Alocasia Polly is a tropical plant known for its large, glossy, and heart-shaped leaves. The plant’s features lend it names such as the African mask or Alocasia elephant ear plant.
It’s a low-maintenance plant that only needs basic care and proper growing conditions. Alocasia Polly comes in different hues, from lush shades of purple and red to dark, velvety black, striking silver, and green.
|Alocasia amazonica ‘Polly’
|Alocasia Polly, Alocasia elephant ear plant, African mask
|Moist, well-drained, rich
|Tropical areas in Asia
|USDA hardiness zones
|Bright indirect or outdoor shade
There are about 90 varieties of Alocasia, each with a distinct appearance and care requirements. Some common varieties include:
- Alocasia amazonica: Leathery, wavy-edged green leaves with striking white veins.
- Alocasia zebrina: Zebra-like patterned stems and striking, arrowhead-shaped leaves.
- Alocasia sanderiana (Kris plant): Sword-shaped leaves with silvery veins and scalloped edges.
- Alocasia macrorrhiza (Giant Taro): Large, heart-shaped leaves can grow to impressive sizes.
- Alocasia infernalis (Dwarf elephant ear): Small stature, deep green leaves with contrasting white veins.
- Alocasia cuprea (Jewel alocasia): Metallic-looking leaves, often coppery or bronzy in color.
- Alocasia stingray: Uniquely shaped leaves resembling a stingray, with pronounced protrusions.
- Alocasia frydek (Green Velvet Alocasia): Velvety, dark green leaves with white veins.
- Alocasia regal shield: Large, shield-like leaves with a glossy texture and intricate dark green veining.
- Alocasia odora: Large, fragrant, tropical-like leaves that can reach impressive heights.
The appearance and characteristics of these varieties vary depending on the growing conditions.
How to Care for Alocasia Plant
Alocasias thrive in bright, filtered light. Place your plants near a window where they can receive ample indirect sunlight. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight to avoid scorching their leaves.
While Alocasias enjoy bright light, they can tolerate lower light conditions for short periods. But, extended periods of low light slow down their growth. It also causes leggy, stretched-out stems and reduced leaf production.
Soil Mix and Composition
Alocasias do well in loose, well-draining soil that prevents stagnant water, which leads to root rot. They also prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
A well-balanced peat-based potting mix will suffice. Add peat moss or coco coir to help retain moisture while still allowing excess water to drain. Consider adding perlite or pumice to improve aeration and drainage.
Potting and Transplanting
When potting, choose a container with proper drainage and space for the plant’s roots to expand. Use a pot that’s about 2 inches larger in diameter than the current one when transplanting.
Carefully remove the plant from its current pot and untangle the roots. Inspect the root system for signs of disease or rot. If the plant has many offsets or rhizomes, you can separate them to develop new plants.
Temperature and Humidity
Alocasia thrives in warm and tropical conditions. Maintain an average room temperature of around 65-80°F and avoid exposing them to temperatures below 60℉.
They also need very humid conditions—of 60% or higher—for their health and vibrant growth. If the air in your home is dry, try increasing humidity by:
- Misting the plant’s leaves
- Placing the pot on a tray with water and pebbles
- Using a room humidifier
- Grouping with other indoor plants
- Placing the plants in high-humidity areas like the kitchen or bathroom
Watering and Drainage
Although they have a low tolerance for standing water, Alocasia plants need consistently moist soil. Touch the top few inches of the soil; if dry, it’s time to water your plant.
Allow water to flow through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Avoid letting the pot sit in standing water, which can lead to root rot.
Discard any standing water on the saucer. Slow down your watering frequency during the fall and winter when they go dormant.
Pruning and Training
Alocasia plants are best pruned when actively growing in spring and summer. Trim off any yellow, diseased, or damaged leaves. You can train your alocasia plants to a desired shape or direction.
It entails staking tall and larger varieties and regular rotation for even growth. Pinching back the tips of growing stems also gives your Alocasia plant a fuller appearance.
How To Propagate the Alocasia Plant
Propagating Alocasia plants is easy through rhizome division or offsets (also called pups). To do this:
- Choose a new pot with good drainage and fill it with a well-draining potting mix.
- Carefully remove the offset from the main plant by separating it from the rhizome. You may need to use your fingers or a small, clean knife to detach it.
- Plant the offset in the new pot, burying it to the same depth as the original pot.
- Water the newly planted offset thoroughly to settle the soil around its roots.
After propagation, place the pots under bright, indirect light. Provide regular care, including proper watering and humidity.
Pest and Disease Management
Alocasia plants kept without the right conditions are prone to root rot and leaf spot. To prevent this, provide adequate light, humidity, and watering.
Spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, and scale insects can cause stippling and webbing on leaves and stems. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to treat infestations.
Troubleshooting Common Issues
- Yellowing leaves: Yellowing leaves indicate overwatering or inadequate light. Ensure the pot has proper drainage and place the plants in bright, indirect light.
- Drooping leaves: If your plants have drooping leaves, you’re overwatering or underwatering. Check the moisture before watering and ensure it’s getting adequate moisture.
- Brown leaf tips: These result from insufficient humidity or inadequate watering.
- Leggy growth: Inadequate lighting or overcrowding causes plants to stretch for light.
- Wilting: Wilting could indicate root problems, such as root rot. Check the roots for signs of deterioration and adjust your watering practices.
- Yellow spots or streaks: Direct sunlight can cause yellow spots or streaks on the leaves. Move the plant to a location with indirect light.