Indoor plants

How is the Elephant Ear cared for?

Today we will talk about a spectacular plant. Surely many of you have it decorating the living room of your home, or even in the garden. Something that is not surprising, since its leaves are very beautiful.

The scientific name of this plant is Alocasia macrorrhiza and it sprouts from a bulb, but unlike bulbous flowers (such as the tulip or narcissus), the elephant ear has leaves all year round. The color it presents is soft green, due to chlorophyll.

Its origin is in Asia, specifically in India and Sri Lanka. Later the primitive and domesticated cultivation of this plant spread to the Philippines and Oceania. The elephant ear grows in various currently tropical and subtropical regions, especially in the southeastern regions of China and Asia in general.

In the American continent, in Colombia, it grows in low areas of the Pacific and Atlantic coast, although it also develops in the inter-Andean valleys of the country and in the mountain range area, where plants of other genera of the same family can grow.

Characteristics of this plant

The elephant ear is a plant that has large leaves, as mentioned above, which can measure up to a meter and a half in length, and that come from its base, getting smaller until it reaches the tip that is shaped like a triangle.

Mostly these are usually green in different shades, although you can find some that have purple or bronze flashes.

They have an elongated, underground and porous stem, and underneath you have its roots and above the buds, from which its leaves and flowers sprout. However, on rare occasions this plant blooms, but when it does, this flower is called the cane flower and has a whitish appearance.

This plant does not resist freezing temperatures, so it is recommended to have it in a climate that does not have a very cold winter, unless the frosts are very short, or its leaves will be lost in that period of time. But don’t worry, next spring they will sprout again.

The best for this type of plant is to grow in hot climates, in a space in your garden that is slightly shaded. It is an ideal plant to have inside your house, in a room that has a lot of light and that is away from drafts.

For the elephant ear that is in a very dry environment, you will have to spray them on certain occasions, to avoid burning the tips. It is a plant that needs a lot of care, especially when it has been planted, but don’t worry, then it will only need spraying.

It needs the sun to shine constantly during the day, so it will be better to place it in a strategic place for it.

Cultivation of this plant

If you are one of those who has decided to plant an elephant ear at home, you should take the following into consideration:

Whether it is planted in a pot or in the ground, it is advisable to fertilize throughout the growing season (from spring to late summer or early autumn, depending on the weather) with an organic fertilizer, or with a liquid fertilizer every fortnight..

And as for watering, this will have to be frequent, but the surface of the substrate must always be allowed to dry so that the bulb does not rot. It is a plant that will require, as we have mentioned, that after planting you water it constantly initially, but then with a few sprays it will be fine.

One of the benefits of this plant is that you can grow it or multiply it in a pot with seeds, or by using the children that sprout from its roots, which in a few days will have the necessary strength for their development.

If you want to sow it directly in your garden, the soil in it must be moist and well drained and it does not matter that you do it at the foot of other large trees, since these will serve to give the necessary shade to the elephant ear.

The best thing to do is that this plant be buried 15 centimeters away and that the stem has at least one bud, which has to be dry. To achieve this, leave the stem to air dry for two to three days, so you better do this in the spring.

Plagues and diseases

Elephant ear is one of the plants that is rarely affected by some kind of pest or disease.

However, it is possible that a mealybug, a parasite that feeds on the sap, may get on it, causing the plant to present unusual stains, which must be removed with a cotton swab moistened with alcohol or you can also wash it with soap and water.

If you have one of these in your house, you have to be careful when cutting it, since the sap that comes off its stem causes irritation to the skin and the eyes, so be careful not to come into direct contact with it.

In the same way, you must be aware of the appearance of your plant, since it always has to be with its characteristic green color, but if its leaves turn yellow, this is because something happens with it, so it may be the humidity that It is affecting or that it is not being sprayed correctly on its roots and leaves.

Pruning

Image – Wikimedia/ Fanghong

The plant does not require you to prune it like other plants do. However, if some of your leaves turn yellowish, you will need to remove the leaves from the plant to prevent it from becoming a vehicle for parasitic diseases.

To cut damaged leaves, use utensils that are clean and disinfected when you are going to do an operation on the plant, since you have to avoid that you can transmit a parasitic disease through these to your elephant ear.

Multiplication

The multiplication of this plant is done by dividing the rhizomes, which must be done at the beginning of spring, dividing into proportions or detaching the rhizomes from the main bud, which in turn must have at least one bud or better two.

The cut surface of the rhizome has to be treated with a sulfur-based fungicide, in its powder presentation and you will have to let it dry for a couple of days, and then be able to bury it in a small pot with compost and soil, at a depth between 2 and 3 centimeters.

Now you will have to place the pot where there is a temperature that can be constant and around 24ºC, in addition to that it must have shade. The substrate of your new plant should be humid until the fourth leaf comes out of it and then you can transfer it to a larger pot with this same substrate.

Is the elephant ear plant poisonous?

This is a plant that is not poisonous at all. It is even used to feed fish as a substitute for the concentrated feed that is provided to them, allowing their owners to extend their feed.

Pigs are also fed this plant in some regions, where farm producers use from the stem of the plant to the leaves, since these can replace more than half the concentrate in the diet that they need.

Another way of use is for human consumption, although the presence of calcium oxalates can be irritating to people. However, in some cultures they use their leaves as vegetables the most tender and have different methods of cooking.

Although this plant is not poisonous, be very careful not to confuse it with the black elephant ear, which we will explain to you below and that if it is really dangerous.

Does the black elephant ear plant exist?

There is a black elephant ear, which looks similar to those already mentioned in terms of its leaves, but has characteristics that differentiate it quite a bit.

The leaves, in addition to their characteristic color, have a velvety texture that does not have the “original”. The truth is that the tonality that we can assimilate as black is actually a very dark green.

The size of this plant is between medium and small, so you will not need much space to have it, in addition to its slow growth, you will not have to move it for a long time.

The most important thing to note is that this is poisonous, so if you have children at home be very careful with them, as it can poison if ingested. As for the flower that this plant has, it is really insignificant, but its interior closely resembles calla lilies due to its inverted cone shape.

It needs a special substrate so that it can maintain its green almost black color. This plant does need a good watering, which the ” original does not need “, which implies that you have to have a pot with a good drainage system and more dedicated care with it.

In short, the elephant ear is a perfect plant for you to have inside your house, in addition to not requiring much care, it has a very ornamental appearance that can look good with the decoration you have in it, so you you can dare to have it without any problem.

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