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PLANT STUFF FOR PLANT KIDS

Alocasias: A Plant Care Guide

Commonly known as an Elephant Ear, Alocasias are defined by their long tall stems and distinctive arrow-shaped leaves. Native to the Philippines and Borneo, there are over 80 known species of Alocasia, they're a fast growing plant that range from small plants to large, 3m tall giants. Their growth rate, coupled with the variety in colour and size and leaf shape, make them a great plant to play around with inside the home. 

Alocasia Plant Care Guide

Light

Nothing new here. We're talking bright-as-possible, indirect light. You want to avoid direct afternoon sun (especially in the summer Melbourne heat) as it can really burn the Alocasia's beautiful foliage. Keep in mind humidity has a an effect here - the higher the humidity, the more light a plant can take. So if you're living in a greenhouse  with humidity at 90%, then bring on those direct summer rays!
If you're not sure, always best to assume afternoon direct sun is a no-no, but morning direct is fine.
But if you're place isn't sun-filled and you're still keen to get the Alocasias happening in home, try a species with darker foliage like Alocasia wentii or amazonica. Their purple undersides mean they have a lower light tolerance. 
Alternatively, think about getting some grow lights - these mean you will have more options in terms of plant variety, as well as being able to keep them cranking through winter (when they have a tendency to die back). 

Potting Mix

Alocasias are part of the Araceae family, so we're talking aroids. As always, loose, well-draining potting mix is ideal. An aroid-specific mix is perfect.

Water

Alocasias prefer to remain in slightly moist soil year round. In cooler climates, you can let the top third of the pot to dry out slightly before watering. When watering, ensure you get a good even water and water until it comes out the bottom. Just don't let the pot sit in a pool of water as this can cause root rot. 

Fertiliser

Alocasias are fast growers, especially in the warmer months. Feed regularly with a liquid fertiliser as these are more rapidly taken up by the plant. Look for a high nitrogen product (anything above a 10, below 20 is great). If your plant has begun to die back in winter, stop fertilising altogether. Only fertilise when the plant is actively growing. 

Humidity

These plants are fairly tolerant of a range of humidity levels, although too low and you will notice the leaves will start to get crispy and brown. Keep an eye on your Alocasia if you have the aircon or heaters cranking!

Troubleshooting

Alocasia Winter Care

People often get thrown off come Winter time. In seasonal countries, when Winter comes around Alocasias often slip into dormancy. This means leaves dying back you being left with a beautiful pot and not much else. The most important thing to remember is that they will bounce back. No need to think you've failed in your plant parenting, this is completely natural and if occurs, simply prune of the dying foliage, cut back on your watering and fertilising, and resume again come Spring time.
Alternatively, dormancy can be avoided by keeping up light levels (go grow lights, or simply move to a brighter position - direct sun all the way over winter!). You'll also need to ensure the temperature is kept up while also reducing watering drastically. Make sure the mix is dried out before watering.

Yellow Foliage

When an Alocasia's foliage starts to turn yellow, it could be a number of things. Check your watering - most likely its a case of 'too much or too little' so check watering and adjust if necessary. 
The other cause can be sunlight, an Alocasia not receiving enough sunlight will result in yellowing foliage. 

Pests

Alocasia's are most susceptible to spider mites,, so keep an eye out for tiny red mites or fine webbing on the plant. If this occurs quarantine immediately, treat the plant and only return once your sure the infestation has gone. 

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