Alocasia or Elephants ears is an exotic tropical plant loved with large green leaves. But to keep the plant thriving in your interior environment, you need to know how to care for it.
Alocasia thrives in bright indirect sunlight, well-drained soil, 65-85°F temperatures, and 50-60% humidity. It also requires proper watering when the soil is 25-50% dry and sufficient fertilization throughout the growing season, i.e., spring and summer.
The care requirement of these plants changes during the winter season as it is their dormant period.
In this article, you will get the basic care requirements that you need to care for your Alocasia. So, keep reading.
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1. Provide 6-8 hours of bright, indirect sunlight.
Alocasia will not tolerate direct sunlight.
In its native lands, Alocasias grow under big trees that protect them from the direct and harsh sunlight.
Therefore, when growing it inside the house, you must keep it away from windows that get direct sunlight.
You can either place your Alocasia 5-10 feet away from the window or use curtains or blinds to diffuse the direct sunlight.
While protecting the plant from direct sunlight, don’t take it away from light.
If it is not getting enough natural light, use artificial lights.
2. Water your Alocasia when the soil is 25-50% dry.
Like most tropical foliage plants, Alocasia is sensitive to overwatering and doesn’t even enjoy dry soil.
Overwatering is a common problem for all houseplants, and to prevent it, you must water the plant only when the soil is 25-50% dry.
If you keep overwatering your plant, the roots will start decaying, and it will become difficult for you to save the plant.
You can get a moisture meter to check the moisture content of the soil if you are a beginner at this.
Use a watering can to water your Alocasia at the base to ensure water doesn’t spill on the foliage.
This will prevent fungus or bacterial growth.
After every watering, allow the top 2-3 inches of the soil to dry out before watering the plant again.
Another common mistake with watering is when people forget to water their plants.
Alocasia doesn’t enjoy entirely dry soil, and keeping it thirsty for too long will give rise to further problems.
To avoid this:
- Keep a regular check on your Alocasia.
- Water it whenever the top 2-3 inches of the soil feel dry.
- Use a self-watering pot if you plan to go on a vacation.
Don’t follow any watering schedule as the water requirement depends on many external factors such as temperature, humidity, season, etc.
Therefore, the water requirement of the plant will vary.
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3. Alocasia requires well-drained potting soil.
Since Alocasia is sensitive to overwatering, you must use well-drained soil that doesn’t retain excess moisture.
Also, make sure that the soil can retain the required moisture, so the plant doesn’t get thirsty too fast.
Using the wrong potting mix for your Alocasia can get overwatered or underwatered even when you water it correctly.
Here are some ideal soil recipes for your Alocasia:
- Equal parts of orchid bark, coco coir, and perlite
- 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
Alocasia prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 to 6.5.
4. Fertilize your Alocasia generously during the growing season.
Alocasia is a heavy feeder that demands sufficient fertilizer to grow its large leaves.
If you don’t fertilize your Alocasia properly, it will become weak as it will not get all its nutrients.
You must fertilize your Alocasia with a 20:20:20 NPK liquid fertilizer.
Make sure to dilute the dose to ensure that your Alocasia doesn’t get overfertilized.
Adding fertilizer every month throughout its growing season will help the plant grow and remain healthy.
5. Plant your Alocasia in the right-sized pot.
Some Alocasia species can grow quite big, so you must ensure to use the correct sized pot for your Alocasia.
If you keep the Alocasia in a small pot, it will become root-bound fast, restricting its growth.
On the other hand, a too big pot will hold more soil and water, increasing the chances of overwatering and root rot.
The plant might also focus on root growth rather than foliage growth in a big pot.
Therefore, get a pot that is one size bigger than the root ball.
Also, make sure the pot has drainage holes.
If you are getting decorative pots, they might not have any drainage holes.
Don’t forget to drill some holes before planting your Alocasia in it.
6. Provide 65-85°F temperature around your Alocasia.
Alocasia comes from tropical lands where it receives warm conditions.
Even as a houseplant, it will have the same requirement.
Therefore, keep your Alocasia in a warm room where it will get warm temperatures.
If you are not aware of the temperature, use a hygrometer that tells you the humidity and the temperatures.
Don’t consider the temperature of the room but the exact spot where you have placed your Alocasia.
Don’t place the Alocasia too close to any heating device to increase the temperature around it.
Placing the plant near any heating source, such as a fireplace, furnace, or oven, will increase the temperature more than required, and this can burn the leaves.
If you want to give it warmth, place it in the room that has a fireplace but don’t take it too close to it.
7. Provide 50-60% humidity to your Alocasia.
Alocasia belongs to humid regions, and humidity is an important factor that helps in the growth and survival of these plants.
Without sufficient humidity, your Alocasia will become unhealthy and fail to survive in the long run.
It requires at least 50-60% humidity to thrive.
However, I understand that giving it sufficient humidity might not be easy, and therefore, I have listed some ways with which you can maintain the ideal humidity.
- The best way to increase the humidity is with the help of a humidifier. These portable devices provide moisture in the area where you keep them.
- Keep your Alocasia with other moisture-loving plants. The plants will transpire and increase the humidity around that area.
- If you have an aquarium, keep your Alocasia near it as the water from the aquarium will evaporate and increase the humidity around it.
- Move your Alocasia to the bathroom, basement, or kitchen, as these rooms have higher humidity levels than other rooms. However, the plant should also get the other conditions to survive in these rooms.
Keep your Alocasia away from drafts and AC to avoid the chances of reduced humidity around the plant.
8. Don’t forget to prune your Alocasia.
Almost all houseplants require pruning to stay in shape, get rid of damaged parts, and stay healthy.
Your Alocasia will grow slower than usual without pruning as the plant’s energy will get wasted on the dead and damaged parts.
Therefore, prune your Alocasia whenever you notice discolored leaves or damaged parts on it.
Here are the 3 things you should prune from your Alocasia:
- Dead leaves
- Damaged and discolored leaves or stems
- Uneven or leggy growth
- Spent flowers
Take a sharp and sterilized pruner and prune your Alocasia from the base of the plant.
You can’t prune Alocasia from any other part, and you should only prune from the base.
Consider pruning the plant either during spring or summer.
The plant gets the ideal growing conditions during these seasons, so it is easier to recover the loss of leaves and stems.
Also read: Where To Prune Alocasia? (Best Time+How To)
9. Repot your Alocasia once in 2-3 years.
Repotting is an essential part of the Alocasia care routine, especially when grown as a houseplant.
If you don’t repot your Alocasia within 2-3 years, it will get rootbound as it will outgrow its existing pot.
Also, the soil will become less nutrient-rich, and the plant’s growth will slow down.
Repotting is important so your Alocasia can get:
- More space for growth to avoid rootbound
- Fresh potting mix that is nutrient-rich to avoid slow growth
- Separated from the pups to avoid overcrowding.
Timely repotting will also help your Alocasia avoid all other health problems.
Repot your Alocasia in a one-size bigger pot and prepare a fresh potting mix by following any of the recipes that I have mentioned above.
If you notice any damaged roots while repotting, get rid of them.
Also, remove the dead and damaged parts of the plant to help it concentrate on new growth.
Consider repotting your young Alocasia plants once in 6-12 months.
Once the plant matures, you can repot it once in 2-3 years.
10. Spray Neem oil to prevent pests.
If your Alocasia is exposed to wrong growing conditions or improper care, it can become vulnerable and attract pests.
Sometimes, it can even get pest infestations if it stays near an already infected plant.
Common pests that can attack your Alocasia are mealybugs, spider mites, scales, and aphids.
So, it is important to prevent pests from getting on your Alocasia.
- If you bring a new Alocasia or any new plant home, isolate it for some days to ensure it doesn’t have pests.
- Take proper care and provide suitable conditions to your Alocasia.
- To prevent these pests, you can spray a Neem oil solution on your Alocasia once a month. Since Neem oil is an organic way of both preventing and removing pests, it will not cause any harm to your plant.
11. Divide your Alocasia to get new plants.
Dividing the Alocasia is the ideal way of propagating an Alocasia.
Propagating the Alocasia helps you separate the baby plants from the mother plant and get new Alocasia plants.
You can propagate an Alocasia both in soil and water.
To propagate your Alocasia, follow these steps.
- Choose a mature Alocasia plant.
- Take the mother plant out of the pot.
- You can loosen the root ball with a sharp knife.
- Now separate the corns and the roots and plant the mother plant back into its pot.
- Plant the corns in a different pot and take proper care. Don’t place the corns too close to each other.
- For water propagation, wash the corn to remove the soil and put it in a small jar of water.
12. Tweak the care routine during winter.
If you don’t change the care routine during winter, your Alocasia can die!
Alocasias go dormant in winter, and a lot of its activities stop, and it focuses on surviving and resting.
Take a look at the basic changes you need to make for your Alocasia during winter.
|Light||Alocasia does not get enough light during winter as the intensity and duration of the light reduce. This is one reason why the plant goes dormant. However, you can use artificial lights to provide light and warmth to your Alocasia.|
|Water||The water requirement of Alocasia goes down in winter as it uses less water, and the soil takes a long time to dry. But, check the soil with a moisture meter before every watering.|
|Fertilization||Don’t fertilize your Alocasia in winter.|
|Temperature||The low temperatures are another reason that makes the Alocasia go dormant. Avoid placing your Alocasia outside and keep it in a warm spot inside the house.|
|Humidity||The air becomes extremely dry in winter, so you must provide more humidity to your Alocasia with a humidifier or any of the methods mentioned above.|
|Repotting||Don’t repot your Alocasia in winter as the conditions will put more stress on the plant.|
|Pruning||Avoid pruning your Alocasia in winter as it will undergo more stress during this time, similar to if you repot it.|
Alocasia is a popular tropical plant that can thrive with little attention and the right care.
You can care for your Alocasia by providing the correct temperatures, humidity, proper watering, timely fertilization, and bright indirect light.
Prune the Alocasia to remove unwanted parts, repot once in 2-3 years and tweak the care routine during winter.
If your Alocasia gets the ideal conditions and some love, it will thrive and keep increasing the interior beauty of your house.