Make a big statement with this tropical perennial plant.

By Nancy Mattia
April 21, 2020
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elephant ear plant
Credit: Getty / Supersmario

Besides having a fun name, elephant ear is a plant that's easy to love. It's a cinch to take care of, grows back year after year in warm climates, and has an eye-catching look—gigantic leaves with striking vein patterns. This tropical beauty that's native to Asia has recently become a popular houseplant. If you're looking for some showy greenery for your living room, consider elephant ear.

One of the most popular varieties of elephant ear plants is the Alocasia sanderiana, or "African mask," which has dark purple and green leaves with silver-white veins. It grows to six feet tall and just as wide, so planting it outdoors is your best bet. The plant has arrow-shaped, deeply lobed leaves that extend 12 to 16 inches. Another favorite version is the Alocasia cucullata, or "Chinese taro," which is a slow-growing, husky evergreen with thick, shiny green leaves. The plant grows only to two feet high, making for the perfect indoor plant. Both kinds grow in zones eight to 11 according to the United States interactive plant hardiness zone map.

What Does Elephant Ear Plant Look Like?

Elephant ear has big leaves shaped like hearts or arrows and decorative veining; leaves may look marbled, speckled, or splotched. Besides the traditional emerald green stems and leaves, elephant ear has species with distinctly different coloring, such as stems that are ruby red or leaves that are near-black.

Where Should You Plant Elephant Ear?

Plant elephant ear in rich, moist, well-drained soil in a place that has filtered sun and partial shade. The spot should offer shelter from the wind, which could rip the plant's enormous leaves in a strong gust. Plants can grow two to six feet tall and four feet wide, so be sure they have enough room to thrive.

How Do You Care for Elephant Ear?

You don't have to do much to grow healthy elephant ear plants. Just be sure to water it when the soil starts to feel dry when you stick your finger in an inch. And, of course, be sure not to overwater it as that's the quickest way to kill a plant.

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