Flower Gardening

Elephant Ears for Mid-Summer Foliage

By Jean Starr


Xanthosoma (Pronounced zan-tho-SO-muh) is a relative of Alocasia and Colocasia. It is native to tropical America, and is also used as a food crop in many countries. This year I’m growing the hybrid, Xanthosoma ‘Lime Zinger’, a plant with substantial bright green leaves that deserve a closer look. This variety has waxy leaves that form a shallow bowl, with edges that are almost ruffled. I combined it with two variegated plants: Euphorbia ‘Yokoi’s White’ and a variegated artillery plant (Pilea microphylla variegata).

Elephant Ears Xanthosoma - LimeZinger

Xanthosoma – Lime Zinger – Photo by Jean Starr

One of the strangest species of Xanthosoma (albo marginata) is called ‘Mickey Mouse.’ Planting this novelty in your garden will guarantee neighbors will be scratching their heads. It has huge, green and cream leaves. They form little pockets at the leaf tips.


Final tips for Growing Elephant Ears:

Even the Midwest has days that give us tropical temperatures and humidity. Why not stretch that into a tropical vibe, with AlocasiaColocasia or Xanthosoma? It will make those sweltering days easier to take, because you know these jungle plants grow bigger and better with more heat, water and fertilizer.

Fertilizer: use a general purpose food with a high nitrogen content.

Water: most ‘elephant ears’ prefer lots of water, but keep in mind that the more you water, the more you’ll dilute the fertilizer, so you’ll have to feed more often.

Heat: during late spring and early summer, it pays to use a heat mat and a good light to get them growing.


More information to use elephant ears for mid-summer foliage:

Visit a very detailed blog post by Plant Delights Nursery.

Read Encyclopedia of Exotic Plants for Temperate Climatesby Will Giles

Read Foliageby Nancy J. Ondra

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