Create a Tropical Oasis With Cannas and Elephant Ears

Written by Susan B.

Sometimes we feel the need to talk about plants that add a lot of drama to our gardens, backyards, or overall landscape. And our temperate climate gives us the ideal conditions that are necessary to create a tropical oasis. You’ll need to find a place that gets plenty of sun throughout the day, has well-draining soil, and that affords you enough room to allow for plants to spread, then you might want to consider planting cannas and elephant ears.
Why Choose These Plants? 

We love these plants because they provide interest, whether they’re blooming, or just growing.  We also love the fact that we can plant a few Cannas and Elephant Ears plants, and because of their growth habit, they will spread, filling out beds to the point of giving our eyes a horticultural feast. 

These plants are versatile, so you can also plant them in containers, or use the cannas and elephant ears as a border along a pond or water feature. Container plants can transform a wood or composite deck, a pool deck, or a patio into a tropical oasis. 

Dwarf Canna varieties grow to no more than two or three feet tall. Medium varieties grow to between three-and-five feet tall. The tall varieties start at 5 feet and can grow to 6-feet or taller.  The giant varieties of elephant ears can grow to 9 feet tall. There are 79 species of Alocasia.  These plants grow in a more upright habit. They often have variegated foliage, and the leaves
tend to be shiny on the surface. There are roughly 12 species of Colocasia, and their growth habit is one that spreads. The texture of the leaves of this genus is velvety. There are 75 species in the Xanthosoma genus whose distinguishing feature is its yellow tissues. Xanthos is the Greek word for yellow. 

Elephant ears do well in containers, and you can place large planters with elephant ears at either side of your front door for a dramatic impact that will enhance your curb appeal. You can also use containers full of elephant ears on your deck or patio. And if your property doesn’t have trees that can protect elephant ear leaves, you can plant them along a wall or fence, so the wall or fence can act as a wind buffer. 

These water-loving plants will do well when planted along pond borders, or in a water feature. 

Planting Cannas and Elephant Ears in Containers

The two most important things to consider before planting cannas and elephant ears in containers are the size of the planter, and the planting medium you put them in. If you’re in doubt about container size, always opt for the largest size pot you can find. Remember, plants will spread, so
they’ll need the extra space sooner than you realize. Choose a potting soil such as E.B. Stone Edna’s Best , but consider adding coconut coir (because it resists fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases, and because it helps the soil stay moist longer.) You can also add compost to improve the soil quality. 

How and Where to Plant Cannas and Elephant Ears in the Ground

Cannas do best in full sun, or in locations where they get at least four hours of full sun every day.  If you want to plant cannas in containers, choose a huge planter and use container soil. Add Perlite and other organic matter (like compost) to your soil to improve drainage and encourage airflow beneath the surface. 

If you are planting your Cannas in a perennial bed, dig holes twice as wide and twice deep as the rootball to loosen the soil before you plant. your rhizomes. Then mix E.B. StonePlanter Mix into the loosened soil. To plant your cannas, dig a 3-inch hole. place them in the hole and backfill the mixed soil in the hole around the rootball.  Because Cannas multiply through rhizome offsets underground, you will need to allow at least a foot between your rhizomes. 

Before you plant Elephant Ears in the ground, dig a hole so you can loosen the soil. Add compost or planter mix to improve the soil quality, airflow, and drainage. Place the Elephant Ear in the hole and cover the soil mixture, and pat the area around it to make sure it’s secure. Then water it thoroughly. Elephant Ears and Cannas need regular water. The best way to water them is to do it early in the morning. A soaker hose is preferable because it directs water to the rhizome and tuber, and their root systems. Be sure you get the water deep into the soil. 

Given the proper growing conditions, both Cannas and Elephant Ears will flower. Elephant Ears produce pups or small plantlets that you can separate from the main plant to transplant in pots or the ground elsewhere on your property. 

Cannas and Elephant Ears aren’t the only plants you can use to create a tropical oasis. Tropical hibiscus plants produce show-stopping flowers in a vast range of colors. And the colorful foliage of croton plants will enhance the kaleidoscope of color you’re creating with carefully chosen tropical flowering and foliage plants. 

If you’re not sure about where to plant your canna rhizomes or elephant ear tubers, don’t hesitate to talk to our Green Thumb garden experts. And they can also help you choose other plants to include in your tropical oasis.

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