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Old 10-29-2010, 09:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Elephant ears

A quick question about wintering elephant ears over the winter.
I live in Missouri and am really getting into the tropical look in my yard,so far i have 6 different types of banana's, 3 different elephant ears and two typs of hardy palms and am always looking for new hardy varieties of all......sorry now for the question of over wintering the elephant ears. In the past I was only working with what I call the "common" elephant ear that you can get at walmart in the spring and in the fall i dig them up remove all soil,roots, leaves let them dry then put in a containner......will this method work ok for all varieties? or should i do swomething different because I tried this with the black variety twice with no luck.
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Old 10-29-2010, 11:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Elephant ears

It should work for every elephant ears with bulbs. Some of them arent as cold tolerant or as tolerant in general as other elephant ears are. I have black stem elephant ears in a huge pot and I just keep them outside until after the first frost, cut back all the dead leaves, put them in the basement closet (with light on), water it maybe once, and then take it back outside. It starts off REALLY slow and looks like nothing until about mid june and then in July it shoots up and will start to bloom for me from late August all the way until frost (its in bloom right now). Next year I plan on putting them in the ground and I will dig up the bulbs with some roots still attached and put it in a pot and water it. I would let it grow a little bit inside and then in the spring I would take it back out for it to grow again in the ground.

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Old 10-29-2010, 11:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Elephant ears

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raymond View Post
A quick question about wintering elephant ears over the winter.
I live in Missouri and am really getting into the tropical look in my yard,so far i have 6 different types of banana's, 3 different elephant ears and two typs of hardy palms and am always looking for new hardy varieties of all......sorry now for the question of over wintering the elephant ears. In the past I was only working with what I call the "common" elephant ear that you can get at walmart in the spring and in the fall i dig them up remove all soil,roots, leaves let them dry then put in a containner......will this method work ok for all varieties? or should i do swomething different because I tried this with the black variety twice with no luck.
'Elephant Ears' is a common applied to many species of Xanthosoma, Colocasia and Alocasia, among a few others. It is difficult to help unless you are more specific.
All of these plants die when frozen. If your ground freezes they will not respout in the spring. You will need to dig them up (the corms, that is), wrap them in newspaper or burythem in a pot full of some type of insulating material and keep them somewhere where they will not freeze, perhaps a garage or a cool place in the house.

Once spring arrives they can be replanted. These plants have varied cold limits and it this advice comes after growing all of them. I have found that the Xanthosomas, in general, take the least cold, followed by the Colocasias and then the Alocasias. There are overlaps in each of these genera of course but this is a good guideline.

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Old 10-30-2010, 06:54 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Elephant ears

I think there are types that simply won't overwinter dry (even if they have a bit of a bulb). I think some really need to be kept in a heated greenhouse. I may be wrong, but I've heard too many storys about people who have had difficulty with certain varieties. I'm sure you'd love to see a list of what varieties won't make it (me too) but I haven't written any of them down. I'm trying to keep several pups alive in heated, well lit conditions this year and I did have success with some a few years ago when I tried this method. The pups grow pretty fast when they are planted out in early summer.
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Old 10-31-2010, 09:11 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Elephant ears

I should probably add that the problem with overwintering some EE's is that as they grow their corm rises up out of the ground. With 'Burgundy Stem' I've had the mother corm rot out while runners survive the winter. I even broke off some runners, stuck them under just a few inches of mulch and had them return while the mother corm with mulch rotted away. I've heard that with some types you can dig up the mother corm in fall and replant them deep to store over winter. This is supposed to work better than storing the corm in dry, warmer conditions. I overwintered some pups indoors in a terrarium and they did fine...but it is much easier to just stick the runners under some mulch. This year they came up so late that they didn't get much size and I'm just leaving them out without re-planting them. I have lost a few kinds over the years and I'm experimenting with new ones this year so it is a work in progress. I've had very limited success with 'Elena' outdoors so that is one I'm trying indoors this year. 'Diamond Head' and 'Maui Magic' are two new ones I'm trying outdoors with backups indoors. I've lost some over the years that a friend of mine (Randy4UT) has overwintered so I haven't figured it all out just yet.
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Old 10-31-2010, 01:47 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Elephant ears

The EX left ours in unheated garage and the larger ones lived to be planted outside in the spring!
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Old 10-31-2010, 05:40 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Elephant ears

The only really cold tolerant ee I've heard of is Pink China.
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Old 10-31-2010, 09:12 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Elephant ears

Oh, no...there are quite a few EE's that are very cold hardy. First off, 'Ruffles' may be just as cold hardy as 'Pink China'. Burgundy Stem is very cold hardy as runners and surely if you re-bury the bulb on big ones they will return (in zone 7, anyway). After that a very cold winter (like last winter) might cause some to die off, but Illustrus is a very good one. Brian Williams (the guy who came out with Pink China) has a bunch of new mutations coming out that are based on Pink China. He claims that they are all zone 6! The types that are coming out are very cool, but he claims that there are some "in the works" that are even cooler. You can see some of them on the agristarts website and more photos on Brian Williams' website. Randy4UT has overwintered tons of very cool, exotic types with some protections (and he lives very near me...I just don't have as much luck with them). In zone 7 you should be able to grow a ton of types and get them to return with minimal effort in all but the worst winters...and again, new cool stuff in the pipeline.
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Old 11-01-2010, 07:03 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Elephant ears

I'm trying a running elephant ear overwinter in the pond. It shouldn't get under 32 degrees. It grew there all summer and i'm not fishing it out.
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Old 11-01-2010, 07:08 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Elephant ears

I've tried Illustris, Nancy's Revenge, Black Magic, Hilo Beauty, Red Stem, Burgundy Stem and Teacup with a foot or two of straw mulch without success. I'm doing Pink China this winter to see if the claims are true. I'll have to check out Ruffles. Thanks! And Randy just can overwinter everything. His success with palms is amazing. I bow down to him.
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Old 11-02-2010, 03:01 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Elephant ears

Nancy's Revenge is not very cold hardy. Black Magic is iffy at best. Elana overwintered for me in a mild winter but not last winter. I lost Teacup, but Randy has had great success with Coffee Cup. I lost Royal Hilo, but it made it a few years. Hilo Beauty is an Alocasia and they tend to be much less cold hardy than most Colocasias. I lost Red Stem last year but it did fine in years past. Burgundy Stem survived for me last year but came up very, very late. Pink China came up first, but Ruffles seemed to grow faster once they came up. I've actually had Ruffles overwinter corms on top of the mulch with no protection at all in mild winters, but in a cold winter the corms on top of the ground will turn to mush. Very little mulch will overwinter them easily. Illustrus usually overwinters fine but I lost all of mine last year and so did Randy. Randy will be testing some of the new Brian Williams Hybrids which are based on Pink China next winter (2011/2012) and I'll be really interested to see how they do. They are supposed to be zone 6. I'm going to try Diamondhead, Maui Magic, and a few others this winter.
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Old 11-02-2010, 04:19 PM   #12 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Elephant ears

I'm bringing in as corms all of mine except for the Pink China. This includes Maui Magic, LimeAde, (a good runner), Black Magic, Black Runner, Nancy's revenge, Illustris, Lime Zinger, Jack's Giant, Persian Palm, and Mojito. They are just too pretty to take a chance. If I had a lot of doubles I'd try again, so maybe next year. I'd love to try some of the new hybrids from Brian. His stuff is excellent.
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Old 11-02-2010, 04:39 PM   #13 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Elephant ears

Anybody have any Pink China they want to part with?
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Old 11-03-2010, 08:19 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Elephant ears

Hey Raymond, I'll have more Pink China in the spring. I might have a tough time finding them right now. I've already had a few frosts so even if I could find the withered leaves I probably couldn't tell one from the other. If you remember you can email me at robgarren@hotmail.com around May.
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Old 11-04-2010, 07:36 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Elephant ears

I think ya'll are missing an important tip here. If you want your EE's to overwinter out side and your soil doesn't freeze, they still need to be DRY. The soil they are in over winter should be fast draining. You don't want the soil to be damp or wet. That will let rot set in. If your soil temp gets down into the 30's and is damp or wet. that's doom for them all even if you in zone 7, the soil still should be well draining and not wet during the winter. Remember, mulch deep, remove in spring when warming starts. For us northerners, dig, put and put in a nice warm place. let the leaves do their thing, remove the dead ones, no feeding, water only when the soid is dry. Watch out for spider mites. The only EE I have lost so far is the C. antiquorum, which I will replace when I have the money to do so. I feel it this way, dig it up, and keep your fingers crossed.
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Old 11-04-2010, 09:49 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Elephant ears

I just use mulch. If you pile it up deep enough it won't freeze at the bottom of the pile and if it is really deep you'd be surprised how dry it can be at the bottom of the pile. If you pile up a little pyramid it will mat down and form a bit of a brick that really keeps the moisture low. A middle layer of plastic might help too as long as it is not too close to the corm where it would trap moisture in. In spring I spread the mulch around and it keeps the weeds down.
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