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How to Store Elephant Ear Bulbs (The 6 Expert Tips)

live bulb of Elephant Ear (Colocasia Esculenta) prepared for planting in the garden

Elephant ear plants originate from southeast Asia and India. They are typically grown for their beautiful large leaves, rather than their flowers, and for this reason, they can make excellent background plants. They also border a pond well and can also be grown indoors in the right conditions. They are perennials, but if you suffer heavy frosts in your area, the elephant ear can suffer if exposed to these conditions.

Rather than buying new elephant ear plants every year, you can dig up the bulbs, clean them, and then store them ready for planting the next year. It’s highly rewarding to grow plants from your own bulbs and it saves you from having to locate and buy new ones at the beginning of the season.

Below, you can find more information on elephant ear bulbs, including 6 tips on how to store them so that they will be in the best condition when it is time to plant.

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About The Elephant Ear Plant

The elephant ear plant originates in parts of Asia and the Indian subcontinent. They are known for their large, majestic leaves, and different species of elephant ears can have different colored leaves and different appearances. They can be grown outdoors, where they are commonly used as a background plant to show off colorful flowers in front. And they can look very effective when planted around ponds and water features.

They will grow in full sun or partial shade, and although they are perennials and will grow back year after year in the right conditions, they do not tend to survive frosts and cold winters.

elephant ear plant in pot
Image Credit: rattiya lamrod, Shutterstock

divider 4 The 6 Tips To Store Elephant Ear Bulbs

Because elephant ear plants do not do well in cold winters, it can be beneficial to dig up the bulb and store it for next year. For the best results, follow these simple steps to store your elephant ear bulbs.

1. Dig Them Up Before It Gets Frosty

Ideally, you should dig the bulbs up before the first frost hits. Although the bulb may survive a mild frost, if the temperature gets too low, there is a chance that the bulb will not survive. Get out a week or so before the first frost is expected, cut down the foliage and carefully dig the bulbs up.

2. Clean the Bulbs

Once you have dug up the bulbs, clean away dirt, soil, and any plant that is left. Do not damage or destroy the bulbs that you can see because this is where next year’s plants will grow from.

3. Dry Them Out

Once you have cleaned off any soil, place the clean bulbs in a box and put it in a dry place for about a week. The bulbs should stay dry and shouldn’t get too cold. The drying process will usually take about a week.

4. Store Individually

Once you have clean, dried elephant ear bulbs, you can store them. Get brown paper or paper bags and put each bulb individually into its own wrapper or bag. Once you have done this with all the bulbs, you can put them in a cardboard box.

live bulb of Elephant Ear (Colocasia Esculenta)
Image Credit: Kosoff, Shutterstock

5. Store Them Somewhere Cool

Ensure that the bulbs are stored somewhere that the temperature will not drop to freezing. The bulbs need to be cool but can be killed by freezing conditions. If you live in a reasonable climate, you may be able to store the bulbs in a garage or shed. You can always add piles of blankets or fabric on top of the box to keep it warm.

6. Make Sure It’s Dry

Similarly, the location needs to be dry, or you need to ensure that moisture cannot get into the box that the bulbs are stored in. You can cover the box in plastic wrap or a tarp to help prevent drips from getting in.

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How Long Can Elephant Ear Bulbs Be Stored?

Once the bulbs are stored appropriately, you can use them again next year, but they should be good to be kept this way for at least 2–3 years.

Should I Soak Elephant Ear Bulbs?

During storage, elephant ear bulbs should be kept dry. Once you replant them, you will need to thoroughly soak the soil, however, to help them bed in and take root.

What Temperature Should Elephant Ear Bulbs Be Stored At?

Ideally, your elephant ear bulbs should be stored at 40° to 45° Fahrenheit. They will survive temperatures slightly above or below this point, but they should not be stored in freezing conditions.

Elephant ears plant
Image Credit: hoaihungtv, Pixabay

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Elephant ear plants are popular with gardeners because they effectively frame other plants and flowers thanks to their large, green leaves. They will grow in different climates but will struggle in areas where it gets freezing. If you suffer freezing frosts, dig up the bulbs before the first frost before cleaning and drying the bulbs for storage.

Ensure the bulbs are kept dry and in a cool but not freezing condition and they will be good to plant next year. It is even possible to keep the bulbs like this for 2–3 years before planting.

Featured Image Credit: Kosoff, Shutterstock


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