Keeping a popular plant safe from the Kentuckiana cold

By Cindi Sullivan
WAVE 3 Garden Expert

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) -- Elephant ears are one of my favorite tropical foliage plants. Elephant ears is the common name given to several genera including colacasia and alocasias which is perfectly reasonable given that the leaves of these plants look like elephant ears. Elephant ears are not reliably winter hardy here in Kentuckiana, but you can get a jump-start on your elephant ears in springtime by starting them in pots now.

Commonly considered bulbs, elephant ears actually emerge from tubers. When shopping, choose tubers that are firm and that feel heavy for their size. Colacasia and alocasias tubers look a little bit different from each other and their growth habit varies as well. Colacasias tend to have broader leaves with a more spreading, droopy growth habit than their more narrow pointed leaved, upright growing cousins the alocasias.

Pot them up in containers slightly larger than the tubers using a sterile soilless mix, water them well and keep them in a sunny spot. Keep them indoors or in a protected sunroom until the nighttime temperatures are consistently over 60 degrees, then you can put them outside in the containers to speed up growth. After the soil warms up in mid to late may, you can transplant your presprouted elephant ears in to your garden in a sunny spot.

Elephant ears can also be planted in decorative containers. They can then be moved around the garden as needed for a little interest here or there.

If you have a garden question for Cindi, just e-mail her by clicking on her name at the botton of the page. You can also find many helpful garden tips from Cindi by clicking on the highlighted link: Garden Talk.

Online Reporter:  Cindi Sullivan

Online Producer: Charles Gazaway