Alocasia amazonica & Alocasia ‘Polly’ care | African mask plant

Alocasia polly and Alocasia amazonica are both hybrid plants. The two species are largely the same, except for their size: the ‘Polly’ variety stays a bit smaller. Though not very easy plants, they are definitely worth the buy if you can provide what they needs. They have lovely foliage that can look especially stunning when the light shines through the smaller leaves.

Keep reading for everything you need to know to about Alocasia amazonica and Alocasia polly care!

Name(s) (common, scientific) African mask plant, Kris plant, elephant’s ear, Alocasia x amazonica, Alocasia ‘Polly’, Alocasia ‘Bambino’ etc.
Difficulty level Difficult
Recommended lighting Bright but indirect
Water Keep moist
Soil type Well-draining & peat-replacement based

Tip: These care guidelines can also be applied to other very similar Alocasia cultivars, such as Alocasia ‘Bambino.’

Alocasia amazonica & Alocasia ‘Polly’ care

Although the name suggests otherwise, neither of these Alocasia varieties naturally originate from the Amazon rainforest.

The species were artificially created, though their ‘ancestors’ are naturally found in rainforests in Asia, which gives us some good care indications to keep in mind when growing this plant at home. Filtered light, a moist environment and relatively high temperatures should be provided.

With Alocasia ‘Polly’ and Alocasia amazonica, these guidelines are a little more important than with most other plants. They are quite fussy and will quickly die off or go into hibernation mode if care is lacking anywhere.

Let’s clear up some of this naming confusion, shall we? Alocasia amazonica is most likely a hybrid of Alocasia sanderiana and Alocasia watsoniana, although many other species are mentioned as possibly involved. In turn, Alocasia ‘Polly’ is actually short for Alocasia amazonica ‘Polly’, a cultivar of this hybrid.

Alocasia x amazonica foliage

Alocasia ‘Polly’ & Alocasia amazonica location and temperature

Because imitating rainforest conditions is so crucial in keeping these Alocasia varieties alive, finding the right location and temperature range can be a little challenging.

Light

Find a spot with bright but indirect light. In rainforests, the sun is blocked out by higher tree canopies, so this plant will not react well to strong direct light.

The fact that it will burn in direct sun doesn’t mean you shouldn’t place your Alocasia near a window. Just find one that doesn’t receive the sun’s full force, especially not during mid-day. Be sure to acclimate the plant carefully if you move it to a higher-light location.

A sheer curtain between the window and the plant can help block out the harshest rays if needed.

Location

The ideal location for Alocasia ‘Polly’ and Alocasia amazonica is actually a greenhouse where humidity and temperature can be controlled. Luckily, however, they can also be grown inside the home with some extra care.

One of the most important factors in keeping your Alocasia ‘Polly’ or Alocasia amazonica happy is humidity. Although there are other ways to make sure the air is moist enough (discussed below), these plants will definitely appreciate being placed in the kitchen or bathroom.

If you have one, this is a perfect candidate for your greenhouse cabinet. A low-budget version would be a humidity box, which is basically a transparent bin filled with sphagnum moss to keep tropical plants happy.

Temperature

Because they are tropical plants, Alocasia ‘Polly’ and Alocasia amazonica will not appreciate low temperatures at all. In fact, exposing them to cold can cause them to go into hibernation or even die off completely.

Be sure to keep these plants away from drafty spots or any windows that might not be isolated too well (single-pane). Spots below an A/C are not a good idea either, nor is placing the plant close to a heater, as it’ll dry out too quickly.

Alocasia amazonica houseplant on white background | Full Alocasia amazonica care guide

Planting Alocasia ‘Polly’ and Alocasia amazonica

Soil

These plants should absolutely be kept moist, but as with almost all plant species, it’s not a good idea to keep the soil too wet. Root rot and other problems can quickly become an issue! Aroid plant roots especially need plenty of air pockets and quick drainage.

You can buy an Aroid soil mix for your Alocasia ‘Polly’ or Alocasia amazonica, but it’s also quite easy to put one together yourself. Many houseplants appreciate these airy, potting soil-free mixes. If you have a lot of greenery, DIY-ing it can cut the cost.

For a basic Aroid mix (referred to as 5:1:1), just combine the following:

  • 5 parts orchid bark
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part sphagnum moss

Planting

Be sure to always use a pot with a drainage hole so any excess water can easily escape. You can repot your Alocasia ‘Polly’ or Alocasia amazonica during Spring if it has outgrown its current container.

Because these plants don’t mind a slightly cramped environment, it’s usually not necessary to repot every year.

Alocasia x amazonica houseplant

Watering Alocasia ‘Polly’ & Alocasia amazonica

Proper watering is a very important aspect of Alocasia ‘Polly’ and Alocasia amazonica care, so be sure to take some time to figure out a watering schedule that works for this plant.

As the amount of water any plant needs depends on environmental factors such as the amount of light and the air humidity level, no watering schedule will be the same.

Soil should stay moist (but not wet/soaked!) during the Summer months when the plant is in full growing mode. During Wintertime, when growth is slow or even nonexistent, let the soil dry out a little more – though never completely.

Humidity for Alocasia ‘Polly’ & Alocasia amazonica

As discussed earlier, the air around your Alocasia ‘Polly’ or Alocasia amazonica should stay quite humid. More so than the average home, anyway, as our dwellings can get pretty dry! Tropical houseplants like these can struggle, especially during winter.

So what can you do to make sure your plant is comfortable? Many sources still recommend regular spraying or the use of a humidity tray with pebbles and a layer of water, but unfortunately, neither of these make much of a difference.

Instead, you can try:

  • Grouping plants together to create a mini rainforest environment.
  • Running a humidifier.
  • Using a greenhouse cabinet, old aquarium or humidity box.

Alocasia ‘Polly’ & Alocasia amazonica propagation

Alocasia ‘Polly’ and Alocasia amazonica can easily be propagated by dividing the rhizome. Just carefully remove the offsets you would like to plant somewhere else during Spring or Summer (when you are repotting, for example).

You can find more information on dividing this plant in the full Alocasia propagation guide!

Alocasia amazonica houseplant and other plants.

Feeding Alocasia ‘Polly’ & Alocasia amazonica

You can use a diluted liquid fertilizer to feed your Alocasia ‘Polly’ or Alocasia amazonica around once a month as long as it’s growing.

Stop feeding completely during the Winter months or if the plant is dormant.

Alocasia amazonica & Alocasia ‘Polly’ dormancy

If the light levels are inadequate or things get a bit too chilly for your Alocasia amazonica or ‘Polly’, the plant might end up going dormant. Yikes! This means it stops growing and will likely also shed (part of) its foliage. It’s not pretty, but it doesn’t necessarily mean your plant is dead and gone.

So if you accidentally let your Alocasia go dormant, how do you wake it up?

  • Verify it’s still alive. Check the corm/bulb: if it’s still firm, you should be good.
  • If you’re in the dead of Winter, you might want to wait things out until Spring. This ensures your Alocasia has better chances of surviving once it does wake up.
  • Ready? Start upping the light, temperature and moisture levels. Consider placing the pot with the bulb on a heat mat, make sure it gets lots of light and shower the soil regularly. Try watering with lukewarm water.
  • With a bit of luck, your Alocasia will start sprouting again soon. To prevent this from happening again, make sure things never drop below room temperature and provide plenty of light at all times.

Did you know? Although their flowers aren’t very spectacular, these Alocasias do sometimes bloom in the home with the right care. A nice sign your plant is happy!

Is Alocasia toxic to cats and dogs?

The ASPCA and other sources list plants from the Alocasia genus as toxic to cats, dogs and humans. Like many other houseplants, species within the Alocasia genus contain insoluble calcium oxalates, which can cause intense burning in the mouth and surrounding areas.

Conclusion: be careful with this one! You might even want to wear gloves yourself when you handle it for repotting or propagation.

Buying Alocasia polly and Alocasia amazonica

Whether a local plant store carries these species is a bit of a hit and miss, though I’ve seen them sold in multiple places throughout the year.

If you don’t want to risk heading out to the shop for nothing, you can also order Alocasia ‘Polly’ online here.


If you have any more questions about Alocasia ‘Polly’ and Alocasia amazonica care or want to share your own experiences with these striking houseplants, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!


32 thoughts on “Alocasia amazonica & Alocasia ‘Polly’ care | African mask plant”

  1. Several months ago my eight-year-old son asked for a plant for his bedroom. We went to the greenhouse, told them what we were looking for and what the living conditions were like and they helped him choose a Bambino. He picked one off the table and said he was naming his plant Washington. Well, my son really, really loves Washington. He refuses to take Washington to his room because he feels like there isn’t enough light. He chose a spot in the family room and checks Washington’s moisture level several times a week and then informs me of Washington’s water needs. He talks to Washington and has recently asked if we could get more plants so Washington would be happier. (I am an avid flower gardener and am currently building a living herb wall in the house.) Washington seems to be thriving, but to encourage this plant love, what are some good houseplants to surround Washington with? We live in a warm, humid climate in the southeast.

    Reply
  2. Thanks so much for this article, it’s really informative. I just got my first alocasia and it’s such a beauty, oh lord, I hope I can grant her a long and happy life by my side. I live in Berlin where water is heavy and so I use distilled water with the technique: little water and often. This I do for most of my plants, as I fear that the soil stays too moist too long, which often happens when I deep-water. Do you have any recommendations on how to water Alocasia? Would you also recommend little and often, or would it be better in this case to bottom-water? Thanks a lot again.

    Reply
    • Hey! Glad you found the article helpful.

      So I want to mention that it’s probably not a good idea to always water with only distilled water. Normal water also contains various compounds that plants need, so you might want to do a mix!

      I’m personally not a fan of the little and often technique because like you mention, it never really allows the soil to dry out a bit, which I think is good once in a while. You could switch to letting the top of the soil dry out (so that a finger stuck in the soil comes out dry) before giving a more deep watering. This especially applies in winter. I don’t see a need to bottom-water.

      I hope that helps a bit and your Alocasia lives a long and happy life ♥

      Reply
    • Deep watering helps encourage the roots to grow. It forces them to spread out and search for water (and nutrients) whereas, if you just water a little bit and often, they don’t have a reason to spread out. They basically get spoiled and lazy.
      I know for me it was scary to start deep watering but as long as your plants are in the right size pots and you don’t over-water them, your plants will love it.
      It also helps flush out salt build-up (and whatever else) in the soil. So I would recommend deep watering at least occasionally. I just take mine to the bathtub and hose them down – leaves and all! Which helps with pest control.
      Good luck!

      Reply
    • You know what… the whole taxonomy of this plant is absolutely mindblowingly confusing. You can read more here. I basically consider them the same to be honest, as their care is identical. Size really does seem to be the only difference.

      “Some sources incorrectly indicate Alocasia mortefontanensis may be the same as the smaller hybrid plant sold as “Alocasia Polly” which according to the original growers of that hybrid is correctly Alocasia Poly. Although sellers have elected to use the wrong spelling according to Bill Rotolante and his father Denis who are the owners of the nursery where this smaller variation of Alocasia Amazonica was discovered the name “Poly” was chosen since they first thought their smaller stable hybrid was a polyploid form of Amazonica Amazonica. A polyploid specimen is one that has an extra set which doubles the basic number of chromosomes. Polyploidy can cause oddities including a difference in size. DNA tests on the plant have since proven this assumption to be incorrect.”

      Reply
  3. Hi,
    I have my “Polly” for almost 2 years. It is doing very well(I leave in Canada, Ontario) Last year it has one bolb and this year 2 bolbs appeared.
    I ‘ve opened one bolb – it has orange seed like balls inside. Can I plant from them the new plant? No any of leaves died yet…Can this plant cause headach?

    Reply
    • That’s cool! I don’t have experience with growing Alocasia from seed but this thread discusses it and might help.

      I’m not sure I understand your headache question. Do you mean a literal or figurative headache?

      Reply
    • Hello! Misting houseplants is often recommended and I see I mentioned it in this article as well. I’ll remove that bit since I’ve seen houseplants enthusiasts test the usefulness of the practice with a humidity meter and it turned out it didn’t really do much. You’re better off using a humidity tray (a saucer filled with pebbles and a small layer of water) under the plant, grouping plants together or even running a humidifier. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Great post, thank you!
    I bought my plant from a local grocery store lol! Surprisingly, she is doing very well, growing new leaves often- which have survived. I have been watering once a month (no fertilizer), which worked in the winter, now that it is spring I am seeing the soil being very dry & brittle.

    My questions are; how much I should water at one time *like in cups*? What are some fertilizers that I should consider?

    Reply
    • Hey! Glad you liked the post and also that your Alocasia is doing well!

      So, as for watering, the annoying thing is that I can’t tell you how much you should be giving since I don’t know how large your planter is and all that! In general, relying on a set schedule to water your plants will just lead to issues because it depends so much on the environment that you grow them in and the season. What I do:

      – If I stick my finger into the soil and I feel some good humidity there, it’s not time yet.
      – If I stick my finger in there and only feel humidity at the tip, it’s time.
      – If I stick my finger in there and it feels completely dry, I’ve waited to long. Same if I lift the planter and it feels light, too dry.

      When it’s time to water, I’ll pour a cup’s worth at the time in there until the water comes flowing out of the bottom of the planter. Then I leave things for half an hour after which I remove the dish underneath and pour out any standing water in there. You don’t want your plant to be standing in that for extended periods of time!

      As for fertilizer, a liquid one should be good. I think you should be fine with a balanced one like 10-10-10 to start with. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Hi! My alocasia has a big brown patch on one of its leaves that appears to be dying 🙁 do you have any idea what this could be?

    Reply
    • Hi! Sorry to hear that. Is it one of the bottom leaves? It is normal for those to die off eventually. Also, Alocasias do go into hibernation if the room temperature drops too low, could that be the case? Other than that, there can be many causes for something like this and it’s especially difficult to pinpoint it without seeing the plant. Are you following the watering and lighting guidelines mentioned in this article? If problems continue you may have to take a look at the plant’s roots to make sure they are not rotting.

      Sorry I can’t be of more help, I hope your Alocasia will be alright!

      Reply
  6. I’ve had my Poly for 16 months. I live in Detroit, MI. She is kept indoors in an east window. Last fall she bloomed and I was instructed to remove it. After that she went into hibernation from December until May. This summer ahe grew beautiful foliage and did very well.
    Here it is October and again she blooms. I removed the vloom and a week later another pops out.
    My question is….. Do I keep removing fhe bloom? I’m afraid it seems the bloom throws her into hibernation.

    Reply
    • Hi! So I’ve never seen flowers mentioned as a specific cause for Alocasia ‘Polly’ to go into hibernation, but I can see from the dates you mention that she went dormant during winter. This is normal for this species. Even if they’re kept indoors they just tend to somehow figure it out and still go into dormancy. I’ve never removed the blooms myself and just let it do what it wants. I’m not 100% sure, obviously, but I don’t feel myself that it’s really the blooming that sparks it. The reasons I’ve seen mentioned are cold and being left to dry.

      I hope that helps! Glad to hear you at least got to enjoy the beautiful foliage during summer.

      Reply
  7. Hi my african mask plant was doing really good when all of a sudden it started getting droopy. I moved the plant and the whole set of stalks/stem broke off at the dirt. it broke off of the root ball. Can I put it in water to get it to root again?

    Reply
    • Yikes, sorry to hear the plant isn’t doing so well for you! Did the stalk break off due to rot? That’s what it sounds like, and in that case putting it in water likely isn’t going to yield great results. You can try cutting the stalk relatively high and hope the rot hasn’t spread that far, but in many cases it will already have progressed beyond the point of saving unfortunately.

      If it broke off for no obvious reason and doesn’t appear mushy then you can always give it a go.

      Hope this article managed to clear up why your African mask plant started going downhill so you can avoid it happening again! Good luck in the future 🙂

      Reply
  8. I have a poppy plant that I bought a few months back. It’s blooming which I didn’t even know they did. Should I do anything with the flower to pollinate it or anything?

    Reply
    • Hi! Congrats on the bloom, you must be doing something right 🙂 they’re not the most spectacular but a nice surprise nonetheless in my opinion. If you want to pollinate a flower in order to obtain seed you’ll need another flower, so unfortunately that’s not really an option here. It’s not a must or anything, though, your plant will still do fine if you don’t do it. And you can still propagate it from cuttings if you’d like to have more than one!

      Good luck with the plant 🙂

      Reply
  9. Hi,
    I recently bought this plant knowing nothing about it (thank you so much for this post)and it had two large leaves. Since brining it home the original leaves leaves have developed brown spots and drooped until they have curled up and died. The plant has produced 2 new leaves so it is still alive but is an old leaf meant to die everytime a new leaf is born? And should i cut the dying leaf or leave it to shrivel.

    I have the amazonica variety 🙂

    Reply
    • Hey! Although all leaves have a limited lifespan, I don’t expect a leaf to die off every time a new one appears. The fact that these leaves are dying can mean a number of things and I can’t really tell you what it is exactly: shock from being moved, something wrong with light, water, soil pot or even bugs. I’d read this article closely to check if you’re doing as it instructs. If you are, I’d just give it some time.

      You can leave the dying leaves on there, the plant reabsorbs the nutrients in there so you’re taking that away if you cut the leaf.

      Good luck! I hope it all works out.

      Reply
  10. Hi there, bought an alocasia/African mask a couple of weeks ago and is getting dark spots on its leaves. It’s by a north facing window and been watering it once a week – I live in southern Germany. Not sure if it needs to be closer to the window or needs more water. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi! Sorry to hear the plant doesn’t seem to be doing well. Are the spots crispy and dry? That might be a sign of too little water. If they seem brownish and soft, you might actually have to water less. What’s the soil like when you water after one week? It should be lightly moist (the first layer can be a little dry, but not overly), not wet or bone dry.

      Aditionally, there is one thing I have to note about Alocasias – they can go into dormancy. This usually happens if the plant is exposed to low temperatures.

      Reply
  11. I have the bulbs from my Polly plants that quickly went into hibernation soon after i brought it home. It stayed in my pot til just now where i removed them to use pot for another plant. Would i have success planting these out in my urns for the summer? I live in Salem NH.

    Reply
    • How unlucky! I’m not familiar with your climate but if it gets nice and warm/humid during summer then you could definitely try planting them, but keep in mind they do naturally occur in rainforests so they do NOT appreciate the slightest bit of cold.

      Good luck! 🙂

      Reply

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