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How Fast Do Elephant Ears Grow? (And How To Grow It Faster)

The elephant ear plant (colocasia or Alocasia) is a large tropical beauty that possesses large attractive leaves bound to make any space feel tropical or more like a rain forest.

And the best part about this plant is its quick growth. Which makes it a suitable option if you just don’t have the time to wait like 5 years before your interior’s appeal improves. 

An outdoor planted elephant ear plant peaks at 8 feet. And it has a growth rate of 3 to 5 feet per year. To which most of the growth occurs in the summer. So it takes about two years for the plant to fully mature. But if the elephant ear plant was potted it would grow at a lower rate of 1 to 2 feet per year, due to limited soil and other nutrients.

Clearly, the elephant ear plant is a fast-growing tropical plant. But it needs the right conditions for rapid growth. So keep reading to learn about the factors that influence its growth rate and how to take advantage of them.

How Fast Do Elephant Ears Grow Indoors?

How long does it take for Elephant Ears to grow full size?

Elephant Ears age (year)Growth Rate (in inches)
1 to 2
22 to 4
34 to 8 (depend on the pot size) 

Factors that Dictate the Growth Rate of Elephant Ears

Type of Soil

The elephant ear plant grows best in rich organic soil with a good level of moisture. A proportionate amount of water is required to maintain the elephant ear plant’s large leaves. In addition to good drainage if potted, and a pH level that ranges from 5.5 to 7.0.

Underwatering

If you plant your elephant ear plant in moist soil, it will suffer from a lack of water over time (dying leaves, root breakage). Especially if you don’t have time to feed the soil.

It is thus preferable to avoid such a problem by ensuring that your soil is directly watered. Rather than pouring from the plant’s top.

Note: make sure to water frequently during the summer (2 to 3 times per week). and don’t forget to water at least once every two weeks. Because the soil may be water retentive but it still needs water.

Overwatering

Despite its large leaves’ thirst for water, your elephant ear plant is still at risk of overwatering.

How? The soil will become too wet for the roots to handle if you maintain the same watering frequency throughout the year, even though the plant will be exposed to various seasons (such as hot summers, cold winters, and in-betweens). The result is edema, also overwatering can lead to root rot.

Overwatered Elephant Ear Drooping

You must water your elephant ear plant according to the seasons to avoid this problem. As previously stated, if it’s a hot summer, your watering frequency should be a little higher than in the winter.

For example, because the soil evaporates excessively during this season, you can water your elephant ear plant twice a week.

It’s best to water your plant at least twice a month during the winter. Because the soil retains more water during such a season.

Note: Make sure the top soil soil is completely dry before you water again. 

Overfeeding

Fertilizing your elephant ear plant is a great way to keep up with its high nutritional needs. Especially if you’re reviving it after it’s been severely damaged.

However, you should avoid over-fertilizing it because it will cause severe symptoms such as leaf drop and color change. As a result, your plant’s growth will be slowed.

Pest Infestation

The growth of your elephant ear plant is threatened by sap-sucking insects such as mealybugs and aphids. They weaken stems and leaves. The plant will not respond effectively to its “favorable conditions.” The leaves will begin to curl and droop as a result of the insect infestation.

Elephant Ear Leaves Curling

Diseases can Slow Affect Growth Rate 

Elephant ear growth is more affected by fungal or bacterial diseases than by insect infestation. Because you can deal with an infestation at any time and restore your elephant ear plant to its former glory with little effort. As a result, it would grow at a rate that was nearly or exactly the same as before the infestation.

When your plant is under attack by disease, however, revving it will be difficult, and it will be at risk of dying. It’s possible that the plant will not grow properly even after being revived.

Pythium root disease, for example, is caused by a fungus that lies dormant in the soil. When you overwater your plant, it becomes activated, causing severe root damage.

Over Exposure to Sunlight 

There are various types of elephant ear plants such as colocasia and Alocasia. To which each has its preference in the intensity of sunlight that is adequate for its aggressive growth rate.

Some of them would do well in full sunlight exposure and some would be great in partially shaded sunlight. This means the wrong type of exposure to sunlight could cause your elephant ear to underperform in terms of growth rate. 

How? An elephant ear plant that requires indirect sunlight can’t thrive for long in full sunlight, as it would lead to sunburn. Which does not only burn the leaves and stems but also damages the plant on a molecular level. Thus leading to stunted growth. 

However, if you place an elephant ear plant that requires direct sunlight in a partially shaded area, it won’t grow properly.

Because the lack of direct sunlight would cause its photosynthetic process to be insufficient for the plant’s overall growth.

Sunburned Elephant Ear Leaves

Surrounding Environment Plays a Vital Role

Elephant ear plants are native to the tropics and rain forests, which are typically hot and humid environments. To avoid heavy transpiration from a dry atmosphere, your plant’s environment should mimic the tropics or rainforest to allow it to grow at its expected aggressively fast rate.

As a result, it’s best to keep the room moist. You can do this by using a humidifier, misting with a spray bottle, or surrounding your elephant ear plant with more plants.

Do Elephant Ears grow better in soil or water?

Both soil and water are excellent environments for elephant ear development, but the soil is far superior. Because it provides your elephant ear plant with more natural nutrients, it will grow much faster than bare water or a swampy environment.

Elephant ear plants, on the other hand, are primarily propagated in water. Elephant ear plants, such as colocasia, can thrive in a partially submerged area or even in the middle of a pond.

How Do you Speed up Elephant Ears Growth?

There is no magic wand or secret formula that’ll boost the growth of your elephant ear plant. The only way to achieve that speedy growth rate is by ensuring your elephant ear plant is thriving in the right conditions. 

Plant In Full Direct or Direct Sunlight

To get the most out of your plant, you need to expose your elephant ear plant to the right amount of light. For instance, the Alocasia requires indirect sunlight to thrive, just as the colocasia would require full direct sunlight to thrive.

If you swap the treatment, both types of elephant ear plants would underperform and most likely take time to fully mature. 

Use A Grow Light

If you can’t set up your plant for proper lighting or can’t control how much sunlight it gets, you should use a grow light that is capable of effectively triggering your plant’s photosynthetic mechanism.

Because it is very convenient and relieves the stress of constantly adjusting the plant for proper sun exposure for busy owners.

Grow lights are also an excellent way to provide your plant with light during the winter. It’s even good for reviving plants that have been severely damaged.

Note: Elephant ear plants are usually from the tropics, so they should receive light rays with an intensity that dances around 400 – 800 Footcandles.

Fertilize Regularly

Because your plant is potted, it has less access to nutrients than unpotted outdoor plants. As a result, the unpotted elephant ear plant will grow much taller and faster than the potted one. So, if you want your potted Alocasia or colocasia to grow as fast as an unpotted one, it’s best to fertilize it. The best fertilizer is liquid fertilizer 10-10-10.

Note: Summer and spring fertilization is recommended. But don’t fertilize in the winter because it will lead to overfeeding.

Consider Pruning Early On

Trimming your elephant ear plant’s dead or weakened parts will encourage new growth. As a result, its general germination will be quick.

However, if done during the dormancy period, this procedure will be beneficial (winter). So that your elephant ear plant can concentrate on growing in the spring and summer rather than feeding dead veins and leaves.

Transplant At The Right Time

Spring is the best time to transplant your elephant ear plant. During this time, the tuber of the plant grows and spreads quickly. There must also be no evidence of frost in the soil. A younger elephant ear plant is also much easier to transplant.

Use A Large Enough Container

Given the elephant ear plant’s rapid growth, the container may not be large enough to contain it completely. As a result, the plant’s overall growth is hampered. If your elephant ear plant does not reach the size you desire, it is best to repot it into a larger container.

How to Revive Overfeed Elephant Ears

You may want to add a lot of fertilizers to your elephant ear plant to speed up its growth if you are impatient. This is a risky strategy because it will lead to overfeeding.

Symptoms such as the browning of your leaves or the presence of a whitish crust on the soil will be addressed. At this point, you should think about changing your plant’s conditions.

Elephant Ear Leaves Turning Brown

How to Revive Your Elephant Ears From Overfeeding

Step one: Get Rid of The Fertilizer

When it comes to reviving an elephant ear plant that has been overfed, the first step is to remove the excess fertilizers. If they’re visible, scoop out some of the soil to get rid of them.

Step Two: Drain Out Fertilizers 

It’s time to drain all visible fertilizer remnants after physically removing the visible fertilizer. And the best way to do this is to fill the pot halfway with water and then let it dry. Repeat this procedure four times to ensure no fertilizer remains in the soil.

Note: If it’s in the garden, simply flood the soil around the plant’s roots. The pressure would push fertilizers out of reach of your roots.

Step Three: Prune Your Plant

Due to Overfeeding, parts of your plants are severely damaged, as they would shrivel up. So make use of sterilized blades to trim them off your plant to allow new growth to take place. 

Step Four: Cease Fertilizing Your Plant 

Your elephant ear plant is just recovering from overfeeding. It’s best to leave the plant out for 3 to 4 weeks so that the roots can rejuvenate and not get stressed. 

Step five: Re-pot 

If your plant seems to be irredeemable, then you should re-pot it. But only after leaching in it the previous pot, as this would greatly reduce the recovery time of your plant. 

Note: After your elephant ear plant has recovered, switch to a milder fertilizer to avoid overfeeding it again. It should be low in nitrogen.

How Can We Get The Watering Right?

Water More Frequently During The Summer 

Water your plant twice a week during the hot summer months. Because the soil evaporates moisture more quickly. As a result, it is only fair to ensure that the soil remains moist for an extended period of time. Watering twice a week is also appropriate for a plant that requires a lot of nutrients, such as the elephant ear.

Reduce your watering rate in the winter 

Because of the cold atmosphere, moisture escapes the soil at a much slower rate during the winter. As a result, overwatering your plant can cause root damage. As a result, watering your plant when the topsoil is dry is the best approach.

Things To Consider for Pruning

Pests and Diseases

After your plant has been ravaged by disease or pest, you should consider Pruning. Which is also part of the recovery process. Performing this procedure would defeat the progress of any disease or pest.

The Right Season 

Pruning at any time of the year could negatively affect your plant’s growth rate. So when you want to Prune you should Prune during your plant’s dormancy period.

In the case of the elephant ear plant, it should be late summer or mid-winter. Because early and mid-summer are where most of the growing takes place. So it should not be interrupted.

Key Takeaways

  • Elephant ear plants grow at a vigorous rate
  • It could grow as high as 5 feet in 2 to 3 years 
  • Elephant ear plants can grow both in soil and water (or swampy areas)
  • You can speed up its growth with fertilizing and constant care (such as pruning and transplant if necessary) 
  • Elephant ear plants are less likely to come back a 100% from a fungal attack.