My elephant ears are about 5 years old and are getting ugly. They look like a tree, and are about 5 to 6 feet high. Can I cut them off to about 2 feet and plant the one I cut off back in the ground?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Maryann in Florida: Growing elephant ears in your part of the country is quite different than growing them in Kentucky. In Florida, they are considered perennials but here in Kentucky, we have to bring our elephant ears inside to protect them from our winter weather. Depending on variety, these large-leafed plants can get to be 5-6 feet like yours or even taller. If the foliage looks ratty you can always cut it back. This will encourage new shoots to form but cutting off the existing foliage and placing it in the ground is not going to start a new plant. If your goal is to propagate your elephant ear then you will need to dig up the bulb and split apart some of the baby offsets. Since your plant has been in the ground for five years you will certainly have baby bulbs attached to the mother bulb. Gently separating them and replanting will give you additional plants. When you cut back the foliage that does not look good go ahead and take it all the way to the ground. It will put on new growth from the bulb and if you just cut off the top of the foliage it will not help to make the plant any prettier. These plants are considered heavy feeders and will benefit from a fertilizer high in nitrogen. If you have not fertilized recently it would not hurt to do so.