Elephant Ear Philodendron: A Guide to Growing the Tropical Foliage Plant

Understanding Elephant Ear Philodendron

The Elephant Ear Philodendron, not to be confused with the true Elephant Ear plant (typically from the Alocasia or Colocasia genera), refers to several species of large-leafed Philodendrons that resemble the shape of an elephant’s ear. The most common among them is Philodendron bipinnatifidum, which is famous for its sprawling foliage and tropical vibe. These perennial plants hail from South America and are well-loved for their dramatic leaves and easy-care nature, making them a favorite in both indoor and outdoor settings.

Growing Conditions for Elephant Ear Philodendron

Light Requirements

Elephant Ear Philodendrons prefer bright, indirect light. While they can tolerate lower light conditions, their growth may be slower, and their leaves may be smaller. Direct sunlight should be avoided as it can burn the leaves. A location near a window with a sheer curtain is an ideal setting for indoor plants to ensure they receive the right amount of light.

Soil Needs

A well-draining potting mix is crucial for Elephant Ear Philodendron. The soil should retain moisture but allow excess water to drain to prevent root rot. A mix containing peat, pine bark, and perlite tends to work well. Regular potting soil can also be used if amended with additional perlite or sand to improve drainage.


Consistent moisture is key to keeping an Elephant Ear Philodendron healthy. The soil should be kept slightly moist, but not soggy. During the growing season, water the plant when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Reduce watering in the winter when the plant’s growth slows down. Ensure that pots have drainage holes to avoid water accumulation at the bottom.

Temperature and Humidity

Elephant Ear Philodendrons thrive in warm and humid environments, ideally between 65-80°F (18-27°C). They are not cold-hardy and should be protected from temperatures below 55°F (13°C). If indoor air is dry, especially during winter months, consider using a humidifier or a pebble tray with water to increase humidity levels around the plant.

Caring for Elephant Ear Philodendron


Feeding your Elephant Ear Philodendron ensures luscious growth. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once a month during the growing season. It’s best to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package to avoid over-fertilization, which can damage the plant.


Pruning this philodendron is rarely necessary, as they are tidy growth plants. However, to encourage bushier growth or to maintain a desired shape, you can trim stems just above a leaf node. Remove any yellowing or dead leaves to keep the plant healthy and to improve air circulation.


Propagation of Elephant Ear Philodendrons can be achieved through stem cuttings. Cut a 6-inch section of stem with at least two leaves attached and place it in water or directly into soil. Roots will usually develop within a few weeks after which the cutting can be transplanted into a pot.

Potting and Repotting

Due to their rapid growth rate, these Philodendrons may need to be repotted every couple of years. The best time to repot is in the spring or early summer. When repotting, choose a pot that is slightly larger than the existing one to give the roots room to expand. Use fresh potting mix and water thoroughly after repotting.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting

Pests and Diseases

While generally resistant to pests, Elephant Ear Philodendrons can sometimes be affected by aphids, mealybugs, or spider mites. Regularly inspect your plant for signs of infestations and treat with insecticidal soap or neem oil as needed. To prevent fungal diseases, avoid overhead watering and keep foliage dry.

Environmental Stress

Brown leaf tips may indicate that the plant is not getting enough humidity or is being subjected to drafty conditions. On the other hand, yellow leaves often suggest overwatering or poor drainage. Adjust your care routine accordingly if you notice these signs.

Enjoying Your Elephant Ear Philodendron

With their striking appearance and straightforward care requirements, Elephant Ear Philodendrons make a captivating addition to any space. Whether grown indoors or in a sheltered spot outdoors, they can bring a touch of the tropical climate into your home or garden. With proper care, these resilient plants will provide lush, vibrant foliage and a lively atmosphere for years to come.

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