Elephant Ear Plant Leaves Turning Yellow

Are you wondering why your elephant ear plant leaves are turning yellow? Well, there are so many reasons why this could be happening to them. The great news is that these reasons are quite common so you shouldn’t be worried about it. Additionally, some causes can be fixed. In this guide, you’ll get to understand all the reasons why your elephant eat plant leaves are turning yellow and the possible solutions.

Growing Elephant Ear Plants

Elephant ear plants, also known as colocasia are interesting plants. What’s unique about these plants is they have tall stalks and wide leaves. Moreover, they have a deep, captivating green color that’s hard to pass any eye. Growing an elephant ear plant is exciting, and they fit perfectly both indoors and outdoors. These plants are also great for a beginner garden especially if it forms the focal point of your home or garden.

• Growing the Tubers

Growing elephant ear plants is easy. These types of plants tend to do well on rich, moist soil and well-lit areas. However, they do much better when there’s partial shade. To grow them, place the tubers outdoors once there is no risk of freezing temperatures or frost. Plant the tubers about 5 – 8 cm deep, with the blunt end down. Actually most people prefer planting the bulbs indoors about 8 weeks before the last frost date. In case you’re going the plant your elephant ear bulbs in pots, ensure you use rich, organic potting soil.

• Hardening them Off

Before placing the elephant ear plants outdoors, ensure you harden them a week earlier. Once you have established the plants outside, they need little attention. If your area is hot, water the plants regularly, especially if you’ve grown them in containers. You can also apply a slow-release fertilizer to the soil frequently. Note that elephant ear plants can’t survive under cold weather. Cool temperatures end up killing the foliage and destroying the tubers. Therefore, if you live in an area with cold winters, consider digging up your plants and growing them indoors.

Digging Up Elephant Ear Plants

If at any point you’re to dig up your plants, cut the foliage to about 5 cm after the first frost hits, and dig the plants up. Store them and let them dry out for a couple of days, then place them is shavings. Ensure you store them in a cool, dark area like a crawlspace or basement. If you had planted them in a container, you can move them indoors or outdoors as you please depending on the prevailing weather.

Top Reasons Why Elephant Ear Plants Turn Yellow and the Solutions

Seeing your elephant ear plants turning yellow can be quite frustrating after all the hard work you put in. Anyone would be concerned once their ear plants start turning yellow brown. There are so many causes for this, some can be serious, while others warrant no worry. Once you’ve realized you have this problem, you should look into the plants’ need so as to identify the main cause of the yellowing.

In this guide you’ll learn the top reasons as to why your elephant ear plants are losing their luster. Below are these reasons and their possible remedies:

1. Water Imbalance

The most common cause of plant yellowing is water imbalance. The imbalance occurs when there is improper soil moisture especially due to excessive watering. It’s true that plants like being watered, but you shouldn’t keep them wet or damp. So, you should ensure there is sufficient soil moisture by controlling how much you water the plant.

Remedy: The main way to avoid this problem is by ensuring you provide your elephant ear plants with enough water. Ensure you avoid watering your plants in excess. By doing so, the water will from the pot’s drainage hole at the bottom and your plant won’t stay wet. If at any point you realize your plants are wet, ensure you drain all the excess water in the saucer such that the plant won’t sit in standing water.

Remember, elephant ear plants do well in moderately-wet soil. Any excess water will make the roots rot, leading to death of the entire leaf. The first sign will be yellowing of the leaves and once this has started going back is impossible. Therefore, ensure your pots have a drainage system or only water the plants with the appropriate quantity.

2. Unfavorable Soil Conditions

Just like watering, you should know that discoloration might be occurring due to poor soil conditions. Actually, the two go hand in hand, so the type of soil you use will determine how wet your plants will stay. You should use porous soil because it’s well-draining and you won’t have to deal with water retention problems. The best soil is the one that is in crumbs. Also, avoid rocky soil because it will harm the plants’ corms.

Remedy: Just like most plants, elephant ear plants do well in soil that has a well-balanced pH. Acidic soil (pH of 5.5 – 6.5) is best for these plants. If you plant them in soil with a pH more or less than this, they’ll be harmed. The plants won’t get the necessary nutrients from the soil and eventually they’ll die off.

To check the soil’s pH you can test it using a soil test kit. Most of these kits even come with guidelines on how you can modify your soil’s pH to achieve the required level.

Additionally, if the soil doesn’t have organic matter, the plants won’t get the vital nutrients that are necessary for thriving. Shortage of organic matter in the soil might cause yellowing of these plants, so you should check on that before the problem worsens.

3. Low Humidity

One thing that causes a lot of stress to your plants is alternating between dry and wet soil (due to wrongly-timed watering). Once the plant is stressed, it ends up changing its color. Although elephant ear plants don’t like staying in excess water, they aren’t drought-resistant. Dry soil and low humidity are highly dangerous for your plants. In such conditions, the leaves start drooping and turning into brown, especially on the edges.

Remedy: You should ensure your plants stay in a place with the right humidity level. You can even boost their humidity through misting, using a pebble tray or humidifier.

4. Poor Lighting

Green plants require adequate light for the photosynthesis process. Elephant ear plants do well in bright areas, but with indirect sunlight. These plants can tolerate moderate light. If you expose them to direct sunlight for long periods their foliage will get burnt.

Remedy: Ensure you place your ear plants in a place that’s well-lit, but away from direct sunlight. Let the plants be in a place that has partial shade. No matter the conditions, ear plants require 3-6 hours of sun exposure per day and anything more than that is dangerous.

5. Pest or Insect Attacks

There are various sap-sucking insects that live in soil such as spider mites and they tend to drain moisture off plants. Therefore, elephant ear plants are susceptible to such insects. If an infestation occurs, the plants will start manifesting the problem by turning yellow. Other insects and pests such as aphids, mealy bugs, and scale can even attack your plants indoors.

Remedy: The main solution to this problem is ensuring you grow your plants in a dust-free area. Alternatively, you can spray the plants with warm soapy water periodically since it’s known to keep pests away. As a result, your plants won’t be attacked by these suckers and you won’t see any yellowing.

Unfortunately, if the infestation has already happened, the best solution will be to use an insecticide oil or neem oil. These oils will kill the pests, leaving your plant infestation-free.

6. The Aging Process

Just because your ear plants are yellowing there is a problem. It could be that your plant is aging and as the plant gets into dormancy, yellowing is inevitable. Without exfoliation of the old leaves you’ll realize that the plant will have some green and yellow leaves. If you’ve ruled out all the other causes of yellowing, you can go ahead and assume that the plants are shedding the old leaves.

Remedy: Even though the yellow leaves don’t mean anything, ensure you examine your plants well to rule out all the other issues. Once you’ve established that the plant is aging, you can help it by plucking the old leaves to give room for newer ones to grow.

7. Poor Planting Techniques

If you notice the yellow spots are on the entire leaf but started on the edge first, it shows that the root is stuck in the pot. What this means is that your plant doesn’t have enough room to grow. If the root doesn’t get sufficient space to grow, the leaves start yellowing and then fall off after some time.

Remedy: The only solution would be repotting your plants and avoiding the same mistake.

8. Excess Fertilizers

Although elephant ear plants require fertilization, in excess it can cause the leaves to turn yellow. Ear plants need regular fertilizers to maintain the large foliage and sheen, overdoing it could be harmful to the plant as it can cause foliage retardation.

Remedy: It’s recommended that you use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer that’s water-soluble. Such fertilizers allow proper leaf formation and expansion. You can apply the fertilizer once a month. Just ensure you avoid applying fertilizers to your plants regularly to avoid the yellowing problem. Also, the yellowing of foliage could be as a result of reduced nitrogen levels. That’s why you should use nitrogen-rich fertilizers for your elephant ear plants.

9. Damage to the Roots

Have you noticed some yellowing of your elephant ears? Apart from the cause mentioned above, root damage could also be the precursor of this issue. Many factors can cause root damage such as using a small container, rocky soil, root rot due to over-watering and scooping the soil hard. When you grow any plant in a small container, the roots have no more room to grow, so they get compacted. Since elephant ear plants grow quickly they tend to outgrow their containers within no time. Without proper root growth the leaves don’t get adequate nutrient, water and oxygen circulation, so they become yellow and start drooping.

Remedy: First, you’ll have to establish the main cause of the root damage. You have to identify whether the plant is outgrowing its pot, or if you’re dealing with a rotting root. Once you’ve established the main problem, start providing the necessary solution. If the plant has outgrown its pot, repotting will be the best option. By doing so, you’ll revive your plant and give it more room for growth. You can also avoid this problem by constantly checking and repotting your ear plants regularly.

You could also cut down the roots to reduce their size. For root damage, ensure the soil is well-aerated and there isn’t water stagnation. Whether you’re growing your elephant ear plants indoors or outdoors, ensure the soil never stays wet by installing a drainage system.

10. Other Natural Causes

Apart from all the cause mentioned in this review, yellowing of your ear plants could be due to natural causes. If the plants are still growing and you can only see yellowing on the older leaves, it means that this is a natural process, so you don’t have to worry. It means that your plants are shedding their old leaves as new ones grow.

Once Yellow, Can Elephant Ear Leaves Turn Green?

Well, this is quite a common question and the answer is simple: no. Unfortunately, once elephant ear plants have turned yellow they can never regain their green color again. The only thing you can do is identify the main cause of the yellowing, so that you can prevent more yellowing. The good news is that new leaves will grow and replace the yellow ones if you change the plants’ conditions.


Yellowing of elephant ear leaves is a sign that your plants are struggling with improper planting techniques, poor conditions or natural causes. You don’t have to worry every time you see some yellow spots on your ear plant leaves because it could be a sign of aging. However, once your plants start turning yellow, use the information given in this guide to assess what’s the main cause of the problem. Once you’ve established the primary cause of the problem, apply the remedies given and your plants will slowly regain their balance.