This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

September 20, 2013

How to plant Elephant Ears in the desert

No one is more surprised than me that my Elephant Ears have done so well here in Glendale, Arizona (a suburb of Phoenix). I wish I could say that I planned it, but I didn't. But in the years since they have been here, I have learned a lot. And since, like all bulbs, they reproduce, I have divided them and re-planted them. There are several wrong ways, and only one right way. Here it is:

Dig a hole and remove the native soil. Actually, if you could prepare an entire bed, that would be better. Elephant Ears, like all tropical plants, won't grow in the native Arizona soil. That's why I have an ongoing need for potting soil. Ask any of my friends - what do I want for Christmas? To just cheer me up? Potting soil! I have no idea how many bags of potting soil I have used over the years, but no matter how much I get, I always seem to need more. I like to say that my plants aren't planted in Arizona, they are planted in potting soil in holes in Arizona!

Pour in a generous amount of potting soil. The best stuff is expensive, Miracle Grow Moisture Control, but that's my preference. It has those moisture crystals and some plant food added in. And when I use ordinary potting soil, I add in the moisture crystals and some dry plant food.

Newly planted Elephant Ears.
For scale, my dog's legs are two inches long.
Find a shady area. The best would be an eastern exposure (like in the photo). That is, morning sun, afternoon shade.

Set up a watering system. Elephant Ears need to be kept constantly wet. If you are planning on trying to water them by hand, you are gonna have a hard time. My automatic watering system comes on every 48 hours for fifteen minutes these days. Every day in the summer, and off in the winter.

Allow a lot of room. Elephant Ears get BIG!

And there you go. If you buy them online, they will come as bulbs, looking kind'a like small, lumpy potatoes. That's the best way to plant them. There is no need to buy them in a pot with leaves. When I dig them up here to replant, I find small ones, and leave just a bit of leaves sticking up to show me where they are. Or you could just use a stick.
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