Elephant Ear Plants: Types, Flowers, Leaves, and Care (With Pictures)

The massive heart-shaped and arrowhead leaves of elephant ear plants are well-known. Elephants ears are a kind of tropical perennial plant that thrives on damp soil and grows in warm, humid regions. Your summer garden or home’s interior is given a tropical feel by the large striking triangular leaves. Bulbs or tubers in the ground or pots produce elephant ear plant leaves at the end of long stems.

Leafy aroid plants in the genera Alocasia, Colocasia, Caladium, and Xanthosoma belong to the Araceae family and are known as “elephant ears.” Elephant ears produce flowers that resemble calla lily flowers in addition to producing huge tropical leaves. Elephant ear houseplants, on the other hand, are uncommonly seen blooming indoors.

Tropical countries are home to elephant ear plants. In areas 9 through 11, the majority of elephant ear varieties flourish. Cold hardy to zone 7 include a few Colocasia and Alocasia species. Elephant ears, on the other hand, don’t grow in the cold and can’t withstand frost.

Elephant ears may be grown as annuals in your garden if you live in temperate areas. You can alternatively dig up elephant ear bulbs and keep them in a dry, cold area indoors until you plant them in the spring. Of course, these leafy tropical houseplants make fantastic patio, deck, porch, and outside potted plants.

They thrive in containers. This article will teach you about the many types of elephant ear plants that you may cultivate in your home or garden. You’ll also learn tricks for sustaining these hardy, lush tropical plants.

Elephant Ear Plant Care

Grow the bulbs in well-draining soil that is kept moist to care for elephant ear plants. To flourish, elephant ears need plenty of sunlight, humidity, and water both indoors and out. Throughout the growing season, fertilize every two weeks. Indirect sunlight is sufficient indoors for growing potted elephant ear plants. Plant elephant ears in full to partial sunlight outdoors.

Common Types of Elephant Ears (Alocasia, Colocasia, Caladium, and Xanthosoma)

The four tropical plant genera of the Araceae family include elephant ear plant types. The stunning heart-shaped or arrowhead leaves that develop from corms or tubers are similar to those seen on these aroid plants. A overview of the four primary types of elephant ear plants is provided below.


The dark green waxy leaves with striking creamy-white prominent veins make Alocasia plants popular houseplants. Alocasia plants grow between 2 and 6 feet (0.6 and 1.8 meters) tall, also known as the African mask plant or Kris plant. Alocasia leaves range in length from 8 inches to 35 inches (20 to 90 cm).


The leaves of Colocasia plants are fleshy and downward-pointing, and they may be green, red, or purple-black in color. The elephant ear leaves, which grow up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) long, are huge. Taro tubers, which are a popular dish in Asia after being cooked, are edible.


Red, green, cream, white, pink, and silvery-green are some of the most stunning color combinations seen in caladium plants. Caladium elephant ear leaves have prominent veins, much like Alocasia plants. From 6 to 3 feet (15 to 90 cm) long, caladium plants grow. Heart of Jesus and Angel Wings are two names for shade-loving Caladium plants.


With tapered arrowhead-shaped (sagittate) leaves, Xanthosoma plants are flowering elephant ear plants. Gardens and containers are not common places to cultivate Xanthosoma. Elephant ear plant (Colocasia, Alocasia, and Xanthosoma) leaves are edible but must be cooked first, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Calcium oxalate crystals may be found in the leaves, and they must first be cooked before consumption. From the Caladium genus are poisonous to dogs, cats, and horses, as well as causing oral irritation due to their insoluble calcium oxalates, according to the ASPCA.

Elephant Ear Flowers

Elephant ear plants include Alocasia macrorrhizos (left) and Colocasia esculenta (right) as close up images. A white or green spadix is surrounded by a spathe leaf in elephant ear flowers. When grown outdoors, elephant ears seldom bloom and blooms are rare. Under the thick leafy foliage, the tiny flowers are usually lost.

Elephant Ear Bulbs

Elephants ear plants produce tubers or corms that are commonly known as bulbs. The elephant ear plant bulbs bloom throughout the year in zones 9 through 11 in tropical areas. Bulbs in temperate regions won’t last through the winter if they’re exposed to cold. As a result, overwintering or growing elephant ear bulbs as potted houseplants is required.

Elephant Ear Leaves

These amazing tropical foliage plants with huge leaves have elephant ear plant leaves as their most stunning feature. Sagittate-shaped elephant ear leaves resemble pointed hearts or arrowheads. In contrast to the lush leaves, the smooth, waxy leaves generally feature prominent veins in different hues.

Elephant ear leaves may point upwards or downwards depending on the species. Leaves on Alocasia and Xanthosoma are usually pointing upward or outward. Showy leaves pointing to the ground are seen on Colocasia and Caladium species. Green, black, pink, red, cream, and purple are some of the colors of elephant ear leaves.

Caladium elephant ear leaves come in a wide range of colors, such as red, pink, green, and cream. Your yard or interiors will seem like a tropical setting with the magnificent arrow- or heart-shaped leaves.

Types of Elephant Ear Plants (With Pictures)

In the genera Alocasia, Colocasia, Caladium, and Xanthosoma, let’s take a closer look at some of the most stunning examples of large-leafed tropical plants.

Amazonian Elephant Ear (Alocasia x amazonica)

The dark green arrowhead-shaped leaves with faint veins of Alocasia amazonica (Amazonian Elephant Ear) are a popular decorative houseplant. Dark green leaves with deep white ribs make up the striking glossy arrowhead. To add to the plant’s tropical appeal, the relatively narrow pointed lush green leaves have wavy edges. The leaves are up to 2 feet (0.6 meters) long and sagittate in shape.

The African mask plant or Kris plant is also known as this elephant ear plant. Indoors, grow African mask plants in subdued daylight. Without being too soggy, keep the soil moist. Amazonian elephant ears can be grown in the ground in your garden when the temperature is at least 65°F (18°C) outside.

Compact Amazonian Elephant Ear (Alocasia x amazonica ‘Polly’)

The Amazonian ‘Polly’ cultivar (compact Amazonian elephant ear) resembles a compact, little variation of the huge Alocasia amazonica species plant. Like the bigger Amazonian elephant ears, the popular Polly elephant ear plant has waxy green leaves with whitish veins.

This tiny tropical houseplant only grows to be up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall. Give this tiny elephant ears plant plenty of heat, humidity, and moisture to care for it. The Polly cultivar thrives in indirect sunlight and tolerates partial shade, much as the bigger Amazonian elephant ears.

Mammoth Elephant Ear (Alocasia macrorrhiza)

The Mammoth Elephant Ear plant has huge, thick leaves that grow to be 6 feet (1.8 meters) long and 4 feet (1.2 meters) broad. The enormous bulb produces long stalks with thick ruffled green leaves. The mammoth elephant ears, like those of other

Alocasia plants, rise upward and create a tropical effect in your yard.

The magnificent plant grows in USDA zones 9 through 12 and is also known as the Giant Taro or Upright Elephant Ear. In colder climates, if you winterize the bulbs from fall to spring, you may also grow the evergreen perennial plant as an annual.

Calidora Upright Elephant Ear (Alocaisa ‘Calidora’)

The upright elephant ear (Alocasia ‘Calidora’) features enormous leaves that may reach over a person in height. The rounded arrow-shaped upright Alocasia leaves reach up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall. A ribbed texture exists on the green leaves. In zones 10 through 12, grow Calidora elephant ears. This tropical plant thrives in partial sun to full shade.

Alocasia Zebrina

The unusual patterned stalks of Alocasia zebrina have a “zebra” or “leopard” appearance, and it is a popular houseplant. The Alocasia zebrina plant has arrowhead leaves, as do other elephant ear plants. Light, faint vein markings cover the thick, waxy green leaves.

The spotted stems of the Alocasia zebrina, which resemble leopard skin, are its appealing characteristic. The Alocasia Leopard or Alocasia zebrina Tiger is another name for this unusual houseplant. The elephant ear plant thrives in moist potting soil and flourishes in warm, humid conditions.

Alocasia Frydek (Alocasia micholitziana ‘Frydek’)

Make sure that the Alocasia Frydek gets enough indirect sunlight to properly care for it. The Frydek variety has velvety, not glossy, dark green leaves that contrast with the protruding white veins that create spiked patterns, much as the Amazonian Alocasia does. The Green Velvet Alocasia grows between 2 and 3 feet (0.6 and 1 m) as a houseplant.

Taro (Colocasia esculenta)

The taro plant (Colocasia esculenta) has large green arrowhead leaves that give the garden an unusual look. The leaves of the taro plant droop downward, giving sunny gardens a tropical feel. To add stunning exotic foliage to gardens, raise Colocasia esculenta, an easy-to-grow tropical plant. Taro plants grow to be 3 to 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall.

USDA zones 8 through 12 are ideal for taro plants. During the summer, water the elephant ear bulbs frequently in partial sunlight.

Giant Elephant Ear (Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’)

The huge elephant ear Colocasia gigantea has enormous, heart-shaped leaves that need a lot of room in the garden. The leaves are 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) long and broad, growing from 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters). In any big garden, the spectacular decorative foliage plant creates a fiery focal point.

Giant Elephant Ear plants may be grown in huge pots or water gardens. In wet conditions, tuberous bulbs flourish. Yet, since the plant can grow up to 10 feet (3 meters) tall and broad, it would be ideal if you had plenty of room to develop it.

Colocasia Esculenta ‘Black Magic’

The elephant ear Colocasia Esculenta has dark purple-black arrowhead leaves. Velvety black leaves with a gorgeous dark purple color can be seen on occasion. The typical arrowhead form of the smooth purple elephant ear leaves grows to 2 feet (0.6 m) long.

In tropical gardens, the dark purple Taro plant serves as a stunning focal point. In partial sun and moist soil, plant Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic.’ Pond and stream or large container plants that prefer moisture may be found.

Colocasia Esculenta ‘Illustris’

The Colocasia esculenta ‘Illustris’ has blackish-purple elephant ear leaves with green veins on the end of long arching stalks. The bright green veins contrast with the heart-shaped dark elephant ear leaves. The 3-foot (1-meter) long dramatic mammoth elephant ear leaves.

The ‘Illustris’ Colocasia occasionally blooms with spathe flowers, as do other elephant ear plants. USDA zones 8 through 11 are home to Colocasia plants. In the winter, you may also keep the massive plant as an unusual indoor houseplant in a big pot.

Xanthosoma Sagittifolium (Elephant Ears)

The elephant ear Xanthosoma sagittifolium is a fast-growing elephant ear plant with large wrinkled leaves that grow up to 6 to 9 feet (2.7 to 2.7 meters) tall. The wrinkles on the huge broad arrowhead elephant ear leaves and the wavy margins make them stand out.

The 4 ft. (1.2 m) long and 3 ft. (1 m) broad elephant ear leaves have stiff stalks. The edible tuberous roots of Xanthosoma sagittifolium are commonly grown. Along creeks, wetlands, and swamps, the tropical herbaceous plant thrives.

Elephant Ears Xanthosoma ‘Lime Zinger’

The garden is brightened by Xanthosoma ‘Lime Zinger,’ which has yellowish veins on its arrowhead elephant ear leaves. The clumping foliage is only 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall, and the lime-green elephant ear leaves are 1.5 feet (0.5 meters) long.

To keep the color of the leaves vivid, this elephant ear plant thrives in partial sun. As a patio or deck plant, you can grow Xanthosoma ‘Lime Zinger’ in containers. You might overwinter the tropical plant indoors in temperate regions.

Angel Wings (Caladium ‘Candidum’)

The Elephant Ear Angel Wings has unusual white arrowhead-shaped leaves with a network of dark green patterns. The bright foliage of other garden plants contrasts beautifully with the highly decorative elephant ear leaves. The Caladium plant, which thrives in full shade, can brighten up gloomy areas.

Frost doesn’t bother caladium elephant ears. In USDA zones 9 through 12, you can grow them in the ground. White leafy plants should be grown in pots in colder regions. Alternatively, after the plant has died back in the fall, you can dig up the bulbs..

Caladium ‘Candidum Junior’

This compact cultivar is a smaller version of the Angel Wings plant, and it is sometimes known as the Fancy-Leafed Caladium. Heart-shaped white and green leaves characterize this tropical species with lightly colored foliage. A shade-loving elephant ear plant cultivar called the Caladium Candidum Junior.

The elephant ears plant grows to be about one foot (0.3 meters) tall and broad. Caladium ‘Candidum Junior’ is a great ground cover plant for shade in frost-free gardens because of its low-growing nature and drooping leaves.

Caladium Bicolor (Caladium x hortulanum)

The foliage of caladium bicolor elephant ear plants is among the most gorgeous of any plant. Rainbow hues of pink, red, green, and white may be seen on the multi-colored leaves of Caladium bicolor. The vein patterns on certain bicolor elephant ear leaves are starkly different from the leaf colors.

Between 7″ and 17″ (17 – 43 cm) long, and up to 10″ (25 cm) broad, variegated Caladium bicolor leaves grow. As a specimen plant or ground cover, grow these thirsty plants along shaded borders.

Many gorgeous Caladium bicolor cultivars exist, each with diverse colorful leaves. Here are some tropical garden or attractive houseplant specimens of bicolored elephant ear cultivars:

Caladium ‘White Queen’

The scarlet-red veins in the leaves of caladium ‘White Queen’ appear to bleeding into the leaves, which are stunning red, cream, and green. This elephant ear variety has new leaf growth that is a dusty pink color before maturing into white and red colors.

The white queen of caladium grows to be 2 feet (0.6 meters) tall and broad. If you live in a growing zone lower than 9, grow the ‘White Queen’ Caladium as a houseplant in shaded areas.

Caladium ‘Red Flash’

The dark green elephant ear leaves of Caladium ‘Red Flash’ have bright red veins and pink spots, and are decorated with ornamental green leaves. The crimson paint splashed on lush green foliage appears to be splashed on these elephant ear plant leaves. This Caladium variety is reasonably sturdy in the sun and thrives in partial shade from all major Caladium cultivars.

Caladium ‘Carolyn Whorton’

The Angel Wings Caladium ‘Carolyn Whorton’ has stunning green and pink leaves with crimson veins. This elephant ears cultivar’s vivid colors are a great focal point in any room. In warm regions, the ground-dwelling Caladium brightens up borders and flower beds by growing in the shade.

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