Alocasia, or elephant ears, is a beautiful tropical plant grown indoors and in gardens. One common problem owners notice in their Alocasia plant is the leaves growing smaller than usual. Today, we will understand the reasons behind smaller leaves on Alocasia.
The primary reason behind smaller leaves on your Alocasia plant is a lack of fertilizer, water, or light. Other reasons include dormancy, heat stress, overwatering, overfertilization, or a rootbound plant. To get bigger leaves, provide your plant with adequate care and keep pests at bay.
If you want your Alocasia to grow big leaves again, you need to identify the problem and address it.
In this article, I will explain all the reasons that make the Alocasia leaves get smaller and what you need to do to make them big again. So, keep reading.
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Why is my elephant ear growing small leaves?
Alocasia is loved for its large green leaves, and it is disheartening to see them growing smaller.
However, we must understand that we might be making a mistake in their care routine, or the plant might not be getting proper growing conditions in the first place.
Let’s discuss all the reasons that make your Alocasia leaves grow smaller.
Alocasia is not a low-light plant, and it requires 6-8 hours of bright indirect sunlight.
It is natural for Alocasia to grow smaller leaves when it doesn’t get enough light.
Low light means slower photosynthesis.
Your Alocasia will not get enough light to produce sufficient energy and food in a low-light area.
Due to lack of food, the leaves will not get enough energy to grow big and naturally grow much smaller.
How to improve the lighting around the Alocasia?
If you notice that your Alocasia is not getting enough light, do these:
- Shift the Alocasia plant to a location with brighter indirect light.
- Use artificial light if your house doesn’t get enough natural light.
Also read: What Kind Of Light Does Alocasia Need? Alocasia Light Requirements
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Lack of nutrients
All plants require nutrients for growth.
Without proper nutrients, the growth of the plant gets affected.
In the natural habitat, plants get nutrients naturally from the soil.
But as houseplants, the plant will not get nutrients if you don’t fertilize it or if the soil loses all its nutrients with time.
If you have not fertilized your Alocasia enough, you know why the leaves are getting smaller.
How to fertilize the Alocasia?
The soil loses its nutrients with every watering session, so fertilizing is important.
Also, Alocasia is a heavy-feeder as it requires sufficient nutrients to maintain its large leaves.
You must fertilize your Alocasia with a liquid 20:20:20 NPK fertilizer throughout its growing season.
Once the plant starts getting all the nutrients it needs, it will grow bigger leaves again.
Also read: What Fertilizer To Use For Alocasia? (Ideal Fertilizer+Dosage Guide)
Many plant owners are forgetful about watering their plants, which can cause different problems to the plants.
If your Alocasia is not getting enough water, one of the problems might be that its leaves will grow smaller.
This is because Alocasia is a tropical plant that prefers moist soil.
So, whenever the soil goes dry, you need to water the plant to keep it healthy.
Without enough water, the Alocasia will fail to perform its daily functions, due to which there will be a lack of energy.
And your Alocasia will not be able to produce bigger leaves without the required energy.
How do I water my Alocasia?
If you forget to water your Alocasia plant on time, follow these:
- Set a reminder on your calendar to check on your plant every week or after every few days.
- If the soil feels dry, water your Alocasia.
- Water the plant thoroughly every time you water it, so the water reaches the deepest parts.
- Use self-watering pots if you don’t have enough time or plan to go on a vacation.
Once your Alocasia starts getting sufficient water, it will bounce back and grow bigger leaves again.
Also read: How To Water Alocasia Plant? (How Much, How Often & More)
Alocasia is a tropical plant that goes dormant when the temperatures go low, and the air starts drying.
This happens during the winter season.
So, if you notice smaller leaves on your Alocasia during winter, dormancy is the reason.
During the dormant period, your Alocasia stops focusing on growth.
Instead, it saves up all its energy and focuses only on survival.
Since the plant doesn’t put its energy into growth, the leaves can grow smaller.
What should I do if my Alocasia is dormant?
Dormancy is a natural process and not something you need to worry about.
If your Alocasia grows smaller leaves during the dormant period, you don’t need to do anything.
If you had taken good care of the plant before it went dormant, it would grow bigger leaves when it comes out of dormancy.
However, make sure to take the right care of your Alocasia during the dormant period.
Also read: Do Alocasias Go Dormant? (When, How & How To Make Them Grow)
Alocasia prefers warm conditions, but it won’t tolerate excess heat.
If you have exposed your Alocasia to extreme heat, it will develop problems like smaller leaves.
Your Alocasia will get heat stress under the following conditions:
- The plant is exposed to direct sunlight.
- The plant is placed too close to heating devices.
- The plant is placed near the oven in the kitchen.
How to fix this?
If your Alocasia is exposed to extreme heat, you need to help it get better.
- First, move your Alocasia to a location where it will not get direct sunlight.
- You can place the Alocasia 5-7 feet away from the window to prevent it from getting too much heat from the sun.
- Keep it away from heating sources like fireplaces, furnaces, heaters, etc.
- Keep the plant away from the oven if you keep it in the kitchen.
Also read: Alocasia Sunburn: Signs, Causes & How To Fix
Alocasia is sensitive to excessive watering, and it doesn’t enjoy staying in soggy soil.
If you water your Alocasia without checking the soil’s moisture, you are making a mistake due to which the plant will get overwatered.
When the Alocasia gets overwatered, its roots suffocate and fail to function properly.
Due to this, the plant becomes weak and vulnerable and thus, fails to grow healthy leaves.
Overwatering the plant for an extended period can lead to root rot which can even kill your Alocasia.
How do I save an overwatered Alocasia?
Take these actions if you think the smaller leaves are a reason behind an overwatered Alocasia.
- Stop watering immediately.
- If you notice still water, tilt the pot to get rid of it.
- Empty the cache tray if you notice water in it.
- Now, place your Alocasia in a well-lit and aerated spot so the excess water can dry up fast.
- You can also take the plant out of the pot. Spread the soil and roots on paper and let them dry. Once they are dry, you can put the plant back in the pot.
- Always check the soil’s moisture level with a moisture meter before watering your Alocasia.
However, if the condition has advanced, your Alocasia might be experiencing root rot, and you need to address this differently.
If your Alocasia has root rot, here’s what you need to do:
- Take the Alocasia out of its pot and inspect the roots.
- If you notice soft and brown roots, you need to remove them with a sharp and sterilized pruner.
- Once you have removed the damaged roots, spray fungicide on the healthy ones.
- Get a new pot and fill it halfway with fresh soil mix.
- Repot your Alocasia in it and add soil from all sides. Tap the pot from the sides to help the soil settle down.
- Allow your Alocasia to recover and place it in a bright area that gets indirect sunlight.
Once the plant recovers, you will notice bigger leaves on it.
Also read: How To Save Alocasia From Root Rot? (Causes, Signs & Fix)
I already explained how lack of nutrients could make the leaves of your Alocasia get smaller, but adding excessive fertilizers can also be the reason!
Extra nutrients lead to leggy growth, root burn, and leaf burn.
If your Alocasia has leggy growth, you might notice longer stems with smaller and fewer leaves.
How do I treat an overfertilized Alocasia?
If overfertilization is the reason behind smaller leaves, you must treat your Alocasia.
- Start by checking the soil. If you notice a layer of salt on the soil, scrape it off.
- Take the plant out and check the roots. If you notice burned roots, you can prune them and leave behind the healthy ones.
- Stop fertilizing till the plant recovers.
- Once the plant recovers, you will notice bigger leaves again, and then you can resume fertilizing.
- Always fertilize with a diluted dose to avoid overfertilization. You can do this when watering by adding some fertilizer to the water in the watering can.
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If you haven’t repotted the Alocasia for a while now, the smaller leaves might be a reason for its rootbound condition.
If your Alocasia is rootbound, its roots will not get enough space for growth.
Due to the lack of space, the roots will start growing in a circular motion.
They will fail to absorb the required water and nutrients and send them across the plant.
And this will make your Alocasia weak.
How to save a rootbound Alocasia?
If your Alocasia is rootbound, repotting it is the only way to save it.
- You must take it out of the current pot.
- Untangle the roots gently.
- Get a bigger pot than the current one by 1-2 inches.
- Prepare a fresh potting mix by adding equal parts of regular potting soil, peat moss, and perlite.
- Now, plant your Alocasia in the new pot.
- Provide it with the correct growing conditions.
Consider repotting your Alocasia once in 2-3 years to avoid this situation.
Also read: Do Alocasia Like To Be Root Bound? (+When To Repot)
How do you make Alocasia leaves bigger?
You can make your Alocasia leaves grow bigger by taking care of these requirements.
|Light||Provide 6-8 hours of bright and indirect sunlight daily.|
|Water||Water your Alocasia whenever the soil goes dry.|
|Fertilizer||Fertilize your Alocasia with a balanced 20:20:20 NPK liquid fertilizer in the growing season. Stop fertilizing in winter.|
|Soil||Use soil that supports proper drainage and retention.|
|Temperature and Humidity||Maintain warm temperatures (65-85 degrees) and high humidity (50-60%) around your Alocasia.|
|Winter care||Don’t keep your Alocasia outside in winter if the conditions are too harsh.|
Reduce watering and stop fertilizing your Alocasia in winter.
|Cleaning||Keep the leaves clean so Alocasia can photosynthesize efficiently.|
|Avoid overcrowding||Separate the baby plants from the mother Alocasia from time to time.|
Reference: Science Direct, Propagation of Alocasia, The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Alocasia sanderiana, Alocasia micholitziana.
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