How to care for an AlocasiaThe Alocasia plant family is beautiful and diverse. There are nearly 100 distinct species of Alocasia. They go by many different names such as Elephant's Ear, Giant Taro, and African Mask plant. They are part of the Araceae family which is more commonly known as the Aroid family. Aroids include plants like Pothos, Philodendron, and Monstera, many of which adapted to the dappled sunlight of the forest understory. Pseudonyms aside, the entire Alocasia family of plants has one thing in common: they all look stunning. All of them have big leaves and some of them can grow up to a metre in size! WOW!
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- Once every two years
- Bright, indirect light
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Alocasias are mainly found in Borneo and surrounding countries in Southeast Asia and Eastern Australia. In some countries you'll even find the root of some species of Alocasia on the dinner table! (Important to note that the root can be toxic when raw and needs to be properly prepared before consuming.)
Alocasias are not your most air purifying plants, but the giant leaves certainly help. The more leafy surface a plant has, the better it is at purifying the air.
Be especially careful with pets and kids. The Alocasia plant is known to cause serious diarrhea and vomiting when consumed. Some pets may even die as a result from eating leaves, stems, or roots of Alocasia plants. The sap of an Alocasia can also cause some light irritation to the skin. Be mindful of that when you're repotting yours or when cutting dead leaves. Keep your cuttings away from pets and children and dispose of them directly.
Alocasias are native to tropical rainforests which means they like a more humid environment. We recommend keeping the soil slightly moist at all times. Only allow the top 25% of the soil to dry between waterings. They are prone to root rot, so soil should not be soggy and any excess water should be allowed to drain from the pot. They would also benefit from a boost in humidity. Consider using a pebble tray or humidifier and avoid heat and air conditioning vents. Alocasia will typically enter a period of dormancy in the winter months. Watering should be significantly decreased, but don’t allow the soil to completely dry out.
Alocasias prefer a bright, indirect light and can adjust to lower light conditions. Direct sunlight should be avoided as it can burn the leaves. In lower light, you may notice your Alocasia starting to lean towards the light. If that happens, twist the pot every now and then to prevent it from leaning too much to one side. East- or West-facing windows are ideal but a South-facing window works as long as it’s out of direct sunlight, such as behind a sheer curtain.
Alocasias like to be fed once a month during spring and summer with an all purpose houseplant fertilizer.
Alocasias can grow up to two metres tall. If you want yours that size you'll have to repot it about once every two years. Find a pot that's about 20% bigger to give it room to grow.
Alocasias are known for how fast they grow their leaves and shed old ones. Old leaves turn brown first and will simply fall off (or can be trimmed with clean scissors or pruning shears). During their dormancy period in the winter months, there will be little to no new growth. Don’t get discouraged, new leaves will start popping out in the spring! Alocasia will occasionally flower when grown as an indoor plant. The flowers are a bit strange looking and are often pruned off in order to prevent the plant from dedicating too much energy to the flower, which can cause some of the leaves to drop.
Alocasias are particularly susceptible spider mites, so make sure to check your plant regularly. They are usually found on the undersides of the leaves and along leaf veins. If you spot them, physically remove as many as possible with a damp cloth then treat with a neem oil solution or miticide.