Alocasia plants or ‘elephant ear plants’ are a group of wonderful foliage plants often grown as indoor plants. One of the outstanding cultivars is Alocasia amazonica ‘Polly’, pictured.
Grown for the large and exotic foliage that we like to call elephants ears, all are from tropical to sub tropical rainforest areas. This gives us a few clues about the general growing requirements.
They all like shade, think dappled or filtered light, or perhaps morning sun, afternoon shade.
A number of species are often lumped together in terms of growing conditions, however two distinct types are available.
All species like humidity, and given the low light requirement and the humidity they do make excellent foliage plants for shopping centres, offices and homes, as long as you provide the humidity that air conditioning takes away.
Look for Alocasia baginda ‘Dragon Scale’ as an outstanding example of brilliant foliage.
Another factor is moisture. Some species require constant moisture, others require good drainage, so check the growing requirement for individual species.
Some species are easier than others, Alocasia calidora is one of the more forgiving, deep green heart shaped foliage, it is one of the species that like moisture and will happily grow in the margins of a pond.
Alocasia brisbanensis is another easy species it copes with drier conditions than most.
One of the popular ‘new’ cultivars is Alocasia infernalis ‘Black Magic’, deep dark inky foliage with lighter veins, sometimes called the ‘skeleton plant’.
Easy to grow in USDA Zones 8 and above, in colder zones they will need to be overwintered indoors.
All Alocasia prefer a rich well drained but moist soil. Part shade or at least shelter from direct hot sun and remember that Alocasias are frost tender, so give them some protection from frost.
- Plant in spring
- Water in with a liquid seaweed fertilizer
- Keep moist but not wet
- Keep frost free
- Keep humidity high, a saucer of water beneath the plant will assist.
- Keep away from air conditioning, windows and doorways, any draft will be a problem
Alocasia are popular as indoor plants in many states and are grown outdoors in frost free areas of Hawaii, Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Missouri, and Tennessee.
Generally not required, although dead foliage should be removed.
- Alocasia ‘Polly’ is one of the new additions, a form of Alocasia amazonica and will grow to 2-3ft. Its stunning foliage makes it a great indoor plant.
- Alocasia odora.
- Alocasia macrorrhiza.
- Alocasia amazonica.
- Alocasia infernalis
- Alocasia brisbanensis.
- Alocasia Calidora.
- Alocasia Lauterbachiana
All are popular indoor and outdoor plants. Not all Alocasia have the same foliage, A.longiloba thibautiana has long narrow foliage, green and variegated.
Propagation methods do differ depending on the species.
Over time Alocasia will form a clump, and this can be divided with a sharp spade or knife.
Some species can have a piece of the stem that has a woody lower portion broken away and they will strike.
You take the woody part that has been in or very close to the ground and replant it, it usually strikes.
Both of these methods are best carried out in spring.
If you are growing the water loving types, you may have the plant potted. In this case try lifting the pot out of the water and trimming off some of the roots that have found their way out though the drainage holes.
These can be planted in some perlite, kept moist and humid and they nay just strike.
From seed germination is usually reliable, it will require some warmth and moisture, however at around 80 F you will get good rates in 3 weeks or so.
Alocasia are available for sale from the following nurseries
BRENT and BECKY’S BULBS7900 Daffodil Lane Gloucester, VA 23061Ordering: (877) 661-2852 Fax: (804) 693-9436