Elephant Ear – Protecting for Winter
Q: What is the botanical name of elephant ear? I need to know if now is the right time to dig them up, how to store them and when to replant in the spring.
A: Elephant ear is Colocasia esculenta but there are a couple of “elephant ears” in the Alocasia family too.
They are not reliably winter-hardy outdoors in Atlanta although some will come back after a mild winter. One winter care choice is to cut the stems down to six inches tall (CAUTION: do not let sap touch eyes or tender skin, it’s caustic), cover with an overturned gallon pot and cover everything thickly with pine straw.
If you want to keep the corm (bulb) safely indoors for winter, remove the stems, dig up the corm and let dry for a week in a cool spot. There is no need to clean it, other than brushing off loose dirt.
Half-fill a large plastic box with perlite, dry peat moss or crumpled newspapers, set the corm into it, and finish covering it up. Replace the box cover and keep it in a cool closet indoors, where temperatures are close to 65 degrees.
Plant the corm outdoors when nighttime temperatures are above 60 degrees next spring: usually in May.