Alocasia Plants: How To Care For Them

Alocasia plants are popular houseplants that have large glossy leaves and make great additions to any garden or home.

Alocasia plants are tropical perennial plants from Southeast Asia.

Like any other plant, it requires some maintenance to keep it looking its best.

There are hundreds of different varieties of indoor plants, and the Alocasia species is one of them.

Due to their unique and beautiful distinctive foliage patterns and easy-to-grow nature, Alocasia plants are very popular among indoor gardeners.

In general, Alocasia plants require a lot of light, but not direct sunlight. They should be watered on a regular basis, but not excessively.

Once a month, fertilize them with a balanced fertilizer.

In this article, we will go over the fundamentals of Alocasia plant care, such as watering, fertilizing, and pest control.


Before moving on, if you are looking for other types of plants, head back to our main Houseplants page.


What Are Alocasia Plants?

Alocasia is a plant genus that contains 97 different broad-leaved, flowering, and perennial plant species.

Every species in the genus Alocasia has its own set of leaf patterns and colors that distinguish it from the others.

In subtropical and tropical Asia, as well as in Eastern Australia, these species can be found primarily in the shade of trees or under the canopy of trees.

Many gardeners use them as houseplants in their indoor gardens, where they thrive.

Elephant ear and African mask plant are the most common names for the Alocasia Polly variety. 

Due to its stunning leaves, stark contrast, white veins, and striking looks, this plant can easily attract anyone’s attention.

Some Alocasia species have smaller leaves, while a few others have large but manageable leaves.

What Are Alocasia Plants

The most pleasing fact is that these plants are fast growers and produce new leaves very quickly during the growing season.

The arrowhead-shaped leaves have a beautiful texture and wavy edges, and they vary from species to species.

Each of the sagittate or cordate deep green leaves grows around 8 to 32 inches in length on a long petiole. These plants seldom produce flowers.

However, when they do bloom, you will see the flowers at the end of their short stalks.

Remember that these species contain calcium oxalate, which is often considered poisonous to pets.

The lower portion of Alocasia plants contains the highest concentration of this chemical.

However, research suggests the necessity of conducting further studies to check toxicities [1].

How to Care for Alocasia Plants

These beautiful plants are very easy to grow, and their requirements are also reduced.

There are four major factors you have to be careful about providing: light, water, temperature, and humidity.

In this section, we go into further detail on how to care for your Alocasia plants.

Light

Light For Alocasia Plants

Although Alocasia plants can handle low, medium, or high light intensities, you should be careful about it.

We recommend you keep these plants in a spot that receives bright indirect light. The more light it receives, the faster it grows and pushes out new leaves.

The growth rate of the Alocasia plant becomes slower when it is placed under low light conditions, and exposure to direct sunlight for a longer period can pose a risk of leaf burn.

Therefore, the best place to keep these plants is near an east-facing window.

It will ensure that they receive direct sun during the morning and indirect bright sun or partial shade for the rest of the day.

If you cannot plant in such a spot, then you need to supply filtered sunlight to Alocasia Polly to avoid leaf burn.

Temperature and Humidity

Temperature And Humidity For Alocasia

The Alocasia plant enjoys growing under warm temperatures that are similar to its native climate.

If you are living in southeast Asia, then the temperature and humidity for growing Alocasia will not be a problem.

An average temperature for growing these plants is considered between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

During the warmer months, you should try keeping them outdoors to make sure they grow actively at that temperature, while during the winter, bring your Alocasia indoors.

An abrupt temperature change can damage the stunning foliage. Don’t keep them near air conditioners or they will get cold drafts.

Alocasia plants thrive very fast when they are grown in high humidity. Hence, you should keep them in a location that has a higher humidity level.

If you live in an arid region, you may use a humidifier or keep them in the kitchen or bathroom.

A simple solution is to set up a pebble tray to provide extra humidity around the plant or regularly misting the leaves will help.

Soil

Soil For Alocasia

Use a well-draining potting mix when growing Alocasia plants.

Never use too much sand or clay soil because sand cannot retain moisture, while clay holds water for a prolonged period, which is responsible for creating a soggy soil condition.

We suggest you keep the soil well aerated and apply organic matter like cow dung, vermicompost, coco peat, peat moss, blood meal, etc. Alocasia enjoys this kind of growing medium.

Although the Alocasia plant has a manageable size, its roots can become too dense.

Therefore, it is a good idea to repot them once every 2 years in a larger pot. 

Water

Watering Alocasia Plants

When watering an Alocasia plant, wait until the top of the soil feels dry to the touch, and then water it thoroughly.

Alocasia plants have a moderate water demand compared to tropical plants.

Consistent and even soil moisture is suggested, but they can tolerate dry conditions for a couple of days (not more than that).

Never make the soil soggy or apply excess water because it will increase the risk of root rot and fungal infections.

Water them regularly during their growing period, and it will encourage growth. During the colder months, you may reduce the watering frequency.

If you find it difficult to find the ideal or right period for watering, then wait until the top few inches of your potting mix become dry.

Once you notice this dry soil condition, you may provide water.

Fertilizer

Fertilizing Alocasia houseplants is necessary to encourage new growth.

Because of this, Alocasia plants have large leaves, and because of this, you will have to choose the fertilizers carefully.

During their growing period, you should apply balanced fertilizer.

Many gardeners use liquid fertilizer during the spring and summer, but slow-release fertilizer also works perfectly.

During the colder months, you don’t have to feed your plants as they remain in a dormant condition.

Lastly, we personally use this slow-release fertilizer. It’s super simple to use, and you don’t need to worry about it once you set it in the soil. It’s been very easy to add fertilizer to our houseplants.

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Common Problems of Alocasia Plants

Common Problems Of Alocasia Plants

Overwatering, a lack of humidity, or root rot are all common problems with Alocasia plants.

Furthermore, pests such as aphids, whiteflies, and mealybugs can cause damage to the plant’s leaves, resulting in discoloration, wilting, and even death.

Furthermore, alocasia plants are susceptible to root rot, which can kill the plant if left untreated.

Leaf Problems

The most common issues with Alocasia plants are with their leaves. The leaves may turn yellow in spots or areas and eventually die.

This is frequently caused by a fungal infection and is treatable with a fungicide.

The leaves may also curl or droop as a result of a fungal or bacterial infection. Treatment is required in either case.

Brown and wavy leaf edges

Brown And Wavy Leaf Edges On Alocasia Plants

When you notice your leaf edges turning brown and becoming wavy, it is an indication that the humidity level is too low.

At first, the dark green leaves become brownish and slowly turn yellow.

The solution is to move your Alocasia plant to a more humid area like a bathroom.

Rounded lumps on the leaves

The bumps or lumps on Alocasia plants are most likely caused by rhizoctonia, a physiological disorder.

This is a fungal disease that affects the plant’s roots and can result in the formation of these lumps.

The fungus can also turn the leaves yellow and cause them to die. Unfortunately, there is no cure for rhizoctonia.

Black or brown spots on the leaves

A fungal infection that affects the leaves of Alocasia plants is known as “black leaf spot.”

The infection causes dark spots to appear on the leaves, which can eventually cause the leaves to fall off the plant.

The fungus that causes black leaf spots is spread by wind and rain and can live for many years in the soil.

The best way to avoid black leaf spots is to water your plants from the bottom rather than the top and to avoid over-fertilizing them.

Pests

Alocasia plants can be harmed by a variety of pests, including insects and diseases.

Aphids, scale insects, whiteflies, and mealybugs are among the most common pests.

These pests can do significant damage to the plant, causing it to grow slowly or even die.

Mealybugs

Alocasia plants are especially vulnerable to mealybugs, and if left untreated, they can become infested quickly. 

The mealybug is a common pest that attacks many houseplants. Mealybugs are tiny, sap-sucking insects that can be difficult to eradicate.

They frequently attach themselves to plant leaves or stems and can cause significant damage.

Spider mites

Spider mites are a common Alocasia plant pest. Powdery white webs on the new leaves are common when the plant is attacked by spider mites.

These tiny pests can do a lot of damage to plants, causing stunted growth and leaf loss. Spider mites feed on plant sap, sucking out the liquid content.

This can cause yellowing or browning of the leaves or, in the worst-case scenario, plant death.

If you are looking for an insecticide that will help with disease and pests, we use Neem oil. This Neem oil spray is premixed and ready to go. It’s a simple formula that we’ve used on our pest infestations and it works well.

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FAQ

Is Alocasia poisonous to humans?

Yes, alocasia plants are toxic to humans, especially to small children. Poison signs include dermatitis and eye damage. Painful inflammation of the lips, mouth, tongue, and throat after eating; trouble speaking; nausea and diarrhea, vomiting, delirium, and death are all possible symptoms.

Is Alocasia good as an indoor plant?

Yes, alocasia plants are good indoor plants to grow. While growing, Alocasia thrives in a moist environment and requires enough water throughout the active growth phase. This is a plant that will benefit greatly from having a pebble tray underneath it. Lighting for your Alocasia indoor plants should be bright yet diffuse in order to get the best results. The leaves will be burned if they are exposed to direct sunlight.

How often do you water Alocasia Plants?

Water Alocasia plants regularly during the summer months, but not during the winter. These plants benefit from weekly watering sessions as well as regular misting to keep their soil moist but not soggy. In order to avoid overwatering and root rot in the winter, we suggest leaving the top two to three inches of soil to dry out between waterings to prevent root rot issues.

Are Alocasia Plants easy to care for?

No, alocasia plants are not as easy to care for as other houseplants. When growing Alocasia indoors, it is necessary to provide conditions that nearly resemble its native outdoor habitat, which is warm and very humid. It is sensitive to the soil and light conditions in which it grows, and it must be planted in a precise manner to thrive. When you take the time to give good plant care to your Alocasia plants, you will have a beautiful indoor plant for your home.

Conclusion

Alocasia is a plant genus that contains many beautiful varieties of plants that are well-known for their eye-catching leaves and foliage patterns.

They are extremely simple to grow for tropical gardeners. They require direct sunlight, a humid environment, warmer temperatures, and well-drained soil.

Aphids, scale, mealybugs, spider mites, and other pests that are extremely harmful include aphids, scale, mealybugs, spider mites, and others.

To get rid of them, use warm soapy water or insecticides.

Finally, be careful about growing these plants around pets and kids, as they are toxic when eaten.

References

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  • [1] Ongpoy, R.C. (2017). The Medicinal Properties of the Alocasia Genus : A Systematic Review. JAASP, 6: 1. URL: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/The-Medicinal-Properties-of-the-Alocasia-Genus-%3A-A-Ongpoy/cad9dd58a1895fd509a3e77a8199c06335c169b1
  • North Carolina State Cooperative Extension. (n.d.). Alocasia. NC State University Extension, Gardener Plant Toolbox. URL: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/alocasia/
  • School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University. (n.d.). Alocasia. School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University. URL: https://www.lsu.edu/vetmed/toxic_plants/alocasia.php
  • About/mentions: Alocasia, houseplant care

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