The Q&A Archives: elephant ears

Question: My neighbors ditch is full of elephant ears and I would like to transplant some into my yard. I am aware that the wetter the spot the better. My quesion is, where I would like to put the ears is a dry spot in my yard and I also do not want them to spread from the spot I plant them. So my thoughts were to get a childs plastic pool and bury in the ground and plant the ears in the pool. Of course with dirt. I figured the sides of the pool would keep the ears contained from spreading for a few years at least and then maybe by then I will want to move them and refresh my garden. I also figured that with the ears planted in the pool I would be able to keep the soil plenty moist for the ears. I was wondering if any of this makes sense or if it is a good idea or if the ears can grow like this. What is the minimum depth that the soil needs to be? Should I put some small holes in the bottom and sides of the pool for minimal drainage? Is it a good time to transplant ears? I know that they die back in the winter and return in the spring but will they have time to bounce back from the transplant this late in the season? Thank you for your time. Any advice is most appreciated.
Tracey Beaver (new gardener)

Answer: It is possible to contain the roots of the elephant ears by placing a barrier in the soil. I would vote for lining the entire planting bed with hardware cloth rather than trying to plant them in a child's wading pool. Most pools won't be deep enough to accommodate the roots (12-18"). If you can find one deep enough, you can use it, providing you drill lots and lots of drainage holes (1/2 inch holes every 8-10 inches) on both the bottom and the sides. You'll want to fill it with a 50/50 mixture of garden soil and potting soil so it will retain moisture. While I appreciate your idea of planting them in a bog, if the water does not have a chance to drain out and be replaced with fresh water, it will not have enough oxygen in it to support healthy root growth. So, the pool will help keep the soil moist but not soggy or boggy. The elephant's ears will be happy with the mixture of garden soil and potting soil. You can dig and transplant them now. They will go into transplant shock and look pitiful until the first frost (when the leaves will die back), but the the roots should be just fine and should produce healthy new leaves next spring.

Good luck with your project!

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