How to Grow Elephant's Ear

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If you have a large spot in your yard or flower bed that needs a plant requiring little care, try elephant ears. Also known as bergenia, this evergreen plant grows from 5 to 9 feet tall, with dark green leaves that grow up to 2 feet long and shaped like the ears of an elephant. Some varieties of elephant ears have clusters of small pink or white flowers. They do well in many conditions and can be used in borders, to edge a path, or under trees (suitable for USDA zones 6 to 10).

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Elephant ear plants
  • Water
  • Complete plant food
  • Mulch
  • Fungicide
  • Herbicide
  • Pruning shears
  • Select the site for the elephant ear. They grow in full sunlight or areas with light shade; however, avoid full shade. They like moist soil enriched with lots of compost that has good drainage. They tolerate poorer soil, however, those conditions will bring out a richer leaf color in the winter.

  • Plant the elephant ear. Dig a hole that is larger than the container. Remove the plant carefully from the container it came in and put it in the hole. Fill with soil and tamp down gently to remove air bubbles. Water to settle the soil. Depending upon the variety, plant elephant ears up to 24 inches apart and plant them closer for immediate coverage.

  • Water the elephant ears regularly. Apply a complete plant food early in the spring. Cover with a generous layer of mulch in the fall. Slugs and snails are major problems for young foliage. Pick them off or treat with chemicals. Leaf spot can occur so treat with a fungicide.

  • Watch for the blooms on certain varieties of elephant ears beginning in late winter or early spring. They will continue through mid-spring. Remove spent flower stems and foliage.

  • Divide elephant ears in the fall or spring every 5 years. Dig up the plant, divide and replant. Once established, elephant ears can become pervasive. Don’t hesitate to remove plants that spring up in the wrong part of the garden. In some cases, you might have to use an herbicide to kill it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Elephant ear flowers look pretty in cut floral arrangements.
  • Bayer Advanced has an all-in-one rose and flower product that contains pesticide, fungicide and plant food. It is applied once a month by mixing in water and pouring at the base of the plant. Because it is systemic, it will take more than one month to begin fully working and a temporary spray or dust might need to be applied.
  • Check the guarantee and return policies of the nursery, gardening center, catalog or garden website you buy plants. Some have a one year guarantee and require that you have the receipt, shipping invoice or shipping label. Michigan Bulb guarantees their plants for life and will either replace the plants or refund your money as long as you are gardening.
  • Keep all chemicals out of the reach of children and animals.

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