How to Split Joined Elephant Ear Bulbs

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Things You'll Need

  • Shovel

  • Garden hose

  • Knife

Elephant ears, which are also called by the formal name of Colocasia esculenta, have large, heart-shaped leaves that can reach heights of 5 feet. They are tropical plants that grow in the southern portions of the United States. Elephant ears propagate by growing new bulbs off of the main root system. As the plant ages, the clump of above-ground leaves also spreads. If desired, you can dig up and split the roots to create new plants.


Step 1

Wait until the spring or early summer to divide the elephant ear bulbs. The elephant ear should be green and healthy and have multiple leaves.

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Step 2

Dig a 6-inch-deep trench 8 to 12 inches away from the base of the elephant ear plant. Create a circle around the tree, and dig until you reach your starting point.

Step 3

Insert the blade of the shovel into the trench and angle it under the roots. Slide it into the soil under the elephant ear plant, and push down on the handle of the shovel to lift the plant roots up out of the ground.


Step 4

Grasp the elephant ear root ball, and gently pull it up out of the ground, detaching any small roots with your hands.

Step 5

Brash off most of the soil from the bulbs with your hands and then spray them with a garden hose to remove the remaining dirt.

Step 6

Locate the largest center bulb, which belongs to the original plant. Then, locate the smaller bulbs that grow off of the side of the main bulb, which are the secondary plants that can be split off.


Step 7

Place a sharp knife at the location where the smaller bulbs attach to the main bulb, and cut down to detach them.

Step 8

Place the main bulb back in the original hole, and plant each of the new bulbs in shady locations with rich, fertile soil .


Sometimes the bulbs will separate without requiring you to cut them.