Quick plant care: Alocasia
Alocasia are available in a huge range of varieties but every plant offers a stunning and, often unusual, centrepiece of any room in your home. In the right conditions and with the right care, Alocasia are fast growing plants so, let’s have a look at the best care for these plants.
Alocasia (also known as the Kris Plant, Elephant Plant or African Mask Plant) are tropical plants that feature arrowhead-shaped leaves. There are over 70 species of Alocasia available which also includes hybrid versions. These plants are popular for their leaf shapes, colour and size.
Alocasia are native to the tropical area in the South Pacific islands, particularly the Philippines so they usually appreciate an environment that closely replicates this which is warm and humid. You’ll find that they thrive well in the kitchen or bathroom.
Here’s a closer look at everything you need to do to look after your Alocasia houseplants.
Alocasia are fairly adaptable so will thrive in a range of light conditions from low to bright indirect sunlight but, ideally, they like to be in bright, indirect sunlight for the best chance to thrive.
You will know if your plant have enough light because, the more light it has, the quicker it will grow. If it’s in a spot without as much light, it will still survive but it won’t grow as quickly or abundantly.
Alocasia’s natural habitat is on the forest floor, beneath the tree canopies so any direct sunlight will burn the leaves.
We also recommend rotating your plant by a quarter turn every time you water it to make sure that it receives an even amount of sunlight and doesn’t grow in only one direction.
Alocasia absolutely love water so they will require plenty of water throughout the year. However, they like their soil to be kept moist and not too soggy so there is a fine line to tread when watering these plants.
As Alocasias are a tropical plant, they do require a lot of moisture but, they have thick stems which are used to store moisture. They use this to feed themselves so they are not solely reliant on the moisture in the soil. As a result, you will only need to water Alocasia once the soil is dry.
To learn more about your plant and the water it needs, it may be a case of trial and error. Just keep an eye on it every few days and only water it when the soil is dry. Eventually you will learn how often it likes to be watered and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
These plants are sensitive to overwatering so less is definitely more when it comes to Alocasia. Make sure you’re not watering too much and you’re giving the oxygen chance to get to the roots.
Remember that during the winter, Alocasia tend to go dormant so they will not need as much water. Again, you will need to keep checking in with your plant to see whether it needs watering again.
As they’re a tropical houseplant, Alocasia will struggle to thrive if they’re kept below 16℃. During the winter, a number of varieties will die back slightly but regrowth will occur in spring.
Alocasia like to be in a more humid environment so will like the warmer temperatures your bathroom or kitchen can offer. Just avoid placing them on a draughty windowsill as they don’t enjoy the colder conditions!
If you don’t keep your plants in the kitchen or bathroom, you can help to raise the humidity around it by placing it in a group with other plants or placing it on a try filled with pebbles and then add water until it’s just below the bottom of the plant pot. You can also mist the leaves every now and again to create humidity.
Make sure you keep your Alocasia away from cold draughts in the windows, doors and air conditioning.
Plant your Alocasia in loose, well-draining potting mix or crumbly soil. We recommend a porous soil and we recommend a mix that is one part soil, one part perlite or course potting sand and one part peat.
Once mature, Alocasia can grow up to 2-15 feet in height and can spread out over 2-8 feet.
Winter care - It’s common for Alocasia plants to die back during colder winter months. So, if the leaves of your plant start to turn brown and fall off during the winter, it’s not a cause for immediate concern. It’s probably not dead and is just getting ready to lie dormant throughout the winter. You should reduce watering when this happens and start to pick back up again once the spring starts to arrive and new growth happens. Even if your plant does not go dormant, you should still reduce your watering schedule.
Fertiliser - If you want to fertilise your Alocasia, make sure you use a fertiliser that has been formulated for foliage plants such as slow release fertiliser and apply it every few months during the spring and summer months.
Toxicity - Unfortunately, Alocasia are toxic plants so, after handling them, wash your hands thoroughly and keep them out of the reach of any children or pets.
Leaves turning yellow - usually, this is due to overwatering so adjust your watering schedule and make sure your Alocasia isn’t too soggy. It could also be because the plant has been left in direct sunlight and the leaves have burned
Leaves drooping - in Alocasia, this is usually a sign low humidity levels which can be boosted through misting or using a pebble tray
Pests - common pests in Alocasia include spider mites, scale and mealybugs
For more information on the common houseplant problems you may experience and how to solve them, read our guide.