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I live in zone 7, southern New Jersey, and a discoloration is forming on my elephant ears. Can anyone tell me what I am doing wrong? Could it be watering before 8 AM than allowing the sun to hit my elephant ears, or not enough shade? Do they require fertilizer? It appears to be happening on the lower ears only.
elephant ear plant gardening issue, container gardening, gardening, landscape
elephant ear plant gardening issue, container gardening, gardening, landscape
elephant ear plant gardening issue, container gardening, gardening, landscape
  29 answers
  • Do you water every day? this could be from too much watering plus i never get water on the leaves when I am watering (even rain barrel watering) because you can burn or scald the leaves but not at 8am i would not think. then you mentioned sun which is also a factor. is this the first year? they like decent soil and will grow in most but i notice that heavy dense clay really slows their growth . I know here in zone 7b in VA they need shade more than sun and will burn. so my advice is to stop watering every day. water about every 3 or so days and see what happens. happy gardening
  • Mary Krygiel Mary Krygiel on Jul 23, 2014
    It would probably be worth trying to water with a bucket of water that is not hitting the leaves. It might work.
  • Rebekka Rebekka on Jul 23, 2014
    Thanks for the answers, but I'm still hoping for more ideas. The elephant ears do seem to not want water on the leaves. Thank you Mary
    • @Rebekka do you mulch the bed? i see grass growing too and grass and weeds compete for nutrients. You will get lots of different answers but you need to narrow down what is causing it. There are so many things that can go wrong. Watering is usually always the first thing I look at and then adjust from there. Try Fish Fertilizer which is what i use and it is great stuff if the soil needs some boost. it is at lowe's and home depot for less than $9 and the bottle lasts a long time.
  • Baiba Darley Baiba Darley on Jul 23, 2014
    Elephant ears need fertile, humus-rich, moist or wet, slightly acidic soil. By the looks of your soil it needs more organic material. Soil makes a big difference in how your plants thrive.
  • Wanda.ll Wanda.ll on Jul 24, 2014
    Looks like they need some kind of nutrients to me. Might call you extension office or go to goolge and ask "what makes them turn yellow". Here in Texas they can grow either shade of bright sunlight just depends on variety you have.
    • See 2 previous
    • Author Stacey Barlow Author Stacey Barlow on Mar 02, 2020

      Thank you Wanda.II I just got me an elephant that I knew I had to place near my window {I live in Texas as well} I put mine in a bigger pot because it came big. My difficulty is what does two to three inches of water looks like? I don't want to over water it. I've read they are big drinkers as well as big eaters.

  • Christine Christine on Jul 24, 2014
    If the young leaves at the tips of the branches are normal in colour, while the older leaves at the base of the branches are turning yellow, this indicates nitrogen or magnesium deficiency. However, weird discolourations of the leaves can mean a virus which is a bigger problem. Try fertilizing first. If that doesn't improve things, cut off all the affected leaves and burn them.
  • Valerie Valerie on Jul 24, 2014
    Unfortunately I don't know the answer to your problem, but as the leaves have been damaged, why not use them to make beautiful bird baths? Here is a link : http://www.hometalk.com/1763157/making-garden-art-birdbaths
  • Sue Vernon Sue Vernon on Jul 24, 2014
    Iron-or lack of iron can cause yellowing. I use coffee grounds around all my plants and they stay green and bloom beautifully.
  • Susan Cryor Susan Cryor on Jul 24, 2014
    I had the EXACT same issue with mine, that I winter over in the basement ( live in Lockport NY) Gave them a dose of fertilizer. Cut off the sad leaves and they are doing great. Usually nitrigen diffency when lower leaves yellow.
  • Mrs. C Mrs. C on Jul 24, 2014
    Leaf miners.
  • Buster Evans Buster Evans on Jul 24, 2014
    I am in Tennessee and the soil at my place is CHERT . Redish rocky and really difficult to get a hole dug much less get things to grow.. still I have managed to scratch the surface of this problem and have had great luck with elephant ears.. Mine are planted 6 (or more) inches deep. I don't water them they are all around the foundation of my home,,, some are smaller than others, some are huge... If you drop water onto the leaves it rolls off! I have found that (like previously mentioned) all plants LOVE coffee (roses especially).. So I would try putting small amounts (at first) of coffee grounds around the base of your elephant ears and see if that helps the problem... If its just one or two leaves per plant you can remove the affected leaves and the plant can sprout new leaves...It normally doesnt hurt the plant to do this. If this is their first year in the ground that could be a bit of the problem, Usually they don't do as well the first year as they will later... Dont give up on them.. These are one of my absolute favorite plants, and they are normally very hardy... Just cut back on water, give them some coffee, and love them, they will respond in their own time...
    • See 1 previous
    • Buster Evans Buster Evans on Jul 24, 2014
      @Rebekka you are so welcome just enjoy them Hopefully they will do well with little fuss! Buster
  • Jenelle H Jenelle H on Jul 24, 2014
    I grow them in my fish pond so don't think you can give them too much water. They love to grow in water just like Lotus. Maybe it is something in the soil. Perhaps pre-emergent or something like RoundUp.
  • Jennifer Pentrack Jennifer Pentrack on Jul 24, 2014
    It looks like insects try seven dust
    • Rebekka Rebekka on Jul 24, 2014
      @Jennifer Pentrack I never heard of the United States Minor Outlying Islands, so I went to google earth to find it. People from all around the world have gave me advice regarding my elephant ears. Thank you so much for your help.
  • EL Hoard EL Hoard on Jul 24, 2014
    Elephant ears love water so that should not be an issue. My experience wit these plants over the years is that the older leaves start turning when they reach the end of their life cycle, change colors, wilt and die. These plants are continually putting out new leaves during the summer. Mine bloom as well.
  • Terry Stutes Terry Stutes on Jul 24, 2014
    Lack of iron.......would have soil tested
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jul 24, 2014
    It's natural for the lower ears on elephant ears to yellow and die. That being said, they do want organically rich soil, so regular applications of fertilizer are a good idea, and do try to keep water off the leaves if sun is going to them. Partial shade is generally preferable.
  • Ronna Wilson Ronna Wilson on Jul 24, 2014
    I believe what your plants have is a disease called mosaic virus. There is no cure for it you must destroy contaminated plants or it will spread.
  • Amanda H Amanda H on Jul 24, 2014
    could also try to add some spaghnum peat moss to the soil
  • Allison Allison on Jul 24, 2014
    You have a deficiency, I would try a little fertilizer only on a shady day, not a hot sunny day, and see what happens. Cut back the lower discolored leaves. Keep an eye on it for awhile. Or It may be a fungus/virus and you may want to ask your local extension service to test the soil, and also identify the discoloration of leaves.
  • Liz Mansfield Liz Mansfield on Jul 24, 2014
    use some coffee grounds sprinkle around the soil ,for nitrogen ,also good on the soil around tomatoes
  • Silvia Macioshek Silvia Macioshek on Jul 24, 2014
    Epson Salts .... I use it throughout my garden .... live in South Africa and most plants are tropical .... Silvia
  • Judy Judy on Jul 24, 2014
    The best advice I can give you is to listen to Douglas Hunt....he knows his stuff! Ignore the rest.
    • See 5 previous
    • Sandie Sandie on Jul 26, 2014
      @Douglas Hunt Thanks, found you answer, I couldn't open all of the comments the other day. The other thing is, if you are using a liquid fertilizer don't let any of it touch the leaves, as it will burn them. Just from my experience.
  • Rebekka Rebekka on Jul 24, 2014
    Thank you so much Judy.
  • Ang345172 Ang345172 on Jul 24, 2014
    Is this taro?
  • Pam Pam on Jul 30, 2014
    I placed mine (not planted) around a pecan tree till I decided if I wanted to plant them somewhere or let them die after digging them up in a 1/2 a day sun spot, and they started growing and doing real good, the dirt hard as a rock but full shade, go figure?
  • Linda Linda on Aug 03, 2014
    I have mine on the shade of our home on the north facing side and mine grew and spread like crazy. The leaves get so big and beautiful. I water once a week with a soaker hose and in the mornings. I don't know if it was just one thing or all together. Good Luck.
  • Author Stacey Barlow Author Stacey Barlow on Mar 02, 2020

    Ms. Rebecca, I found out that they will need fertilizing yearly. It might be getting too much sun as they thrive in shade and are big eaters needing two to three inches of water. It is to stay moist {the soil} also try mulch. I hope this helps.

  • Amy Ruth Amy Ruth on May 22, 2020

    I just purchased two elephant ear bulbs at Sam's Club and planted them in large pots under a large shade tree. I'm in the Temecula Valley in So Cal so it gets really hot here. The bulbs are already sprouting after one week. So exciting! I've put coffee grounds around the base of the plant area, hoping that will give them a dose of what they need to thrive.