All About Elephant Ears
If you’ve never planted elephant ears (Colocasia) in your garden , we think now’s the time! There are so many reasons why we love this giant tropical, and we’re pretty sure that after reading this blog post, you’ll belong to the Elephant Ear Fan Club as well.
Yeah, but is it Colocasia or Alocasia?
Good question! While they look very similar and are both often called “elephant ears,” Alocasia has leaves that grow upwards and Colocasia grow foliage that tends to droop downwards. It’s kind of a tomato-tomahto kind of thing. Yes, they’re different species of plants, but we can agree to call them all elephant ears.
Why should I grow them?
- They add tropical flair: Nothing quite says “tropical” like the oversized leaves of elephant ears! And tropical, to us, translates literally into “relaxing.” Elephant ears are a perfect way to feel like you’re on vacay every time you relax in your own backyard.
- Their jumbo size provides contrast: We have a number of blog posts on design, and each one talks about creating contrast in your plant palette. Contrast can come in the form of size (we’ve got that one covered), texture (also good there) and color (yep, we’ve got it).
- They’re excellent focal point plants: Because of their size, elephant ears are excellent focal points in the garden, drawing your eye in immediately.
- They’re dramatic: There are all types of garden styles out there — romantic, modern, traditional. But if you’re looking for drama, there are few plants that can rival elephant ears. With leaves that grow to be several feet long or wide, they grab and hold your attention like all self-respecting drama queens do.
How can I use Elephant Ears?
- Landscapes with pools: Not every vacay garden has a pool, but many do! Create a little staycation vibe by planting elephant ears close to your pool/entertaining area. Keep in mind that they do prefer a bit of shade, so you don’t want to plant them in the hot blaring sun side of the pool.
- Container plantings: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — any plant (aside from a 60-foot shade tree) that can be grown in the ground can also be grown in a container. All you need to do is make sure your elephant ears have a large enough container to house their considerable growth, and stay on top of regular watering. Pair them with draping/cascading plants and complementary flowers to complete a mini tropical garden. One of our favorite combos is Colocasia Black Magic, one shade of colorful impatiens (ooh, a saturated pink would be amazing), and a trailing plant like Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia).
- Lush & colorful tropical gardens: Elephant ears pair beautifully with other part-shade tropicals like ferns, caladiums, impatiens, begonias, cannas, coleus, and philodendron. Together, these plants provide a wide range of colors, sizes, and textures that work to create a dazzling and inviting garden.
Our Top 4 Fave Varieties
Eeek. It’s supremely difficult to call out our favorites. They’re like children. You love them all, don’t you? But if we must, we must. These are our favorites and our reasons why we love them:
- Alocasia Odora Giant Fragrant: Odora features giant foliage with pale peach blooms — and unlike other Alocasia flowers, these are anything but insignificant. The flowers offer up a heavenly fragrance in the evening, making all of your outdoor gatherings enchanting.
- Alocasia Hilo Beauty: Although technically a caladium, Hilo Beauty is usually referred to as an Alocasia. It features slightly shorter growth (up to 3’ tall) with deeply colored stems and brilliantly splotchy foliage. Talk about eye-catching!
- Colocasia Royal Hawaiian Black Coral: We’re not quite sure where the “coral” comes into play here, but this variety is indeed deep ebony and regal. Growing to 4’ tall, the black foliage features blue veining that is best witnessed in person.
- Colocasia White Lava: This one is all kinds of stunning, from its heart shaped leaves and deep red stems to the dramatic white veining and purple splotch in the center of the leaf. We’re not sure we could make up a more unique leaf pattern than this one!
Want to read more about tropical gardening? Check out our other blog posts!
- Jenny Peterson