If you’re interested to learn how to propagate elephant ears, you have two methods to choose from in the UK. Elephant ears are undoubtedly one of the most eye-catching plants to add to your collection, and knowing their propagation techniques will put you at an advantage in the long run. And if you have a greenhouse, perhaps you’ll also have a head start in rooting them.
The polytunnel is not only beneficial for overwintering elephant plants. The controlled and stable conditions indoors should also ensure germination and the establishment of your seeds and divisions. Therefore, you’ll have vigorous elephant ear plants that can withstand outdoor UK conditions.
You are probably shocked that one can propagate elephant ears from seeds. Propagating from seeds isn’t a standard method because gardeners in the UK often use root cuttings for starting these plants. However, it’s worth learning how to propagate elephant ears from seeds if your plant ends up developing a seed pod.
Step #1. Seed collection
You can collect the seeds and opt to grow them for the following spring. How to collect elephant ear plant seeds? Take the seed pod from the plant by holding it at the base and twisting it off.
You should be able to open the berries over a bowl to collect the tiny elephant ears seeds. Collect plenty of seeds to ensure that you’ll have enough seedlings if some were not viable for growing. Once you have the seeds, rinse them off the leftover pulp and consider growing them on the ground or in the greenhouse.
You can spread them on the soil with the former, but you have a higher chance of germinating them if you grow indoors in a planting tray.
Step #2. Sowing
Press the seeds onto the surface and cover with some soil before misting the medium. Ensure that the soil is always moist but not soggy, and you should expect germination by three weeks—thin your seedlings, so only the healthiest remain for transplanting after growing true leaves.
The more common method of propagating elephant ears is from division. Remember that elephant ears can grow runners, and you can divide them to start new plants. However, it’s important to emphasise the importance of wearing gloves when handling elephant ears for division.
The sap of these plants can be irritating, so you must avoid directly touching it. After you have put on the gloves, you can dig out the roots by loosening the soil around the plant. Allocate some distance around the plant so you don’t risk damaging the roots.
Step #1. Separation
You can separate the roots by hands and use a sharp and sterile knife to separate the tubers from the main plant. Each tuber should have one bud to ensure that it will grow well after planting. The bud looks like a sprout on the potato-like tuber.
It would also be best to prepare the planting site beforehand to keep the divisions from drying up. You can grow the elephant ears in the polytunnel or the UK garden, but only if the conditions are stable. Choose an area with partial shade and fertile, well-draining soil for growing the tubers.
Step #2. Planting
Space the tubers at two feet apart with a depth of around three inches for each hole. Plant the tuber in a way where the bud is facing upward to help it develop later on. You can also plant tubers horizontally if you can’t find the buds.
Mulch the soil after you cover the tubers and maintain soil moisture as they are growing. You can then fertilise each month as maintenance. The plants should produce new tubers after eight months.
Growing Elephant Ears In Pots
Did you know that you can also grow elephant ears in pots? Instead of transplanting in the ground, use large containers to anticipate the size of elephant ear plants. Fill them with fertile and moist soil with a pH level between 5.5 and 7.0.
Place the pots either in whole light or partial shade, depending on the variety. You can keep the pots in the polytunnel if your UK region is cold as elephant ears thrive somewhere humid and warm. As maintenance, keep the soil moist and start feeding them when you notice growth.
It’s worth noting that some species of elephant ears can also grow in water. These plants naturally grow in swamps, which means you can mimic these environments when propagating them. The difference will be placing the pots in shallow water, so it reaches their rim.
Don’t let the sap of elephant ears keep you from producing new plants for your UK garden. Wear gloves and learn how to propagate elephant ears either from seeds or tubers. While it’s not common to start elephant ears from seeds, you can still collect your plant’s pods and sow them indoors.
Press the seeds on planting trays and ensure soil moisture to encourage sprouting. You can then thin the seedlings and transplant the strongest from the bunch. On the other hand, you can divide the roots of your mature elephant ear plant and plant the tubers.
If your climate is still unpredictable, you can plant the tubers indoors. Ensure that their bud is facing upward when you grow them and keep the soil from drying. You can also fertilise each month, and your plants should produce tubers after eight months.