Garden Detective

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How to overwinter elephant ears

Tropical Colocasia (elephant ears) can be overwintered indoors.

Tropical Colocasia (elephant ears) can be overwintered indoors. (Credit: Handout)

I purchased two  "elephant ears" and planted them  in the pots I purchased them in. I was told it would be easier to store for the winter, seeing I bought them a few weeks ago. How do you store them for winter? I have read many different ways, and I was wondering in your opinion which is best? --James Hoffman

Hi, James! 

It's easy to overwinter elephant ears indoors. Just bring the pots inside and treat as houseplants near a sunny window, watering often and fertilizing occasionally with ordinary houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength.

If they are large and you don't have enough room to house them, or if they had been growing in the ground, leave them outdoors until the first light frost turns foliage brown, then cut plants down to 6 inches and dig them up. Rinse, "bulblets" and allow to air dry completely, then place in peat moss in a box in which you've cut out some holes for ventilation. Place in a cool, dark place, such as a crawl space or cellar.

Check monthly and spritz with water if they look like they're starting to shrivel. Discard rotted roots. Plant outdoors around Memorial Day, or to give them a head start, pot them up in potting mix in April and set them by your sunniest window or under grow lights, keeping the soil lightly moist. Good luck!

Tags: mailbag , tropical plants

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