Elephant ear plant broken stems can look quite daunting, but there is a method you can use to try and fix the break before you’re forced to remove the broken section.
This involves using florist tape and supports to secure the two sides together. Once in place, the stem can be left to heal for a few weeks and it will (hopefully) heal itself.
- What Are Elephant Ear Plants?
- Are Elephant Ears Prone To Breaking Their Stems?
- How To Fix A Broken Elephant Ear Stem: Step By Step
- Can you Propagate A Broken Stem Cutting?
What Are Elephant Ear Plants?
Elephant ear plants are known botanically as Colocasia and are often mistaken for Alocasias due to the similarities between the two plants.
They are known for being one of the largest houseplants you can own, with the leaves reaching up to 3 feet in length (around 91cm) and the plant reaching up to 5 feet tall (150cm).
These characteristic leaves point downwards, which is one easy way to tell them apart from Alocasias whose leaves point upwards instead. In the wild, Colocasia often grows near swamps and thrives in humid conditions with lots of bright, indirect sunlight.
Are Elephant Ears Prone To Breaking Their Stems?
Elephant ear plants experience a number of common problems, and one of these is that the stems can be prone to breaking.
This is due to the sheer size of the leaves, which put pressure on the stems. This is made worse if the plant isn’t in good health or if it is growing in an unnatural position.
What Causes An Elephant Eat Plant Stem To Break?
There are several reasons why an elephant ear plant stem may break, ranging from poor overall health to the position of the stems.
Elephant ear leaves grow to be very large, and this puts a lot of pressure on the stems to remain healthy to support these giant leaves.
If the stem becomes weakened it will be prone to breaking. Stems can become weakened for a number of health-related reasons:
- Disease – Fungal or bacterial problems can also lead to a weakened stem on an elephant ear plant. For example, root rot can cause the roots to deteriorate which will in turn affect the stems. Root rot can also cause stem rot, which will kill the stems quickly.
- Lack Of Nutrients – Nitrogen and potassium make up two of the three essential nutrients for plant growth and are responsible specifically for healthy stem growth. If an elephant ear isn’t properly fertilized with a complete fertilizer or potted in a soil mixture that contains little amounts of these nutrients then the stem will become weaker and may break over time.
- Lack Of Sunlight – Although elephant ear plants prefer indirect sunlight it is still crucial for photosynthesis which provides the energy for the plant to grow. Without enough indirect sunlight, an elephant ear plant will become weak and eventually die. Under these conditions, the stems will be unable to grow or support the leaves which can cause them to break.
Sometimes elephant ear plants can grow in unnatural positions that place extra stress on the stems.
This happens more regularly indoors, where walls or other household objects can alter the growth direction of the stems. For example, I once noticed a few stems of my monstera starting to break as they were growing around the legs of a lamp that I had placed next to it.
If the conditions allow for it elephant ear plants will grow rapidly and produce lots of new stems and leaves.
If this rapid growth is not sustained some of the stems may struggle to grow properly as the overall nutrient requirement of the plant will have increased. During the growing season from spring into early summer it is crucial to fertilize and water an elephant ear regularly so that the new growth can be sustainable and not susceptible to breaking when growth slows down.
How To Fix A Broken Elephant Ear Stem: Step By Step
If one of the stems has broken slightly it can be wrapped in tape with a splint for support to promote healing.
1. Identify The Breakage And Realign
Once you’ve found the break you need to realign it so that the break is not visible.
Since elephant ear stems can be quite thick, it’s best to a wooden stick or pencil as a splint to align the two pieces.
2. Wrap In Tape
After realigning and finding a suitable splint, wrap the two sides together with florist tape.
Use a generous amount to keep both sides fixed in place, and leave a small amount of wiggle room at the breaking point.
3. Add More Support As Needed And Water/Fertilize
If the break is quite severe or on a part of the plant where the stem is particularly thick you might need to add another support to keep it in place.
To do this, place a wooden stake into the soil and secure the broken stem to it using tape. Once you’ve got the stem in place and secured, water and apply a complete fertilizer to promote stem growth and healing (only if you haven’t watered or fertilized recently, of course).
Leave the stem for a few weeks and remove the tape. If no healing has taken place, the stem is unfortunately beyond repair.
How To Tell If The Stem Is Beyond Repair
Only very small breaks in the stem can be repaired.
If there is a clean break or a significant break that is more than 40 to 50% of the stem width it will be very difficult to repair. In this case, the best option is to prune the stem below the break to allow it to grow back.
If the whole stem is weakened or dying its best to remove the entire thing to allow the other stems to thrive.
Can you Propagate A Broken Stem Cutting?
Elephant ears unfortunately cannot be propagated from cuttings like other houseplants such as the pothos or monstera, and are instead propagated from tubers.
This is a great shame as it would be the perfect way to utilise a broken stem that cannot be repaired.