Tropical Feel Garden in Zone 7 – Elephant Ears
This is another post on getting that tropical feel in your Zone 7 (maybe zone 6) garden. My second choice for that Tropical feel is the Elephant ear or Colocasias. If you are not familiar with them, they come in various sizes and a couple of different colors. There are also some varieties that will make it through the Zone 7 winters and some that will not.
One of the ones I really like for this area are the Black Magic Colocasia because they are reported to survive the winters just fine. Another reason to like them is that they have large exotic dark foliage. The plant can get rather large at around 5′-6′ tall and same in diameter. Black Magics should be planted in the spring once danger of frost has passed. I like to start the bulbs/tubers in pots and keep them inside the house near a sunny window. I move them outside to a full sun spot once they get an ear or two on them usually by early May. These plants are heavy feeders so they should be well fertilized with a balanced fertilizer. The soil should also be kept somewhat moist so mulch is essential.
Raised bed planting is probably best for ideal Black Magic Colocasia winter survival conditions. If a raised bed isn’t possible for your location, another thing that can work is making a raised mound and planting the bulb in it. Thought they will grow fine in the ground provided the soil drains fairly well, they do not like to get a lot of moisture in the winter. It seems that cold/wet conditions will rot them out even though they are listed as being Zone 7 hardy. One thing I will try this fall with some that I have in the ground is to mulch them, then put a sheet of protective plastic sheeting then more mulch. I think this will protect them from getting too wet. I imagine this technique or other similar techniques will increase the chances of survivability. Of course you can always dig them up if you are not sure. In any case, the little extra effort is worth it for their great tropical foliage.