Plants in the alocasia genus are known for their stunningly large leaves that feature an arrowhead shape and gorgeous vein patterns.
One of the reasons we love these plants is how many unique varieties the genus holds. No matter what your experience or budget is, there is an alocasia for you! Though many consider these beauties to be harder houseplants to care for, once their needs are better understood, it should be easier to keep them thriving. So, here are our best tips for caring for an alocasia:
- When you first take your plant home, do not rush to repot it right away. Keep it in its plastic grower’s pot and focus on finding the ideal location in your home based on available light and humidity levels.
- Next, establish a watering routine (and fertilizer if seasonally appropriate); use a moisture meter and/or your finger and determine watering needs by feeling the weight of the potted plant (heavy plants are still wet).
Alocasias are quite adaptable and can tolerate fairly low light, but prefer bright, indirect light. However, the amount of light the alocasia receives is a direct factor of its growth pattern and watering needs. If you want to see faster growth and/or larger leaves, place it in a spot with brighter, indirect light (avoid prolonged direct sunlight which may cause foliage to burn).
Alocasia can be a bit picky about their water requirement. They like to mostly dry out between waterings, and they do not want to be in soggy soil. Water when the top 2 to 3 inches of soil is dry, and make sure your alocasia is not sitting in water.
Because they dislike soggy soil, it is best to plant alocasia in a breathable mix to make sure they are not water-logged. Something like an orchid planting mix with added peat moss, shredded bark, perlite, charcoal, and sphagnum moss will keep them thriving. As mentioned previously, don’t rush to pot up your plant; alocasia prefer to be slightly root-bound.
Temperature & Humidity
Being a tropical plant, alocasia prefer to live in higher temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They also prefer to be in areas with high humidity. You can boost humidity in your home in various ways:
- Humidifier: Add a large one to boost the humidity of the entire room or a smaller tabletop humidifier to target plants directly.
- Misting: Misting can work great to boost humidity, but can encourage foliage diseases if not done carefully. Be sure to use a fine mister and only mist in the morning so the water has the rest of the day to evaporate.
- Grouping plants together: Plants can help boost one another’s humidity!
- Wet pebble tray: Filling a tray (with a larger diameter than your plant) with pebbles and water and placing plants on top is a great way to enhance humidity for specific plants.
- Domes: These are generally not recommended for alocasias—lack of air circulation can contribute to fungal diseases.
To help your alocasia thrive, fertilize once a month during the growing season, from March through September, with a basic 3-1-2 houseplant fertilizer. There is no need to feed during the months that your alocasia is dormant.
The best way to propagate alocasia is through division. It is best to do this during the growing season (March through September).
All parts of the plant are known to be toxic to humans and pets, if ingested. Handling parts of the plant can cause mild skin irritation from contact with sap; be cautious and wear gloves when handling.
Often, during the fall or winter months or when exposed to temperatures below 60 degrees for a few weeks, alocasia plants may drop all of their leaves and go dormant for several months. Once all foliage has died, cut it back completely, let the soil thoroughly dry out, and move the plant to a spot where it can stay warm and rest for a while.
The dormant location does not need to be well-lit, but the plant should be checked at least once per month and soil may be lightly misted periodically to slightly dampen (you can place a moss mulch layer over the soil during dormancy to help regulate soil moisture evaporation).
Leaf browning or wilting: This can be due to underwatering or overwatering. Check the soil first: does it seem wet and heavy? If so, this is due to overwatering. However, if you have been letting your alocasia dry out, this may be due to underwatering or low humidity; increase the humidity to help balance moisture needs.
Leaf yellowing: Yellow leaf tips or yellowing leaves that are lower or toward the inside of the plant may be caused by overwatering. Yellowing leaves toward the top of the plant may indicate too much direct light.
Spots on the leaves: brown or black spots with a yellow or pale “halo” may indicate a fungal disease. Be sure to remove any yellow or spotty leaves by cutting with a sharp blade to reduce potential spread of diseases and if possible, isolate the sick plant. Bring a leaf sample in a sealed bag to one of our experts for a diagnosis.
Spider mites, mealybugs & fungus gnats: You can help prevent spider mites and fungus gnats by regularly wiping the leaves to remove dust and spraying them down with neem oil, a natural pest preventative. If your houseplant contracts spider mites (leaves will appear dull or less shiny, very fine webbing may be seen with close inspection), fill a spray bottle with water, add a little bit of dish soap, and spray on the leaves and stems to drown the spider mites or use a commercial houseplant spray such as Neem Oil, Mite X, or insecticidal soap as directed by the label. After waiting a few minutes, wipe everything down with a paper towel. If you develop a fungus gnat problem, top-dress with Mosquito Bits or dust the top of the soil with Diatomaceous Earth until the issue is resolved. The best way to avoid fungus gnats is not to overwater your plants; allow the top 2 or 3 inches to go dry before watering again.
Some of Our Favorite Alocasia
It is difficult to choose only a few favorites when each cultivar is so stunning and unique! But here are 4 of our favorite alocasias right now: