Saturday, February 21, 2015

Colocasia gigantea

"Blue Hawaii"
"Puckered Up"
Any plant that has the horticultural name "Colocasia gigantic" is bound to be big.  It's what we casually call "Elephant Ear" and it's a colossal beauty in the garden.  It's not used as much up north because the hardiness zone means it must be brought inside before the weather gets cold.  The ones you see planted directly in the ground and are majorly huge are probably NOT planted in a northern garden.  The plant size shown in these pictures are realistic.   The ones that show them towering over a man are probably grown in a more temperate climate. 

You can either plant directly in the ground and dig every fall which effectively stops the growing process but will save the bulb - or - you can plant in large containers and manhandle them inside.

"Coal Miner"
Elephant Ear needs constant water, full sun and nutrients to be lush.  I planted one beside my fish pond (now gone) and every time I emptied the pond to clean (the reason it's gone), I dumped the nutrient rich (fish poop) water on the Elephant Ear.  It was perfect and the plant thrived.  One season with this kind of attention and it was at least 3 foot tall and 4 foot wide.

Elephant Ear plants now come in a variety of leaf forms/colors and plant sizes.  I've copied the ones from Bloomington IL Royal Dutch Gardens as examples.   Elephant Ear bulbs are seen in big box stores but they tend to be dried out and the survival rate isn't good.  The ones in this catalog range from $15.  If you're seriously wanting to include Elephant Ear in your garden, I'd get them from a nursery (either local or on-line.)   

"Jack's Giant"
The leaves also can take a beating (because the leaves are so large) if we have one of our super summer wind or hail storms.  I planted mine in a semi protected spot at the corner of the house and a porch. 

I didn't have any major pests on my plants although I did wash them off with a soft rag and a mix of mild dishwashing soap (like Dawn) about once a month just to make them pretty. If you have hard or chlorinated water, I wouldn't spray the leaves because it will leave spots.

Elephant Ear brings a bit of the tropics to a garden and certainly makes a statement piece.  Give it a try this summer and see if it's something you consider worth the effort.  Full sun, keep the soil moist and douse the roots with fish emulsion every week.  

"Pink China"

If you plant this where you will tend to it's needs, it will be a show stopper.  Around a fish pond or other water feature, the center of a round formal annual garden, by your porch or deck, to hide an ugly something and etc.   Rationalization:  One bulb costs less than a Super Size burger meal and it doesn't make your thighs bigger.  Win - win!



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