Your Own Tropical Paradise in a Container or Garden
By Melinda Myers
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[April 22, 2017]
an exciting new look to your garden, poolside, patio or deck with
elephant ears. These easy tropical plants have tall stems and giant
leaves that measure up to two feet across. You can use them to
create an instant focal point in the garden, screen an unwanted
view, or extend a bold welcome at the front door.
Elephant ears can be grown in containers as well as the garden,
so if space is an issue, try some of the more compact varieties like
Hawaiian Punch. You’ll appreciate the impact this three-foot tall
plant makes with its red stems and bright green leaves with dark red
Or go big with six-foot tall Black Stem. Its smooth blue-green
leaves are displayed atop striking purple-black stems. Variegated
varieties are another option. The unusual foliage of Mojito, is
decorated with blue-black dashes and splashes. No two leaves are
alike on this beauty. For even more color and drama, don’t miss
Black Magic. Its dark, blue-black leaves measure 2 feet across and
can grow up to 5 feet tall.
These are just a few of the many varieties that are well suited to
home gardens. In warm areas (zones 9 to 11) elephant ears can be
grown outdoors year-round. In cooler areas (zones 4-8) the plants
are grown as annuals or can be brought indoors for the winter.
Give these bold beauties a space of their own or combine them with
other interesting foliage plants such as caladiums, coleus, larger
begonias, trailing sweet potato vines and other annuals. The fine
leaves of ornamental grasses, such as shade tolerant Japanese forest
grass and sedges, contrast nicely with the elephant ears’ bold
Elephant ears are tropical plants that need warm soil and plenty of
moisture all season long. They are happy to grow in sun or shade,
though in hot climates the leaves need to be protected from midday
sun. Fertilizing every 2 to 3 weeks will help your plants reach
their full potential.
Elephant ears are available as spring-planted bulbs or as potted
plants. The baseball-sized tubers can be planted outdoors after all
danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to at least 65°F.
Prepare the soil by adding compost or other organic matter prior to
planting. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the tuber and plant
it pointy side up. The top of the tuber should be about an inch
below the soil surface.
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If you live in a cold climate and want to get an early start on the
season, plant the tubers in containers filled with well-drained
potting mix and grow them in a warm, sunny window for 4 to 6 weeks.
Move the plants outdoors when the soil is warm and the danger of
frost has passed. Visit Longfield-Gardens.com for more information
on elephant ear varieties, planting tips and lots of inspiration.
Your tropical paradise awaits! Just choose a few containers or
locate some spots in the garden where you can include these
bold-leafed beauties. Before you know it, you’ll be sipping your
favorite beverage in your very own tropical garden.
Melinda Myers has written numerous books, including Small
Space Gardening. She
hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food
Gardening For Everyone” DVD set and Melinda’s
Garden Moment TV & radio program.
Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds
& Blooms magazine
and was commissioned by Longfield Gardens for her expertise to
write this article. Myers’ website is www.melindamyers.com