Just read Michele’s austerity post and the comments. Great stuff.

It never occurred to me that I was being smart and frugal by dragging my tender/tropicals in and out of the house every year, but I suppose I am. Over the years, the alocasia and colocasia you see above have not only survived their twice-yearly manhandling but have thrived, putting out big leaves sooner each season. Which is what I need to provide a lush backdrop for the pond. One is Plant Delight’s Thai Giant; the other is a houseplant that a stranger dropped off at my office for reasons that were never clear.

These, in addition to a tree hibiscus, gardenia, jasmine, musa, and a whole bunch of other big and exotic (for Buffalo) specimens, are cheap enough when you consider how long I’ve had them, but their presence in the garden makes me feel lavish. They look lavish. Gardeners are lucky. Over-the-top for us costs relatively little in the grand scheme of things. A $4 strobilanthes can take on shrub-like proportions, amazing all comers with its metallic purple leaves. A $3 lilium can make hundreds of garden visitors swoon in their tracks. And as for all the bulbs I just ordered, if you tally up the various joys of choosing, planting, and anticipation, they will have paid for themselves before the first shoots appear above ground.


 (Scary, I know, but I'm just trying to show scale.)

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Forgive me Elizabeth but where is the Alocasia in the pic? Is what looks like one big Colocasia. The divided leaf thing is Monstera is it not? I ask because I’m after some nice Alocasia/Colocasia for next year so I’m curious as to what is doing well for you in this situation.

  2. The one just above Alan’s head is the alocasia. It is more ripply and shiny (perhaps hard to see in this iphone pic) than the Thai Giant, which PD sells as an colocasia.

  3. Where on earth do you put all of these in the winter time? Do you have a conservatory in your house? Space and window access would be the big factor in moving something like these into my house (not to mention the heating bill…can they tolerate a little cooler indoor temps in winter?).

  4. Anne, I have a little room upstairs where I cram them in. It’s chilly and has one south window. They just need to stay alive; that is not too difficult.

  5. Is that wisteria to Scary Alan’s left and up? I know it’s probably considered an evil plant (invasive, non-native, all that stuff people rant about so vigorously) but a neighbor has trained one to be a tree and I just love it in the spring, other seasons too. I have made many attempts to grow a baby from that tree and this year I may have succeeded. I’ll know in the spring.

    I also drag plants in and out twice a year. But sometimes, when they get old and simply too heavy, I let them be (inside or outside). Some survive, some don’t. Just like everything else in my barely tended gardens. Nice pictures!

  6. Yes, Pam. I’ve had that for over ten years and it was blooming. It fell over during an inept pruning this year, so most of the rampant top growth was removed. Now I am starting over with it. Would like to have an arbor built AWAY from the garage.


  7. I have lots of grow lights and over winter most of my potted plants. I’m going to see how long I can keep my potted basil this year-probably in the south windows and under the grow lights. I just bought a large eucomis as a smaller one I’ve overwintered but the large one is much bigger (and heavier!) I put all my pots come end of month on my garden cart and wagon and drag them in and out until it gets too cold. Lots of work but worth the effort!

  8. Great photo! I grew colocasia in a pot this year for the first time but it hasn’t done very well. Neither did the Tropicanna cannas. I just don’t have enough heat. Alas.

  9. The first time, I know about this plant. Well, I am not an expert in the field of plants even though I have a small garden but I only know a few plants only. In my opinion, Colocasia and Alocasia plant is very suitable if planted in large area.

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