The Q&A Archives: Elephant Ear Plants

Question: I planted 7 elephant ear plants last summer, assuming they would come back in the spring like one did at my old house about 7 years ago only 5 miles away from here, but they have not, I'm worried. The remainings of last years beautiful plants are a big, wet, mushy, white substance. Are they dead or is it too early to tell? They were covered in mulch thru the winter.

Answer: If they are mushy it means they will not grow, no. This could well be due to cold. There are many different but similar types of elephant ear (different varieties of both Colocasia and Alocasia) and some are more cold sensitive than others, usually the Colocasia are only considered reliable in zone 9 and warmer. (Your zip code places you in a nominal zone 7B or the warmer part of zone 7. Your actual zone could be 7b, 8A or 7A depending on the microclimate at your house.) Microclimate can make a big difference in survival when you are in an area where hardiness is an issue -- if for example you are now five miles out of town in a windy, exposed site and away from a town or city that holds heat, you would then be in a much colder spot. Since you know the ones at your old house were hardy, maybe you could get a start from those or from a neighbor and try again. I'm sorry about your plants.

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