Mature elephant ears plant
The elephant ears plant

Large leaved, and tropical to the core, the Remusatia is an elegant herbaceous perennial that will thrive in reliably moist soils.

Young elephant ears plants in native habitat
The elephant ears plant
Commonly known as 'Hitchhiker's Elephant Ears', Remusatia is a small genus with few species distributed from East Africa to Yemen, Oman, the Himalaya region and southern and northern Australia.

The 'hitchhiker' part of the common name comes from the way the plant propagates itself. In its native habitat, Remusatia plants propagate by runners that travel just below the ground - known as stolons. These are densely covered with tubercles - bulbils.

Although remusatia are quite capable of flowering and setting seed, their main method of propagation is through the transportation of these bulbils by way of the local wildlife. Tiny hooks on the bulbils attach themselves to any animal or bird that happens to be passing by. When it falls off it has an opportunity to germinate away from the parent plant avoiding direct competition with it.

All Remusatia species have ornamental, oval foliage and in addition several species have showy flowers in summer. When growing for the garden, all Remusatia species are easily cultivated in any rich, well drained soil in partially shaded (summer) to sunny (winter) spot.

The time to plant up your Remusatia tuber is from June onwards once temperatures start to rise to 25°C.

Elephant ears bulb being potted on
Potting on Remusatia bulb
Use a good quality compost such as John Innes 'No 3' but add perlite of vermiculite for better water absorption and drainage, and a handful of bonemeal. Mix in well and then place the tuber just below the surface and water in gently.

As the plant begins to grow watering can be increased.

Several species may go dormant from autumn to spring. Keep dormant tubers on the dry side at a minimum of some 10°C. Get them too cold and wet and they will begin to suffer from fungal diseases.

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