Alocasia or Elephants Ears is a beautiful tropical plant with large, green arrow-shaped leaves. It belongs to tropical regions and has around 80 species. If you are planning to get an Alocasia, go through this guide, and you’ll never fail at bringing it up.
Alocasia thrives in indirect light and requires high humidity levels and warm conditions. Alocasia is a heavy feeder, so you should fertilize it generously throughout the growing season. You must water it only when the soil is 25-50% dry and tweak the care routine during winter.
That is not all. There is much more you must know when caring for the Alocasia.
Let’s understand all the care requirements of an Alocasia, the different problems they go through, and how you can treat them.
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Alocasia belongs to the subtropical regions of Asia and Eastern Australia.
Alocasia is also known as Elephant Ear because its large leaves resemble the ears of an elephant.
This plant is also known as Kris plant or African mask.
Let’s take a look at some species.
|Alocasia Amazonica||It is the most popular Alocasia species with dark green leaves. It can grow 18-inches tall with 16-inches long leaves.|
|Alocasia Wentii||It can grow up to 3-4 feet tall with oval-shaped leaves.|
|Alocasia baginda||This is a variety with unusual leaves. It is a compact variety that can grow up to a height of 3-feet maximum.|
|Alocasia cuprea||It is another compact variety that grows up to 3-feet, and its leaves can grow 12-18 inches long.|
|Alocasia cucullata||It is a perfect compact houseplant that grows 3-feet tall and wide. This species is hardier than most other Alocasia species.|
Is Alocasia easy to grow?
Alocasia is more or less an easy-growing plant depending on the variety you own.
Some varieties like Alocasia Amazonica are easy-to-grow species, while some are more demanding.
Alocasia can thrive if it gets the ideal growing conditions and some care and attention.
Is Alocasia indoor or outdoor?
Alocasia can be grown both outdoors and indoors.
However, to grow it outdoors, you need to be living in warmer zones.
If you live in the colder regions, you must move your Alocasia inside before the arrival of the harsh winters.
Alocasia is sensitive to direct sunlight and can easily get a sunburn if exposed to it.
Therefore, it is best to grow Alocasia as a houseplant if you can’t protect it from the direct sun or frost and low temperatures of the winter.
However, if you live in USDA zones 10-11, it can survive outside.
Wherever you grow your Alocasia, you must ensure that it gets the correct growing conditions.
Without the right conditions, the Alocasia will neither survive indoors nor outdoors.
As long as you know how to care for your Alocasia, you can keep it healthy and happy.
Therefore, I am listing all the basic requirements of this species that you need to keep in mind while growing it.
Even when your Alocasia faces any problem, you can grow it back if you know its ideal conditions and how to care for it.
Alocasia light requirements
Alocasia requires bright and indirect light.
You must never expose any Alocasia species to direct sunlight, as sudden exposure can cause sunburn.
If you place your Alocasia outside, find a shaded spot to protect the plant from the direct sun.
If you grow the plant in the garden, you can select a spot shaded by a big tree.
This will match the native land of these plants.
You must also not take the plant away from light.
Alocasia will not thrive in low light conditions as it will not be able to produce enough energy for growth and functioning.
Based on the plant’s light requirements, you can keep the plant near a south-facing window as long as a curtain or blind filters the direct sunlight.
If the sunlight is too harsh, move the plant 5 to 10 feet away from the window to ensure it gets the right lighting.
You must remember to rotate the plant every week, so it gets light on all sides and doesn’t grow leggy.
If your Alocasia lives in low light or is not getting enough light, you can use artificial lights to compensate for the loss.
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Alocasia water requirements
Watering is one of the trickiest parts of any plant care routine.
Watering your Alocasia might seem difficult if you are a beginner, but you will understand how to water it correctly as you learn.
You should water your Alocasia only when the soil is 25-50% dry.
It can get overwatered if you do not check the soil’s moisture before watering your Alocasia.
If overwatering continues for a prolonged period, the plant can develop the deadly root rot disease.
Therefore, always check the soil’s moisture content by using a moisture meter or inserting your finger into the soil.
Pour water into a watering can and water the plant close to the soil to prevent the leaves from getting water.
This will reduce any chances of fungal or bacterial growth.
Water the plant till you notice excess water running out of the drainage holes.
Don’t follow any watering schedule blindly but set a reminder on your calendar that will remind you to check on your Alocasia at regular intervals.
Don’t keep your Alocasia thirsty for too long as an underwatered plant can develop various problems.
Always consider external factors such as temperature, humidity, and light to determine the plant’s water requirement.
The water requirement of the Alocasia will reduce in winter.
Alocasia soil requirements
Since Alocasia is sensitive to overwatering, it requires well-drained soil.
The soil should also hold the required moisture so that the plant doesn’t get thirsty too fast.
If you use soil that contains important nutrients your Alocasia needs, it will show more growth.
Along with these, the soil should be well-aerated so that the roots can breathe and function efficiently.
Some ideal soil mixes for your Alocasia are:
- 1 part orchid bark, 1 part perlite, and 1 part coco coir
- 1 part potting soil, 1 part sand, 1 part fir bark, 1 part vermiculite, and a handful of charcoal
- Equal parts of soil, perlite, sand, and peat moss
Also, remember that the soil pH should remain between 5.5 to 6.5.
Alocasia fertilizer needs
Alocasia grows large leaves for which it requires a lot of nutrients.
Therefore, fertilizing the Alocasia with the right amount of fertilizer is essential if you want to see it grow and thrive.
A well-balanced liquid fertilizer with an NPK of 20:20:20 is ideal for these plants.
You must fertilize your Alocasia with this fertilizer generously throughout the growing season, spring and summer.
Read the instructions carefully to understand the correct application method for a beginner.
You can dilute the fertilizer to avoid overfertilizing your Alocasia.
You can alternate between commercial and organic fertilizers such as banana peels, eggshells, etc.
Avoid fertilizing the plant in winter as it goes dormant during that time and doesn’t require any fertilizer.
Fertilizing in winter can put your Alocasia in trouble and burn its roots.
Alocasia temperature tolerance
Linke all tropical plants, Alocasia too prefers warm conditions and high temperatures.
In its native land, Alocasia gets high temperatures, and even though you can’t mimic the exact environment, you must ensure the temperatures fall within the ideal range.
Alocasia requires temperatures between 65-85°F and will not tolerate low temperatures.
The temperatures can fall below average during winter, so you must protect the Alocasia from low temperatures and frost.
Also, the temperatures rise too much if you expose the plant to direct sunlight or keep it near any heating source.
So, avoid doing that.
Alocasia humidity requirements
Alocasia prefers high humidity.
In the sub-tropical lands, these plants receive a lot of humidity which keeps them healthy.
Therefore, if you want your Alocasia to thrive, you need to provide enough humidity to it.
Maybe you can’t provide as high humidity as its native land but try not to let it drop below 50-60%.
If the humidity drops below 40-50%, your Alocasia will have a hard time surviving.
But, here are some ways to increase the humidity around your Alocasia:
- Use a humidifier
- Create a pebble tray by adding pebbles to a tray and pouring some water into it. Place the Alocasia on the pebble tray and wait for the water to evaporate and increase humidity around the plant.
- Keep the Alocasia near an aquarium.
- Keep your Alocasia near other moisture-loving plants.
- Move your Alocasia to the bathroom, basement, or kitchen, where the plant will receive 10-15% more humidity than other rooms.
- You can also mist your Alocasia occasionally.
If you want your Alocasia to grow fast, you must prune it.
Alocasia will focus on the dead or damaged leaves without pruning and less on new growth.
You can shift the plant’s focus to new and healthy growth with proper pruning.
The best time to prune the Alocasia is spring or summer.
Avoid pruning during winter as the plant might find it difficult to get over the stress of losing leaves due to unfavorable conditions.
Here are some tips to keep in mind before you prune the Alocasia:
- Always prune the Alocasia from the base of the plant.
- Use sharp and sterilized pruners to prune the plant.
- Wear gloves while pruning the Alocasia as its toxic sap can cause skin irritation.
- Disinfect the pruners before and after using them.
- You can prune all the leaves of Alocasia if they are damaged and wait for the plant to grow new ones.
Also read: Where To Prune Alocasia? (Best Time+How To)
Young Alocasia plants will require repotting once in 6-12 months, and mature plants will require repotting once in 2-3 years.
Repotting is an important part of the care routine for Alocasia as it helps the plant get more space for growth.
If you don’t repot your Alocasia, it will become rootbound and develop other problems.
Consider repotting the plant in spring and summer and not in winter.
To repot an Alocasia, you must:
- Get a new pot (1-2 inches larger than the existing one) and prepare a fresh potting mix.
- Take the plant out of the pot.
- Remove any damaged roots or foliage you see on the plant.
- Put soil on the new pot and fill it halfway.
- Place the Alocasia inside it and add soil from all sides.
- Water the Alocasia and place it in a bright spot.
If you want to get new Alocasia plants, you can propagate them instead of buying new ones.
To propagate an Alocasia, we need to divide it.
Alocasia grows offsets, so you can remove those offsets from the main plant and propagate them in different pots or water.
- You can take the Alocasia out of the pot and remove the soil.
- You can use a sterilized and sharp knife to separate the offshoots from the mother plant.
- These offshoots have their roots, so you can take a pot with fresh potting mix and plant the baby plants in it or take a jar filled with water and put the offshoots in it.
- Make sure to provide the ideal conditions.
Alocasia in water
You can grow your Alocasia easily in water.
Growing the Alocasia in water is easier and less hassle than growing it in soil.
You can divide the offshoots from the Alocasia and put them in a jar filled with water.
You must change the water from time to time whenever it gets dirty.
You can add a drop of fertilizer while changing the water to boost the plant’s growth.
You might need to add more water to the jar as the water level reduces due to evaporation.
Take care of all the other requirements of the Alocasia.
It might not need a lot of humidity as it will get some humidity from the water evaporation from its jar.
And you can mist the plant to add more humidity and clean the leaves.
Also read: Do Alocasias Grow In Water? (How To+Care)
Alocasia contains harmful oxalate crystals that make the plant toxic.
In nature, Alocasia protects itself by releasing this toxic sap whenever it is under attack.
When you grow it indoors, you must keep the plant away from your pets and children.
The plant’s sap contains toxic elements that can cause skin irritation if your child o pets touch it.
Upon ingestion, this can cause intestinal problems and a burning sensation in the mouth region.
It can even cause death if consumed in larger quantities.
All parts of Alocasia are toxic so keep it in a place where your children or pets can’t reach.
You must remember to wear gloves whenever you deal with this plant.
Pests are a serious threat to Alocasia plants and can be difficult to remove.
If you keep your Alocasia in unfavorable conditions, it will attract pests.
A weak plant is more vulnerable to pest infestations.
If the Alocasia gets excess water, the soil remains soggy, and the plant becomes weak, it will attract pests like scales, mealybugs, and aphids.
On the other hand, if the plant doesn’t get enough water or you expose it to dry air, it will attract pests like spider mites.
These pests suck all the sap out of the Alocasia that contains the plant’s nutrients.
Without the nutrients, the plant will not be able to survive for long.
So, removing the pests is extremely important as soon as you detect them.
- Isolate your Alocasia.
- Take the plant outside or the sink and give it a good wash to remove the pests.
- Handpick the visible pests.
- Use insecticidal soap to eliminate the pests.
- Spray a Neem oil solution all over your Alocasia.
- If the pests remain, opt for a pesticide.
Alocasia plant problems
Even when you try your best to take care of your Alocasia properly, it is not unusual to make a mistake that can lead to some problems.
Don’t panic if you find any problem in your Alocasia.
Instead, try to find out the underlying reason and address the problem.
Go through the following problems to stay prepared to fight any problem the plant undergoes and bring it back to health.
Alocasia leaves turning yellow
Yellow leaves can signify more than one problem.
If you notice yellow leaves, check:
- The watering routine
- The lighting condition
Inspect the plant thoroughly and find out why the leaves go yellow.
- Whatever the reason, it is best to prune the yellow leaves so the plant can focus on healthier growth.
- If the soil feels wet, stop watering and allow the soil to dry out under bright indirect light.
- Allow the soil to dry out 25-50% before watering the Alocasia again.
- Make sure the plant is not getting direct sunlight. If it is, shift it to a shadier spot or a few feet away from the window.
- If the plant doesn’t get enough light, use artificial light.
- Always dilute the fertilizer to avoid overfertilization.
If the leaves get yellow due to natural aging, don’t worry and let the leaves fall off the plant.
Alocasia leaves turning brown
Brown leaves are another issue that bothers the plant owners.
When you overwater the Alocasia over a period, the condition advances towards root rot, and the plant produces brown leaves as a sign.
Some other reasons for brown leaves can be the exposure to direct sunlight, overfertilization, and lack of humidity.
Here is what you should do depending on the reason for the brown leaves.
- Prune the brown leaves from your Alocasia.
- Avoid fertilizing the plant with a strong dose and diluting it to avoid overfertilization.
- Avoid fertilizing in winter.
- If the plant is sunburned, relocate it to a spot that gets filtered light and water the plant thoroughly to help it recover.
- If humidity is the problem, or if you doubt it, use a hygrometer to check the humidity level around the plant. If it is low, use a humidifier to increase it. If a humidifier is unavailable, put your Alocasia with other moisture-loving plants or keep it on a pebble tray.
Alocasia leaves curling
The leaves of the Alocasia can curl if the plant doesn’t get enough humidity or if you don’t give it enough water.
Alocasia doesn’t enjoy soggy soil, but it requires some moisture.
Without enough water, the leaves will start curling to save the moisture they have left.
You will notice that the leaves will start curling inwards.
If the humidity level is low, the leaves will also lose moisture and curl to save their remaining moisture.
- If you forget to water your Alocasia, use a self-watering kit.
- You can use a calendar to remind you to check on the plant and water it if required.
- In low humidity, use a humidifier after checking the humidity level around the plant.
- Use good quality water as poor quality water with harmful minerals can make the leaves curl.
- Maintain the ideal temperatures as fluctuations can cause the leaves to curl.
- Don’t expose the Alocasia to cold or hot drafts or direct air from the AC.
Alocasia leaves drooping
Watering issues, repotting stress, pest infestations, and improper lighting conditions can make the leaves of your Alocasia droop.
- First of all, check if your Alocasia is underwatered or overwatered. If it is overwatered, stop watering and check the roots and let the plant recover. If the plant is underwatered, aerate the soil with a chopstick and water the plant thoroughly.
- If you notice pests, remove the Alocasia from the other plants and spray a Neem oil solution all over it.
- Avoid repotting it during winter and be careful while repotting so you don’t damage the roots or any other part.
- You can check the lighting conditions and move the Alocasia to a better spot if it gets direct sunlight or too little light.
Also read: Why Is My Alocasia Drooping? (9 Causes+Fix)
Alocasia leaves falling off
Alocasia can lose its leaves due to various reasons.
While some leaf loss is natural and the leaves fall off after their lifespan, some issues require attention.
The falling leaves are because your Alocasia might not be getting the correct conditions.
- Improper light
- Incorrect watering
- Pest infestations
- Lack of nutrients
- Fungal infections
Avoid exposing the Alocasia to direct sunlight or low light.
Place it 5-7 feet away from the window but not too far from the light.
To treat the pests, spray Neem oil solution generously on the plant.
Fertilize the Alocasia throughout the growing season with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
Dilute the fertilizer to avoid all chances of overfertilization.
If fungal infections are the problem, use a fungicide to treat the problem.
Root rot in Alocasia
If you continuously overwater your Alocasia, it will advance towards root rot.
Root rot is a serious problem where the soil remains soggy, making the roots stay wet.
The roots don’t get enough oxygen due to the excess water and start decaying.
The only way to treat this problem is repotting.
Let’s take a look at the repotting process:
- Take your Alocasia out of the pot.
- Wash the roots.
- Prune all the brown and soft roots.
- Spray fungicide on the healthy roots.
- Prepare a fresh potting mix and get a new pot.
- Repot the Alocasia in the new pot and soil.
- Avoid fertilizing till the plant recovers.
My Alocasia is leaning
Your Alocasia might lean when it is placed in a low-light spot.
Alocasia requires bright indirect sunlight, and without enough light, the plant will start leaning towards a light source.
If you don’t rotate the plant regularly, it can start leaning towards one side.
To combat this, provide support to the leaning parts and place the plant in a well-lit spot.
Don’t forget to rotate it regularly to get light on all sides, and don’t lean.
A root-bound plant can also lean as it can grow top-heavy.
Repotting is important to remove the rootbound condition.
So, consider repotting your Alocasia in a bigger pot if you haven’t done it for a while.
Tips for caring for the Alocasia
Keep the following basic care requirements in mind while caring for your Alocasia.
|Light||Provide bright and indirect light to the Alocasia and protect it from direct sunlight. Use artificial light if it doesn’t get enough light.|
|Water||Water your Alocasia if the soil is 25-50% dry. Reduce watering in winter. Use rainwater or distilled water for watering the plant.|
|Soil||Alocasia requires well-drained soil. You can prepare a soil mix by mixing equal parts of potting soil, perlite, sand, and peat moss.|
|Fertilizer||Fertilize your Alocasia with a well-balanced 20:20:20 NPK liquid fertilizer. Dilute to avoid overfertilization. Don’t fertilize in winter.|
|Temperature||The ideal temperatures of Alocasia remain between 65 and 85 degrees.|
|Humidity||Try not to let the humidity levels drop below 50-60%. Use a humidifier to provide the ideal humidity to the Alocasia.|
|Repotting||Repot a young Alocasia within 6-12 months and repot a mature plant once in 2-3 years. Don’t repot the plant too often or during winter.|
|Pruning||Prune your Alocasia whenever you notice damaged or discolored parts. You can even prune all the leaves of this plant and wait for it to grow new ones.|
|Propagation||Instead of buying new plants, divide the offshoots from the mother plant and propagate those in water or soil to get new plants.|