How to Care for an Elephant Ear Plant

Elephant ear plants are beautiful, unique houseplants with large, arrow-shaped leaves. They go by many names including taro and cocoyam. The plant is grown throughout Asia as food, but in Europe and North America, it's more commonly used as a houseplant. Read the tips listed below to learn how to care for your elephant ear plant and watch the large leaves unfold before your eyes.

  • The elephant ear plant comes from a tropical climate and prefers warmer temperatures with ample shade. The plant also thrives in a humid atmosphere, so if you keep it indoors, it's best to set it next to a humidifier [source: Lars].
  • The elephant ear plant grows from corms, a swollen stem that stores the plant's food. Plant the corm in 1 gallon (3.79 liters) of fertile, moist and slightly acidic compost. Ensure that the corm is well situated deep within the soil [source: Fischer]. Water the plant often to maintain the moist soil.
  • The elephant ear plant is a heavy feeder, so it's important to keep the soil rich in nutrients. These plants respond well to liquid fertilizer with a high nitrogen content. They should be fertilized once a week or as advised on the fertilizer package [source: Lars].
  • The elephant ear plant's corm is prone to fungi infestations and rotting. To avoid this, keep the soil loosely packed to allow for ventilation [source: Lars].
  • The elephant ear leaves and corm contain toxins. Ingesting the plant raw can lead to poisoning. (Thorough cooking rids the plant of the toxins and enables it to be eaten.) Contact a healthcare professional in the event of ingestion [source: NLM].