Why Are My Elephant Ear Bulbs Not Growing

The elephant ear is a popular plant species around the globe. Most people like it for its heart-shaped leaves and smooth texture. The elephant ear may instantly grab your attention, whether a plant lover or a botany student.

If you have it at home and wonder why your elephant ear bulbs are not sprouting, a few causes may require your attention. We have covered everything to help you know why elephant ear bulbs are not growing. 

The elephant ear bulbs may face problems when growing due to several factors, including cold temperatures, light issues, and soil type. Let’s dive into the details for a better understanding.

Factors Affecting the Growth of Elephant Ear Bulbs

Cold Soil Temperature

A common cause that gets in the way of your elephant ear bulbs’ growth is the soil temperature. The elephant ear plant requires optimal soil temperature to grow correctly. When you grow it at home, you may need to check your area’s minimum and maximum temperature to rule out the chances of poor sprouting.

Generally, the elephant ear does not withstand temperatures below 70°F. Planting it in colder regions can be challenging for the corms to sprout quickly. An easy way to find out if the cold is affecting your plant is to check for frost flakes. You may immediately remove your plant from the ground and keep it in warm soil if you notice the flakes.

The answer is spring if you wonder what the ideal time to plant your elephant ear is. Despite the slight variation in temperatures during spring, the elephant ear plant grows to its best. If you plan to grow it outdoors, you may require a minimum of 50°F temperature at night. Conversely, it would be best to have at least 70°F temperature around the plant pot when growing indoors.

Dry-Condition Soil

Another factor that hinders elephant ear corms’ growth is the soil’s dry condition. Since the natural habitat of the elephant ear covers the regions of Asia, Africa, Australia, and America (South and Central), the plant requires damp soil to grow properly. These regions have optimal soil conditions to grow the plant.

The elephant ear depends on water for most of its growth properties. Colocasia can tolerate water as deep as six inches. The damp soil speeds up the growth process of the elephant ear plant. It is one of the reasons why its leaves grow big in no time. The moisture in soil provides adequate amounts of minerals and nutrients necessary for the growth of corms.

If you plant it in relatively dry soil, you may be able to keep up with the elephant ear’s moisture requirements by watering it several times during the day. Typically, summer is a challenging growth period for the plant. The soil is likelier to dry quickly. You can irrigate the soil several times a day by monitoring the dryness of the top layer.

Poor Light Exposure

Most plants require sunlight to grow properly. Whether you plan them indoors or outside, you may need to ensure that your elephant ear plant gets proper exposure. Poorly lit planting areas can be a major reason your elephant ear bulbs are not growing.

While this is true, planting your elephant ear in partially lit soil can promote healthy plant growth.

Since the plant requires sufficient water to grow, planting it directly under the sun may quickly dry the soil. In such cases, you may have to closely check the top layer of the soil to ensure proper dampening. If you notice the leaves of your elephant ear turning yellow, it may be an obvious indicator of low exposure.

Keeping it in partially lit areas raises further questions. For instance, many elephant ear lovers ask how much sunlight exposure the plant should get per day. A good rule is to keep the plant in the sun for four to six hours. You may check with plantation experts to find the optimal exposure time for your elephant ear bulbs to grow properly.

Dormancy Problems

If your elephant ear plant is dormant, the corms may not grow. Many elephant ear lovers stop watering the plant before the arrival of winter. Cutting off the water supply can lead to the plant’s dormancy.

While it can be a good way of dealing with the frosting problem, dormancy can sometimes lead to the failure of elephant ear bulbs’ growth.

The elephant ear plant is likelier to receive damage to the root and leaves in cold temperatures, especially in regions where winter stretches over several months. You may notice the signs of root rot, indicating the poor soil condition for the optimal growth of the elephant ear plant.

To avoid dormancy failure and frosting problems, you may seek assistance from plantation experts in your area.

To break the dormancy, fill the pot with an organic potting mix and plant the bulb (facing upward). You may also need to ensure that your plant pot has sufficient drainage holes to avoid the sogging of the roots. By adding adequate amounts of water, you can promote the healthy growth of your elephant ear bulbs.

Corm Rot

In rare cases, the corms of the elephant ear plant rot due to unfavorable climate, leading to poor growth of bulbs. If you plant your elephant ear during fall, you may have to prepare for a roller coaster ride. It takes extra attention and intensive care to ensure the plant’s survival through winter.

Failing to provide the elephant ear with suitable growth conditions can lead to corm rot problems. In some cases, over-dampening can result in bulb rotting. When the last phase of fall begins, you may want to cut off the water supply, allowing the soil to dry completely before winter arrives. Late-fall irrigation of the elephant ear plant can restrict the chances of its bulb’s growth.

To avoid rotting the corms, dig out the bulbs once the soil dries and wipe off as much soil as possible. Leaving the soil on the corms can slow down the drying process, making it difficult for the plant to enter dormancy. Moreover, you may want to keep the bulbs in dry conditions and maintain room temperature.

Corm Death

When the elephant ear plant gets the least favorable climate to grow, its bulbs may die. Most plant lovers tend to treat the elephant ear like other common plants. They water the plant once or twice a day, even during hot days, and pay less attention to the pot’s drainage holes. Over-dampening soil can lead to corm death when left unattended for several days.

An early frost is another factor that can lead to elephant ear bulbs’ death. Since the plant requires extra care, leaving it unchecked during late fall can damage the bulbs due to the first frost.

In rare cases, plant disease can also contribute to corm death in the elephant ear plant. If it’s your first time planting it, you may seek guidance from plantation experts in your area to avoid corm death.

While you can resolve most factors leading to bulb growth problems in the elephant ear plant, corm death has the least chance. If creating an optimal climate and conditions does not help, you may have to eliminate the dead corms and start with a fresh bulb set.

You can explore expert resources to find out how you can plant a fresh set of corms after the death of the previous one.

How Long Do the Elephant Ear Bulbs Take To Sprout?

The elephant ear plant has developed a reputation among plant enthusiasts for its rapid growth. While this is valid, you must create the appropriate atmosphere for your plant for healthy growth.

Coming down to the bulbs, it may take between three to eight weeks for corms to grow. However, you may have to ensure several factors for timely corm growth.

Firstly, your elephant ear plant must grow in warm soil. Colder climates can act as a poison, hindering the proper growth of the elephant ear bulbs. Secondly, proper moistening of the plant plays a crucial role in plant growth. The warm soil and sunlight exposure can quickly dry the water in the pot. You may need to water it several times daily to ensure optimal corm growth.

If you live in a winter-favorable area, you may have to create the appropriate indoor atmosphere for your elephant ear plant to grow its bulbs. You can reach out to some of the plantation experts in your area to develop the appropriate atmosphere.

Elephant Ear Alocasia - Live Plant in a 10 Inch Pot - Alocasia 'Ordora' - Florist Quality Air Purifying Indoor Plant

Wrapping Up

The elephant ear plant holds unique popularity among the many famous plant species found globally. The large size of the leaves never fails to grab your attention. Moreover, households widely use it for indoor decoration purposes.

If the elephant ear plant fascinates you to the core, the above factors can help you understand the dos and don’ts of the heart-shaped leaf plant. If you want to explore other possible reasons why elephant ear bulbs are not growing properly, feel free to check out professional plantation guides online.

You may also like: