Elephant ears are lush jungle plants with heart-shaped large green leaves. While elephant ears cannot be propagated from cuttings like many other plants, they can be divided from a healthy parent plant. Plant the tubers in containers or store them for the winter before planting them outside in the spring. In any case, these tough elephant ears will be a lovely addition to your home.
Part 1 Dividing Elephant Ear Tubers
1. For the best chance of success, dig up your parent plant in the fall. Wait until the parent plant goes dormant in the fall and the leaves begin to die off before removing it from its pot or in-ground location for the best results. Dividing the new tubers from the original growth in the fall reduces stress on the parent plant because it is not actively growing, giving you a better chance of successfully separating the new tubers without harming the parent plant.
If you grow your elephant ear parent plant in the ground and the temperature in your area falls below 40 °F (4 °C), dig it up in the fall and store the bulbs indoors for the winter. Because you’ll be digging up your plant anyway, now is a good time to separate the new tubers.
Variation: While it puts more strain on the plant, you can also dig up and divide the tubers in the spring at the start of the plant’s growing season. Separating the new growth tubers from the parent plant in the spring is the best option if you want to replant them outdoors right away.
2. To avoid disease transmission, soak your tools in bleach. In a clean bucket, combine 1 part bleach and 9 parts water. Put your pruning knife and shovel (if using) in the solution. Allow the tools to soak in the solution for 30 minutes before rinsing with clean water and digging up and cutting new growth tubers from your parent plant.
The bleach sterilises your tools, assisting in the prevention of the spread of any bacterial or fungal diseases that may be infecting your parent plant.
Furthermore, you will avoid introducing new bacteria to the parent or new plant that may be on your knife or shovel.
3. Take the parent plant out of its pot or from its in-ground location. If your elephant ear plant is in a pot, carefully grasp the stems and lift it out. If it’s planted in the ground, dig around it with your hands or a shovel to loosen the soil, then grab the stems to lift it out of the ground.
Dig slowly and carefully around your in-ground plant to avoid damaging any healthy tubers or roots.
4. To divide from the parent plant, choose healthy tubers with roots. To begin, gently shake the plant or use your hands to loosen and brush away the soil, allowing you to see the tubers (bulbs). Then, inspect the new growth tubers to see which are sprouting roots. Tubers will be able to survive away from the parent plant as long as they have at least one new root bud or sprout.
Choose tubers that do not have any blemishes or rotten areas, as these may indicate that the plant has a disease that will prevent it from propagating successfully.
5. Take the new tubers away from the parent plant. Carefully separate the roots of the new tuber from the roots of the parent plant tuber. Then, using a sharp knife, separate the new tubers from the parent plant tuber wherever they intersect.
Elephant ear tubers have a potato-like texture that makes them easy to cut with a sharp knife.
If you want the parent plant to grow faster, you can cut all of the new growth tubers away from the main plant mass or leave some attached.
Part 2 Replanting the Tubers
1. If you want to grow the tubers right away, plant them indoors. If you want to put the tubers in a container, you can replant them right away. Fill a large pot with well-draining potting soil and place it in a large pot with drainage holes. Make a well in the soil that is slightly larger than the tuber and place the tuber in it, pointy side up. Water the tuber gently after lightly packing soil around it.
Elephant ears grow well in soil made of peat moss and sand.
2. If you want to plant the tubers outside, store them in a cool, dark place until spring. If you live in a cold climate, keep your elephant ear tubers inside until spring. Place each tuber in its own paper bag and store the bags in a cool, dark, dry place until the weather warms up. As long as it’s not too humid, a basement is often a good option.
Keep the tubers in a room with temperatures ranging from 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 16 degrees Celsius) for the best results.
Variation: If you live in an area where the temperature is consistently above 40 °F (4 °C), you can replant your tubers outside right away.
3. Choose a planting location that receives full sun to partial shade. Because elephant ear plants are jungle plants, they thrive in areas with plenty of sunlight. Plant them away from trees or structures that provide a lot of shade. Plant elephant ears in areas that receive 6 or more hours of direct sunlight per day.
If possible, choose a location that is wind-sheltered.
4. Plant the tubers outside once temperatures reach 40 °F (4 °C). If you kept the tubers indoors over the winter or live in a warm climate, you can plant them outside safely. Dig a hole about 5 inches (13 cm) deep for each tuber with a shovel. Insert each tuber, pointy side up, into the hole. Cover the tuber with soil and thoroughly water it with the hose.
Allow the soil temperature to reach at least 65 °F (18 °C) for the best results.
The new elephant ear plant may take several weeks to emerge.
5. The elephant ears should be spaced 3–6 ft (0.91–1.83 m) apart. Elephant ears are large plants, so each tuber requires a lot of room. Planting them too close together will cause them to die.
Elephant ear plants look great lined up along a walkway or fence.
6. Keep the soil around your plants moist at all times. Elephant ear plants require moist, but not wet, soil. Water your plants every morning after checking the soil with your finger to see if it is dry 2–3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm) deep. Water the soil around the plant’s base rather than the leaves.
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