Elephant's Ear

Botanical Name: Alocasia x amazonica

Elephant's Ear is an exotic house plant with striking foliage.

Thick, upright stems carry arrow-shaped leaves with scalloped edges. Bold silver-green veins make a dramatic pattern on glossy, dark-green leaves.

They grow from rhizomes, which can be divided in spring for more plants. Each rhizome produces several leaves that grow to 1 ft (30) long, making Elephant's Ear a sassy, new accent for your home. Put it on a pedestal stand to show it off.

Just like other members of the Araceae family, its flowers are composed of a spadix surrounded by a spathe. On this plant, however, they are insignificant. It's the spectacular foliage that makes this tropical native well worth growing.

Few indoor plants are as eye-catching as this one. Even young alocasias stand out, but will soon reach 2 ft (60 cm) tall or more.

Set alocasia in a bright location and keep it warm all year. With good care, you'll enjoy this exotic house plant a long time.

Caring for Elephant's Ear

elephants ear, alocasia amazonica

This tropical house plant can be somewhat fussy, prefering the high humidity of a greenhouse to an average home. However, a room humidifier and frequent misting of the leaves will give it the moist air it craves. Regular misting also helps to keep away red spider mites that are attracted to dry conditions.

Repot in spring when necessary. Use a container with drainage holes to prevent root rot.

Give your plant a rest period in winter, allowing the soil to become almost dry between waterings and stop fertilizing.

It may go dormant if it dries out completely. But don't give up on it -- it'll recuperate in a month or two with good care. Continue to provide plenty of humidity with a pebble tray or misting every day.

Buying Tip

You'll find Alocasia for sale in garden centers and online nurseries in spring and summer.

A. x amazonica 'Polly' is a popular cultivar that stays compact.

Elephant's Ear Care Tips

elephants ear, alocasia amazonica

Origin: Tropical Asia

Height: To 2 ft (60 cm)

Light: Bright light, but no direct sun.

Water: Keep soil moist spring through fall when plant is actively growing. Water sparingly in winter, allowing soil to become almost dry between waterings.

Humidity: Requires moist air. Use a room humidifier for best results.

Temperature: Average to warm 65-75°F/18-24°C.

Soil: Peat moss based potting mix.

Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks spring through fall with a 20-10-10 liquid fertilizer diluted by half. Do not feed in winter.

Propagation: Division. Divide rhizomes in spring and pot in separate containers. Keep the top surface of the rhizome above the soil line so that the growing stems don't rot at soil level.

Green Thumb Tip

Wiping dust from the metallic-looking leaves can damage them.

Instead, clean the leaves by spraying them with room-temperature water.

Pots and Containers

Take a Stand

Running out of space for your house plants? Indoor plant stands may be just the solution. Take a look at these new ways to display your indoor plants.