How To Overwinter Elephant Ears Step By Step Guide

You only need three steps to know how to overwinter elephant ears, and at this point, you might already have a clue about the secret to success. Winter doesn’t have to be a stressful period for gardeners with the help of the greenhouse. Much like with annuals, you can keep your elephant ears safe by preparing it well and storing it in the greenhouse. 

Elephant ear plants or wild taro thrive well in full sun, so you can assume that they are not cold hardy. After all, you can consider them as tropical plants that can face problems in temperatures below 50°F. But before you let go of these eye-catching plants, if your area experiences winter, you can learn below how to overwinter elephant ears successfully and have them year to year. 

 

How To Overwinter Elephant Ears Step By Step Guide

How To Overwinter Elephant Ears The Easiest Way

 

Step #1. Digging

According to Iowa State University, the best time to dig up elephant ear plants is after the first frost in fall. It’s also worth noting that you may find sources using the term elephant ear bulbs and elephant ear tubers interchangeably, but the latter is the correct term. With that being said, the first step to overwintering these plants is digging the “bulbs” out of the soil. 

A safe way to dig the bulb is to start a foot away from the base. It’s crucial that you carefully dig out the bulbs because the most common problem is rotting in the winter. This is due to the bulb’s damages, so practice gentleness and diligence as you dig and lift the plant and bulb. 

 

Step #2. Cleaning

Once you have the bulbs, you want to cut off the foliage and clean them to remove the dirt. However, you don’t have to scrub them and aim to have a completely clean bulb. You can just rinse them gently and dry somewhere warm for one to two weeks. 

 

Step #3. Drying and storage

As previously mentioned, you want to dry the bulbs for one to two weeks after you cleaned them. A warm and dark area should suffice, but ensure that the place is not hot and still provides good air circulation. After a week or two, place the bulbs in peat moss and store them in the greenhouse. 

 

Greenhouse storage

You can also bury the bulbs in wood shavings, but why the greenhouse? The advantage of using a greenhouse for storing or overwintering elephant ears is because you can ensure that the structure protects them from external factors, whether it’s the climate, pests, or animals. More so, the ideal storage location should stay between 70 to 75°F, and this is easy to maintain in the greenhouse. 

An area that is cool and dry should keep your elephant ears well over the winter. However, it would be best always to check on them if some are rotting or if there are pests present. This way, you can immediately remove the rotting bulb or use an insecticide and save the remaining bulbs.  

 

Home storage

If you don’t have a greenhouse, some gardeners also overwinter their elephant ears inside the house. This is possible as long as the location is bright and humid, and you treat it as a houseplant, meaning you maintain soil moisture. After the danger of frost has passed in spring, you can then replant your elephant ears outside. 

 

How To Plant Elephant Ears

Proper planting of elephant ears is also crucial to enjoy these plants year to year. As mentioned previously, you can do so in spring after the danger of frost has passed. You can also start them in the greenhouse four weeks before the average last frost date if you want early blooms. 

In general, you want the soil to be around 65°F for these tropical plants. You can plant the bulbs at a depth of 5 inches, providing a distance of 18 inches to 3 feet apart from each other, depending on the variety you have. Make sure that the pointed end is facing upward, cover with soil, and maintain soil moisture. 

Regular watering and mulching should help keep the soil moist, ideal for the development of elephant ears. They are also heavy feeders, and you can fertilize every three weeks. For maintenance, you can remove the dead leaves throughout the growing season. 

 

Conclusion

Wild taro or elephant ears are one of the most eye-catching plants you can add to the garden. But because they are tropical plants in nature, you must learn how to overwinter elephant ears to enjoy them year to year. The good news is that it’s as simple as digging the tubers, cleaning and drying them, and storing them somewhere cool and dry until replanting in spring after frost. 

The emphasis is on carefully digging out the tubers because damaged elephant ear plants are prone to rotting in the winter. You should also clean and dry them for a week or two before burying them in peat moss or wood shavings. Lastly, you can opt to store them in the greenhouse or at your home. 

The beauty of using a greenhouse is you know that the tubers will be unbothered, and you can easily maintain the temperatures for them. However, diligence is still necessary to quickly address potential problems like rot and pests and prevent them from spreading. 

 

2 comments

  1. My elephant plant is losing its leaves during this winter. It was beautiful this summer but now it is losing its leaves. It’s inside. what I am doing wrong?

  2. Hello Monique, I highly suggest checking the conditions indoors where you placed the plant. Things like temperature, humidity, and light should be ideal because if they are overwhelming or underwhelming for the elephant ears plant, it could get stressed and lose its leaves. You also want to lessen the frequency of watering when overwintering these plants.

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How To Prevent Root Rot In Hydroponics: 3 Useful Tips

If you’re a newbie gardener who’s looking to find ways to hone your skills, you’d want to learn how to prevent root rot in hydroponics even before this problem affects your plants.

Hydroponics can be advantageous to crops in more ways than one. However, it also comes with risks of diseases, such as root rot, which can be destructive or even lethal to your plants.

Unfortunately, there are no effective methods to recover the wilted parts that were affected by the root rot once it hits your plants. The only thing you can do if you do not want this catastrophe to befall your crops is to prevent it before it happens. Read on to learn more about this subject.

 

What is Root Rot?

Root rot is a disease that attacks the plant roots and causes them to suffer decay. This usually happens when a lack of oxygen supply occurs in the substrate.

To give you an idea, think about plant roots that are submerged in water that only has a little oxygen in it. Over time, the plant suffocates and dies.

Aside from rot and decay, this disease also leads to the proliferation of fungi that are naturally present in the soil. These include Rhizoctonia, Alternaria, Pythium, Botrytis, Fusarium, or Phytophthora. As soon as fungi colonies start to grow, they tend to target the weakened roots and infect your precious plant babies.

Once the plant becomes infected, they won’t be able to take in what they need to grow – water, oxygen, and other nutrients. When this happens, it won’t be long before the plant dies.

 

What is Hydroponics?

In case you’re not aware, the term hydroponic is derived from a Latin word that means “working water”. To put it simply, hydroponics is an art that involves growing various types of plants without soil. If you’re like most people, the first thing that comes to mind when somebody talks about hydroponics would be a picture of plants with roots suspended into the water without using any type of growing medium.

 

Avoiding Root Rot in Hydroponic Systems

Detecting and identifying root rot can be tricky. When your plants get infected, their leaves and roots gradually wither until the whole crop itself dies from the lack of nutrients, which is a common symptom of many diseases.

 

What causes root rot in hydroponics?

One of the requirements in hydroponics systems is oxygen. Without it, your plants are basically on the road to death. On the other hand, lack of such is one of the major triggers for root rot, and it must be avoided at all costs.

Just like when planting in soil, you loosen up the ground so that your plants’ roots can have their required intake of oxygen. That is the case for crops grown in aqueous solutions as well. If they cannot breathe, they would not be able to grow.

Another agent for root rot is the temperature. The last thing you would want in your system are parasites that leech nutrients intended for your plants and infect the water during the process. In common terms, these fungi are called molds.

One of the best breeding grounds for these is warm and moist areas. For this reason, if the water temperature inside your reservoir is high, then you are susceptible to it. Something as minor as letting the solutions exposed to sunlight can already be a risk factor.

 

3 Useful Tips on How to prevent root rot in hydroponics

There is good news! Root rot in hydroponics can be prevented! Just follow these tips:

Tip#1: Use the right air pump

If you do not want root rot to affect your plants, you merely have to avoid its causes. If you need oxygen, keep the water bubbling by providing an air pump of appropriate size, and also give importance to proper ventilation in the room.

 

Tip #2: Maintain the temperature

The temperature should be maintained within the 70 to 80 degrees F range. Get rid of any materials that can make your system vulnerable to infections, and make sure not to disturb your crops while they are trying to grow.

 

Tip #3: Get rid of the rotten parts

However, if you failed in preventing the disease, then the rotten parts should be removed immediately. Cut them off as there is no chance of reviving them, and focus on the potential new growth instead. Fix your hydroponics system and eliminate the risks.

 

Why Give Greenhouse Gardening a Try?

Greenhouse gardening offers numerous benefits to greens aficionados who dare to take their gardening experience to the next level. Aside from acting as a shield against the effects of inclement weather, a mini, hobby, or semi-pro greenhouse can also serve as a protective layer that keeps harmful bugs and critters at bay.

What’s more, its enclosed structure allows you to control your plants’ growing conditions including the temperature, light, moisture, and ventilation of the greenhouse’s internal environment. With a controlled environment, you’ll be able to extend growing seasons and grow plants that aren’t native to your area.

 

Conclusion

No matter how well-informed you are about how to prevent root rot in hydroponics, you cannot completely eradicate the risks. Therefore, to avoid the worst-case scenario, you should be prepared to sacrifice the infected for the sake of others. While you’re at it, consider trying your hand at greenhouse gardening as well.

 

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