August 9, 2014
Most gardeners like plants that lend a tropical feel to the landscape. Some of the easiest tropical plants to grow that have a big impact are elephant ears. There are two species commonly found in our Mississippi landscapes, Alocasia and Colocasia, and they're both called elephant ears. But today we're just going to look at Colocasia, which is also called taro. These all feature big leaves and big texture, but they're not all green. In fact, there are Colocasia with black leaves. A couple of fantastic examples are Black Coral and Diamond Head. Diamond Head has jet black leaves that have a texture resembling corrugation. Black Coral has large glossy chocolaty black leaves with finely ruffled edges. The large green leaves of Blue Hawaii feature prominent bluish-purple veins. The edges are undulating and the dark burgundy petioles are glossy. Colocasia Mojito adds a refreshing color splash to the garden with its medium greens leaves speckled with dark flecks of purple. One of what I think is the prettiest of the Colocasia is Red Stem Taro. This plant has beautiful green leaves and bright red petioles. Colocasia can be readily identified because of the downward pointing foliage. Be sure to grow in the full sun and provide consistent soil moisture; in fact they can be grown in standing water. Going to the tropics may not be possible, but we can think we live there with Colocasia in the landscape. I'm horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.