Hi Larry GSL, I have bananas, they have very large leaves. There are a number of issues with large leafed plants here in Phoenix based on my experience with bananas , first is that large leaves typically indicate large water consumption and frost tenderness. They also tend to get shredded in our monsoon winds. I have no personal experience with elephant ears, but my bananas need a lot of water (and I'm on flood irrigation, my bananas are happiest with even more water in the summer than that!). They get badly frost bitten and die back to the ground each season. The top most leaves that stick up past the roofline of my house and out of the protected corner they are in get literally shredded to pieces and sunburned. To protect from sunburn, they were planted on the east side of the house. All that said, the bananas I planted a year and a half ago are growing like mad and put up a couple pups each and one has flowered.
What kind of sheltering are you using? As Liz & Dan already pointed out, conditions in Phoenix are brutal - but this shouldn't stop your progress, consider it a challenge.
As an example, Maria (My Better Half) grows all kinds of plants on our patio. She has had particularly great success with elephant ears (we give a lot of plants away - and even sell them) - They seem to grow like weeds under her care.
I think the main concern here is frost and sunburn with most plants, but elephant ears are extremely prone to whiplash from these ever increasing high wind conditions. The best approach would be a sturdy covering (we use a white poly tarp, For Us they are cheap, because we have a Tarp Business). It's not that we are favoring white poly tarps because we sell them (we sell gay and those cheapie blue ones - the blue ones not being worth the time or effort to even pick up off the shelf, but people still demand them...) We favor the white ones because they diffuse light and eliminate sun burn, a simple mister placed up in the patio tarp keeps green plants green all summer. The framed white tarp covers that we erect also have sides that are in two phases, short to shorten the effects of local wind, and long that allow you to totally enclose the whole she bang to actually have a winter greenhouse, and yet still have a bright sun lit patio in the spring and summer. Kinda like having your cake and eating it too....
eMail me at dmason @ phoenixcomputerlabs . com
Yea I have a few commercial interests other than plants (ya gotta pay the bills, which seems to get harder and harder every year). I also own Arizona Bio Fuels Research and Phoenix Computer Labs. One does organic aquaculture systems, the other is a computer company (I'll let you guess which). We used to do custom back-yard tarp/canopy installations, but that still hasn't really taken off. To give a little self promotion (this is for all of those sceptics out there who have put up canopy's and had them blown away by our sometimes fierce valley wind storms) - We have one 20'x40' Tarp cover in a back yard near 36st & Oak that has been there 10-years. The owner just took the white canopy cover off because it is sun damaged (I know this because she emailed me and asked if she can get a replacement, and why...). One of our neighbors has one that we did for her that is only 5-years old, and wouldn't take a million dollars for it (hers is only 10X14). She has a small mister system that we installed that keeps the summer temps moderate and comfortable for her and the plants. Our current canopy is only two years old (we moved two years ago), same neighborhood. different place (hey we like it near 15th ave & Glendale).
""""End of shameless I'm so Great Rant""""
Like I said eMail us if you need help with your elephant ears. Maria probably loves plants and animals more than me....