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September 6, 2019

Most gardeners love elephant ears as easy to grow tropical plants that have a big impact today on Southern Gardening.

There are two species commonly found in our Mississippi landscapes, Alocasia and Colocasia, and they’re both called elephant ears. But today we’re just going to look at Colocasia, which is also called taro. These all feature big leaves and big texture, but they’re not all green. In fact, there are Colocasia with black leaves. A couple of fantastic examples are Black Coral and Diamond Head. Diamond Head has jet black leaves that have a texture resembling corrugation. It is named after the volcanic cone on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, which makes sense because both the cone and plant are black and lustrous.

Black Coral has large glossy chocolaty black leaves with finely ruffled edges. It features huge, glossy black leaves with deep blue veins on jet black stems.

The selection Blue Hawaii has large green leaves featuring prominent bluish-purple veins. The edges are undulating and the dark burgundy petioles are glossy.

Sometimes on a hot summer day, a cool mojito is refreshing. Colocasia Mojito adds a refreshing color splash to the garden with its medium green leaves speckled with dark flecks of purple. One of what I think is the prettiest of the Colocasia is Red Stem Taro. This plant has beautiful green leaves and bright red petioles. Colocasia can be readily identified because of the downward pointing foliage. Be sure to grow in the full sun and provide consistent soil moisture; in fact they can be grown in standing water.

Going to the tropics may not be possible, but we can think we live there with Colocasia in the garden. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

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