Ask An Expert: Elephant Ear Bulbs

With their large and in-charge flopping foliage, it’s easy to tell where Elephant Ear Plants get their name – they’re dramatic, easy to care for and an all-time favorite. Here’s how to keep those ears perky and happy with tips from Prairie Gardens plant experts.

Find Elephant Ear Bulbs every season at Prairie Gardens around the first week of March. Please call ahead for availability.

When can I plant them?

You can plant Elephant Ear bulbs in spring after the danger of frost has passed, which is around May 1st or Mother’s Day for our area.

— Mary-Ann Metz, Prairie Gardens Plant Expert

Where should I plant them?

In the garden, Elephant Ear plants like a hot shaded area with partial sun and a rich, moist soil. You can also plant your bulbs in pots using a rich, organic potting mix. 

How do I plant them?

One side of the bulb looks like it has a bullseye in the center. This should face up when planting. Plant your bulb about 3” below the soil line, cover, and water it in with warm water.

— John W, Prairie Gardens Plant Expert

How do I care for them?

Elephant Ear plants are pretty low-maintenance. Water them regularly and remove leaves as they yellow. You can also apply a slow-release fertilizer, but this is not typically necessary.


Will they come back next year?

Elephant Ear Plants are tropicals, so they will not come back if left outside over winter. To overwinter them, cut them down to about 2-4″, dig them up, place them in a box with peat moss, and store them in dry area that does not get below 45 degrees.