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Complete guide to Hardy Tropical Plants

Growing Colocasia Esculenta in the UK

by Plants for all Seasons 24 Mar 2023 0 Comments

Colocasia esculenta, commonly known as Elephant Ear or Taro, is a tropical plant native to Southeast Asia. It is known for its large, heart-shaped leaves that can create an exotic, jungle-like atmosphere in your garden. Growing Colocasia esculenta in the UK can be a bit challenging due to the colder climate, but with some care and attention, it can be done. Here are some guidelines for growing Colocasia esculenta in the UK:

    1. Location: Choose a sheltered spot in your garden with partial to full sun. Colocasia esculenta prefers plenty of sunlight but can tolerate some shade. Protection from strong winds is important, as the large leaves can be easily damaged.

    2. Soil preparation: Colocasia esculenta prefers moist, well-draining, humus-rich soil. Prepare the planting site by adding organic matter, such as compost, leaf mold, or well-rotted manure, to improve soil fertility and water retention.

    3. Planting: In the UK, it is best to start Colocasia esculenta tubers indoors in late winter or early spring. Plant the tubers in pots filled with a well-draining potting mix, about 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) deep. Keep the pots in a warm, sunny spot and keep the soil consistently moist. Once the risk of frost has passed and the plants have developed a few leaves, transplant them outdoors to the prepared location spacing them about 3 feet (90 cm) apart. Dig a hole that is slightly larger than the root ball of your Colocasia esculenta. Place the plant in the hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil. Fill the hole with the soil mixture, gently firming it around the roots. Water the plant thoroughly after planting.

    4. Watering: Colocasia esculenta requires consistent moisture, so keep the soil evenly moist, especially during the growing season (spring and summer). During hot, dry spells, water your Colocasia esculenta deeply and regularly. These plants can even tolerate growing in shallow water, making them suitable for pond margins.

    5. Fertilizing: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer or a liquid feed specifically formulated for tropical plants every 4-6 weeks during the growing season, following the manufacturer's instructions. This will provide your Colocasia esculenta with the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.

    6. Overwintering: Colocasia esculenta is not cold hardy (typically only down to around 5°C), so in the UK, you will need to overwinter the tubers indoors. In autumn, before the first frosts, carefully dig up the tubers and remove any remaining foliage. Allow the tubers to dry for a few days before storing them in a cool, dry, frost-free location, such as a garage or shed, in peat or vermiculite. Replant the tubers in spring, following the planting guidelines mentioned earlier.

By following these guidelines, you can successfully grow Colocasia esculenta in the UK and enjoy its bold impact in your garden.

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