Colocasia ‘Tea Cup’
I bought my first Colocasia ‘Tea Cup’ from Wellspring Gardens in the spring 0f 2009 and my second from them in the spring of 2012. In 2012 I also bought a Colocasia ‘Bikini Tini’ from Wellspring. They are really neat plants with their cup-shaped leaves that hold water during the rain. When they get so much water in them, the leaf tips to dump it out then fills again. I like the dark color of the leaves, the dark veins, and the dark purple color of the petioles. The color is similar to Colocasia fontanesii.
As far as I know, Colocasia ‘Tea Cup’ is not a registered cultivar. It is similar, and may well be Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ but the “industry changed the name. According to Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery, Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ was found in the wild of Indonesia by horticulturalist Gregory Hambali and brought to the US by aroid expert Alan Galloway. I have not seen any evidence online of any company laying claim to the introduction of Colocasia ‘Tea Cup’.
I am only using the name ‘Tea Cup’ because that is what the plants were listed as that I bought. When I find out for sure they are the same cultivar I will change the name (s) on this page.
I did business with Donovan from Wellspring Gardens in Florida in the past and believe he is a very reputable grower and businessman. Brent and Becky’s Bulbs also offer Colocasia ‘Tea Cup’ and they are also very reputable, but I don’t believe they grow this plant. They are shipped from another grower. There are many websites that sell either (and sometimes both) Colocasia ‘Tea Cup’ and Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’. Dave’s Garden has a page for both, but of course, that information is added by individuals… Basically, anyone can put a page on Dave’s Garden.
Many websites list C. ‘Coffee Cups’ and ‘Tea Cup’ as a Colocasia esculenta. Personally, there isn’t any resemblance to a Colocasia esculenta. The color of the petioles and leaves and more similar to Colocasia fontanesii. A similar cultivar, Colocasia esculenta ‘Big Dipper’, has only slightly cupped leaves. I would like to try it at some point.
I ran across a website comparing the difference between Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ and ‘Tea Cups’ a while back. They said one was a little larger than the other and that was about it. Anyone who has grown Colocasia, or any plant for that matter, knows that plant size is variable. Buying different plants from the same source doesn’t prove they are different plants either.
Although I wrote a separate page for Colocasia ‘Bikini Tini’, I will mention it again here. Colocasia ’Bikini Tini’ is pretty much the same as Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ that was selected for cold hardiness. Introduced by Aroid expert Brian Williams of Brian’s Botanicals. Colocasia ‘Bikini Tini’ is a registered cultivar.
Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ grows to a height of around 6′. They are cold hardy in USDA Zones 8a to 10b. They prefer full sun to part shade and grow best in fertile, well-drained soil. They also like plenty of moisture. This variety of Colocasia sends out above-ground runners, usually in the fall.
One thing I have learned about growing Colocasia, buying top sized bulbs or larger plants is best. You may pay a little more than for starter plants, but they get off to a much better start. That depends, too, on the species and cultivar (and possibly their source).
Regretfully, I did not bring this plant with me when I moved from the mansion in Mississippi back to the family farm in west-central Missouri in February 2013.
I did purchase a Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ from a local greenhouse in 2019 and 2020 and one from Lowe’s in 2021 which you can read about by clicking HERE.
I am no aroid expert and I only grew this plant as a companion for one season. I liked its dark stems and dark green leaves and had no problems with it at all. As with many Colocasia you buy as small plants, it can take some time for them to reach a dramatic size. So, if you buy smaller plants and they don’t get 6-8’ tall by the end of the summer, just be patient. They really don’t take off until the summer warms up and stays that way for a while. They now have rhizomes that you can supposedly store for the winter and they will make larger plants the next season. Unless you live in a zone they can stay out all winter… Just make sure the rhizomes don’t remain to wet over a cool winter outdoors. Personally, I have had no problems overwintering Colocasia esculenta rhizomes over the winter, but I haven’t had much luck with the others.
You also need to make sure you have your Colocasia growing in an area they like and will do well. Otherwise, your plants will not grow well and attain any size. When I lived in Mississippi, the Colocasia esculenta grew HUGE. Now, in mid-Missouri, I only have room for a few that can grow HUGE and the rest remain small because of where I have to grow them.
Keep in mind Colocasia grow new rhizomes each season on top of the old one. If they aren’t growing where they will thrive, their rhizomes will actually get smaller.
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant. If you notice I made an error, please let me know.
I am a huge colocasia/alocasia lover and have grown al 3 varieties. As far as “the cups” i see no difference between the coffee and the tea cups, and trust, I have been looking! I was hoping you could tell me, though I did gain some insight from your article and I thank you very much babe!!!
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Hello Kimberly! I finally found a ‘Coffee Cups’from a local greenhouse in May. It seemed to struggle at first then took off and did well. Better, in fact, than any of “the cups” I grew in Mississippi. I am adding a link to my page for the C. ‘Coffee Cups’ although it isn’t updated with new photos yet. I have a lot of updating to do… Thanks for the comment!
I believe Tea Cups is a name that was erroneously applied to Big Dipper (larger than Coffee Cups, and has a matte leaf). Coffee Cups is thought to be a wild mutation of Colocasia fontanesii.
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Hello Robert! Glad to hear from you. I know we have had this discussion and I saved he info. I have grown ‘Coffee Cups’ and ‘Tea Cups’ but not ‘Big Dipper’. The ‘Coffee Cups’ grew bigger than the ‘Tea Cup’ which is because it started out much bigger in the first place. Other than that, I really saw no difference. I agree this “group” is more like a mutation of C. fontanesii ather than C. esculenta like some claim… There is no resemblance from my point of view. I hope you are doing well and I am sure you are a very busy guy right now. Take care, stay well, and thanks for the comment!
I purchased Coffee Cups online from Brian’s Botanicals, and the tiny plant languished in my PNW Oregon garden for 2 summers, wintering outdoors. I moved it this spring, and it is now 4-1/2 ft tall in August, and growing larger daily, with 2 vigorous offsets. Climate change has moved my Z–7 tropical garden to Z-8A, with a very noticeable increase in leaf growth, but less flowering. It is difficult to have to remind myself that climate change may be disastrous to the world, while at the same time it is allowing me to have the tropical garden of my dreams. Note: I also planted Bikini Tini, alocasia Borneo Giant, ensete Maurellii, musa Mekong Giant, and alocasia Dark Star, purchased as tiny plants from Brian’s Botanicals at the same time, and they all failed to grow. Perhaps with the new hotter summers they would now flourish. Sad to be a plant lover and have to think that way!
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Hello Marty! My Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ has done very well over the past 2-3 years, but I have to buy a new plant every spring. I can’t seem to get their rhizomes to overwinter well. I am glad to hear yours are doing well now. The Colocasia esculenta that normally do great haven’t done well for the past two summers. WEIRD! I bought A LOT of plants from Wellspring Gardens (Florida) as starter plants when I lived in Mississippi. Some did well, others not so much. I don’t believe I have bought any plants from Brian’s Botanicals. I have bought from Brent & Becky’s, though. Sometimes you can find what you want from online sources then look them up on Ebay. I grew a lot of different plants in Mississippi that I can’t grow here in west-central Missouri. This spring was cool and wet and it delayed a lot of plants. We plant lovers have to experiment A LOT and it seems every year is a little different. I wouldn’t necessarily blame it on climate change but I suppose it is possible. Cannas aren’t supposed to overwinter outside here but dad did it for many years. The extra cold February this year did them in… Take care and thanks for the comment