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How to get rid of elephant ears?

June 16, 2003

I know these can be really nice plants(and I'm sure there are elephant ear fans out there who will be shocked by my request! :-), but I have a small garden area on my small patio and these elephant ears are taking over every bit of space!! I've dug them up and think the only way to get rid of them is to rent a bulldozer to dig up the whole patio. (I've tried giving them away,but have NO takers since everyone I know also can't get rid of them or just don't want to start fooling with them!! :-)

Our climate is perfect for them to continue to thrive,and for everyone I dig up, three more pop up!! (I've tried digging as deep as I can, but to no avail!!) PLEASE help me get rid of these!! THANKS!! :-)

Comments (41)
  • jagladyla

    I don't know how to get rid of them as I have just started some. But On garden accourtments they have plenty of people that would take the bulbs off your hand for postage. Try posting on the plant exchange.

  • louisianacricket

    I would like some of those plants, i'll pay postage if you don't mind.

  • swamprat

    Are you speaking of the Taro ??? If so they're nearly impossible to get rid of...If one small piece is left in the ground it will come back...I've dug and I've been using Round-up on mine every spring for years and they still come up...I've never seen anything like it except Horsetail...This stuff grows wild in the bayous,ditches and road sides here...It will pop through a heavy pond liner also...Good luck...Pat

  • lemon306

    Have you given any thought to how you will keep your glasses on if you remove them.(LOL) Really, they are everlasting in the true sense of the word. Just keep mowing!

  • toodlebug27

    I have been wondering the same thing. I planted something last year which I thought was Elephant's Ear but I now think it is something else. It came back, which surprised me because it is supposed to be too cold here AND I dug up the bulb! I now have about 15 little plants all over the place. A few are about ten feet away from where I planted the original plant! I painted them all with RoundUp over the weekend. Next weekend I plant to dig up the plants and hopefully all the roots.

  • thib9417

    this is the exact same problem I have with my banana plants. However, EVERYBODY wants those. When I dig a few, there are double or triple that come up. We tried DRANO, SALT, and ROUNDUP--no luck. We broke two shovels in 5 minutes trying to dig them up. I thought maybe I could cover them with black plastic for a few weeks and they would die, but just haven't tried it yet.

  • kathy547

    First, I would pay postage for some of these if you have any left! Or, maybe there's something on my list you would like to trade? Just email me & LMK!

    Second, I was told when I dug (well, not ME but my husband) the area for a water line, to pour rock salt several inches deep & wide to keep tree roots from getting near the water pipes. You may want to try that.

    Third, let me know about the elephant ears!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Codybug10

    I would gladly take some of these ears from you for postage!

  • CindyDau

    I know what you mean. I planted mine in a huge pot and allowed them to grow in there. I don't want them to take over my yard. BE VERY CAREFUL---You REALLY can't kill these things and are very hardy. They will take over your whole yard.

  • hullrndy1

    A man once told me the only way to get rid of Elephant Ears is to sell your place and move away from them. I like them in some areas of my yard, but I have to say they can be intrusive.

  • Gloari


    I never realized that they were a problem in your area. The saying that "A weed is just a plant out of place" seems to be true.

    Either sell them on Ebay,trade them here, or give them away.

    The post office will provide a priority mail box for free and I will send you the postage via Paypal using your email address.

    Just let me know.


  • FlowrLady

    Hey, I'd LOVE some of them!!! Really, if you'd trade or SASE, please let me know. I'll make it to your favor!!!


  • WannaBGardener

    Let me visit you garden for a few days. IF I get near the darn things they drop over dead. I can not grow them for love nor money. Wanna B

  • lilygirl2

    The elephant ear you are talking about is a running elephant ear. It can be hard to get rid of. I love mine. I will have plenty to share with those who would like some this spring.

  • SprightlyGreen

    I know what Gumbo is talking about! I planted some in my yard that my neighbor was throwing away (he thought I was crazy). During years where we had excessive rainfall, mine got as high as 8ft. They are the plain green smooth-edge variety

    However, they are VERY invasive and will spread where you don't want them. (even in our clay soil)

    To get rid of them, you have to dig them up by the roots and throw them away. If you want to compost them, you MUST cut off the root bulb and ONLY compost the stem and leaves. If you include the root bulb, it WILL grow back. When you think you've gotten them all, just wait......more will spring up. It can be done, but it takes perseverance. The good thing is they are easy to dig.

    I plan on keeping one or two large ones in pots on the porch. I do love them, but not in my butterfly garden (they are water hogs).

  • danbo

    The only thing that has worked for me was to move. Perhaps a thermonuclear device would do the trick. though I suspect the only things that will survive that are Magnolia leaves, roaches, elephant ears and fire ants.

    Seriously about all you can do is to keep running them over with the lawn more or digging them up.

    The crazy thing; here I don't have any. I kind of miss them. Are their any that aren't invasive?

    PS Don't let them get too big before you run them over with the lawn mower. You might break the mower.

  • greenelbows

    There are lots of them that aren't so invasive, or are so expensive you would have numerous eager takers. Some, like 'Black Magic', are clumping, so I don't think they would ever be a problem (I've only had mine five or six years so I haven't given them a chance yet.) Some are too tender, at least in theory--a few years ago a lot more were considered tender, but then some curious folks began to experiment with leaving them outdoors and found they were much hardier than previously thought. Black Magic, for instance, was thought tender enough we should bring it in in winter here in z9, but it is now rated hardy to z7b, and it got SO much bigger and prettier in the ground last year than it had in a pot! And it only got a little bit wider with offsets, not runners like so many. Keep an eye on the Aroid Forum or read old posts; this time of year they're mostly talking about philodendrons and such, but as the weather warms up they'll be talking more about Alocasia, Colocasia, and Xanthosoma, where most of the 'elephant ears' belong.

  • LaurelLily

    Wow, I have some in a pot and have been thinking about moving them into the ground so they'll get bigger (I've seen them 5 ft. tall in this area; mine are less than 3). After reading about your woes, they're definately staying in a pot! Maybe a larger pot so they'll get bigger, but a pot indeed! : ) Thank you for sharing so I can avoid having the same problem.

    Sorry to hear about your troubles, Gumbo! Good luck with this. And at least you are making many people happy by sharing!

  • danbo

    I have a purple stemmed and veined EE in the pond. And it seems to be spreading "slowly" in there.

    I'd love to plant it elsewhere for the coolor.

    Does anyone know how envasive there are?

  • summercut

    I had the same problem with elephant ears. It took me 3 yrs., but this is how I did it. I would use 42% Roundup at 5 oz. per gallon of water. I would apply the roundup every 4 to 6 weeks all summer. I did this for 3 summers. I have not had any elephant ears for over 10 years.

  • Choochie

    Do not ever plant these things unless you want them there for good. I live on River Road and these things grow wild across the levee so we crossed the levee and dug some up and i planted them near the living room window, they were very pretty there as they grew so huge and when we looked out the window it really looked nice. In the Spring i redesigned my landscape and these things were NOT part of my new design. I pulled every single one of them out by the root plus added about 3 feet more of soil before i planted the new landscape. Stupid me for thinking they were gone. I am out there every other day pulling them up. They frustrate me so much that one day as i was pulling them up i flung one across the yard and it landed under my crepe myrtle tree. Well guess what? Now i have them dang things growing under the tree. The darn bulb wasn't even put into the soil, i had just flung it over there. They can be a horrible headache but if anyone just HAS to have them then send me an e-mail and i can mail you as many as you would like.

  • COBB

    Don't know if this will work with EEs but my dad in NO,La got rid of banana trees by cutting them down then drilling a hole in the stalk and putting in a few drops of diesel fuel.

  • soundgarden

    You can always pave your yard and have a nice container garden.:)

  • live_oak_lady

    My daughter loves elephant ears and actually "bought" tubers a few years ago. She has them all around her house and garden. She wanted "a New Orleans look". Then, she got some of my black elephant ears that I had in a container (so they would not spread) and has also planted those in her garden. They are now ten times the size of mine.
    One day we will read in the paper about the lady who got eaten alive by Elephant Ears.

  • jlwrn28

    Well hello there! I would l LOVE to take some of those unwanted EE off of your hands! I have just found this site while looking for a way to save my few and well loved EE from the wildlife here - never ending EE sound like just the thing! The squirrels can't eat them all!!!!!! - please contact!

  • krea

    GOOD GRIEF!!! You mean there are people that actually BUY those things??? I have been pulling those buggers up for years.

  • Donna

    I just read all these posts and I am sitting here laughing my head off! I paid $8 for one small Illustris root three years ago, and believe you me, I wish I could get in on that racket! I have dug thousands of those lovely little black with green veined things! They are truly gorgeous plants, and the first winter I was so worried they wouldn't come through. Then spring came, and it was like I had been invaded! So...shovel in hand, I spent three hours out in the broiling sun, carefully digging each one out, and throwing them into a woodland path. You guessed it! They began growing in the path, and the pieces of roots I broke off came right back in the bed. Not wanting to clog the landfill, the next digging session, I laid them out in a single layer all over my concrete driveway. By now it is 96 degrees every day. Did they die? NOOOOO>>! They would shrivel up, but every time it rained, they would put up fresh leaves, growing on the concrete drive! I never saw anything like it! Well, it's three years later, and I think I MAY have finally gotten them all out. Only by conscientiously digging them when they are very very small, and being extremely careful to dig a wide hole around a small plant, so as not to break any root off. I put them into plastic bags and then send them to the landfill. I don't know what else to do, because the other writer is correct, they would ADORE the compost pile! And yes, I kept a few that live in pots. But I sure keep a close eye on those draing holes!

  • docscience

    Elephant ears are so invasive, I would recommend to not try to grow them for any reason.
    Find any other type of hedge or green barrier.
    A neighbour put in new pavement. He dug as much root as he could.
    The next year, the elephant ears pushed right through the new pavement and continued growing.

    I tried different products to kill the elephant ears, and Roundup did not work well at all.
    I use something called KILLEX and it worked very well.
    Also KILLEX does not kill the grass. It works something like weed and feed.
    I use a hand bottle with spray attachment and spray the EE leaves.
    I prefer to spay the plants when they are from 6 inches to a couple feet high.
    If the plant is larger, I break off the top and leave only a few leaves to spray.
    In this case, I also spay a bit into the open stem stock.

    The leaves should begin to wilt over within 1 to 2 days.
    Do not pull them and leave them at least a few weeks, so that the poissen gets to the roots.
    The stem should be curving over within a week.
    After a few weeks, spray any new growth that has appeared.
    It will take time to kill them off, but I find that this system works best for me.

    I have found that KILLEX seams to kill the rootball.
    After spraying some plants in the spring, I left them for a few months.
    Tall new growth had grown on these.
    When I pulled on the new growth, I pulled up the new growth with most of the root ball attached.
    It seamed that the poison had killed most of the smaller roots and that weekend the root enough to let most of the root ball get pulled up.
    On the plants that I had not sprayed, I could not pull up the stalk with much root on it..
    It just seamed to have too much strength in it.

    Let us know your results.

  • southernflower

    I would like some elephant ears for postage too. :) The tubers are edible. It is a very common food in asia. You cook it with pork and it's very tasty.

  • lpalmer

    I am looking for info on how to control Elephant Ear infestation. Click link for details

    Here is a link that might be useful: Elephant Ears

  • lpalmer

    Can you send me your suggestions on how to control the growth of elephant ears . I want to use some of them as a hedge but I don't want to kill them all.
    Click the link for details

    Here is a link that might be useful: How to control Elephant Ears

  • cougiecat

    Maybe I'm being foolish and delusional, but I think I won... maybe. Someone else moved away from the problem and left me with it. Only 4 months of pulling out all the roots, runners, and ears I could find 3-4 times a week. Or maybe it's the exceptionally dry weather we've had lately and I'll get to see a lovely new crop come spring... It doesn't help that my neighbor has them on the other side of the fence.

    Just keep at it! You'll win eventually!! ...maybe.

  • annpath

    We have elephant ears growing in our new SOD, everywhere. Please help me get rid of them. Please!!

  • angelsfriends

    i have a huge philodendron whoever wants it can have it for free but they will have to absorb the cost to remove it if interested email me at angelsfriends@aol.com I live in Flordia

  • jimhamlett8312

    OMG, NOTHING kills these *%^&** forsaken things !!!! I have pulled up the root balls/bulbs, sprayed 41% glysophate mixed @ 32oz per gallon, sprayed triclopy full strength, doused with straight pool chlorine, etc. and they comeback in a few days stronger and more determined :(. I bought our house that sits on a pond and they where already here. NO wonder the previous owners smiled when we signed the closing papers.... UGGGGGGGGGG !!!!!!!!!

  • vintageliving

    Angelsfriends, do you still have that philodendron?

  • pete_the_stick17

    I have the same problem, dug loads up in the winter and "Whoosh" thousands have come back in their place. so if anybody wants any for the price of postage then please send me an email to pete_the_stick@yahoo.co.uk and I will only be too pleased to dig you some up and put them in a box.

    Please don't be alarmed at the email address, I live in Galveston but held onto my address from England.

    Please put Elephant Ears in subject box then I do not delete you.




  • Mark Chauvin

    Im using 42% Glyphosate. But you cant just spray it on them. The big leaves have a waxy coating. I whacked them with my weed whacker. But be sure to wear long sleeve shirt and face and neck protection. the sap is nasty stinging itchy.

  • rosesigur

    I never planted mine in the ground. It seemed like a pot would be safe enough. (This was about 15 years ago.) NO WAY. A piece of leaf must have broken off, maybe by a bird? Who knows???? They began growing 25 - 30 feet from where the pot originally was situated, and are now taking over my flower bed. So, don't even risk having a pot of these monsters! We experienced a flood about 3 years ago. We lost every boxwood, 2 mature Japanese maples, some conifers, a host of other plants plus every blade of grass, but not these little devils! I suppose it could be worse, at least they are not a carniverous plant. There's always something to be thankful for. I am going to try the KILLEX suggestion.

  • HU-198489570

    Gillet’s Lye will kill elephant ears. Dilute in cold water. Gillet’s Lye is a caustic, so be careful. I use a hand held sprayer and spray directly on the plant, after I cut the stems and leaves off. Do not get it on your hands, and definitely not in your eyes. No wind, low to ground application is best. Pat

  • HU-198489570

    P. S. I chop them off at ground level with an ice chipper, which has a long handle. They come down real easy. Pat

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