Aroids forum: A Few Questions About Elephant Ears

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Name: Mike
Pinellas County, Florida (Zone 9b)
Tropicals Region: Florida Bromeliad Salvias Enjoys or suffers hot summers Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Foreverlad
Jun 2, 2013 6:27 PM CST
Hey everyone!

I've been collecting Alocasia and Colocasia for about a year now. I've got a few minor questions that I haven't found reliable answers to, and would appreciate any help you could provide.

1. Supposing an EE is in good shape, should you cut off the dying leaf & Petiole (well after a new leaf has risen from it), or does the plant reabsorb water and nutrients from it? Does removal of dying bits speed up growth in any way?
2. Is there a way to induce flowering, or is it always seasonally related? I've got dozens of Elephant Ears, and I can't fathom how the experts like LariAnn might cross plants without knowing the timetable for specific assorted inflorescence(s).
3. When do Alocasias (like the portora) develop their trunk? Does it vary, or is it a natural point in their maturity?
4. Most of My portora are approaching 6 feet in height, without any evidence of a trunk. Will the plant maintain most of it's top-size once the trunk begins growing? Some random photos I've seen show an almost stunted growth to the top after the trunk gains significant size.
5. Is their a practical lifespan to Alocasia?
6. One last one. In the first photo below, are these Xanths?

Thumb of 2013-06-03/Foreverlad/96aae0

Thanks in advance!

Mike

Oh, an extra photo or two, just because.

Young Alocasia macrorrhiza

Thumb of 2013-06-03/Foreverlad/990762

One of my Alocasia portora, ~1 year old

Thumb of 2013-06-03/Foreverlad/095ef7

Name: Susan
Zone 5b (Zone 5b)

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hibiscus Hummingbirder Butterflies
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gardenersdetective
Jun 2, 2013 6:52 PM CST
This excellent article from Plant Delights written by Dennis Carey & Tony Avent may be very helpful to you Mike. Much of the care for my area would not pertain to you in Florida. http://www.plantdelights.com/Colocasias-Elephant-Ear-Plants/...

Florida data is also a good resource http://www.floridata.com/ref/A/aloc_mac.cfm
[Last edited by gardenersdetective - Jun 2, 2013 7:01 PM (+)]
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Name: LariAnn Garner
south Florida, USA
When in doubt, do the cross!
Forum moderator Pollen collector Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Aroids Seed Starter
Foliage Fan Region: Florida Tropicals Container Gardener
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LariAnn
Jun 2, 2013 8:34 PM CST

Moderator

Mike,
The plants in the first photo are Xanthosoma sagittifolium.
I cut off leaves only after they have yellowed completely - the plant does reabsorb some nutrients back from dying leaves.
I don't induce blooming on my plants, instead preferring to rely on coincidental blooming to enable crosses. Over the years, I've learned the blooming cycles of various species so I have a good idea of when to try, and what to try it with. Also, I've learned natural ways to delay or speed up blooming so as to increase my chances of getting coincidental blooming. Cold or cool weather will delay blooming and also delay male/female anthesis.
I can get trunk in a year's growth but I push them to grow big enough to bloom. Big Ears are usually heavy feeders so inadequate fert availability can stunt them or hold them back. A plant on pace can put out nearly a leaf a week. If yours are slower, they may not be getting enough light, fert and/or water.
Top size relative to trunk is, again, dependent on adequate soil fertility. Low fert availability will lead to smaller top growth and slower growth overall. it is not sheer quantity, but consistent availability. Light feedings often are better than heavy feedings infrequently unless you are using a high quality time release mix with a known release time/effective duration.
The Big Ears will keep on going for years if maintained properly. If in pots, sometimes it means repotting with fresh soil and fert each year; if in the ground, you have to make sure they get enough fert and that the soil is well draining. The smaller "jewel" Alocasias can expire after a few years due to their finicky nature.

Hope this helps,
LariAnn
Be the Captain of What's Gonna Happen!
Name: Mike
Pinellas County, Florida (Zone 9b)
Tropicals Region: Florida Bromeliad Salvias Enjoys or suffers hot summers Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Foreverlad
Jun 2, 2013 9:18 PM CST
Thanks for the link Susan.

LariAnn, I really appreciate all the information. Invaluable.

I'm not quite ready to try crossing any plants, but I was always curious how you manage. Now I know! All my EEs started off as tissue cultures, and seemed to take awhile to get going, but this Spring has just been incredible. I made sure to heavily amend the bed (milorganite, oak leaves, bales of peat moss, compost/manure, etc) and have been providing a steady stream of food and water. They've all doubled or tripled in size since the warm weather arrived. It's been great.

Before photo of my 3rd pic (original post) March 14th

Thumb of 2013-06-03/Foreverlad/5a48b5


Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Jun 3, 2013 11:44 AM CST
Great questions, Mike. LariAnn is The Best resource for EE's. I'm a beginner with them, too having a couple of Alo's and one Colo so far. The last shot of the Portora is so beautiful with all the different leaf shapes and colors! That Mojito to the right of the Portora is getting really nice markings.

If I might make one suggestion re: that bed of Xantho's along the side of your house? This is a basic thing we (your local Master Gardeners) are instructed to advise homeowners against i.e. planting any plants within 2 ft. or so of the wall of your house. You should try to maintain a dry perimeter - no irrigation at all - around the house to guard against moisture incursion and termite invasion. I'd especially advise you to move those Xantho's given the amount of water they need.

Here's a shot of my neighbor's ditch across the front of her house, with the Xantho's growing wild. You can tell by the color she doesn't fertilize them yet they survive and come back big and lush. Sometimes they're up to their necks in water but only if it rains! Let's hope they will be this week.

Thumb of 2013-06-03/dyzzypyxxy/fcd0e8
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Mike
Pinellas County, Florida (Zone 9b)
Tropicals Region: Florida Bromeliad Salvias Enjoys or suffers hot summers Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Foreverlad
Jun 3, 2013 2:16 PM CST

Thanks Elaine. Honestly? I think that's good advice. When I started gardening last year, my brother came by one day and asked if I wanted some. He found 'em just suddenly growing along his AC home's AC unit. Mind you, they were tiny at the time. I figured 'why not?'. This Spring when most of the yard was under reno, I moved them out of a shaded area I was temporarily storing them, and plopped them down there. Not knowing specifically what they were, I wasn't certain just how large they may grow, or, for that matter, whether I'd keep them.

Surprisingly, I rarely ever water that spot on the side. It faces East and I've yet to see them wilt or suffer, even as the temps have hit 90 so far. Doesn't change the fact they shouldn't be there, and I've already seen them begin pupping, so I know well what kind of stand they like to build for themselves.

Thanks again, and yeah, let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.

Mike

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