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How To Kill Elephant Ears

Nobody likes weeds. They are not supposed to be there in your garden or yard. But they are… so you get your herbicide and be done it.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, right? We wish that were the case with elephant ears, but the suckers are resistant to most herbicides.

Elephant ears tend to swarm in hot and wet areas. Before long, you got yourself an infestation to deal with! Dig out elephant roots here, and tomorrow you’ll have more.

elephant ears

Also, an elephant ear plant poses a danger to your kids and dogs. The leaves and stems of elephant ear plants are poisonous. A slight touch can cause irritation and itchiness. (Learn How To Kill A Hackberry Tree)

Best Ways to Get Rid of Elephant Ear Plants

At this point, you want to know how to kill elephant ear plants more than you did a while ago. Let’s get right down to it, then.

Removing Elephant Ears Without Herbicides

Herbicides should always be the last option. They are toxic, and other plants will die too. Improper handling can lead to serious consequences, so a less harmful method is advised.

But herbicides or not getting rid of elephant ears are a pain. They are hard to altogether remove in one go. So, it’s likely that you would have to deal with them over some time.

For young elephant ears, it’s best to remove the entire plant. Root system especially.

elephant ears plant

Steps in Removing Young Elephant Ears

  1. The first step is locating all the elephant ears, including those yet to bud. Look for those that haven’t yet grown leaves. Because they spread like crazy, one plant left alone can be bothersome later.
  2. It’s a good idea to inspect the surrounding soil. Get a spade, and start digging about half afoot.
  3. For the bigger plants, mow down the upper portion. If you don’t have a string trimmer, a machete or something similar will do. Be careful with the leaves and stems!
  4. Next, wet the ground. Damp soil would make uprooting the entire plant easier. You don’t have bits and pieces coming off.
  5. Rake the surrounding soil away from plants.
  6. Gently loosen the plant until you can pull it from the ground completely. A shovel or spade is allowed to pull it off the ground gently.


  • Once you cut off the leaves and stems, store them in a paper bag. Any bag would do, actually, but it’s better to be environmentally friendly. Keep it away from pets and children.
  • Also, leave a sufficient length of stem/s in each plant to use as a grip.
  • When using the rake, your goal is to separate the soil from the plant. Proceed gently and precisely to keep the plant intact. Use different angles when pulling the elephant ear plant so that it won’t rip apart.
  • The entire plant, especially the root system, should be in a paper bag. The bag should be inside a trash can or plastic container.
  • Wear gloves, long sleeves, pants, and boots to avoid the plant’s toxins.
  • Lastly, try to check to the site see if there are remnants of the plant. You have to dispose of those parts as well. Dig the entire surrounding area to hunt down tubers too.


Removing Elephant Ears With Herbicides

If things get out of hand and you have a full-scale invasion, herbicide might be the only option. This does not mean that after finding the right herbicide, the problem is solved.

A general overview of the process is given below:

  1. Choose an appropriate herbicide, then read all the instructions.
  2. Spray the top part of the plants with the herbicide, and wait for the product to start working.
  3. When the leaves and stems have died, dig up the tubers. Do this gently so as not to create bits and pieces of the plant.
  4. Dig deeper, about three feet, and look for stray tubers near the site.
  5. Dig the surrounding areas. And checkif there are any previously unseen elephant plants.

As always, dispose of the plant debris properly. Wear personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, and protective glasses.

A second wave might come back, so you must repeat the process. But you may not have to use herbicides next time if you spot it early.

Two Types of Herbicides

There are many herbicides. We can categorize herbicides into two huge categories, though. Contact and systemic herbicides.

Contact Herbicides

As the name suggests, these herbicides work only in the areas that have come into it. Leaves and stems. These won’t work with our elephant ear pests because we also need to kill all the roots.

Now, they do act fast-as quickly as one day even.

Systemic Herbicides

These herbicides are absorbed. It could be applied anywhere on the plant you wish, and it’ll kill it. Eventually.

Factors that affect killing speed include the mode of action, temperature, and soil.

Combined Types

New Roundup Weed and Grass Killer is a herbicide product with both elements. It might be worth the try.

Mode of Action

Herbicides use all kinds of chemicals. How the chemical attacks the plant is called the mode of action. (Read Do Marigolds Grow Back Every Year)

Chemical Names and Trade Names

There are labels on every herbicide. You can find the active ingredient here in the chemical names section.

Trade names are just the brands.

About Glyphosate

For elephant ears, herbicides that have glyphosate are the ones that work. It is absorbed through the leaves and stems. Not so much in the roots, though. The chemical travels all over the plant, especially to the growing spots. It is an enzyme inhibitor that causes a halt of amino acids production. Because of this, it makes it not a pre-emergence herbicide.

If you are dealing with water, try adding dishwashing soap into your spray. It will hopefully make the spray stick to leaves allowing the Glyphosate to work.

Warning in Using Herbicides

Herbicides affect all plants, including grass and trees. And they render the area of application a dead zone for time. Undoubtedly, they are dangerous to your health so take preventive measures.

They’ve been known to alter DNA and the endocrine system in humans. And they stick for a while, so you should not be planting anything edible there.

In 2015, the WHO declared that Glyphosate is likely to be carcinogenic. They cause cancer. But they do recognize that it is unlikely that a person would get a lot of dosages.


About Elephant Ears

Colocasia, Alocasia, and Xanthosoma are the three subgroups that make up the Arom family. Colocasia and Alocasia are native to mainly Asia. The last one is native to central and South America.

They are grown for their food and aesthetic qualities. Even though these plants are toxic, many people get by on the root crop. Even the leaves themselves are edible.

Poi is a famous Hawaiian dish that makes use of leaves. To get rid of the toxins, people cook the plant.

The plant’s heart-shaped leaves and tropical vibe make it a good decoration.

Also, did I mention how invasive these plants are? States like Texas and Florida are prone to an outbreak of elephant ears. As long as it is hot and there’s a water source nearby, the plants will flourish. (Read Weed B Gon Spray Guide)

They spread so quickly, just a part of corms, and they can grow. Also, these plants block off the water flow in shallow areas.

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