S & J Nursery’s Guide to Growing Colocasia
/ Elephant Ear Plants
in Northeast Florida Gardens”
Colocasia / Elephant Ear / Taro
What are they?
Colocasia plants are the tropical garden dream made into reality. Their big bold foliage may reach 2 1/2 to even 3 ft across on just one leaf. Their ease of care and Colocasia plants may be sold in garden centers under the names Elephant Ear or even Taro plants. Most southern gardeners are
familiar with colocasia plants running amuck in wet areas near ponds or streams, but the new hybrid colocasia varieties are thankfully much more well behaved garden plants. Many of todays colocasia varieties will form clumps of large foliage rather than running all over the garden popping up wherever they will. Some new colocasia varieties even produce only one large single stem of big bold foliage.
Is my plant a Colocasia, Alocasia, or a Xanthosoma
Botanical names may seem confusing but they help us not only to know which plant we are talking about but can give us a clue as to how
it may behave in the garden. I think of them like last names, if you were talking to someone and just said Lucy, they may think of a different Lucy than you have in mind, but if you said Lucy Smith, then you
would both be on the same page and confusion would be avoided in your conversation. Botanical names do that for us, if you are talking to another gardener and they are telling you how to take care of an elephant ear plant,
they could be telling you of their one of hundreds of varieties of elephant ear plant and what worked for them, but if they are talking about their colocasia plant, you will now have a closer understanding of how your plant may behave.
Here are a few guidelines that colocasia will normally follow to help tell them apart from other types of elephant ear or Taro plants. In general, but not always,
Colocasia plants will have their “ears” held downward on the stem with the narrowest part of the leaf pointing to the ground.
The stem will attach to the leaf just below the leaf notch on the
back side of the leaf.
Colocasia will prefer a full sun or partial shade location in
the Northeast Florida landscape and have heart shaped leaves.
Colocasia prefer moist to wet soils and are highly tolerant of
waterlogged or bog areas.
If you’re trying to
figure out if the plant you have growing in the he back yard is an Alocasia, Colocasia or Xanthosoma, here is a link to the easiest explanation I have found! Although there are quite a few rule breakers among the new
and older plant selections, this will hopefully help a little.
Where to plant your Colocasia Plant in Northeast
Colocasia elephant ear plants are tolerant of a wide range of soils and will grow happily in any moist soil area whether they are
planted in full sun or in a shady corner of the garden seems to make no difference as long as the soil remains consistently moist. When planted in to sandy or well draining soil, it its recommended to generously amend the
soil with compost when planting and top dress the area with at least on inch of compost every year in the spring. Colocasia plants will need supplemental irrigation in addition to compost amendments when planted into well draining soils. Colocasia prefer soil rich in organic matter and consistently moist so mimicking that in your landscape will give you the best results.
Your Colocasia Plants and Northeast Florida Winter Temperatures
When temperatures begin to drop below
32 degrees Colocasia plants will loose their water filled foliage. Don’t despair, they will quickly regrow new stems and leaves from the underground tuber in spring when the weather warms here in the
Jacksonville and St. Augustine area landscape. If planting Colocasia in more frost prone areas than Northeast Florida, you can dig the tuber up out of the ground and store you r Colocasia indoors during winter to plant out again next spring.
S & J Nursery’s Colocasia Plant Selections for Northeast Florida Gardeners
There are so many new and exciting varieties of Colocasia showing
up on the market that it is hard to choose where to start! Here at S & J Nursery, we try to choose hardy varieties that will return year after year in the landscape and will add not only add big bold texture but lots of color to the garden as well. Here is a list of the Colocasia varieties we are currently
growing here at S & J Nursery for Northeast Florida.