Create a Zoo in Your Garden with Elephant Ear Bulbs

Create a Zoo in Your Garden with Elephant Ear Bulbs

By Published July 2015 Updated June 2022

To create a tropical looking garden, there are few better ways to start than by planting elephant ear bulbs. Actually, there is no such thing as an elephant ear bulb but, fortunately, few folks get hung up on proper plant terminology. What most folks call elephant ear bulbs are actually rhizomes…a modified, underground stem. Regardless of what you call them, these "bulbs" will all grow elephant ear plants if planted correctly.

Elephant ears have long been grown from giant bulbs often purchased at garden centers or large box stores. These elephant ear bulbs come in one basic Starting in the 1990's, the selection of elephant ears began to change as many colored-leaf forms started to hit the market. Unfortunately, these new elephant ears never form a large rhizome that can be stored dry, so you never see these sold alongside the old elephant ear bulbs.

The trade-off for growing elephant ears with amazingly colorful foliage is that they cannot be dug in the winter and stored dry for long periods. These elephant ears form tiny bulbs which don’t have the size or starch content to last long out of soil. These colorful elephant ears can be actually left in the ground over winter from Zone 7b south, but from Zone 7a and north, they must be potted during the winter and kept growing in a space that remains above 50 degrees F. Try pairing elephant ears with ornamental grasses for sun, ferns, or begonias.

When you are ready to grow elephant ears in your home garden, you have a choice. You can go to the big box stores and purchase cheap, but giant elephant ear bulbs that produce large green plants or you can try something new and grow some of the fancier colorful leaf elephant ear plants. When you’re ready to grow some unique elephant ears, we hope you'll check out our mail order elephant ear offerings from Plant Delights Nursery.

Back to articles