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Top 5 Annuals in the Midwest

Colocasia, which is also known as "Elephant-ear" is easily recognized by its large leaves. ­
Colocasia, which is also known as "Elephant-ear" is easily recognized by its large leaves. ­

­The big, bushy colocasia plants, which are commonly called Elephant Ears because that's precisely what they resemble­, can grow up to 8 feet (2.4 m) tall. Though they are lacking a very colorful flower to last you through the season, these leafy plants can add a tropical feel to your garden.

These rapid growers, which can be rewarding to the novice planter who yearns to see results, thrive in wet soils but can live in almost any so­il as long as it's not clay. Colocasia are popular annuals because they are easy to grow and require little attention throughout the summer, unlike a delicate flower that may need constant pruning, cutting back and reshaping.


Colocasia, however, are different from your average annual because they don't have to die off at the end of the season. They can, but they don't have to, like most annuals. In the Midwest, it gets too cold for these plants to survive the winter. However, if dug up before winter hits, the Colocasia can be stored in a cool, dry area until the spring [source: Central Florida Farms]. Because they have to be replanted each spring, these plants are considered to be annuals.

The Colocasia's can be a very dramatic, bold addition to any garden. There are a few caveats, however. Though it can survive in most types of soils, it still needs to be moist. This can require some work during hot Midwestern summers, so don't neglect watering your Elephant Ears. In addition, no matter how delicious Elephant Ear donuts are, don't eat these plants -- they're poisonous if eaten straight from the garden [Source: Dave's Garden].

If you're looking for something a bit more colorful and fragrant, check out Lavender on the next page.