An Alocasia plant, native to Asia and eastern Australia, is also called an Elephant Ear plant or African Mask plant because of its very large, glossy, heart-shaped leaves, some with very, wavy edges. The leaves may be as large as eight to thirty five inches (20cm-90cm) in length. This plant does produce flowers, but the flowers are small and insignificant and certainly pale in comparison to the beautiful plant leaves. In its native habitat, an alocasia plant grows on the floor of the forest which explains why it likes bright light, but direct sun burns the beautiful leaves.
Alocasia Plant Varieties
There are many types of alocasia plants, some with bold leaf patterns and some solid green.
Alocasia “amazonica” has stunning, dark green leaves with bold white veins.
Alocasia “macrorrhizos variegata” has very large, shiny, green and white marbled leaves.
Alocasia “azlanii” has large, leathery burgundy leaves with green, bronze, and brown highlights.
Alocasia “nebula imperialis” (Jewel Alocasia) has grayish green, spade shaped leaves with dark gray veins.
A. Amazonica A. Azlanii A. Macrorrhizos A. Nebula
Quick Care Tips for an Alocasia Plant
This tropical plant does best in a humid environment.
The high humidity also helps protect the plant from spider mites, one of the main pests that attack alocasia plants.
Keep the plant warm at all times
Water less in the winter
No direct sun or the leaves will burn, but does need bright, indirect light
If you are searching for a dramatic, very different looking plant that can be as short as 6″ or as tall as a tree, an alocasia plant is a great choice, although it does require extra time and effort. Learning how to properly water, what’s the correct amount of light, and how to fertilize is very important if you want to be successful growing these plants; so please read the complete care instructions below. Alocasia plants are considered poisonous and are toxic to dogs and cats; keep them away from small children and all pets. Read more about common houseplants that are poisonous in my book: Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants
How much light does an alocasia plant need: An alocasia plant requires very bright, indirect light but no direct sun. When placed in the sun, the beautiful leaves get ugly brown marks.
How to water an alocasia plant: Allow the top 2″- 3″ of soil to dry out before watering an alocasia plant. When watering, water evenly so all parts of the soil are moistened. As with all indoor plants, too much water, constantly wet leaves, and heavy, soggy soil encourage numerous fungal infections that can seriously harm an alocasia plant. Examine the soil frequently until you are sure how often the plant needs to be watered. During the winter, when an alocasia plant is resting, it requires less water.
How to fertilize an alocasia plant: Feed an alocasia plant every two weeks from late March through September with a balanced plant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. Never fertilize during the winter. Too much plant food results in salts building up in the soil and burning the leaves.
Best temperature for an alocasia plant: An alocasia grows well in warm temperatures between 60°-80°F (15.6°-26.7°C). When it is exposed to temperatures below 60°F (15.6°C) for a long period, the plant becomes dormant and may drop all of its leaves. Keep an alocasia plant away from air conditioners and cold drafts or you may the leaves drooping and falling off.
How much humidity does an alocasia plant need: Alocasia plants grow best in high humidity and do not like the dry heat in our homes during the winter. Leaves may droop or drop off when the humidity is very low. To increase the humidity around the plant, try placing your alocasia on a tray of small stones and water. The plant should sit on the pebbles and never in the water. Placing a small humidifier near an alocasia or grouping plants together also increases the humidity. If you do mist the plant, keep an eye out for fungal plant diseases caused by wet leaves.
Does an alocasia plant grown indoors flower: The flowers of an alocasia plant are very small and inconsequential in comparison to the beautiful plant leaves.
Alocasia plant pests: Spraying an alocasia plant with warm soapy water every few weeks helps prevent mealy bugs, scale, aphids, and spider mite problems. It also keeps the large leaves of the plant dust-free. If an alocasia does become infested with one of these pests, spray the entire plant with an ultra fine, commercial insecticidal oil or Neem Oil. This kills both the pests and their eggs and don’t damage the leaves. Read more about how to identify and treat mealy bugs, scale, aphids, and spider mites in the Glossary of the website.
Alocasia plant diseases: When an alocasia plant is over-watered or when the leaves of the plant are consistently wet, a variety of diseases such as crown, stem, and root rot, leaf spot, and xanthamonas may develop. These diseases usually appear as dark brown or black spots on the leaves, surrounded by a yellowish rim. The best way to prevent plant diseases is to avoid over-watering, keep the leaves dry, and provide good air circulation around the plant. Once an alocasia is infected, quickly remove the damaged leaves and any leaves that have fallen off, isolate the plant from your other plants, and treat with a commercial fungicide. Read more about how to identify and treat these plant diseases in the Glossary of the website.
Best soil for an alocasia plant: Use a well-aerated, fast draining, loose soil for an alocasia plant. You may have to add quite a bit of peat moss and sand to your usual indoor potting soil to get the right consistency.
Pot size for an alocasia plant: The pot size for an alocasia plant often appears quite small in relation to the size of the plant this is because an alocasia grows best when root-bound in a small pot. Avoid rushing to move an alocasia to a larger container.
How to prune an alocasia plant: It’s important to quickly remove the leaves of an alocasia plant that develop brown or black spots or lose their vibrant colors and turn yellow. Damaged leaves are usually a sign of a fungal disease and the plant should be treated immediately.
How to propagate an alocasia plant: The best way to propagate an alocasia is by plant division. When the roots of your alocasia have filled the pot, take the plant out and gently pull the root ball into two sections. Plant each section in a container, with drip holes in the bottom, only 1″-2″ larger than the root ball. Read more details about about how to propagate a plant by plant division in the Glossary of the website.
Does an alocasia plant need a rest: During the late fall and winter, an alocasia plant becomes dormant and rests for several months. During this time an alocasia plant usually does not produce any new leaves and may lose quite a few of the older leaves. Reduce the amount of water the plant usually gets and be patient, your alocasia will perk and start growing again once spring arrives.
Poisonous Plant Info
Is an alocasia a poisonous plant: An alocasia plant is an extremely poisonous plant and very toxic to children, cats, dogs, and other small pets. Eating parts of an alocasia can be be life threatening. I give this plant a #4 toxicity level which means it is very lethal.
An alocasia may lose a leaf every time it gets a new leaf when it is an immature plant. Small young alocasia plants are unable to maintain more than a few leaves. This is because the stalk is constantly expanding. As the stalk expands it forces the smaller leaves to drop off. Once the stalk becomes larger and stouter, your alocasia plant will be able to maintain more leaves.
I think your alocasia may be dying because the temperature in the room is too cold. Alocasia plants become dormant when the temperature goes below 60°F (15.6°C) and lose all of their leaves when temperatures remains this low for a prolonged period of time. Now that the leaves have fallen off, of your Alocasia Plant, allow the soil to totally dry out and then cut the bare stalks back to the soil line. Moisten the soil and cover the top with plastic. Move your Alocasia Plant to a warm location and be patient! Your Alocasia Plant should begin to grow back within six months.
The best way to know when it is time to re-pot an alocasia plant is to gently take your plant out of its pot. If the roots have taken on the shape of the pot, it’s time for a larger pot. Be sure your new pot is only a few inches larger than your old pot so the roots don’t stay too wet and rot. Don’t be in a rush to move your plant to a larger pot, these plants like to be root- bound in small pots.
The brown spots on the leaves of your alocasis could be sunburn from being in the direct sun. If the spots are dark brown or black and there is a yellow halo around the spots, it may be a plant fungal or bacterial infection. To prevent plant diseases, allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering. Keep the leaves dry and quickly remove any leaves that turn yellow or drop off. Commercial Fungicides are available at local garden centers to treat houseplant diseases.