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Caring for your Elephant Ear plant

Plant ABC

Words by Georgie Sinclair

Illustrations by Elena Boils

Don’t be fooled by the heart-shaped leaves of the Alocasia Calidora, some grow up to 5 metres and will do so at an incredible speed. Admittedly, this will only happen in an environment which resembles the tropics of Asia, from where the plant originates. So here are some tricks on how to imitate a tropical environment in your home.

Latin name: Alocasia Calidora

Nickname: Elephant Ear, Persian Palm  

Family: Araceae

Native to: Subtropical Asia and Australia

Spotted: Fanning Cleopatra’s face

Life Cycle: Perennial, but in colder climates, annual.

Soil: 5.5-7.0 pH

Special Feature: Lightning speed growth

A sun seeker

The Elephant Ear will thrive in the brightest spot in your house. If you live in a warmer climate it will also do well on your balcony or in your garden, but allow it some shade in the afternoon.

Always hungry, always thirsty

Used to the nutritious soils and humid air of the tropics, this plant is always hungry and always thirsty. Feed it with common fertilizer every few weeks and water it frequently, season dependent. If you aren’t certain how often, pay close attention to its leaves. If they are drooping, it is dehydrated.

As with all thirsty plants, your Elephant Ear should live in a pot with drainage holes or on a saucer filled with water and pebbles to prevent stagnating water and rot. Place it near an air-humidifier if you own one. If not, you can spray its leaves with water throughout the week.

Turn up the heat

The Elephant Ear prefers warm environments of around 21ºC. If you have chosen to grow your plant outdoors, and don’t live in the tropics, bring it inside over the winter as it will not survive.

Danger!

This plant is mildly poisonous to animals. Don’t let your cat chew on its leaves.