Greening the interior of your home has never been more popular. Healthy houseplants add freshness and life to your home and imbue it with a sense of calm. Indoor plants have taken their rightful place as part of the interior décor toolbox of homemakers everywhere.
Some people are nervous about looking after plants, but there is no reason to worry. Many indoor plants are low maintenance and easy to take care of so long as you get the basics right.
The Alocasia is one such plant. It's great for placement either alone or grouped with other planters in hallways, living rooms, dining rooms, and even bathrooms.
You'll soon find out that it's a very rewarding indoor tropical plant. A variety of indoor planters available to grace any interior space can make your Alocasia look even more vibrant than it already is.
Read on for tips on how to grow and care for the Alocasia so that it flourishes. We've also thrown in a couple of tips on what to do if things go wrong.
General Info on Alocasia
There are 79 species of Alocasia, mostly native to tropical and subtropical Asia and Eastern Australia. Common names for Alocasia include Elephant's Ear, Kris Plant, and African Mask Plant.
Both Alocasia and Colocasia are of the Araceae family. Elephant's Ear, by the way, is a common name given to both Colocasia (which has uniform green leaves) and Alocasia x amazonica, a hybrid which has striking, variegated darker green and white leaves.
This is the Alocasia that is most people's favourite. They're also fond of its smaller cousin, the Alocasia Polly.
Alocasia do flower, but not often, and not always. Its exotic leaves grow to between 20 cm and 90 cm in length. The plant itself grows to between 18 inches and three feet tall, depending on the variety.
In general, our indoor plant care tips apply to all Colocasia and Alocasia varieties.
What Do Alocasia Love Most?
There are three main things to think of:
- Light and temperature
- Soil type and planting
- Water and humidity
Your lovely Alocasia will do the rest!
Now, let's look into each of these more.
Light and Temperature
Alocasia plants are best grown in part shade, filtered sun, or bright indirect light.
They like protection from strong winds. When indoors, take care not to place the plants in a drafty area, or too close to a windowpane, if you don't have double glazing. Air temperatures should not dip below 60°F (around 16°C).
Soil Type and Planting
Alocasia like consistently moist, rich, well-drained soils in high humidity locations.
They love soil-based potting mixes rich in nutrients that retain moisture. Commercially available potting soil for flowers is sometimes labelled "composted soil." This type is also fine for Alocasia.
Some people line the bottom of the planter with coco coir or peat moss to improve drainage before adding the potting/compost mix. Others do not, and Alocasia grow fine without it.
Make sure you get a pot or planter with a drainage hole at the bottom, so that excess water has a means of escape. Remember to get a tray for your pot or planter, if not already supplied! Poor drainage for any plant can cause root rot and the plant will die.
The size of your planter must take account of the fact that your Alocasia will grow.
The plant needs room below the level of the soil to grow, too. Do not plant your Alocasia too deeply in the planter. The beginning of the root system — where the stems are brownish — should be level with the soil surface or an inch below, but no more.
Although experienced gardeners grow Alocasia from rhizome cuttings (the root-like part), Bloomspace stocks Alocasia of several different varieties at any one time in its online store. These plants are already quite well-established, and so acclimate to their new home environment with ease.
Colocasia, by contrast, has tuberous roots that can be split away at the base, and new young shoots replanted as separate plants.
Watering, Humidity, and Misting
Although Alocasia love moist soil and humid conditions, they respond well to a slight reduction of water in winter. You still water regularly, but give them less water each time.
The air around your Alocasia Polly, or Alocasia amazonica, should also stay relatively humid.
Use water in a spray bottle to mist the plant regularly. A planter tray with a layer of pebbles covered in water and placed beneath your planter will have the same effect as misting. Do one or the other — you don't need to do both!
From time to time, you might notice house dust on the surfaces of the leaves. You can use water on a damp sponge to wipe the top surface only of the leaves, but do this gently and sparingly. Misting is normally enough to ensure the Alocasia leaves maintain their glossy appearance.
A diluted liquid fertilizer (mixed with water in your watering can) can be added to the soil around once a month to feed your Alocasia, but only while the plant is still growing. It should not need additional plant food after that.
Repotting and Going Potty
Alocasia does not need repotting every year, but only when it becomes obvious that the plant has outgrown its pot.
Although it sounds nutty, we have noticed that people who talk nicely to their Alocasia have healthy plants.
"Oh, No! My Alocasia Is Dying!"
This might not be true. If your plant has been healthy all year but looks as if it is dying in winter, it is entering a natural dormancy phase. This is normal. What happens is that everything above the soil dies off.
Keep caring for what looks like an empty pot because the rhizomes below ground are still alive, and you can expect new growth in Spring.
If the plant dies back at any other time of the year, then you haven't managed to take proper care of the plant, and it is sadly too late to do anything about it.
By following our care tips, though, you should spot the signs early enough to remedy the problem.
Part of caring for your Alocasia is to look out for signs of damage. We have listed below what can go wrong with your Alocasia plant, why, and what to do about it.
Note that Alocasia is poisonous to people, cats, and dogs, so ensure that all such creatures are well-trained and do not ingest the leaves. The plant is more poisonous at the base of the stem than it is in the leaves.
Spider mites, scale, mealybugs, and aphids, however, find Alocasia tasty. Keeping the humidity high is normally a sufficient deterrent.
Brown leaves are caused by overwatering.
The soil should be moist, but not soggy. Use gardening shears to cut the brown leaves off at the base of the stem, since they will not become green again. Start to rewater only once the soil is very slightly damp to the touch — and then don't water too much!
Leaves also go brown if the plant or the soil is too cold. Wrap the sides of the pot or line the inside of the planter with coco coir, obtainable at most garden centres. Cling film, or jute, blanketing, or straw will do the job just as well.
Placing a mat of some sort underneath the planter to reduce the cold coming up from the floor is another way to keep your plant warm. Sometimes relocating your plant to a different part of the house will also solve the problem.
Pale or patchy brown leaves are caused by direct sunlight, too much light, or by moving the plant from a dark to very bright spot too quickly.
Dry, crispy leaves means the humidity is too low. Misting more often is the solution.
Still Need Persuading?
If we still haven't convinced you that Alocasia plants indoors can be a source of joy in your home and add visual appeal, have a look at some indoor plant design ideas on our blog.
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