When you think of plant propagation, you might picture small, lush cuttings sitting in water, sprouting new, clean roots.
While this propagation method makes you feel like a mad plant scientist and is super cool to watch, it doesn’t work for all plants. Propagating Elephant Ear, for example, requires a different technique. Using cuttings to propagate won’t work!
So, to learn more about how to propagate Elephant Ear plants properly, keep reading!
How to Propagate an Elephant Ear
Unlike other plants that are receptive to a few different ways, propagating Elephant Ear plants can really only be done through one method.
Said method involves dividing up the “mother” or main plant body and replating it in other pots.
In more recent attempts, some folks have had varying success in propagating Elephant Ears from corms, which are small, bulb-like components of some plants.
This method is similar to propagation by dividing the mother plant but can be a bit more challenging to execute and take longer to see results.
What You Need to Start Propagating
To start propagating Elephant Ears, you’ll need a few things on hand.
First and foremost, you’ll need a mature Elephant Ear to work from that has produced multiple healthy tubers. Tubers are the rhizome from which new growth begins.
If you have a healthy houseplant that’s growing well, you’ve probably noticed what look like little baby versions of the plant begin to pop up around the main body.
Those are successfully growing tubers and what we aim to propagate.
In addition to a viable mother plant, you’ll need a handful of other supplies, such as:
- A sharp knife or handheld pruners
- Bleach or other sterile disinfectant
- A small hand trowel
Propagating Elephant Ear: Dividing the Mother Plant
Prep Your Tools
Before you begin digging in the soil and cutting tubers, you’ll want to ensure your tools are all sterile.
To do so, cleanse all your tools in a bleach solution to avoid spreading disease amongst the new plants.
Elephant Ear plants are particularly susceptible to diseases and pests, such as mealy bugs and fungal blight, so this step is really important.
Once your tools are clean and ready to use, set up your propagation station with some pots and soil, and you’re all set to get planting!
Remove Plant from Pot or Ground
Elephant Ears can grow inside in pots or outside on the ground, so depending on where your mother plant is located, you’ll want to approach this a little differently.
If your Elephant Ear is in a pot inside, the timing is less important.
However, if you’re propagating Elephant Ear outdoors, it’s best to dig up your parent plant in the fall when the plant is dormant.
Either way, you’ll want to carefully remove the Elephant Ear you plan to propagate and gently shake the roots clear of dirt.
Locate Tubers or Pups
Once you’ve cleared off the roots, you should be able to identify which tubers are healthy and growing roots.
These tubers, sometimes called pups, should be able to survive and grow while separated from the parent plant.
Cut and Separate Tubers
Once you’ve located viable pups or tubers, take your disinfected knife, pruning scissors, and shears and carefully cut one from the parent Elephant Ear.
To keep the mother plant thriving after the fact, be sure to take less than one-third of the healthy tubers to propagate.
Prepare a New Pot
In your new pot, fill it with moist potting soil at a neutral pH level. Baby Elephant Ears like well-drained, slightly crumbly soil and do not like to be waterlogged.
Make sure you pick a large pot with drainage holes!
Replant Tubers or Pups
To replant your propagated Elephant Ears, dig a hole deep enough to cover the entire tuber and roots.
Fill in the hole with soil packed loosely to encourage drainage, and water the plants to settle them in. Elephant Ears don’t like soggy soil, so try not to overwater them!
Propagating Elephant Ear: Regrowing from Corms
Prepare Propagation Station
To propagate corms, you’ll need a few extra things on hand.
First and foremost, corms need clean, distilled water to root. They also need a small container to grow in.
Corms are about the size of a peanut and don’t need a very big container, but the more space to breathe they have, the better.
Once they have been successfully propagated, they’ll be about the size of a macadamia nut.
You’ll need to clean the corms before adding them to the water, so you may need a pair of tweezers on hand to help remove any stubborn soil or plant debris.
In the final step, your corms need to be covered. A small drinking glass will usually do the trick.
Locate and Remove Corms
Propagating Elephant Ears from corms is a variation of the previous method and still requires dividing a healthy mother plant.
However, in this Elephant Ear propagation technique, you’ll need to find and cut off a part of the plant that’s even smaller than the tubers, called corms.
Corms are tiny, bulb-like growths found on the plant’s rhizomes.
To get some corms for propagation, you’ll need to start by carefully removing the mother plant and cleaning the root ball of any lingering soil.
Once you find the corms, you can usually remove them by hand. But if there’s any resistance, you can use a small, sterilized knife to pry them off.
It’s a wise idea to grab as many corms as you can in case any don’t take. That way, all your hard work doesn’t go to waste!
Clean Corms and Prepare for Rooting
Once you’ve removed the corms, clean them up well by removing any dirt, debris, or lingering plant fibers.
To really get the corms clean, best practice is to remove the outer layer off the top bulb like you would peel an onion.
Take your cleaned corms and place them in a container with some filtered water, leaving the tops of the corms exposed.
Do not submerge the corms entirely or crowd them in too small of a container – they need the oxygen and the space to grow!
Cover and Transplant
Cover your propagating Elephant Ear corm with a lid or glass of some kind to create humidity.
Once a day, remove the covering for an hour or so to facilitate good airflow, and then replace it with a clean lid or glass.
If you notice the water getting hazy or any mold growing, carefully remove the corms, replace the container with a fresh one, and change out the water.
In a month or so, you should observe some new roots beginning to sprout from your corms!
Now, it’s time to transplant your sprouted corms into a pot with some perlite or clay pebbles.
When you notice leaves starting to form, transplant your corms again to a pot with a nutrient-rich soil mixture.
Post Propagation Care
Now that the tubers and corms have been replanted, you can leave them (mostly) to their own devices to take root and flourish.
During the growing season, they don’t mind a bit of nutrient-rich, nitrogen-free, diluted fertilizer once a month.
Elephant Ears need 6 hours of good sunlight a day and do not tolerate cold, so keeping the propagating Elephant Ears near a warm, sunny window is good practice!
In the first two weeks, you’ll need to water your baby Elephant Ears every other day.
Once they’re established and are consistently growing, you can back off and water once a week or so, depending on the weather and climate.
You don’t want to overwater a succulent, so be sure the soil isn’t still moist when you go to water the plant.
Propagating Elephant Ear: FAQs
Can I propagate my Elephant Ear from cuttings?
Because Elephant Ears are technically succulents, they work a bit differently than your typically leafy houseplant.
So, unfortunately, you will not find much success propagating Elephant Ears from stem or leaf cuttings. Dividing the mother plant is the only way!
How long will it take my mother Elephant Ear plant to recover from propagation?
As long as you take less than one-third of a healthy plant, dividing and propagating shouldn’t impact the mother plant too much.
But if you’re keeping an eye out for regrowth on your mother plant, you should see it start to fill out again within two months.
When is the best time to propagate my Elephant Ear?
Usually, the best time to propagate your Elephant Ear (and most other plants, too) is in the spring.
Plants typically go dormant in cold weather and store up their energy for the warm, growing season.
Spring is a great time to propagate because your plant is gearing up to start growing again anyway.
However, you could also argue that digging up the mother plant is best in the late fall when the plant has gone dormant. There are cases for both!
Ultimately, because you’re dividing an already established mother plant, the timing isn’t quite as crucial as with other plants.
Wrapping up the Guide to Propagating Elephant Ear
With their large ornamental leaves and tropical feel, Elephant Ears make an excellent gift or addition to any home.
And now, you know exactly how to grow them at home! Propagating Elephant Ear plants can turn any space into a lush jungle.
If you want to learn more, check out our complete guide to propagating succulents.
- About the Author
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Leah is a writer, editor, and content manager with Minneopa Orchards and holds a master’s degree in English.
She grew up in the south and enjoyed long growing seasons spent in her father’s lush vegetable garden. Buying produce from the store was unheard of in her house!
As such, Leah enjoys writing about gardening and sharing her knowledge and experiences with others.
Leah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org