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

April 14, 2016

Growing Elephant Ears in Phoenix, Arizona

Yes, you can grow Elephant Ears in Phoenix, Arizona. I'm in Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix, and they're been growing here for over ten years. There are a few tricks that you need to do, though, and here they are, in no particular order:

• Plant them in shade. I planted them all over the place when I first got the bulbs, and the ones out in full sun that dried out died right away. Here they like the eastern exposure, next to my house, and under a tree. Shade!

• Rich soil. My Elephant Ears are planted in a combination of potting soil and coffee grounds. The potting soil is the good stuff, and everything else I could find, from anywhere that sells potting soil, and the coffee grounds came from Starbucks (where I got bags of it for free).

• Fertilizer. I push in the ordinary plant food spikes, you know the kind you can get for 99 cents at the Dollar Store! Come to think of it, I need some more! I pour Miracle-Gro into the "crotch" of the plant, but not on the leaves. And that's only because here in Phoenix the water is hard, and makes nasty spots. So for the leaves I do this...

Spray the leaves every once in a while with distilled water. Or I guess you can use any other water, other than the household water, which makes those darn hard water spots! It rained a couple of days ago, and oddly enough, it makes the leaves dirty. Yes, just like your car after a rain, all of the dust from the desert falls down with the rain and leaves dust spots. Plus the tree drops leaves on it, so I just get out there and blast it with the squirt bottle. Mine is a garden to "fuss" over, so I don't mind.

And there you go. By the way, you really won't see these at your local Home Depot. Mostly they're sold as bulbs, so you might find them that way there. Or you can go to an old-fashioned nursery - they'll have the bulbs. Actually, they're rhizomes, but the people at the nursery will know what you mean. Show them a picture of the plant, they'll give you an ugly thing to stick in the ground, which will become a thing of beauty.

The photo at the top of this post was taken on April 14th, which is when they look their best. They look kind'a sad in the winter (although they don't die) and in the summer when it's over 100 degrees they tend to burn.
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