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 lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of 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
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.