How to care
for your Alocasia
Alocasias are incredible stunners, featuring some of the most striking, head-turning foliage in the world of plants. If it could be a meme, it would be the one of the man holding hands with his girlfriend and turning around checking out another woman. Does that meme work if we describe it? No matter. Alocasias are native to subtropical Asia and eastern Australia, and there are around 80 species of Alocasias that range significantly in visual appeal. Alocasias’ have a bit of a reputation as a collector’s item – if you’re looking for a statement plant then this is the one for you. The exclamation mark of houseplants in terms of beauty, they’re also loud in the sense that some Alocasia varietals can grow up to 8 to 10 feet tall (and they can grow quickly if its conditions are met!)
Alocasia Lauterbachiana, Purple Sword
Alocasia Mayan Mask
Alocasia Silver Dragon
Alocasia Dragon Scale
Alocasia Micholitziana Frydek, Green Velvet
Alocasia, Black Velvet
Alocasia Ivory Coast
Care Level : Beginner, Expert or Somewhere in the middle.
We might’ve hyped the Alocasia up a lot – but here’s where we bring you back down to reality a little bit. Alocasias are not recommended for beginners. They land squarely in the middle since they do require more meticulous care and attention than other houseplants. More on this below – but you should handle Alocasias with work gloves and clean garden shears when pruning since certain varietals’ tubers are toxic and a skin irritant.
Alocasia light needs depend heavily on the varietal you have. They can range from shade to full sunlight. Generally, Alocasias will do well in bright, indirect light. If the colour of your Alocasia's foliage is bright or colourful, then it’ll like more light. Regardless, avoid putting Alocasias in the full blast of the sun. Since Alocasia foliage grows towards its source of light, you’ll want to rotate your plant periodically to balance the growth. You’ll also want to wipe their leaves when they get dusty to remove any dust hindering its photosynthesis.
Alocasias prefer their soil to be on the moist side all-year long. Do the rigorous stick or finger test to check if the top 2” of the soil is dry before quenching its thirst. Alocasias are prone to root rot and fungal infections, so make sure their soil is properly aerated and that its home has drainage holes to avoid waterlogging becoming an issue.
Alocasias thrive in very humid environments. To raise the humidity – use a humidifier, move it near other plants, place it on top of a pebble tray submerged in water and mist every day. Just take care when you mist not to leave puddles behind on its leaves otherwise it could topple over on its stem – no one likes a broken houseplant. Also be very mindful to keep Alocasias away from heaters, AC units or cold drafts.
Alocasias grow well in 18 – 24°C. They’re a tropical plant and the tropics are warm – so you can connect the dots. Place it in a warm spot that doesn’t get any lower than 16°C (and that’s already pushing it.)
Alocasias are like Dieffenbachias in the sense that they’re very toxic to humans and pets. Their leaves contain insoluble oxalate crystals that’ll cause swelling and irritation of the mouth – in severe cases it can make it difficult to breathe. So, you’ll want to make sure your kiddos’ and pets’ touch with their eyes and not their mouths.
Other fun facts:
- Nearly all the fictional beanstalks illustrated or described in Jack and the Beanstalk stories refer to Alocasia features – long stalks and large leaves. Jack and the Alocasia doesn’t have the same ring, unfortunately.
- It sounds counterintuitive, but don’t get too attached to specific leaves of your Alocasia plant – they don’t last long. Depending on the varietal you have, they might only live for a few months and then drop off – especially when they go dormant during the winter. They’re faster growers though, so you’ll be rewarded with plenty more leaves if you’re taking care of your budding Alocasia.
- Despite mostly being toxic to humans and pets, Alocasia tubers and thick stems of certain varietals are widely used for food in India, the Philippines and Vietnam – like the Coarse Root Alocasia or Indian Alocasia.
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