First appearing in Victorian gardens as an exotic addition, Colocasia and Caladium commonly known as elephant ears - continue to make a statement in today's modern landscapes. Lush, dramatic, and colorful, these plants add a hint of the tropics to any garden. Planted in the garden, in containers, or even indoors, these popular plants offer constant color and texture throughout the summer months.

Use these bulbs throughout the garden to add an exotic and tropical feel that will thrive throughout the summer months. Try starting them indoors and then move them to the garden once the temperature gets warmer. Dead growth needs to be trimmed to promote growth throughout the summer and remember to bring the plants indoors in the fall to increase their life span. Then return them to the garden each summer.

Colocasia and Caladium are from the Aracaea family.  Here is more information on both of these plants:

Colocasia – This plant is also commonly called Taro or Elephant Ear. It gets its name because the leaves are in the shape of an elephant’s ear.  The ears typically grow 3 – 6 feet tall and wide.  The huge heart-shaped to arrowhead-shaped leaves are noticeably veined.  These downward pointing leaves have long, firm stems.  The most common color is a rich emerald green, but new varieties range in color from black to deep purple or brown to chartreuse. Calla Lily-like flowers with yellowish-white spathes and spadixes are infrequently produced and usually hidden by the foliage when they do occur. This species is also commercially grown as a food crop in Hawaii (poi is made from the tubers) where it is commonly called taro.

Common Name: Elephant Ear

Habit: Large heart-shaped downward pointing leaves

Winter Hardy: Zone 9 or above

Light Requirements: Partial sun to shade

Native Origin:  Southeastern Asia

Height:  36 – 60 inches

Soil Requirements: Love water and can grow in standing water or the edge of a pond

Pairs Well With: Caladiums

Caladium - If you need color for those shady areas of your garden then Caladiums are just the plants to grow! The foliage on these plants comes in color combinations that include red, pink, white, rose, and green.  The leaves also come in a variety of shapes such as hearts and arrows which adds an additional layer of interest to your garden. Once the summer heat arrives these plants will grow like gangbusters and you’ll be able to enjoy their beauty until the first frost arrives in your area.

Common Name: Caladium, Elephant Ear, or Angel Wings

Habit: Heart or arrow-shaped leaves

Winter Hardy: Zone 9 or above

Light Requirements: Partial sun to shade

Native Origin:  South America

Height:  24 inches or less

Soil Requirements: Moist and regularly watered, but can take some neglect

Pairs Well With: Colocasia and other low growing annuals

I have grown many different varieties of these plants and they are easy to grow and look great in containers. Both Colocasia and Caladium prefer partial shade, but placing these bulbs in containers and putting them in full sun can encourage the bulbs to emerge faster.  Once you see foliage starting to appear in your container move it to partial shade. To promote faster growth of your caladiums, lay them out in a warm area in a little bit of peat moss for a week or two before planting them.

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