Design

Xanthosoma aurea ‘Lime Zinger’

A humdinger of an elephant ear

Fine Gardening - Issue 106

Xanthosoma aurea ‘Lime Zinger’

Well into my “tropical” phase, ‘Lime Zinger’ elephant ear (Xanthosoma aurea ‘Lime Zinger’, Zones 9–11) was just another of several different kinds of elephant ears that I had to try. An uncharacteristically cloudy, wet southern summer proved the merits of this plant’s chartreuse foliage: It glows, glows, glows.

‘Lime Zinger’ has become the lightbulb of my garden with its 2-foot-long, heart-shaped leaves that flutter in the slightest breeze. With a motto that seems to be “the hotter, the better,” this plant’s chartreuse foliage holds its color in my hot North Carolina garden. Plants grow as if on steroids, reaching 3 to 5 feet tall with a 4- to 5-foot spread. ‘Lime Zinger’ performs well in full sun and partial shade and doesn’t mind slightly acidic, rich, moist soil. It seems to have no problems with pests or diseases.

The name of this particular plant varies: Xanthosoma aurea ‘Chartreuse Giant’, X. mafaffa ‘Lime Zinger’, and Alocasia ‘Golden Delicious’. Like other members of the genus Xanthosoma, however, ‘Lime Zinger’ grows from tubers. To overwinter, pop ‘Lime Zinger’ out of the garden before the first fall frost and place it in a cool, well-lit room or heated greenhouse. Decrease watering until late spring. By the second growing season, your ‘Lime Zinger’ stash will easily double with baby tubers next to the mother plant. Don’t rush to plant in spring; tubers won’t take off until soil and air temperatures get warm.

If a monochromatic scheme is your style, ‘Lime Zinger’ consorts nicely in the shade with striped weeping sedge (Carex hachijoensis ‘Evergold’, Zones 6–9) and the yellow-margined foliage and purple, orchidlike flowers of variegated toad lily (Tricyrtis formosana ‘Variegata’, Zones 6–9).

To create a lush, jungle effect, pair ‘Lime Zinger’ with other elephant ears such as black leaf elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’, Zones 8–10). By midsummer, plants will be mingling and brimming with foliage color and texture. If you have always gardened on the safe side, walk on the wild side with ‘Lime Zinger’ and enjoy the drama.

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