Garden & Landscape Tips

Elephant ears
Elephant ears Royal Hawaiian ‘Black Coral’ has nearly jet-black leaves. This one is growing in a pot.
George Weigel

Most plants take in all the sunlight they need with leaves somewhere between the size of a fingernail and dollar bill. Then there are the giants of the plant world that over-achieve to produce leaves that rival big-screen TVs. These add bold statements to any yard and contrast nicely with their “normal-sized” neighbors.

If you’d like to try a few of the biggest-leafed plants, here are three to consider:

Caladium
Caladium produces heart-shaped leaves in a variety of variegated colors.
George Weigel

Elephant ears

These are tropicals that can grow three to four feet tall with heart-shaped leaves that can span two feet or more. Leaf colors include lime to nearly jet black in addition to various shades of green. Elephant ears grow in sun or shade, in pots or the ground, and their tubers can be dug and saved inside over winter in cold climates.

Caladium

Caladium is another tropical tuber (similar to elephant ears) that produces colorful, heart-shaped leaves all summer, preferably in shade to part sun. These aren’t quite as big as elephant ears but come in assorted beautiful variegated shades, including white, green, pink, rose, and burgundy. The tubers also can be dug and saved over winter in cold climates.

Gunnera
Gunnera is the king of big-leafed plants, checking in with leaves that can span four feet.
George Weigel

Gunnera

Here’s the king of the big leaves – a tender perennial (winter-hardy in Zone 7 and warmer) that can grow eight feet tall with four-foot leaves. The leaves are green with toothed edges, and the fat stems are prickly. Gunnera does best out of hot afternoon sun and in moist soil.

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