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

November 7, 2015

Growing Elephant Ears in Phoenix, Arizona

Sure, you can grow Elephant Ears in the Phoenix, Arizona area. My backyard is in Glendale, which is  a suburb of Phoenix, and I've had them here for many, many years. But there are a few tricks you'll need to do.

• Find the shadiest part of your yard. My Elephant Ears do best near the wall of my house that faces east (towards the morning sun), and under the shade of a tree. Elephant Ears love heat, but they sunburn easily, so be sure they get shade. By the way, Elephant Ears HATE cold, so don't even think about planting them along a north-facing wall. It can get below freezing in the wee hours of the morning in Phoenix, and they will need the warmth of the morning sun in the winter, or they will die.

• Make sure they get a lot of water, and food. Plant them in rich potting soil, with plenty of water crystals. I also added coffee grounds (which I got for free at Starbucks) which helps to make the ground more acidic. I give them a generous amount of plant food, including those fertilizer spikes that you can get at the dollar store. But I don't pour Miracle-Gro on the leaves, and that's only because the water here is very hard, and it leaves spots. I pour the Miracle-Go into the center of the plant. And you can water them as much as you want - you really can't overwater Elephant Ears here, they're practically water plants.

• Give them frost protection in January. Phoenix is in a desert, which gets very hot and pretty darn cold, too, especially at night in January. No, you don't need to cover them every night, just keep an eye on the overnight lows, and if it's gonna get below 32F, throw an old sheet over it. I keep old bedsheets in the garage - there's no need to buy expensive "frost cloth".

I planted my Elephant Ears from little tiny sprouts that I got from a friend many years ago. Most of them failed, as I planted them all over the yard. But the ones that did well got gigantic, and at a certain point I had to dig them up just to control them. Now I watch more carefully, and I thin out as necessary, keeping only the ones in the best places, like the one in the photo above. You can see little ones around there, that I will need to thin out. It's a nice November day, so maybe I'll go do it right now!

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