Illustris Elephant Ear
Illustris Elephant Ear is an open herbaceous annual with a shapely form and gracefully arching foliage. Unlike Alocasia which point skyward, the leaves of Colocasia droop and point toward the ground. Reminiscent of calla lily flowers, pale yellow flowers are infrequently produced in summer. The heart-shaped leaves of ‘Illustris’ are huge, purple leaves with contrasting apple- green veins and stems . Their dark highlights are stunning.
Illustris Elephant Ear will grow to be about 5 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 4 feet.
Plant colocasia bulb with the narrow end pointed up and the root zone facing down. Plant Jenningsii 3-4 inches deep. These frost-tender perennial plants are best started indoors, potting up the bulb in March, placing the top of the bulb close to the soil surface, and keeping it in a warm location until it is planted outside when the weather warms up, usually in late May or early June.
After planting, water generously, soaking the soil to settle it around the plant. Top growth will begin to form in 3-8 weeks, depending on the amount of available warmth and moisture. Colocasia performs best in part shade in organically rich, moist to wet soils. Elephant ears will grow tall over the course of the season and often develop side plants from bulb offsets or root runners.
Provide a sheltered location to protect the decorative leaves from strong winds. Leaves often scorch when exposed to full sun. At the end of the season leave the foliage in place; don't cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight and provide nourishment for next year's show. Water as needed. Leaves may be removed if they yellow, as typically happens when plants slip into late season dormancy. Colocosia or elephant ears will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle.
The plant requires regular watering and fertilization. Reduce watering in winter. It grows best in higher rainfall areas of the low land tropics. Because of their tremendous seasonal growth, these are heavy feeders and appreciate an application of half strength 20-20-20 fertilizer every three weeks during their active growing period.
Illustris Elephant Ear is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor pots and containers. It is often used as a 'thriller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination; plant it near the center of the pot, surrounded by smaller plants and those that spill over the edges.