Alocasia varieties are among the most beautiful plant varieties one would ever come across. “Elephant’s ear”, “tropical Superstar”, you may know it by these nomenclatures or some other names indigenous to your locale, they refer to the same thing – Alocasias.
Alocasias is that beautiful, lush plant that gives the tropical, jungle feel or vibes to home. Whenever you think of alocasias, imagine a plant with large, glossy, and dramatic leaves.
Alocasias is a member of the Arum family and native to the tropical rainforests of south-east Asia, and Australia and can grow up to a height of four meters (in some varieties). In the 1950s, Alocasias was the heartthrob of most living rooms; “the favored housewife”, it ruled homes
There are over 97 alocasia varieties. This means there is a pool full of varieties to choose from if you decide to plant and groom one today – the best part is that each variety is just as beautiful as the next.
The plant has often been described as the “tropical superstar” because of its spectacular and impressive looks; this is coupled with some sort of transparent appearance. The plant comes built with its alarm system which alerts you when it’s being overwatered.
Growth from seed to elephant’s ear
One of the reasons why the plant has remained popular is because of the ease associated with its propagation by root division; this means seed propagation is seldom utilized. However, seed pods can be extracted from mature plants for planting.
The seeds would often thrive in a rich, peat-based potting mix and it is sown on the surface with an additional thin layer of potting mix added to this surface and the seed. The potting mix must be kept damp until the seeds sprout.
Patience they say is a virtue, it applies with grooming this plant, you’d need lots of it as it takes years to see them grow into the plant with those large, beautiful leaves which make them stand out.
Pests and plant diseases
The alocasias should also be dubbed “the strong jungle tribe” (or plant in this case). This is because they do not fall prey to pests nor are they often affected by diseases. Their sworn enemy includes strong winds; this usually targets their large leaves, tearing them apart. Also, certain varieties of the plant are prone to spider mites.
One can hardly go wrong with an Alocasia adorning the home, they come in a variety of colors that can as well match the interior decorations of the home.
These are some of the best and most beautiful types that should be considered:
Alocasia Baginda (Dragon Scale Alocasia)
Alocasia Baginda will leave you awestruck with its beauty, the first glance is enough with this particular variety, the dragon scale Alocasia is a real captivator with its large, heart-shaped silver leaves lined with black veins spread out on the leaves. It can grow up to 3 to 6 feet in height (a commanding presence indeed).
The potting mix best suited for it is a mix of Perlite, coco coir, and orchid potting. Indirect but bright sunlight is required. The Alocasia Baginda requires more water compared to other varieties.
Alocasia Amazonica (Ivory Coast Alocasia)
Alocasia Amazonica should come to mind when you think of the variety of Alocasias that best represent the tropics. It comes with lush dark-green leaves and silver veins for contrast. They grow up to a sizable height of about 1 foot hence do not take up much space if grown in-house.
For potting, you’d need just a mixture of regular potting soil, 1 part peat, and 1 part perlite. This one can hold its own, requiring water at least just once a week.
Alocasia Cucullata (Hooded Dwarf Alocasia)
Alocasia Cucullata is not as spectacular as other varieties but looks good nonetheless (Alocasias always look good). Its distinctive feature is its waxy and rich green leaves. They are heart-shaped (you are bound to fall in love with their simplicity).
The hooded dwarf alocasia can grow up to 13 feet (a commanding presence indeed); however, this means that it will require pruning from time to time if grown indoors. It also requires bright but indirect sunlight, watering at least once a week and a simple well-draining loamy soil mix to thrive.
Alocasia Reversa (Jewel Alocasia)
Alocasia Reversa is a complete stunner in all its rights as it bears looks close to something hot off of an artist’s canvas. They are pint-sized; a mature one can grow up to just about 16 inches in height and the leaves reach just about 8 inches long. This size makes for perfect decor in a private and cozy space.
A healthy one requires a loamy soil mix and watered at least twice weekly when the season gets warmer and at least once a week when it gets colder.
Alocasia Macrorrhizos (Stingray Alocasia)
Alocasia Macrorrhizos or the stingray Alocasia got its name due to its close look to the stingray, they grow into big and pretty plants reaching and spreading up to 3.9 to 5.9 feet in height and width.
Alocasia Melo (Alocasia Regosa)
Alocasia Melo are distinguishable by its leaves that are bluish-silver or jaded colored. The colors mix in such a way that one can be fooled into believing it is artificial.
A mature Alocasia Melo can reach a full height of 1 to 2 feet.
This one requires an aerated, loamy soil mix to thrive; and needs to be watered every 2 to 3 days when it gets warm and at least once a week when it gets cold.
Alocasia Frydek is also referred to as the green velvet Alocasia due to its velvety dark green leaves, wavy edges and the glowing white veins that characterize it. It can grow up to a mature of 2 to 3 feets in size and the leaves reach 18 inches.
Alocasia Cuprea (Red Secret)
The Alocasia Cuprea is nicknamed “red secret” because of its reddish-pink foliage that stands out. When the leaves first appear, it is coppery green laced with a pink sheen; overtime the deep green becomes saturated whilst the signature pink becomes even more pronounced.
It grows up to 3 feet in height and width for a mature one and the leaves reach 12 to 18 inches.
The Alocasia Zebrina is just as beautiful as other Alocasias not without its own distinctive feature from which its name is drawn from – its black and yellow markings on the petioles are reminiscent of a Zebra’s prints. This variety grows up to a maximum height of 3 feet.
Alocasia Wentii besides the distinctive purple-bronze underside has another standout feature, and it is how large and greenish the foliages are. Its leaves look like an elongated heart shape that draws on to form what is known as “drip drop”, this allows water to drop off the leaf neatly.
This Alocasia grows up to a mature 3 to 4 feet and the leaves 3 feet long, the leaves would form some sort of canopy around itself.
The Alocasia Odora bears looks close to a military camouflage due to its variegated large, heart shaped, bright green leaves. An interesting note about the Odora is that every leaf shows a different color pattern or ratio. They are one of the pint-sized Alocasias, a mature one can grow up to 3 to 4 feet and the leaves span 16 inches.
Common problems you will encounter with Alocasias
Despite their beauty, it’s not always all rosy with alocasias, you will encounter a few troubles with them.
It is normal for the leaves of alocasias to shrivel up, droop and then fall off (it is common with all plants, almost like them shading skin). This usually happens when there is little light getting to the plant (remember that most alocasias require bright and indirect sunlight to thrive). Another reason why leaves may fall off may be due to too much or too little application of fertilizer, try to get a balance.
Remember the introductory part of this article mentioned alocasias having their alarm system. This is one of them. Too little or too much water can cause discoloration in its leaves.
Other reasons include;
- Too little or too much sunlight
- When they have outgrown their pots, it is recommended that you re-pot else the leaves turn yellow. That is not a pretty sight.
This varies since there are so many types of alocasias. However, with proper care, an alocasia can stay alive for many decades.
You may wonder why indirect and bright sunlight is recommended. They can indeed survive under direct sunlight albeit for a while as you’d have a case of browning leaves and eventually death.
Alocasias grow fast and there is a fat chance that there is nothing wrong with your plant. It is only natural that they lose leaves since they grow. However, the leaves will replace themselves almost immediately.
All you need to keep your alocasia happy and thriving is simply to ensure it gets enough light, the temperature just warm enough at least 70°f (and shouldn’t drop below 60°f), and finally just enough water.
Luckily, alocasias do not demand much in terms of maintenance. A diluted liquid houseplant fertilizer once a month during the warm season is enough. It requires no fertilizer when it gets colder.