the craving for a taste of the tropics like elephant ears. Popular in Victorian times, they have enjoyed a rebirth in the recent craze for zonal-denial, exotic plants
High drama and bold texture are the signature benefits of showcasing elephant ears in a garden or container. Growing them is simple — they like filtered sun or shade and rich, moist soil. They're grown from tuberous rhizomes and can reach impressive sizes quickly.
Fully hardy in Zones 10 to 11. Elephant ears will only truly thrive in warmer areas similar to their native humid climates of Southeast Asia, and with daytime temperatures of 70 to 85F, and nights no lower than 60F. They can be grown in cooler areas, but will need to be replanted each year.
In colder zones, the tuberous rhizomes can be dug up and stored over winter.
After a frost, do the following:
For winter protection outdoors, cover the base of the plant with 4 to 12 inches of mulch.
Most prefer filtered sun or shade, but some tolerate full sun. In general, green types can take higher light levels; darker-leaved ones need more filtered light or shade.
Elephant ears need rich soil that is moist (not saturated), but well-drained. Most don't like wet feet, though a few are tolerant of wet conditions—like the big-leaved colocasias you might see in water gardens. A general rule is big, green elephant ears are practically indestructible and can tolerate variable moisture conditions; dark-leaved types will suffer if over watered and can stay dry for several days.
To prevent disease problems, water in the morning so they go into the night dry. If possible, water from below at the root zone rather than from above, to keep water off the leaves.
They're not heavy feeders. Apply a slow-release fertilizer at planting time, following package directions. If foliage shows yellowing, it’s probably a micronutrient deficiency. A fertilizer with micronutrients can be applied, or sprinkle Epsom salts around the base of each plant on a monthly basis.
5064 Milford Road, East Stroudsburg, PA
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Seth H. Richards
Locally owned and Family Operated Since 1932.
Dr. John Richards established Richards Tree Farm in Middle Smithfield, PA as an evergreen farm. Building on those roots, his Great Grandson, Seth Hastings Richards, has grown the farm into a full service Garden Center and Landscape installation business for the past 25 years. The farm specializes in Organic Gardening, Edible, Native, and Unique plants.