A big, bold, larger-than-life tropical plant, the black elephant ear is not just a conversation piece. It is a showstopper.
So, if you think yours is dying, you are understandably devastated.
But rest assured, I have many tips and tricks to breathe life back into this gorgeous foliage for your home or office.
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A Black Elephant Ear Plant Is a Great Choice for Your Home or Office
With brooding, dark purple leaves that appear black in lower light and a height that can reach up to 6 feet, the Colocasia esculenta is ideal for a large open space in your home or office.
It will happily live in low-light corner or near a wall with art and side tables to accompany it.
The black elephant ear is not too hard to care for, and it is easy to decorate with or around. Not to mention this enormous slice of nature is great for keeping your air clean, so you can definitely count on it to be a lovely addition.
Signs of a Dying Black Elephant Ear Plant
The black elephant ear plant shows many of the same signs of dying or distress as other plants in trouble. You might find one or more of the following:
- Leaves wilting or turning yellow
- Short, stunted leaves
- Pests in the soil or on the leaves
- Molding or mossy soil
- Soggy soil
- Mushy stems
Common Causes of a Dying Black Elephant Ear Plant
Fortunately, there are only a few things that could be killing your black elephant ear.
- Too much light
- Too little light
- Not enough humidity
Though they are pretty hardy plants, black elephant ears still need to be in an environment relatively similar to their native one to truly thrive. You can mimic this environment pretty easily.
Watering Needs of a Black Elephant Ear Plant
As a tropical plant, the black elephant ear needs plenty of water, usually about 3 inches each week. Take a look at this article on watering mistakes that might be killing your plant.
The best approach to take with watering issues is to learn to check your soil. Simply stick your fingertip into the soil of the plant. If the top of the soil is still moist, you can leave it alone. If the top of the soil of your black elephant is dry, water it until the water runs through to the bottom.
Am I Underwatering My Black Elephant Ear Plant?
You can tell your plant has been underwatered when the leaves start to turn yellow and even brown.
Restoring Water to Your Underwatered Black Elephant Ear Plant
If you notice the leaves getting dull and starting to turn color, simply water the plant thoroughly until water runs through the bottom holes then place it in indirect light so you can be sure the sun does not dry it out too fast.
Also, be sure you check your soil more regularly.
Am I Overwatering My Black Elephant Ear Plant?
Soggy soil and mushy leaves and stem are classic signs of an overwatered black elephant ear.
Restoring Balance to Your Overwatered Black Elephant Ear Plant
If you see your soil beginning to grow moss or mold, you may have a case of root rot on your hands.
If the plant is merely extra wet, you can simply place it in a brighter space with more light to allow it to dry out more quickly.
If you have gotten to the point of mushy stems or leaves and soggy soil, you will likely need to repot the plant.
To repot a black elephant ear, remove the root ball from its pot and cut away any mushy roots. Lay the plant flat on a screen outside in the sunshine and allow it to dry out fully.
Repot the root ball in a pot of fresh, indoor houseplant soil.
Water the plant fully then place it in a room with medium or bright indirect light and high humidity. A large kitchen area would be great.
Soil Needs of a Black Elephant Ear Plant
The black elephant ear plant grows best in well-draining soil and will get soggy and mushy if it doesn’t get it.
Soil Drainage Needs for a Black Elephant Ear Plant
A great strategy for the soil needs of this plant is to ensure it has a well-draining pot in addition to the soil.
Resolving Soil Drainage Issues for a Black Elephant Ear Plant
To resolve any drainage issues, you can pot the Colocasia esculenta in indoor houseplant soil then place sand or rocks at the bottom of the pot to ensure the soil does not get waterlogged.
Lighting Needs of a Black Elephant Ear Plant
While the black elephant ear plant is tropical and quite tall, it is still used to resting under the cover of much larger trees that protect it from direct light.
Thus, you will want to provide bright, indirect light to this plant.
Resolving Lighting Issues for a Black Elephant Ear Plant
If you notice the color of the leaves getting dull and no longer shiny, you will need to move it into more direct sunlight.
If you notice the leaves are growing brown and crispy, it is getting burned. Move it away from the direct light.
It’s all about finding a happy medium when it comes to lighting
Pests or Diseases that Can Cause Issues with a Black Elephant Ear Plant
Another reason your plant might be turning brown at the leaves is pests. Aphids, mealybugs, and mites may all try to take up residence on your black elephant ear plant.
If you notice bugs in your plant, first wash and wipe the leaves with a spray bottle and a cloth.
Next, you can apply an all-natural insecticide like neem oil that will chase away any remaining bugs and prevent future infestations.
Fake Black Elephant Ear Plants Are an Additional Consideration
If you’re still having trouble keeping this gigantic plant alive, you can always go fake. There is no shame in purchasing a high-quality, lovely black elephant ear plant that can beautify your home and provide many of the same benefits of a real one.
If you’re worried that fake plants are not in style, check out my article on whether artificial plants and flowers are tacky here.
How about you? Have you cared for a dying black elephant ear plant? What worked for you? Tell me about it in the comments.