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Elephant Ears - Found It

My grandmother, who lives in Vermont, has since I can remember has had the most beautiful elephant ears growing in her garden. Several years ago my aunt transplanted some of them to her home in southern Indiana where they have done quite well. I would like some in my garden in Cincinnati as well. At first I thought this would be no big deal, order some off the internet and away we go. Everything I have found however indicates that they will not survive as perennials north of zone 7. They are a lush dark green, the leaves are 1’ – 2.5’ feet long and grow about 3’ or 4’ tall. They seen to like to spread but not at a crazy pace like bamboo. I know for a fact that they are not digging them up each fall and wintering the bulbs indoors.

What variety can handle the extreme cold of Vermont winters? Is it not really an elephant ear? Some bizarre fern or hosta? Any ideas at all??

Thanks so much,

Last edited by morgan on Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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From what I've read, you might be able to grow them where you are. I understand that Cincinnati is in a transition zone (zone 6 to zone 7), so if you plant the elephant ears near the wall of your house, or in some similarly protected spot, they would very likely do fine for you. :)
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Well, I'm in Cincinnati, and I've tried leaving some of my elephant ears in the ground to winter over and they've never come back. I haven't had them in a really protected spot, so I'm not saying you couldn't find a way to get them through a winter (especially if we had one of our milder ones), but they don't naturally winter over here.

Apparently there is a more cold hardy elephant ear:

It is not the typical one, different genus. The common elephant ear is colocasia.

The article above says the alocasia is hardy down to about -10 F. I'm thinking even that might be a little iffy in Vermont and it might not make it through a bad winter.
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IMHO you'll have a better chance by getting a division from your grandmother or your aunt. Whatever the variety, theirs have adapted to the colder climate. Get full planting and care instructions from them as well. :D

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I found it. Not actually an elephant ear, it is a japanese butterbur. A very aggressive water loving plant. Huge green leaves and hardy from zones 4 - 9.

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Hardy elephant ears

I agree, you should try to get a start from one that is known to be winter hardy.

However, I have got a nook between my porch and the house that let's me grow elephant ears, cannas and now 2 banana trees without digging them out in the fall. This nook is surrounded with brick and gets direct sunlight during the winter. It faces due south. (a microclimate).

I believe the microclimate may be the answer here.


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