Alocasia Polly: African Mask Plant Care

What is an Alocasia Polly?

Alocasia Polly is a houseplant that looks like an alien among other regular houseplants.

Alocasia amazonica “Polly,” or Alocasia Polly for short, is a cultivar that is a subspecies of Alocasia x amazonica.

Commonly known as the African Mask plant, Elephant’s Ear, Kris plant, or Alocasia x Amazonica, it is a stunning Alocaisa variety, and you will find it in almost every plant store.

Also known as Alocasia bambino and Amazonian Ear Plant, these plants are native to Southeast Asia.

It was bred to be a smaller plant. Alocasia x amazonica is a hybrid created by crossing Alocasia watsoniana and Alocasia sanderiana.

A Florida greenhouse grower, Salvadore Mauro, created the hybrid plant in circa 1950 and eventually named the new hybrid after his company’s name, Amazon Nursery.

The parent plants are from tropical forests in Asia, so the Alocasia Polly will tend to prefer warm and humid environments. 

The Alocasia Amazonica Polly’s large leaves have bright white veins that make this plant stand out.

So, against popular consensus, the Alocasia Polly has a natural habitat that is nowhere near the Amazon forest.

Furthermore, the dark green leaves have an overall shape resembling an arrowhead and a waxy texture with light-colored lines running through them with distinctive light green or cream curly edges.

Alocasia Polly plants have become so popular that the Royal Horticultural Society has given the plant the Award of Garden Merit.[1]

Because it is a compact plant, it is ideal for indoor container gardening.

They grow to a maximum height of 20 inches (50 cm) and a width of 10 inches (25 cm).

What Is An Alocasia Polly

In the spring and summer, your Alocasia plant will require a similar growing environment.

It does, however, go dormant in the fall and winter, with slower growth.

In this blog post, we will go into detail on Alocasia Polly plant care.

How to Care for an Alocasia Polly

Alocasia plants are tropical plants that prefer high humidity and moist soil conditions.

They require moderate light and can be fertilized every two weeks with balanced houseplant food.

Alocasia can be propagated through stem cuttings or division.

When watering, give the plant just enough water to wet the soil, but don’t let it sit in it. Allow the top inch of soil to dry before re-watering.

Read further as we go into more detail on Alocasia Polly Care.

Related post: General Alocasia Plant Care

Temperature and Climate

Alocasia Polly plants like warm and humid environments.

In order for this variety to thrive indoors, the temperature should be between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 26 degrees Celsius).

So, when growing tropical plants in an indoor environment, the temperature is not the issue, humidity is the most difficult aspect to overcome.

This means that you must mist the Alocasia leaves on a regular basis in order to keep the environment moist.

Alternatively, you can place a pebble tray underneath its pot to create more humidity around the plant.

Light

Light For Alocasia Polly

Alocasia Polly plants should be grown in a bright area with filtered sunlight for the best results, regardless of their age.

When exposed to direct sunlight, the Alocasia Polly’s distinctive foliage becomes sensitive.

If you do not replicate the natural environment of your African Mask Plant, you will end up burning the leaves.

For a few hours, mature leaves can tolerate direct sunlight, but if young leaves are exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period of time, they will dry out and become scorched.

The brown edges of burnt leaves are one of the most common signs of your plant being overexposed to light, and you should move it to a new location with bright indirect light right away.

You can choose a spot in the northern-facing window to place your plant, as this will provide a great location for indirect sunlight.

Especially during the afternoon, as this orientation receives the least amount of direct sunlight.

Or if you have something to filter the harsh sunrays, like a sheer curtain or a window treatment, you can keep it almost anywhere.

Watering

Watering Alocasia Polly

Water your Alocasia Polly plant when the topsoil has become dry.

However, you can visually inspect your Alocasia Polly before committing to a watering schedule.

There are a variety of methods for testing the soil before watering.

  1. Use a wooden stick or your fingers to check the soil’s consistency.
  2. Lifting the pot to feel the weight of the soil reveals that moist soil is heavier.
  3. A good idea is to put a moisture meter in the pot and use the reading to figure out when your plant needs water.

In most cases, the thickness of the leaves or stems will help you figure out how often your house plants need to be watered. 

Alocasia Polly is a tropical plant with thick stems that grows in the tropics.

The thick stems of this plant, like the thick leaves of succulents, will allow it to be drought-tolerant and withstand dry spells more effectively.

This means that even after the soil has dried out, your plant can survive without water for some time.

This will ensure that your Alocasia Polly is never overwatered and that the roots have plenty of oxygen to breathe between watering sessions.

In the same way that other houseplants are sensitive to excessive moisture, this Alocasia variety is as well.

If you’re a novice plant owner, it’s very easy to overwater your plants by mistake.

You will think that providing them with more water is needed for them to grow more quickly, but all you end up with is hurting the plant.

Overwatering can lead to a list of issues like mushy roots leading to root rot, pests, and plant diseases.

Keeping an eye out for any signs like browning leaves or black stems, which are indications of the roots becoming infected with root rot.

Soil

Soil For Alocasia Polly

Alocasia Polly plants require well-draining potting soil.

Well-draining soil allows the soil to dry out before the next watering.

Because the stems of this plant are capable of capturing and storing water, it does not rely heavily on the potting soil for water.

To enhance the drainage in the soil, you can add soil amendments.

Soil amendments such as peat moss and perlite would help the soil drain better and directly help your plant.

Perlite is one of the most effective materials for improving the drainage of a soil mix.

It creates pockets of air and allows water to drain out ensuring that soft roots do not remain submerged in water for an extended period of time. 

Fertilizer

Fertilize the Alocasia Polly potting mix once every month during the spring and summer growing seasons. 

During the fall and winter, when it’s the plant’s dormancy, it does not require much feeding as compared to the other seasons, but during this time you can feed it once every three months.

Alocasia Amazonica Polly is a rapidly growing plant that will consume all of its nutrients from the soil within just a few months of being planted.

This is a blooming variety, which means it requires a lot of food and water in order to bloom on a regular basis.

As for what fertilizer to use, in general, all-purpose liquid fertilizer is all you need.

Propagation

Propagating Alocasia Polly

Propagating the Alocasia Polly plants involves using the bulbs or cuttings of the mother plant.

Propagating Alocasia Plants Using Bulbs

One method to propagate is to divide the mother plant’s bulbs.

First, remove the plant from its pot and remove any soil that has accumulated near the base of the plant.

You’ll notice small bulb-like structures growing near the roots of the plants.

Take these bulbs and replant them into the new potting soil-be patient and within four to six weeks you should start seeing long thin white roots forming.

Another option is to wait for these bulbs to develop into small plants before removing them from the parent plant altogether.

You will end up with several baby Alocasia plants in a single batch if you do it this way.

Each new plant can be transplanted into a separate nursery container.

Propagating Alocasia Plants Using Bulbs Stem Cuttings

The Alocasia Polly plant can also be propagated by taking a cutting from the mother plant and rooting it in water or soil, as opposed to the previous method.

Spring or summer is the best time to take a cutting because it is when the plant is actively growing.

Using a sharp knife or scissors, make a cut just below a node (the point at which a leaf emerges from the stem) in the stem.

After that, the cutting should be immersed in water or soil and allowed to root.

Pruning

Pruning an Alocasia Polly plant is only necessary to remove yellowed or diseased foliage.

It is critical to remove rotting yellow leaves so that the plant can concentrate on growing healthy leaves.

Your alocasia will shed a few leaves during its dormancy, but this is normal, and it will grow new arrowhead-shaped leaves once spring arrives.

If you’re looking for a pair of shears, we highly suggest these garden shears. They never seem to dull and always cut into stems very easily.

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Pests and Diseases

Common Pests And Diseases Of Alocasia Polly

Alocasia Polly plants are not immune to pests; however, they tend to be less affected than other plants.

There are a few common pests that can affect these plants, including spider mites and mealybugs.

If left untreated for a long time, spider mites and mealybugs will feed on the plant juices, leading to the death of the plant.

The best line of defense is to check your plants regularly; otherwise, your Alocasia may end up with mealybugs and spider mites.

You can get rid of these tiny pests by using Neem oil or rubbing alcohol.

Insecticide can also be used to control these pests, but it is important to choose the correct product and dosage.

If you are looking for a Neem oil spray, we like this particular Neem oil spray. Neem oil works well against insects and some types of fungus. We’ve used it on our pest infestations and it has worked well for us.

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Repotting

Repotting Alocasia Polly

Repotting your Alocasia Polly plants every 2-3 years should be part of your plant care routine to avoid running out of space.

Alocasia Polly likes being root-bound, so it must be repotted when it has outgrown its container and has reached the maximum size of the container.

Make certain that the new pot is approximately 2 inches larger than the old one.

A trowel should be used to loosen the soil in the pot before removing the plant from the container.

If the root ball is large and tightly packed, it can be cut into several pieces with a sharp knife. If the root ball is small and loosely packed, it cannot be cut.

It is recommended that before replanting the plant in its new home, you replenish the soil in the pot.

Make sure you use a pot that has a drainage hole. Having a drain hole, will assist the soil in getting rid of excess water.

Remember, to place a tray at the bottom of the container to collect and dispose of any excess water from the soil. 

If you’re looking for a pot with drainage holes, how about one that waters itself? This self-watering container is what we use for our indoor plants. There’s no need to worry about overwatering and great at preventing root rot.

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FAQ

Is Alocasia Polly a difficult plant to grow?

Yes, Alocasia Polly is a tough plant to grow since it requires wet, shaded conditions and has poor drought tolerance. It is a tropical plant and does not do well in cold weather. They need high humidity, bright light, and moist soil to thrive. In addition, this plant is prone to root rot, so it is important to keep enough drainage and not overwater it.

How do you care for Alocasia Polly?

Alocasia Polly will thrive in a bright, light-filled area with no harsh lighting. This plant is difficult to water since it does not like totally dry soil or being overwatered. Adapting to the environment will assist you in developing the proper watering regimen to keep the soil wet. Always plant it in well-draining loamy soil mixed with perlite.

How big will an Alocasia Polly get?

With proper plant care, Alocasia Polly can grow to a maximum height and breadth of 3 ft (about 1m) with proper plant care. If grown outdoors, Alocasia Poly may grow larger.

Can Alocasia Polly survive in low light?

Alocasia Polly plants can survive in low light, but they require a lot of light to keep the deep green color of the leaves, so keeping it in low light means your Alocasia Polly will struggle and the leaves will look dull and discolored.

Is Alocasia Polly toxic?

Yes, like many other Alocasia varieties, Alocasia Polly is toxic when eaten. Keep this plant away from kids and pets.

Conclusion

Once you learn to keep the Alocasia Polly happy as a houseplant, caring for other difficult plants like the Alocasia Sanderiana or Kris Plant will not be an issue.

It is important to remember that the Alocasia Polly plant needs plenty of water and indirect sunlight in order to thrive.

Whether you keep Alocasia Amazonica Polly in a greenhouse cabinet or in an outdoor pot, it will become the center of attention when kept with other plants like Philodendrons or Peperomia.

Other Alocasia Plants

The Alocasia amazonica ‘Polly’ is one of many types of alocasia plants you can grow. However, there are other types of alocasia plants. Take a look at our related posts.

References

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  • [1] The Royal Horticultural Society Plant. (n.d.). Alocasia × amazonica. The Royal Horticultural Society Plant Selector Database. URL: https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/96161/Alocasia-x-amazonica/Details
  • Gilman, E., Klein, R. and Hansen, G. (2018). Alocasia Spp. Elephant’s Ear. Publication FPS 33, University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension. URL: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/FP033
  • Mahr, S. (n.d.). Elephant Ears (Colocasia, Alocasia, and Xanthosoma). University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin Horticulture, Division of Extension. URL: https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/articles/elephant-ears-colocasia-alocasia-and-xanthosoma/
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (n.d.). Alocasia. Pet Care Animal Poison Control Toxic and Non-toxic Plants, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). URL: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/alocasia
  • About/mentions: Alocasia, Alocasia sanderiana, houseplant

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