Elephant ears come back every year, but only in certain climates. These exotic botanicals enjoy warm regions and thrive when temperatures are hot. Therefore, in tropical climates, these impressive plants are evergreen. In areas where freezing temperatures are commonplace during winter, elephant ears will perform more like an annual plant—they will die off at the end of the season. For this reason, if you are growing elephant ears in a colder climate, you should consider digging up the tubers before temperatures plummet. Then, store the tubers indoors during winter, in a cool, dark place so you can replant them in spring.
Are Elephant Ear Plants Perennials or Annuals?
Elephant ear plants, also called taros, are perennial plants that thrive in zones 8 and warmer. If you are located in a cooler zone and want to grow elephant ears, keep in mind that they will perform as annuals. This means they will live for only one growing season.
- Elephant ear plants are perennials.
- These tropical plants thrive in Zones 8 and warmer.
- If you live where it’s cold, you can dig up the tubers at the first frost and store them inside until spring.
If you live in any zone colder than Hardiness Zone 8, dig up your elephant ear tubers before the first fall frost. Then, store the roots in a cool, dry place during the winter. This will prevent cold from killing the roots. When you plant them again in spring, they’ll roar back to life.
Do Elephant Ear Plants Come Back in the Spring?
In zones 8 and above, elephant ears will come back every spring. In colder climates, though, your elephant ears will live only through one season, and you will have to start all over again in the spring. It’s important to understand, though, that all elephant ear species need to rest during cooler months.
- Elephant ears will come back every spring in zones 8 and warmer.
- All elephant ear species need a period of dormancy during the off-season.
- Cut back on watering and fertilizing toward the end of summer.
It is vital to adjust the feeding and watering of your elephant ears in late summer as their growth slows down. You probably use fertilizer, since elephant ears require a lot of nutrition, but you should cut back on fertilizing in the fall. Additionally, watering should be cut back to about half at the end of summer.
Do Elephant Ears Go Dormant?
Elephant ears cannot thrive in the outdoors if they are not within the parameters of their ideal hardiness zone range. Therefore, you can expect elephant ears to go dormant during winter unless you live in a tropical climate.
- Elephant ears go dormant during winter in colder climates.
- When the leaves turn brown and fall off, it is a sign of pending dormancy.
Dormancy for elephant ears means that they die back after the first frost and remain dormant during winter, with new shoots appearing in the spring. If you see the leaves of your elephant ears turning brown and falling off, it’s a sign that they are headed into winter slumber.
Do You Have to Dig Up Elephant Ears in the Fall?
Elephant ears must be dug up in the fall if you want to preserve them in climates that experience freezing temperatures. This type of plant is tropical, and can’t survive winter outdoors. Freezing temperatures damage tubers and kill the foliage.
- In cold climates, elephant ears should be dug up in the fall.
- Freezing temperatures will kill elephant ears.
- Cut the foliage back, dig up the plants, and store them in a cool, dark area until spring.
In areas with cold, harsh winters, your elephant ears should be dug up and stored inside at the first sign of frost. Cut the foliage back to approximately 2 inches (5 cm) and then carefully dig up the plants. Make sure you let the tubers dry out for several days, and then store them in a dark, cool area. A basement, garage, or another storage area that remains above freezing is perfect for this job.
How Cold Can Elephant Ears Tolerate?
Elephant ears can’t survive frigid temperatures. For most species, this means temperatures lower than 32℉ (0℃). It’s not possible to save elephant ears that have been damaged by frost.
- Frigid temperatures will kill elephant ears.
- Store elephant ears inside during winter if you live in a cold region.
- Elephant ears grown in cold climates will perform as annuals.
If you are growing elephant ears in a cooler climate, you should store them indoors and replant them the following year. Alternatively, you can treat them as annuals and simply discard them when the growing season has reached its end. Then, you can buy and plant new elephant ears in spring.
Can You Leave Elephant Ears Out All Winter?
Freezing temperatures will kill elephant ears fairly quickly. Interestingly, though, in regions where the plants are borderline hardy—meaning the temperature is a little colder than their ideal environment, but not freezing—it’s possible to prevent them from dying.
- In borderline climates, elephant ears can survive outside during winter.
- Preserve your elephant ears by inserting stakes in the ground and covering them with cloth or plastic.
- If you use a plastic cover, don’t allow it to touch the plant.
You can keep elephant ears alive through mild winters by inserting stakes in the ground in a circular fashion around each plant and placing a plastic sheet or cloth over the stakes. If you use plastic, though, take precautions to make sure that the covering does not touch the plants. If you use this method, you can leave your elephant ears out all winter in borderline climates. This works in regions where frost occurs but the ground does not freeze.
Do Elephant Ear Plants Grow Back After Winter?
Elephant ears will grow back after winter, but only in warm climates. These plants are tropical and exotic and thrive in hot temperatures.
- In hot climates, elephant ears are virtually evergreen.
- In cold regions, elephant ears perform like annuals as opposed to perennials.
- Elephant ears will grow back in the spring in zones 8 and warmer.
- Dig up tubers at the first frost if you live in a cold climate.
- Bring the tubers indoors and store them in a dark, cool place during winter.
- In the spring, you can replant your elephant ears and enjoy them for another season.
Elephant ears can survive the winter months as long as temperatures do not dip below freezing for more than a few hours. Protecting them from frosty nights allows you to keep elephant ears alive without digging them up. With these tips, you can keep your elephant ears alive no matter what climate you live in.