How To Plant Elephant Ear Bulbs In Spring

Elephant Ear is the common name of a group of strikingly beautiful, large tropical giants available in many colors, patterns, and growth habits. 

They make lovely choices as specimen plants, in large pots, at poolside, in a riparian setting, as a backdrop to lower growing plants, and so much more. 

Elephant Ear BulbsPin

So what must you do to plant and grow these surprisingly easy-keepers successfully? 

This article shares frequently asked questions about planting Elephant Ear Bulbs in the spring.

Planting Elephant Ears Q&A 

When Is The Best Time To Plant Elephant Ear Bulbs Outside In The Springtime?

These tropical plants need consistently warm temperatures to survive and thrive, so you must wait until the last frost has passed and temperatures have risen to a consistent 70° degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime and 50° to 60° degrees Fahrenheit at night before planting your bulbs outdoors.

What Can You Do If You Have A Short Growing Season?

You can start your Elephant Ear Bulbs indoors 6 or 8 weeks before the final frost in your area. 

  • Plant each tuber in its own 6-inch pot.
  • Use a good potting or container mix or a seed starting mix to give your bulbs a good start. 
  • Place the pots in an area that stays consistently warm and receives bright, indirect sunlight.
  • Use a heat mat or grow lights as needed to be sure your bulbs stay warm enough and get enough light. 

Where Is The Best Place To Plant Elephant Ear Bulbs In The Landscape?

You should choose a setting that receives full sunlight and has good drainage. Shelter from high winds is also helpful because strong winds can severely damage your plants’ leaves and stems. 

How Do You Prepare The Garden Bed For Elephant Ear Bulbs? 

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Till the soil deeply. About an 8-inch depth is good. 
  • Clear out any large rocks, grassroots, and other debris.
  • Till in ample compost, aged manure, and other organic matter. 
  • Smooth the soil with a rake. 

Should Elephant Ear Bulbs Be Soaked Before Planting?

No, keep them dry. Soaking them may cause them to rot. 

How Do You Plant Elephant Ear Bulbs In The Garden?

Once you’ve prepared the soil, set your elephant ear bulbs where you plan to plant them at 2′ to 4′ feet intervals. This distancing will ensure they have ample room to spread their roots and grow their enormous leaves. 

For each bulb, dig a hole 4″ to 6″ inches deep (depending on the size of the bulb) and about twice the bulb’s width. 

Place each bulb in its prepared hole (pointy end up) and cover it with soil. Press the soil down lightly to ensure good bulb-to-soil contact. 

Water thoroughly, ensuring that any excess moisture runs off freely. Standing water will cause your bulbs to rot. The idea is to keep the soil slightly moist (never soggy, never dry). 

Add a top dressing of one or two inches of organic mulch if you wish. This will help hold moisture in the soil, and as the mulch decomposes, it will feed the bulbs. 

Do I Need To Fertilize Newly Planted Elephant Ear Bulbs?

The organic matter mixed into the soil or an organic mulch top-dressing should be plenty to keep your bulbs fed until new growth appears. 

When your bulbs sprout, you should feed a half dose of a slow-release fertilizer once every two weeks. 

Be careful not to allow granular fertilizer to come in contact with the plants’ stems or bulbs because this can cause fertilizer burn. 

How Long Before New Growth Appears? 

If you’ve planted them correctly and the weather is agreeable, you may see new sprouts in just three weeks. Don’t be alarmed if it takes a couple of months for your bulbs to sprout. 

Variables such as temperature and cloud cover can make a difference. For example, more warmth and sun means faster sprouting.  

Also, if you accidentally plant the bulbs pointy side down, it will take longer for the sprout to make its way to the surface of the soil. 

Can Elephant Ear Bulbs Grow Successfully In Containers?

Yes, you can grow these large plants as container plants, but you must provide ample large containers. 

Remember that the plants can grow 4′ feet wide, so you’ll need a container to accommodate their size. 

These plants are naturally top-heavy, so any container you choose should be heavy enough to prevent the plant from toppling or being blown over. 

What’s The Difference Between Elephant Ear Bulbs And Elephant Ear Corms? 

Elephant Ear plants are actually grown from corms, not bulbs. A corm is a bulb-like structure. 

Corms and bulbs are similar and cared for in the same way, but there are some notable differences. 

One difference between a bulb and a corm is that a bulb is made up of layers of leaves. A corm is entirely the stem. So when you slice a bulb open, you will see layers. With a corm, you won’t. 

Another difference is that bulbs multiply in numbers over time. Corms just grow larger and larger (while also producing offsets). So with time, a single Elephant Ear Corm may grow three times its original size. 

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