Alocasias add a beautiful tropical vibe to any indoor garden, making them popular houseplants with stunning foliage. They are easy and low-maintenance plants. However, one problem that bugs plant owners is finding mushy leaves on the plants.
One of the reasons for mushy leaves on your Alocasia is overwatering. Alocasia tends to get weak when overwatered, making the leaves mushy and wilted. To prevent this problem, use well-draining soil, check the watering level, and place the plants in a spot with good light and air.
There are other reasons behind mushy leaves in the Alocasia plant, and in this article, I will discuss them and suggest remedies to cure this problem. So, keep reading.
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What causes Alocasia leaves to turn mushy?
Mushy leaves in Alocasias dull the visual beauty of the plant, but if not taken care of, they can also seriously affect the health of your plant, even kill it.
Mushy leaves occur in Alocasias due to overwatering, poor drainage, low light, wrong pot size, etc.
Let’s start understanding the reasons one by one.
Overwatering is one of the primary reasons for making your Alocasia leaves mushy.
When the leaves of your Alocasia start looking mushy, limp, and yellow, it is a clear sign of overwatering in most cases.
It means you are watering the plant more than is required.
Let us quickly see what the basic reasons that lead to overwatering are:
- Overwatering can be due to poor compact soil, which does not let the water pass and remains heavy and soggy.
- Another cause of overwatering can be too frequent watering schedule. You have to understand the plant’s water requirement. Watering it every day, all year round, will not be beneficial. Instead will harm your Alocasia.
- A pot that is too large for the plant will retain more water than required.
- Poor drainage is another reason we sometimes use decorative pots without drain holes; it does not let the excess water flow out but instead holds it inside. Sometimes the drainage holes also get blocked with debris which obstructs the water flowing out.
- Overwatering can damage the roots and kill your plant if not cured on time. It also leads to root rot, where the roots decay due to a lack of oxygen and airflow.
How to fix overwatering and prevent it?
Here are some steps to help you fix and prevent overwatering in the future.
- Cut down on the watering if you notice that the soil mostly remains wet.
- Tilt the pot of your Alocasia to get rid of any water.
- Keep the plant in a bright spot with indirect light and allow the soil to get dry.
- Take the plant out, spread the soil and its roots on paper, and let them dry out.
- Always use pots with drainage holes. If you use decorative pots, use a pot with holes inside to plant the Alocasia, and then put the plant inside the decorative pot.
- Make sure to use a high-quality well-draining potting mix. Clayey soil tends to hold too much water, which makes it soggy. Add a certain amount of perlite, sand, or cocopeat to make the soil light and well-draining.
- Use pots of the correct size. Using pots that are too large for your Alocasia can result in overwatering because the water does not get absorbed by the plant. This keeps the soil wet for a long time.
- Understand the water requirement of your Alocasia. It changes with the season. In summers, your Alocasia needs a lot of water. However, the water requirement drops massively in winter because Alocasia goes dormant. If you continue watering it as you do in summer, the plant will not be able to use that water, leading to overwatering.
- If you are unsure when to water the plant, dip your finger two inches in the soil. If soil sticks to your finger, do not water it, but if it does not stick, only then water. You can also use a moisture meter.
- Water until you see it coming out of the drainage hole. And then leave the Aloe vera as it is until the soil gets dry again.
- Always empty the cache tray and never keep the pots submerged in water.
Also read: How Can You Save Overwatered Alocasia?
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Root rot starts when the roots of your Alocasia are attacked by pathogens and bacteria that begin to rot it.
The healthy roots start to become brown and mushy and gradually die.
Some of the causes of root rotting are:
- One of the causes of root rot is overwatering. When the soil gets saturated with water, the roots drown in water and fail to get oxygen and air to breathe. This causes the roots to suffocate and makes it a perfect spot for bacteria growth, causing root rot.
- Another reason for root rot is the poor soil quality and drainage. If the soil is too heavy, it tends to suffocate the roots and holds the excess water, which clogs the roots. This obstructs the oxygen flow, which creates the ideal environment for pathogens.
- Root rot also occurs when the container does not have sufficient drainage. If the container does not have a drainage hole, the excess water does not run out and stays inside the pot, causing the soil to stay soggy.
- Not emptying the cache or saucer placed under the pots can expose the roots to water, causing bacterial growth.
- It is always advisable to use porous clay pots to let air flow into the soil. There is no air circulation in plastic or non-porous materials, and the soil tends to hold more moisture.
- Root rot can also occur if the tools are not properly sterilized, which causes pathogens to spread from one plant to another.
- Sometimes they also come from buying plants that are already sick. Sometimes we buy plants that are already infested. It is best not to buy feeble and wilted plants and always buy plants from reputed vendors only.
How to treat root rot?
Root rot is tricky, and if it is found in the initial stages can be controlled easily.
However, saving the plant in an advanced stage can get difficult.
Here are the steps to follow to save the Alocasia from root rotting:
- To treat the root rot condition, you have to remove the plant from the pot.
- Wash the roots well under running water to remove the soil.
- Then carefully prune all the rotten mushy roots using a sterilized pruner.
- Do not forget to disinfect the pruner before and after use to prevent the spread of bacteria to other plants.
- Spray fungicide on the healthy roots that are left behind.
- Then prepare a fresh soil mix using a good quality potting mix, sand, or perlite, and repot the plant in a new pot.
- Once done, water the plant until it comes off the drainage holes, and then do not water until the soil gets dry again.
- Do not use the old soil or pot as it may have been infested with fungi, and reattack the fresh plant again.
- However, it might be difficult to bring back the plant if the root rot is in the advanced stage.
Mushy leaves in Alocasia can also be due to bugs infestation like spider mites, mealybugs, scales and aphids, and many more types of pests that attack this plant.
If your Alocasia has been overwatered, it creates a comfortable place for these pests to breed in the soggy soil, stripping the plant of its nutrients and energy.
This results in a droopy and mushy plant.
These bugs stick to the leaves and stems of the plant and suck out the sap from all plant parts, making the plant weak and flaccid.
If you notice the infestation in the initial stage, they can be treated; however, if left unnoticed, they can cause serious damage to the plant and even kill it.
How to remove pests?
Luckily You can cure these bug attack if it is noticed in the initial stages.
Let us see how to get rid of these nasty bugs on your Alocasia:
- First, you must isolate the plant to prevent the spread of these bugs.
- Wash the plant under running water.
- Remove the heavily infested leaves or branches. Trim them off with a sterilized pruner, and do not forget to sterilize it after use.
- Spray a Neem oil and water solution focusing on the infested parts 3-4 times a week. Neem oil has anti-bacterial properties and is the safest and most organic pesticide that is highly effective in clearing all pests.
- Do not ignore the underside of leaves where these bugs crawl.
- If you do not have Neem oil, you can make a solution with dishwashing liquid and water and spray it generously all over the plant.
- Let the spray marinate the leaves for some time, and then wash the leaves with water again.
- If Neem oil doesn’t work, you can use pesticides to remove them.
- Sometimes these bugs come home with new plants. So when you buy a new plant, examine it thoroughly and keep it separate for a few days after bringing it home.
- Keep your Alocasia in a well-ventilated spot to help air circulation and lights. The chance of infestation grows if your plant does not get much light and air.
Alocasia plants require a well-lit space with a lot of indirect bright light.
They cannot tolerate low light, which would severely affect their growth.
Alocasias do not tolerate harsh scorching sun; however, that does not mean they do not need light.
In nature, they grow under the shades of large trees where they enjoy filtered sunlight.
If your Alocasia does not get sufficient light, the chances of overwatering also increase as the plant cannot soak all the water, and the evaporation process also slows down.
This leads to damp soil leading to overwatering and root rot issues.
How to provide more light to Alocasia?
If you keep the Alocasia indoors, it does not mean you can keep them in low light.
Use artificial lights if the Alocasia is not getting sufficient light.
Keep your Alocasia at a spot that gets bright light and warmth from the sun but make sure the direct sunlight does not touch the plant as that may burn the leaves.
To give your Alocasia proper light without burning it, you can also use a filter or a curtain.
However, if you grow the Alocasia outdoors, make sure to keep it under a shade on a patio or a big tree where it gets the sun’s warmth at the same time, not the direct sunray.
The size of the pot is extremely important for the proper health and growth of the Alocasia.
If the pot size is excessively bigger than your plant, it can lead to overwatering ad root rotting.
An excessively big pot does not drain the excess water, which keeps the soil soggy for longer hours, leading to mushy and wilted leaves.
How do I decide the pot size for my Alocasia?
Ideally, the pot of your Alocasia should not be 2 inches bigger than your existing pot.
Increase the size of the pot as the plant grows bigger.
If you do not want to change the pot, then cut down the excess growth of the plant by propagating it into separate smaller pots.
Many times plant owners like to use decorative pots without drainage holes.
This prevents the excess water from flowing out, which stays in and saturates the soil, causing overwatering, making the plant mushy and soggy.
Sometimes the drain holes also get blocked, not letting the water flow out.
All these can prevent the drainage of the soil.
How to improve the drainage?
- Ensure always to empty the cache or saucers so that water does not accumulate in them.
- Never use pots without drainage holes. If you want to use fancy pots, use them outside and use pots with drain holes to plant inside.
- Cover the hole with a mesh or pebbles to seep water, but the soil stays intact.
Poor quality potting soil
The soil plays a very important role in the healthy growth of Alocasia.
If you choose the wrong quality of potting soil, your plant will be badly affected.
Alocasia needs soil that is loamy, loose, and well-draining.
It should be porous and well aerated while capable of holding moisture.
If the soil is too compact and heavy, the roots will not be able to breathe, and the soil will hold excess water leading to the mushy and yellow plant.
What is the correct soil mix for Alocasia?
While preparing your soil for Alocasia, make sure it is well-draining light and, at the same time, holds moisture.
You can use any of these soil recipes:
- Equal parts of regular potting soil, perlite, peat moss, and sand
- Equal parts of regular potting soil, fir bark, sand, and vermiculite, along with a handful of charcoal
- Equal parts of orchid bark, coco coir, and perlite
Lack of air circulation
If you keep your Alocasia at a spot where it does not get good air circulation, it will lead to problems.
In the absence of airflow, the plant will not get fresh air.
It will not let the soil dry, keeping it moist for a long time.
Lack of airflow around your plant also leads to pests and bug attacks which breed in still air.
Therefore, always keep the Alocasia in a spot where it gets bright light and good airflow.
How to prevent mushy leaves in your Alocasia?
We have already discussed the reasons that cause mushy leaves in Alocasia.
However, there are many ways to prevent this problem in your plant.
What is most important first is that you have to understand and find out why your plant is showing mushy leaves.
Once you recognize the issue, you can fix the problem.
Let us see the precautions you can follow to prevent mushy eaves in your Alocasia.
- Remember, Alocasias are tropical plants. They need warmth to grow. They do not like extremely cold temperatures so protect them from low temperatures and frost.
- Since they thrive under bigger trees in their native lands, they cannot tolerate direct sunlight.
- Bring your Alocasia indoors in winter if your Alocasia is outdoors. They cannot withstand severe cold.
- Use fertilizers every month during the growing season, i.e., spring and summer. Do not fertilize them in winters when they remain dormant. It can cause root burn.
- Change the watering schedule with the weather. In summers, your Alocasia needs more water than it does in winters.
- Alocasia loves humidity. Use a humidifier, pebble tray, or group it with other plants to increase humidity.
- Mist your Alocasia to clean the leaves.
- Check your plant for pests and bugs regularly.
We understand the various causes of mushy leaves in your Alocasia from the above discussion. Whenever you find the leaves going mushy, take a step back and observe your Alocasia thoroughly.
Once you understand the underlying problem, you can treat it based on the fixes I’ve mentioned in the article. After your Alocasia recovers, provide the ideal conditions and take proper care of the plant to prevent mushy leaves and other similar issues.