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Elephant Ear Plant Garden Experiment

Welcome to our Elephant Ear Plant Garden Experiment.

elephant ear plant
The plant is now doing very well this first day of Summer, 2004.

elephan ear plant
The plant has grown. 07-05-2004. What it looks like to a cat or even a mouse standing tall under the ears! Not shown is the ring of gallon milk jugs (removed for this photo) that is kept around the plants to retain warmth overnight, even through summer. They have been in place all year so far. The jugs also keep animals from running over the plants. At sundown the jugs are noticably warmer to the touch. The plants stay warmer overnight as elephant ears like heat when watered well. Keep them well watered in hot, sunny weather else they will droop. Don't get water on the leaves in hot weather as this will 'burn' the plant! The milk jugs also reflect light up under the leaves, giving the plant some extra light.
elephant ear plant

The plant is back! 03-28-2004. The elephant ear plant is now sprouting new leaves and is now entering its spring through fall growth cycle. This plant is the 'runt' of the 'litter' and has done poorly in past years, likely due to poor soil, though others planted just 7 feet away grow very large. This spring and summer we will be doing experiments to take extra-good care of it (feeding and watering) to see if it can be coaxed to grow larger than it has in the past.

elephant ear plant How the plant looked on JAN 7, 2004.

February 19, 2004. The elephant ear plant has entered its dormant stage underground. The bucket and gallon jugs of water have been removed. The plant needs clear space to come up again in spring! Will post new photos when it begins to grow leaves again this spring season. The result of the experiment was that by placing a bucket over the plant's leaves, the dormant period can be delayed, until the air temperature surrounding the plant falls below 23 degrees. The plant tolerated 25 F well, minimum. When the overnight temperature under the bucket was 22.5 F, the plant became frost-burned and the leaf died away.

The plant will sprout new leaves this spring from its underground bulb. Plants that grow from bulbs usually need to have a dormant period through the winter. Temperatures below 25 F will trigger this dormant period. It is very likely the plant can detect when the leaf has been frost burned, so it 'goes to sleep' for the winter.

On a side note, red petunias can survive 20 degrees F. Just water sparcely thru the winter, water on warm days. You will need to bring them onto your covered porch, so cold rains and snow won't contact them.

Portulacas (a multi-color flowering plant that likes warmth) will freeze and die if left out below 33 F. Don't!!

Mexican Palm Trees will survive down to 14.3 F degrees - so far.

Live Plant Update: JAN 7, 2004. The overnight low temperature was 14.9 F. The overnight low temperature under the bucket was 22.5 F.

The result is that the leaf now looks dark green and frost-burned from reaching the 22.5 F. Will be checking to see if the leaf recovers. The bucket is left over the plant and two 1-gallon jugs of water were placed around the bucket to help with heat-keeping.

Circled in red in the lower left corner is possibly a new leaf that may be forming.

All the unprotected 'control' plants have entered the normal winter hibernation stage and their leaves will push back up this spring. Photos of control plants will be posted soon.

A powerful cold front passed, barometric pressure up to 30.67 inHG. New photos of the plant will be placed soon. The previous low temperature was 25.0 F. If the plant does not die from this below freezing night then some gallon milk jugs of water will be placed around the bucket to help with heat-keeping. When recreating this experiment yourself be sure not to use clear plastic containers, that when filled with water, could possibly focus the sun's rays like a magnifing lens and start a fire.

Measurements of the soil temperature will be made soon.

Live Plant Update: DEC 30, 2003. The protected elephant ear plant is still healthy and green. The high temperature achieved under the bucket is still 85.7 F The low temperature is still 25 F. The plant has not been uncovered except for the brief taking of a photograph once a week. The bucket is white plastic, and plenty of sunlight does filter through to the plant. The plant seems 'happy'. The unprotected plants have all died back and their underground bulbs have entered the normal winter dormant period. More photos will be placed soon.

elephant ear plant How the plant looked close up on 12-30-2003.

How the plant looked 12-30-2003. The white object is the wireless temperature/humidity transmitter.

elephant ear plant

elephant ear plant

Live Plant Update: DEC 18, 2003. The protected elephant ear plant still has a heathly green leaf and no signs of frost burn, but the unprotected elephant ears leaves have died off and the bulbs have become dormant for the winter.

The minimum outdoor temperature to date was 17.9 F. The lowest temperature under the bucket to date is 25.0 F. The maximum temperature under the bucket to date is 85.7 F.

elephant ear plant

DEC 05, 2003 This experiment is to see how long an 'elephant ear' plant's leaves will stay green in the cold winter of north eastern Texas.

Elephant ear plants will go dormant over the winter, the leaves turning brown then wilting and decaying. Fresh shoots and leaves will return in early spring. This experiment will attempt to delay or prevent the dormant period. The plant will have an 'early start' ahead of the rest when spring returns.

Elephant ear plants do well in north eastern Texas, but keep the soil moist (not wet) in the summer when temperatures exceed 95 F else they will wilt. Don't water the leaves as this will burn the plant.

Several larger, healthier 'control' plants are growing in the garden and are still green, though some leaves did freeze-burn after the first hard freeze of the season with a low temperature down to 26 F.

One of these plants, the one shown, was covered before the freeze, and will be covered all winter under a white plastic 5-gallon bucket. The bucket's wall is thin enough to let sunlight filter through.

The soil is poor where this plant is, as it has not done very well (not grown big) since it first emerged from the bulb 2 years ago.

A wireless min-max thermometer is placed under the bucket and a 1 gallon jug of water is placed on top of the bucket. The gallon of water keeps the bucket from blowing away and also adsorbs some solar heat.

Currently the temperature under the bucket is 4.6 degrees warmer than the outside air, which is 31.8 F.

It is important not to overheat the plant so the bucket will be removed if the inside temperature exceeds 70 F.

bucket over elephant ear plant to protect from winter cold