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Alocasia Cold Damage: Problem+How to recover?

Alocasias are stunning houseplants native to tropical areas. Thus, they prefer living in a warm and moist climate. If you are bringing an Alocasia into your house or garden, you must know if it gets damaged by the cold.

Alocasia will not tolerate low temperatures or frost and will undergo severe damage if exposed to any of these. If your Alocasia has experienced cold damage, give it time to recover. Don’t prune the damaged leaves but wait for the growing season and take proper care. 

Moving the plant to a warm location and protecting it from a severe cold can help prevent such situations.

Can your Alocasia recover from the cold damage? In this article, we will find that out. Keep reading to get the answers.


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How cold is too cold for Alocasia?

Alocasias are susceptible to harsh winters.

They can get highly damaged if exposed to cold drafts.

They enjoy the warm and humid weather and ideally flourish between 65-85°F and a humidity range between 50%-60%.

Temperatures below 45°F are too cold for Alocasia.

Alocasias have minimal chances of survival in places with a harsh cold, especially if you leave them outside.

Alocasia species can survive winters with proper care. 

Since Alocasias grow from tubers, you can also dig up the tubers, store them until spring, and replant them to save them from the cold.

However, extreme cold and frost can permanently damage the plant, and it can get hard to bring them back.

Prevention is better than cure, so bring the outdoor Alocasias indoors before the first frost to save the plant from cold damage.

Also read: Do Alocasias Go Dormant? (When, How & How To Make Them Grow)

Signs of cold damage on Alocasia

Alocasia curling

The symptoms of cold weather shocked pants are not hard to spot. Knowing these symptoms will help you nurture your Alocasia back to health.

  • Droopy or curling leaves: Leaves curl or droop due to cell damage. As the cells get damaged, they lose their rigidity, causing the leaves to droop.
  • Discoloration on the leaves: Look for white, yellow, or red marks near the veins of the leaves, which indicate the cells killed by frost. These areas eventually die and fall off. 
  • Dry leaves: The cold draft forces the Alocasia leaves to dry and die out completely.
  • Leaf dieback: If you keep the plant in extreme cold for a longer tenure, the leaves become brown and dehydrated due to low humidity. The chances of fungal infection and bacterial attack rises 
  • Dead branches: The plant’s dying is a sign of serious cold damage. This can lead to fungus attacks.
  • Stunted growth: Alocasia goes dormant fully in the winters, limiting their growth. However, if they are not taken care of and protected from the harsh cold, there is a chance that you may lose your Alocasia fully. 

Also read: Alocasia Temperature Tolerance (How Hot Or Cold Can They Get?)

How do I revive a frozen Alocasia?

If your Alocasia seems to have been damaged by cold weather, don’t panic.

Relocate the plant to a warmer spot as soon as possible.

If your Alocasia was outside, bring the Alocasia indoors and begin tending to it immediately.

Leave the Alocasia and give it some warmth.

The plant will recover with the advancement of spring. 

While the damage to the leave is permanent, the roots themselves are pretty resilient.

If the leaves are severely damaged, they will eventually die.

New leaves will take their place. 

It may take several weeks and months for the plant to recover, but your Alocasia will bounce back given proper warmth, light, and water.

An important factor in the revival of the plant is the duration it has been exposed to the cold.

Long exposure to cold can leave permanent damage.

Sometimes the leaves and stem of Alocasia shrink due to cold damage, but the roots stay healthy.

 If you doubt its revival, check the root of the plant.

If they are white and firm, they will revive.

However, if they look feeble or mushy, then chances are that your plant might not rejuvenate. 

Place the Alocasia in a warm spot.

Alocasia in sunlight

Shift the Alocasia to a warmer location immediately.

It needs warmth and comfort.

Do not start to trim off all the dead foliage at a go.

First, think about giving warmth to the Alocasia.

As it warms up, your plant will start recovering and gaining strength.

However, do not place it directly near the fireplace, radiator, or heater.

That may burn the leaves and give them a further shock.

Let it get warmth the indoors naturally. 

Also read: What Kind Of Light Does Alocasia Need? Alocasia Light Requirements


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Water the right away

The freezing temperature sucks out the humidity from the moisture-loving Alocasia’s leaves, which causes major dehydration.

Give the plant some water until you see it running out of the drainage holes.

This would add some moisture to the dehydrated Alocasia.

Also read: How To Water Alocasia Plant? (How Much, How Often & More)

Skip fertilizer

A mistake many plant owners do is fertilizing the cold-damaged plant, expecting it to revive soon.

However, you have to refrain from fertilizing your Alocasia in the winter as it may cause root burn.

Because the plant is in a dormant state, it cannot use up the fertilizer, and fertilizing increases the chances of damage.

Wait until spring to fertilize it again.

Also read: What Fertilizer To Use For Alocasia? (Ideal Fertilizer+Dosage Guide)

Prune the dead foliage

Alocasia clipping old leaves

Pruning the dead leaves during dormancy is another mistake plant owners do.

But you should not prune off these leaves and branches immediately.

Wait until the plant has warmed itself up.

Leave it on its own for a month or so without disturbing it.

Trimming the plant at this stage will add further stress to the plant. 

The right time to start pruning the damaged parts is the onset of spring when the Alocasia comes back to life and starts growing again. 

Remember that those damaged parts are most susceptible to fungus and bacteria.

So once the growing season arrives, and the plant starts showing signs of rejuvenation, trim them off.

Also read: Where To Prune Alocasia? (Best Time+How To)

Aftercare

The Alocasia might take some time to bounce back even after the winter ends.

Give it some time and care, and it will slowly start growing back from dormancy. 

As the spring approaches and the warmth and humidity in the air rise, your plant will gradually recover.

How to protect your Alocasia from the freezing weather?

Tropical houseplants like Alocasias prefer summer and add a tropical flair to a space, but it is difficult to keep them thriving in the winters.

Even a slight drop in temperature can affect their health.

Let us now discuss what action you can take to prevent cold damage to Alocasia.

Mildly cold areas

Alocasias are frost intolerant, and some varieties cannot withstand temperatures below 45°F.

It is safe to the Alocasia outside in mildly cold areas, provided the soil is covered with a layer of thick mulch.

Cut back the foliage before mulching.

Wait for the leaves to turn yellow or brown before cutting them, as the color change indicates the natural redirection of plant nutrients to the tuber.

Extreme cold areas

Alocasia low temperature

Bring the plant indoors in areas with harsh winters and freeze.

The foliage turns yellow before the first frost in these areas because nutrients return to the tubers.

Let the process finish and wait until the foliage is brown and yellow before cutting them. 

If you have a room with ample lighting, move the plant there within a temperature range of 45-6545°F range.

Water sparingly as and when needed. The growth will be extremely slow during this period of dormancy.

Tuber storage

The other alternative is to preserve the dormant tubers.

Alocasia plants grow from the rhizomes underneath the soil surface, and many plant parents preserve them then replant them once spring arrives.

Wait until the first light frost in all before digging the tubers out of the soil, advises the University of Illinois Extension.

Cut back the stems to 5-6 inches and carefully dig the plant without damaging the tubers.

Gently wash the soil off, allow the tubers to air dry, and then store them in peat or sand in a dry, dark, and cool place.

Mist the shriveled tubers, so they are plump.

Inspect the tubers frequently for signs of rot. 

Post winter transplant

Remove the tubers from cold storage 8 weeks before the outdoor soil is frost-free, and plant them in a container filled with good quality potting soil, peat, and sand.

Place the container near a warm window indoors or outdoors in a shaded spot first before moving them to more light.

You have to gradually make the tubers habituated to the change instead of giving a direct change which can cause stress.

Once the tubers get a head start, you can move them to warmer soil in a larger pot.

Place the tubers about 2-4 inches below the surface.



How to care for Alocasia during harsh winters?

Let us now talk about the ideal care requirements for the Alocasia in the harsh winters.

Light

Sunlight is the primary food source for all plants to carry out the photosynthesis process.

During winter, with daytime reducing and the sun’s heat decreasing, the photosynthesis process of the plant suffers great loss.

This leads to stunted growth and dormancy in Alocasias during winters. 

To avoid this problem, you should place your Alocasia near a sunlit window all day.

Alocasias cannot grow in low light, so they need the maximum light you can give to your plant.

Installing artificial lights is another popular way for cold regions to give them the much-needed heat and light. 

However, make sure the leaves of your Alocasia do not directly touch the window or the lights, which can burn them.

Water

As your Alocasia swiftly moves towards dormancy during the cold season, its water requirement will noticeably go down.

A mistake plant owners make is following the same wagering requirement all year long, which leads to overwatering and root rot issues.

The evaporation rate is much slower because of low sunlight and low humidity, so you should water sparingly.

When the soil gets dry, a little water is enough to hydrate the soil. 

However, make sure when you water, the water flows out of the drain hole, and then do not water until it’s required again.

If you are unsure when to water the plant, check the soil.

Dip your finger two inches into the soil, and if you notice the soil is sticking to your finger, do not water.

If soil does not stick to your finger, you can add water.

You can also use a moisture meter to check this.

Humidity

Alocasia Humidifier

Along with low light, another primary problem Alocasia faces in winter is low humidity in the air because winter is considered a dry season.

Alocasia, a tropical plant, requires high humidity to grow and cannot flourish in dry air.

So exposure to the dry air for a long time sucks out the moisture from the plant and makes it possible to droopy, pale, and feeble.

Here are the tips you can follow to give it the required humidity:

  • Alocasia requires 50-60% humidity in the air to thrive.
  • Do not keep the Alocasia near a cold draft or directly touch the windows to protect them from the dry cold air.
  • Using a humidifier to increase the humidity around the Alocasia plant is important to battle the dry air.
  • Misting once in 3-4days helps your Alocasia during winters as it helps to give some moisture to the plant. However, since misting is a temporary effect, you should use other techniques to increase humidity in the dry winters.
  • Another beneficial way to increase humidity is by grouping the plants. You can group your Alocasia and other tropical houseplants in a well-lit, warm area of your home in the winter. Grouping leads to an exchange of moisture between the plants through transpiration.
  • Another effective way to increase humidity during the winters is by placing a saucer full of water at the center of the plants’ group. This helps in the evaporation process and gives humidity to the air around the plant. 

Also read: Should I Mist My Alocasia? (Ideal Humidity+How To Maintain)

Temperature

Alocasia temperature tolerance

The ideal temperatures for Alocasias to flourish are 65-85°F.

Maintaining a stable temperature prevents the plant from getting a cold shock.

If you live in a cold area, bring your Alocasia indoors during winters and keep it in a place in your house that is warm and well lit.

Anywhere you are comfortable will be comfortable for your plant too.

Do not keep the plant directly in the way of heaters, radiators, or windows as that may lead to temperature fluctuations, which is harmful to the plant.

Fertilization

A mistake many of us are guilty of doing is feeding our plants in winter. 

You should not at all do that.

Since during winters, Alocasias go into dormancy, giving it fertilizers can shock the plant even more.

The plant might suffer a burn as it remains unused.

They do not need food supplements during their dormancy period.

Wait till spring to fertilize the plant again as it gets back to its growing season. 

Final words

Many plant owners wonder if they can bring back their cold-damaged Alocasia. However, the recovery rates depend largely on the tenure of the exposure to the cold.

Examine the Elephants Ears plant thoroughly for the degree of damage due to cold. Depending on that, you should take action and save the plant.

Remember, Alocasias are warmth-loving plants, and prevention is better than cure. So better than treating your cold-damaged plant, take the precautions needed before the onset of winter to give the necessary conditions to your Alocasia.


Reference: Science DirectPropagation of AlocasiaThe University of Arkansas Division of AgricultureAlocasia sanderianaAlocasia micholitziana.