Why Is My Elephant Ear Leaves Turning Yellow

The elephant ear belongs to the “Araceae” family and “Colocasia, Alocasia, and Xanthosoma” three genera. The plant’s most notable feature is its heart-shaped leaf, which ranges averages 3 feet in length by 2 feet in width.

Elephant ears are considered by many as a low-maintenance plant that when improperly watered, fertilized or planted, the leaves will turn yellow.


Like all tropical perennial species, the elephant ear does explicatively well indoors and outdoors once the frost threat is dissipated.

Hardiness Zone Map developed by the United States Department of Agriculture “USDA,” the elephant ear plant is hardy only to zone 8 and above. However, the species will do well indoors in a tropical-like environment.

Utilizing fans and grow lights, it is possible to replicate the species’ native environment.

Weekly watering should entail one to two inches of water. Botanists recommend soil tests daily when grown indoors. The soil must be moist at all times.

In some conditions, it may be necessary to water every 12 or 24 hours. If the soil test renders dry results, add ½-cup of water. Retest the soil and if necessary, add an additional ½-cup of water.

[Related Article: Why Is My Calla Lily Leaves Turning Yellow]

Nutrient Deficiency

The elephant ear is a “native wetland plant” that requires more water than dryland plants. Native wetland plants are heavy feeders that need regular fertilizing.

The recommended fertilizer should be rich in nitrogen for health maintenance.

The soil should have a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. To increase the soil acidity naturally, just add one or two scoops of sphagnum peat moss.

Acid fertilizer also works well as long as there are no non-acid plant species nearby.

Frost Damage

Frost damage will result in yellowing leaves or death in severe cases. The soil temperature should be 70 degrees Fahrenheit before planting elephant ear bulbs.

The threat of frost has dissipated, which will depend on the hardy zone.

In colder climates, it is best to wait until late spring to plant your bulbs. It is also recommended to dig up the tuber or corms before the first frost.

Under Watering The Plant

When it comes to growing plants, you need to ensure that the plant receives adequate water. From time to time, it is possible that you’re going to add too much water.

Usually, this won’t be a problem with an elephant ear plant since they prefer more water. On the other hand, you have to be careful about underwatering the plant.

It could lead to yellowing leaves and other issues too.

There is a fine line here. While you need to give the plant plenty of water, you should avoid overdoing it. For the best results, try providing up to three inches of water each week.

These plants have a big appetite so they prefer a lot of water and fertilizer.

Improper Drainage

When watering your elephant ears plant, it is important to make sure that the soil drains properly. The good news is that elephant ears prefer plenty of water.

Therefore, the risk of overwatering your plant is slim. Nevertheless, there is a chance that you’re going to add too much water to the soil.

When setting up your pot, it is wise to add rocks or peddles to the bottom. Doing so helps ensure that the water will be able to flow through the soil and out through the drain holes.

If your pot doesn’t have drain holes, add them. Taking these steps will reduce the likelihood that you’re going to overwater your plant.

If you’ve tried the other remedies and the leaves are still yellowing, it might be a case of overwatering.

Your Pot Is Too Small

Growing an elephant plant will be easier if you start with the right equipment. Picking an appropriate pot will be very helpful in the long run.

If you choose a small pot, you’ll likely have to transplant your elephant plant in the future. When doing this, you’ll probably cause transplant stress.

Therefore, there are risks involved. In general, it is best to start with an appropriately sized pot. Once you’ve done that, you won’t have to worry about transplanting it in the future.

If the leaves are turning yellow, there is a chance that your pot is too small. As the problem continues, the yellows may turn brown before they fall off.

Suffice to say, you don’t want this to happen. Instead, you should choose a bigger pot.

If you’ve already used a smaller pot, be sure to transplant your elephant plant soon.

The leaves may turn yellow after the transplant due to transplant shock. Don’t worry though because the plant should recover.

Becoming Dormant

When growing plants outdoors, you must understand that the plant is going to go through various stages. During the spring and summer months, the plant will grow larger.

However, it will become dormant during colder weather. Not all plants become dormant, but elephant plants do. As this begins happening, you may notice yellowing leaves on your plant.

The vivid green color may dissipate.

Once this happens, it is a good idea to cut the yellow leaves. They should grow back in early spring.

Once you’ve grown this plant for a few years, you’ll notice that its leaves are going to yellow at the same time each year.

There is nothing you can do about dormancy. Remove the leaves and be patient for spring to arrive.


Elephant ear plants are beautiful and fun to grow. Whether you’re growing them indoors or outdoors, you need to be ready to encounter potential problems.

It is easier to manage the plant indoors since you’ll have control of the environment. Nevertheless, growers may encounter yellowing leaves. Depending on the source of the problem, it could kill your plant sooner or later.

Try fixing the problem by using one or more of the methods above.

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