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How To Remove Elephant Ear Plants From Your Landscaping?

Figuring out the right plants for your space can take some work. If you have elephant ear plants on your property, there are a few reasons you may be wondering about how to remove them from your landscaping. Look no further. We have researched all about how to do this, and we have answers to your questions.

There are a couple of ways to remove elephant ear plants from your landscaping:

  1. The first is to dig them up and all around them to ensure every piece is removed if you do not want them to return.
  2. The other option is to use an all-purpose herbicide. Check the label to be sure you can replant in the area if that is what you intend to do.

There is much more to learn about elephant leaves and how to care for them properly. Keep reading to learn more about whether or not you need to dig up elephant ears, if their roots are invasive, what they are suitable for, and more.

Bunch of elephant ear plant, How To Remove Elephant Ear Plants From Your Landscaping?

What You Need to Know About Elephant Ears and Their Removal

The elephant ear, known today as a vibrant ornamental garden plant, did not originate in North America, although it has become naturalized over time. They are low-maintenance, known to grow large beautiful heart-shaped leaves, and are a popular choice with gardeners.

When removing elephant ears, you must do so carefully and during the right time of year [autumn].

Do I need to dig up my elephant ears?

The answer to this question depends on where you live and whether or not you are willing to put forth the effort it takes to dig them up every year. They get bigger each year if you dig them up and replant them.

Of course, if they are potted in a large planter, you may be able to bring that inside rather than dig them up.

You must dig up your elephant ears if you live outside the recommended hardiness zone range. If you live somewhere with harsh winters, you have to dig them up every year. 

Be careful when digging them up, as you don't want to damage the roots while removing them.

The hardiness zones that can withstand elephant ears being left outdoors are zones 7-11. If you live in these zones, you don't have to dig elephant ears up, but you should cover them during the winter.

It would help if you did not cut back elephant ears because doing so will cause them to rot. Allow the stems to die naturally as the frost takes place.

Digging Up Elephant Ears Continued

The best thing to cover elephant ears with during the winter is lawn clippings and leaves that have been chopped up. You can either create a mound around the elephant ear plant or reinforce the pile with chicken wire.

For people that live in hardiness zones 1-6, you should still let the stems of your elephant ears die naturally and then cut them all to approximately six inches before you bring them inside.

It is time to cut them when it cools off outside, and the leaves turn brown. This is the sign that they are ready to be dug up until you are ready to replant them next spring.

Be sure to dig two to three feet down and at least one foot from the base of the plant to get all the tubers out of there. 

Avoid the roots when digging up elephant ear plants. Dig out a few extra inches around the elephant ear plant's roots.

Not only will this help ensure you do not damage the roots, but doing so also helps you know you have gotten all of the tubers and any rhizomes that might have gotten left behind otherwise. Remember to use gloves when digging up elephant ears.

Keep the bulbs in a dry, warm, dark place that gets good circulation. After you have given them adequate time to dry out, wrap them in paper until spring. Wrap them loosely so that air can circulate around them.

Are elephant ear plant roots invasive?

Elephant ear root on the basket

Whether or not a plant's roots are invasive is a really important question. You need to know whether or not your plant will overtake your garden.

Elephant ear plant roots are tuberous and fast-growing. Because of this, they tend to overtake the area they are in quickly. They do not spread, but they are large.

Elephant ears grow as wide as three to four feet with leaves up to three feet long, and some grow taller than six feet! The root system needed to grow a plant that is so tall in wide is a large one.

How tall yours will grow depends on the variety that it is. You can check the seed packet if you are growing them from seed or ask your local horticulturist at a nearby nursery about which variety your plant is.

Keep in mind that elephant ears rapidly grow to be tall and wide. The root system of elephant ear plants also grows quickly and aggressively. You can plant clumpers rather than runners if you do not want them to be widespread in your yard.

Elephant ears provide beautiful foliage to your landscape. Just be mindful of where you plant them because they will grow tall with the proper care.

Your elephant ears may outshine other plants in your garden since they become so tall. Ensure you leave enough space between elephant ears and other plants in your garden space.

If you would like to know more about whether or not elephant ears are invasive, click the link below:

Are Elephant Ears Invasive? [And Where To Grow Them]

Do elephant ear plants grow back?

Fresh elephant ear leaf

Yes, elephant ears that are planted and maintained in hardiness zones 7-11 will grow back, such as in the Coastal, Lower, and Tropical South.

If you try to dig up elephant ears and leave even the smallest tuber, the plant will return from that one small piece.

If you want to remove elephant ears permanently, herbicide might be what you need. Be vigilant in choosing the right herbicide if you intend to plant something else in the same area in the future.

Look for an all-purpose herbicide for the removal of elephant ears. You begin by spraying the leaves first. Always wear gloves when using herbicides to avoid chemical burns, and try digging them up before resorting to herbicides.

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Some tubers are more aggressive and will not die so easily. These need to be dug up. Even tiny tubers can still quickly develop into a full plant, so be sure to remove ALL of them if you want to get rid of them.

What happens if you touch an elephant ear plant?

Hand touching huge green leaves of various tropical plants

Your skin will most likely become irritated if you touch an elephant ear with your bare hands. This is because of the calcium-oxalate or oxalic acid on the leaves.

Do not touch it if you can help it. It makes some people feel like their hands are burning, so you must be careful when handling an elephant ear plant.

What are elephant ear plants good for?

Elephant ear

The leaves of elephant ears grow to be three feet or longer. That is extremely long in comparison to most other plants! This is a great thing if you want shade and if you like the light green color they exude. They are a beautiful addition to any garden space.

Shade and vibrant visuals are the optimal reasons to have elephant ears around. The same goes for its downfall, though.

Your options are minimal if you want to plant anything else near the elephant ear plants. Because they grow to be so large, they can take the focus away from smaller plants.

To Wrap Things Up

To remove elephant ears, you can dig them up, use herbicide, or a combination of both. We suggest you try to dig out and around the elephant ear plant to remove it before deciding to use an herbicide. Use gloves any time you are either handling elephant ears or herbicide.

Before you go, check out the following links related to elephant ears:

Are Elephant Ears Annuals Or Perennials?

11 Best Fertilizers For Indoor Elephant Ears [And How To Use Them]