How Do You Propagate Elephant Plants?

Elephant Ear Plants are large and gorgeous plants. They prefer tropical and coastal climates where the temperature stays warm and pleasant all year round. In these climates, they make excellent outdoor plants growing in a garden or alongside a pond. 

However, if you don’t live in one of those areas, that doesn’t mean you cannot have one of these plants. Instead, you can look at growing them indoors. But to do that, you first must know how to grow one. 

While you can’t propagate Elephant Ears using stems or leaves, you can take tubers from a parent plant and grow them into your own full-sized Elephant Ear Plant. To propagate Elephant Ear Plants, dig up the tubers, pick out the healthy ones, separate them from the parent plant, and plant the tubers in the ground, in a pot, or in water. 

Though they are slow to start, Elephant Ear Plants can grow to be large plants that stand out anywhere. 

Can You Propagate Elephant Ear Plants from Cuttings?

Unfortunately, Elephant Ear Plants cannot be propagated from cuttings as many other plants can. Instead of using cuttings, you can dig under the soil until you find the tubers. 

To do this, it is best to start in the fall. You will want to dig up the tubers as the Elephant Ear Plants are going dormant. This gives your plant less stress and a better chance of not harming the parent plant. Always use sterilized tools when digging up the tubers to prevent any risk of infection or damage. 

Step 1:

First, dig up the soil around the plant. Do this with care to prevent any damage to the tubers. Once you get to the tubers, you want to find healthy ones and separate them from the parent plant. Look for any tubers that are clear of blemishes or rotten areas. 

Step 2:

Once you pick the tubers you want, carefully separate the roots from the parent plant’s roots. You may have to use a knife to cut away roots and any connections between the tubers. 

Step 3:

If you want to grow the tubers immediately, just put them into a new pot. Make sure the pot has at least one drainage hole. If you’re going to wait until spring, keep the tubers in a dark, cool place until you are ready to plant them.

Usually, 50 to 60°F (10 to 16°C) is the best temperature for them to overwinter. However, if your temperature stays above 40°F (4°C) all year round, you can plant your tubers at any point throughout the year.

Generally, you want to plant your tuber about 5 inches (13 cm) into the soil. This gives them plenty of space to grow. Additionally, make sure the pointed edge of the tuber is face-up.  

What Type of Soil Is Best for Elephant Ears?

Elephant Ear Plants prefer soil that can hold moisture while also being well-drained. They don’t like wet feet at all, so it is important to put them in a place where water doesn’t sit. 

Any standard potting mix combined with compost is fine if you want to buy one from the store. To make your own, you must mix peat moss, leaf compost, perlite, and vermiculite. You can follow a recipe online for soil for perennials. 

Can you Propagate Elephant Ears from a Stem?

Like cuttings, Elephant Ear Plants cannot be propagated from a stem either. Any cutting, no matter the type, will not provide you with Elephant Ear offshoots. Instead, you have to rely on using tubers instead. 

How to Propagate Elephant Ear Plants in Water

Since you can’t use cuttings, propagating in water isn’t as easy as with other plants. However, many Elephant Ear Plant varieties are often naturally found in swampy and wet areas like marshes and near the edges of ponds. 

This means growing an Elephant Ear Plant in water is possible, though it isn’t an ideal propagation method. 

Step 1:

To grow them in water, you harvest the tubers the same way you would for soil propagation. However, instead of placing them in your garden, or a pot, you can plant them near a pond. You will want to start in spring for the most part, usually around March. 

Step 2:

You can start them indoors if it is still cold in March in your location. You just want to put them in a warm room in a pot with soil. You will want to water your Elephant Ear Plant almost daily until the water comes out of the drainage hole and onto the tray. 

You will also want to empty your water tray daily to stop your plant from getting wet feet, which can lead to root rot. 

Step 3:

After about eight weeks, you will want to remove the plant from the soil. Instead, you want to move it to a pot with an aquatic planting mix. You can put it at the same depth into the soil. Add about a half inch or so (0.75 cm) of pea gravel to the top of the plant. 

If you live in a climate where Elephant Ear Plants can be left outside all year round, you can remove them from the pot and place them directly into the soil outside. However, leaving them in a pot is best for any other climate.

This is because it is easier to dig up the whole pot or just pull the pot out of the water and overwinter them, rather than trying to dig up the plant. 

Can Elephant Ears Grow in Water Without Soil?

Rooting in water
Elephant Ear Plants do reasonably well in a hydroponic environment. They will need some clay pebbles and an airstone. Generally, if you try hydroponics with Elephant Ear Plants, you want to look at deep water culture.

Since they are perennials, this is the method that works best. While the plant is small, it can usually last with just an airstone. However, as Elephant Ears tend to grow quickly once they get established, it may be best to look at getting air diffusers in the future to ensure it gets enough air as it grows. 

If you use hydroponics to grow Elephant Ears, they need two main things. The clay pebbles help them to have enough structure to stand, which is a necessity. However, they will also need nutrients. Elephant Ear Plants grow quickly and require a lot of nutrients to support their growth.

Do Elephant Ear Bulbs Come Back Every Year?

Elephant Ears are perennials. If left outside, any Elephant Ear Plant grown in a tropical or lower coastal environment will grow back year after year with minimal care. 

If you want your Elephant Ear to be a perennial in colder climates, you will have to keep them as indoor plants or dig them up in the fall every year and let them go dormant as tubers until the last freeze comes in spring. 

Do Elephant Ears Do Well in Pots?

As long as the pot is large enough to allow the Elephant Ear to get the nutrients it needs, it can grow well in pots. This is an excellent option for those that want to own Elephant Ear Plants but don’t live in a climate that works well for them. 

Some Elephant Ears can grow pretty big, and their roots like to spread out, so you will eventually need to have a pretty big pot to accommodate them. To prevent wet feet, you will want to start with the pot that accommodates their size at the moment and increase pot size when needed. 

Elephant Ears take a long time to start growing, so they may be able to stay in the same pot for a couple of years, but after they begin to grow, you may have to look at them increasing pot size more often. 


Elephant Ears don’t propagate like many other plants. Instead of using stem or leaf cuttings, they must be grown by dividing up tubers and placing them in different pots. While the process is easy, it is a little more complicated than just cutting off a stem or leaf. 

To propagate Elephant Plants, dig up the tubers, pick out small but healthy ones, and separate them from the parent plant before planting them in the ground and waiting for them to grow. 

The most important part is to ensure you are careful with the tubers. You don’t want to damage them or pick rotten or blemished ones. After that, you can decide whether you want them to grow in water, in a pot, or your garden. Elephant Ear Plants are perennials and thrive in all three conditions as long as they have stability and the right nutrients.