Growing Alocasia indoors brings a touch of tropical beauty and casual charm to any home. Its stunning foliage and distinctive shape only magnify its commanding presence. That’s why it’s a popular houseplant grown around the world. Today, we’re going to learn how to grow Alocasia indoors, and what it takes to care for this beauty. Let’s jump right into it.
Alocasia Quick Care Overview
- Alocasia is a subtropical plant and therefore enjoys growing in areas that mimic its natural environment.
- Look for lots of bright, but indirect light. Too intense of light can burn out the leaves.
- Water every few days to keep the soil moist. Check the top inch of soil and water when dry.
- Keep the temperature fairly warm and the relative humidity high.
- Under the right conditions, Alocasia will bloom small, but beautiful flowers.
Alocasia Growing Requirements
Alocasia, sometimes referred to by its common name Elephant Ear plant, is a plant native to subtropical Asia and Australia. Despite its tropical origins, alocasia is commonly grown indoors in more temperate areas. It’s actually a fairly simple plant to grow, and won’t require too much effort to care for. Let’s learn how.
All alocasia plants love to grow in loose soil, well draining soil that is rich with nutrients. The loose soil allows water to pass through without suffocating the roots and also allows proper airflow
Most premixed potting soils will work. You can always add peat moss, coco noir, or shredded leaves if you want the soil to be looser and drain even quicker. However, making the potting soil too loose can make it dry out faster, which results in frequent watering.
Always avoid planting your Alocasia in soil with high clay content, as clay retains too much water. This can make your plant develop root rot, which can eventually cause it to die.
In their native habitats, Alocasia plants grow on tropical and subtropical forest floors. This means that while they are kept under the shaded canopies of large trees, they still get to enjoy plenty of bright, filtered light.
High levels of indirect light help Alocasia plants grow faster. Shoot to get them about 6-8 hours of bright but indirect light per day. Given that their sources of light are typically filtered and indirect, their leaves tend to face sideways rather than face up. However, if their sources of light are brighter from above, their foliage will adjust accordingly.
The most ideal positions for placing your Alocasia plants indoors are east-facing, south-facing, and north-facing windows. Harsh afternoon sun can burn and damage their leaves, making them wilt and brown, so avoid placing them in direct, harsh light.
Additionally, if the light inside your home is quite dim, you can compensate for it by adding grow lights. This is a great way to get extra light as needed without risking damage to your plant. They are especially helpful in the winter when light intensity is naturally less.
Under the right light conditions, your Alocasia plant will produce flowers once it is mature. In low light conditions, it is quite difficult to coax this plant to bloom. If you’re looking for your alocasia to bloom, make sure you’re providing it with the correct amount of light.
Alocasia Water Needs
Alocasia plants prefer to be consistently watered but dislike sitting in soggy, overly wet soil. As with most tropical plants, they prefer to dry out slightly, but not completely, in between waterings.
Your plant will appreciate being watered when the top inch of its soil is completely dry. Depending on where you live and your local humidity, this can be from one day to a few days before the topsoil dries out. In any case, use your finger to test the top inch of soil for moisture.
Alocasia also tends to wilt quickly when lacking water. If you notice your plant’s leaves beginning to wilt and curl, then that’s another good sign that it needs water. This is usually only temporary, and your plant should spring back with fresh water. It’s still a good idea to check the soil first to confirm your plant needs water and isn’t experiencing a different issue.
You can begin to make a distinct schedule for watering. This will help you care for your plant in the best way possible. For example, if the soil of your Alocasia plant dries out every other day, then you need to water it accordingly.
If you live in temperate regions, you may need to reduce watering in the winter season as this is when your Alocasia plant is the least active. Always check before watering as excess water can damage your plant and lead to root rot.
Tropical and subtropical plants like Alocasia prefer warm temperatures. Indoor room temperatures that range from 60 to 80 F are ideal to mimic their natural growing conditions in the wild. Temperatures 50 F and below can cause the plant to go into dormancy or death.
Alocasia also likes consistent temperatures, so keep them away from windows, doors, and heating or air conditioning vents. These can bring in cold/hot drafts, which damage many tropical plants, like the Alocasia, due to constant temperature fluctuations.
Even indoors, your Alocasia plants can go slightly dormant when the cooler season arrives. At this point, you should ensure that they still receive the right levels of temperature and light while reducing the frequency of watering. This is perfectly normal, and your plant will likely resume its normal growth in the spring.
Alocasia Humidity Requirements
Humidity is another important factor in keeping your Alocasia plants healthy. Low air moisture levels can make their foliage and their growing medium dry out sooner than expected and cause growth problems. Look to keep your Alocasia in an area with relatively high humidity.
If you live in an area with low levels of humidity, you can improve it by using three common techniques.
- Use a spray bottle or mister around your Alocasia plants to temporarily increase the humidity of the immediate area.
- Grab a tray full of pebbles or gravel, fill the tray halfway up with water, and place the tray under your potted Alocasia plant. The evaporating water will immediately increase the humidity for a longer period of time compared to the spray bottle method.
- Purchase a humidifier to boost the moisture content in the air.
Depending on your climate, winter is often the most problematic time for keeping humidity levels high. Keep this in mind when planning your plant’s care.
Alocasia Fertilizer Requirements
Your Alocasia plants will benefit from routine fertilizing, especially when they are actively growing. Fertilizers will help your plants produce new roots, leaves, and even flowers.
Fertilizers benefit plants by providing them with the right amount of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus for healthy growth. Nitrogen, in particular, is known to increase the foliage production of leafy plants.
There are many kinds of fertilizers available, from liquid to powder and from quick-release to slow-release. Regardless of your fertilizer needs, always follow the instructions from the manufacturer.
You can buy synthetic fertilizers, which are commonly found in many garden centers. On the other hand, you can also use natural fertilizers, such as compost, to improve the nutrients of the soil of your Alocasia plants.
One thing to keep in mind is that during the winter season, avoid fertilizing your Alocasia plants. Simply water your plants sparingly during this period, and fertilize accordingly when the temperatures are warmer.
Things to Consider When Growing Alocasia Indoors
While Alocasia plants are incredibly easy to grow, you might need to keep these tips in mind. The following tips can help you make the most of your alocasia growing adventure.
You can place your Alocasia plant in any area that receives the right amounts of light, temperature, and humidity. Depending on your personal style, your Alocasia can be planted in terracotta, ceramic, fiberglass, or any other decorative containers for additional flair. Alocasia plants reach about 2-6’ in height, so plan accordingly. On the smaller side, they can fit on a large desk or table. Larger ones are better on the ground and work well in any area that can accommodate a large plant. In particular, they do well in the corners of rooms helping to soften hard angles and provide visual appeal.
How to Make the Leaves More Impressive
Aside from light, water, and fertilizers, your Alocasia plants can look even more magnificent when you clean their leaves regularly. Here’s an easy way to have clean, glossy, and impressive Alocasia leaves:
- Bring your plant to the sink or bathroom, or use a clean rag.
- Rinse/wipe off the leaves gently with lukewarm water.
- In a quart of lukewarm water, add a quarter teaspoon of mild dishwashing soap.
- Use this solution to spray the leaves.
- Rinse off with lukewarm water.
- Wipe each leaf to remove any remaining dust or dirt.
- Cleaning the foliage of your Alocasia plants will keep them clean, healthy, and shiny. It also helps it better absorb sunlight which, as we all know, is important for your plant’s overall health.
How to Keep Your Alocasia Plant Growing Evenly
When kept in the same spot for a long time, your Alocasia plant can develop an unbalanced growth pattern. To make sure that your plant grows evenly, turn your potted Alocasia plant in quarters every time you water it.
Doing so ensures that all the leaves receive an even amount of light. This prevents the plant from becoming leggy, growing only towards the light, and getting too top-heavy.
How to Get Alocasia Plants to Bloom
Only mature Alocasia plants bloom, so the first step is to make sure your plant is old enough to do so. Outside of that, make sure it’s getting all the care it needs. An easy way to do this is to give your plant some outdoor time in the summer months.
Doing so will not completely guarantee any flowers. However, the outdoor time will help encourage your Alocasia plant to produce flowers by providing more natural sunlight. Some people think Alocasia flowers are unremarkable, but I personally find them quite beautiful in a reserved sort of way.
Repotting Alocasia Plants
These plants prefer to be rootbound, so repotting them is not strictly necessary. However, if you notice that your Alocasia plant has outgrown its container, it may be time to repot it. This is generally a good idea every 2-4 years depending on the age of your plant. Here’s how you can do it:
- Look for a container that is one to two inches larger in diameter than the current container.
- Ensure that good drainage holes are present.
- Remove the plant from its container, and gently break up the soil
- Place the plant in its new container, and fill up the gaps on the side with potting mix.
- Water and care for your plant as usual.
Alternatively, you can always divide your Alocasia plant into several small plant divisions. This will help you keep your plants at a more manageable size while increasing their numbers.
Normally, Alocasia plants are pest-resistant, and you’re unlikely to have any issues when growing indoors. However, some species can be vulnerable to spider mites. When you suspect your Alocasia plant has spider mites, simply treat it through these simple steps:
- Isolate the infected plant.
- Spray the plant with water or with a solution of neem oil, mild dishwashing liquid, and water. Alternatively, you can use insecticidal soaps or insecticides that contain pyrethrin or permethrin.
- Apply regularly or according to the manufacturer’s instructions until the pests are gone.
Just remember, the healthier your plant, the better it will be at resisting pests.
While they make for stunning houseplants, Alocasia plants have leaves that are toxic to children and pets. The foliage contains oxalate crystals, which result in nausea, mouth pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. As a safety precaution, always keep your Alocasia plants away from curious children and pets.
How To Grow Alocasia Indoors
Alocasia is a beautiful plant that is the perfect fit for indoor gardeners. It’s easy to care for, and has a striking beauty that’s sure to accent any room it’s in. Hopefully, our above guide has given you all the skills you need to start caring for this wonderful plant in your own home. As always, please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other questions or just want to chat about your alocasia.
How To Grow Alocasia FAQ
How Much Light Does Alocasia Need?
Alocasia likes a good amount of bright, but indirect light. Shoot for at least 6+ hours per day. While it can survive on a good deal less, it will grow more slowly and produce fewer leaves.
What is The Lifespan of Alocasia?
Indoors, expect your plant to live about 5 years. You can, however, propagate it to get fresh plants to have a continual supply as long as you like.
Do Alocasia Like Being Wet?
Alocasia likes to have slightly moist soil, but doesn’t want its soil to be waterlogged. Water every few days, and then wait for the top inch to dry out before watering again.