Alocasia Polly

OFFICIAL NAME

N/A, but known as Alocasia Amazonica

ALSO KNOWN AS

Amazon Elephant's Ear, African Mask

ORIGINS & CLIMATE

Southeast Asia & Philippines | Tropical

ABOUT THE
PLANT

This Alocasia brings the drama! With frilly arrowhead shaped leaves in a deep dark green with highly contrasted veining and rich purple undersides! The unusual look is a striking addition to any plant fam.

HOW MANY GREEN THUMBS?

moderate, bright indirect, drought averse, mid-size, clusters, tabletop, shelf, aroid, tropical, color, lobed, ruffled, variegation

HMP PLANT PICK

Alocasia Polly

The basics

Water Needs

Accustomed to damp, humid tropical environs, this plant prefers to stay fairly moist, but certainly not soggy or saturated. Check the soil frequently in summer to determine if it's starting to dry out. In winter, you can be a little more lax, allowing the top inch or so to dry out before watering again.

Water

Preferred Light

To thrive, this Alocasia prefers medium to bright, indirect light. The leaves are prone to burn in prolonged direct light. Avoid a low light situation as this moisture loving plant could succumb to root rot.

Light

Humidity Needs

Thrives in higher humidity, especially in the summer or hot, dry conditions (like near a heater). Humidity also helps keep pests away from these spider mite prone Alocasias.

Humidity

Ambient Temperature

Your Alocasia enjoys the balmy warmth of the tropics, preferably between 65-85°F. Definitely avoid cold drafts and sudden temperature changes. If the temps dip too low, Alocasias are known to die back and re-sprout when warmer conditions come around.

Temperature

Toxic or Not?

Alocasias are highly toxic to pets and humans. Ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting. In some cases, may even cause swelling of the upper airway. Keep away from children and pets.

Toxicity

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow upwards of 2 ft with a spread of 1-2 ft (when mature and with plenty of light)!

Size

Overall Look

Generally in an upright formation with clusters of long stems spreading slightly outward and topped with huge leaves that tend to point down and will favor the side where they can capture more sun. Works best as a tabletop plant or on a shelf to showcase the unique leaves.

Format

Leaf Look

The deep dark green leaves strike a showy contrast to their pale green veins and rich purple undersides. This show-stopping foliage also features an arrowhead shape and playful ruffled edges.

Leaf Shape

Pro Tip

In winter, your Alocasia may enter a period of dormancy—even losing all of their foliage, leaving just a stump. Don't despair! Keep your Alocasia in a warm spot, reduce the watering, and wait for spring!

Pro Tip

Did You Know?

The pale veins of this Alocasia is actually a type of variegation known as blister or reflective variegation. This occurs when small air pockets develop between the lower and upper portions of the leaf, creating transparent pockets that give the plant a striking, high contrast look.

Fun Fact

Water

|

Keep soil just moist, but not soggy.

Water Needs

Accustomed to damp, humid tropical environs, this plant prefers to stay fairly moist, but certainly not soggy or saturated. Check the soil frequently in summer to determine if it's starting to dry out. In winter, you can be a little more lax, allowing the top inch or so to dry out before watering again.

Light

|

Medium to bright, indirect light.

Preferred Light

To thrive, this Alocasia prefers medium to bright, indirect light. The leaves are prone to burn in prolonged direct light. Avoid a low light situation as this moisture loving plant could succumb to root rot.

Humidity

|

Extra humidity appreciated in drier spaces.

Humidity Needs

Thrives in higher humidity, especially in the summer or hot, dry conditions (like near a heater). Humidity also helps keep pests away from these spider mite prone Alocasias.

Temperature

|

Enjoys warmer temps.

Ambient Temperature

Your Alocasia enjoys the balmy warmth of the tropics, preferably between 65-85°F. Definitely avoid cold drafts and sudden temperature changes. If the temps dip too low, Alocasias are known to die back and re-sprout when warmer conditions come around.

Toxicity

|

Highly toxic to humans and pets if ingested.

Toxic or Not?

Alocasias are highly toxic to pets and humans. Ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting. In some cases, may even cause swelling of the upper airway. Keep away from children and pets.

Size

|

An in-betweener. Not too big, not too small.

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow upwards of 2 ft with a spread of 1-2 ft (when mature and with plenty of light)!

Format

|

Upright clusters of long stems.

Overall Look

Generally in an upright formation with clusters of long stems spreading slightly outward and topped with huge leaves that tend to point down and will favor the side where they can capture more sun. Works best as a tabletop plant or on a shelf to showcase the unique leaves.

Leaf Shape

|

Dark green with a ruffled arrowhead shape.

Leaf Look

The deep dark green leaves strike a showy contrast to their pale green veins and rich purple undersides. This show-stopping foliage also features an arrowhead shape and playful ruffled edges.

Pro Tip

|

Don't worry, Alocasia are known to go dormant.

Pro Tip

In winter, your Alocasia may enter a period of dormancy—even losing all of their foliage, leaving just a stump. Don't despair! Keep your Alocasia in a warm spot, reduce the watering, and wait for spring!

Fun Fact

|

These leaves have a special kind of variegation.

Did You Know?

The pale veins of this Alocasia is actually a type of variegation known as blister or reflective variegation. This occurs when small air pockets develop between the lower and upper portions of the leaf, creating transparent pockets that give the plant a striking, high contrast look.

Beyond The Basics

Soil & Potting

Thrives in a rich, very well-draining potting mix—you can use a good quality potting mix labeled for indoor plants or make your own mix. You can try a 1:1:1:0.5 mix of potting mix, orchid bark, perlite, and activated charcoal. Ensure the pot has the appropriate drainage and don't forget to pour out any excess water collected in the drainage tray or cachepot.

Repotting

Try to repot every 2 years in the spring, especially when tending to a younger plant. Increase the pot size by about 2 inches each time or until you're satisfied with the size. It's still important to repot at this stage, but it'll be an exercise of refreshing the soil, keeping the pot size the same, and possibly doing some root trimming to restrict the plant's growth. More on repotting here.

Feeding

If you're not already planning to repot, you can fertilize during the spring and summer months. Once to every two months should be plenty. No fertilizer is necessary during the winter when plant growth naturally slows down. You can try a balanced liquid or water-soluble fertilizer—always diluted more than the recommended strength. More on using fertilizer here.

Grooming

While no specific pruning is required for this plant, it's always good practice to regularly remove yellowed or dying leaves and any fallen plant debris. Ensure your scissors or pruners are sanitized to avoid spreading disease or pests.

Propagation

Alocasia have a bulbous modified stem, known as a corm, that will develop their own offsets. Once the developing plant, or pup, has formed a few leaves, it can be separated by carefully making a clean cut to remove the pup from the parent corm. You can pot up this baby plant directly in soil. The best time to propagate is always in spring or summer when the plant is most resilient. This is also an excellent opportunity to repot the parent plant. More on propagation techniques here.

Variants

There are many species of Alocasia that make wonderful houseplants. Some of the most popular include Alocasia Calidora, Frydek, Zebrina, Black Velvet, Dragon Scale, Stingray, Regal Shields, and more!

TrOUBlESHOOTING

Why is my Alocasia dropping leaves?

Symptom

Leaves dropping in droves! Most or all leaves have suddenly died off.

Cause

Alocasia are known to go into dormancy when they're receiving insufficient light and temperatures drop suddenly or significantly (like winter). Dormancy means the plant wants to conserve energy while it awaits better conditions, so they may drop most or all their leaves. But dormant doesn't mean dead!

Solution

While it can be shocking to see a plant drop all their leaves, don't despair. Continue caring for your plant by keeping it in a brighter, warmer spot, reduce your watering, and wait for spring! You should see new leaves sprouting and a speedy return to their former glory. Sadly, you can't prevent winter, but as the season approaches you may be able to avoid dormancy by moving your plant to a slightly warmer and brighter spot to counteract the sudden change.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why are the leaf tips on my Alocasia browning?

Symptom

Leaves turning brown just on the edges or tips. These edges may gradually change from yellow to brown, crispy, and possibly a bit curled.

Cause

Browning just on the edges of tips is usually a reaction to low humidity. Since many of our houseplants have tropical origins, they also thrive in humid conditions. Our average indoor humidity is usually adequate, but some plants are simply more sensitive to changes in humidity than others. You may notice this more acutely when conditions are particularly dry—like when you turn on the heater in winter.

Solution

Try to accommodate your plant's needs by locating them in more naturally humid places, like the bathroom or kitchen, or grouping a bunch of humidity-loving plants together. But the only way to truly guarantee increased humidity is to get a humidifier!

Once you've addressed the problem: If the brown tips bother you, you can trim them back. Do your best to follow the shape of the leaf to help them look natural. Also, try to cut just short of the discolored edge so it doesn’t expand.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why are the leaves on my Alocasia wilting and yellowing?

Symptom

Multiple leaves are wilting and turning yellow—particularly the older, lower leaves. You may also notice stunted growth and mushy stems.

Cause

The most likely culprit is overwatering and initial signs of root rot. When a plant's roots sit in waterlogged soil for too long, a fungal infection can quickly take over, causing the roots to rot (turning brown and mushy).

Solution

First, ensure that your plant has appropriate drainage (both in terms of well-draining soil and plenty of drainage holes in the plant's container).

If you think you've caught the overwatering early on, you can simply let the plant dry out more than you have been. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering again. Continue monitoring and only water when needed. You may also try using chopsticks (or something similar) to poke holes in the soil to help the roots get more oxygen. And finally, you can try to "wick" the excess moisture out of the soil by placing the whole pot (with drainage holes) in a tray or container with dry soil. This new layer of dry soil should soak up some of the excess moisture from the waterlogged areas around your plant's roots.

However, if you suspect a serious case of root rot, you'll definitely need to take a peak at the roots by removing the plant entirely from their container. If there are any black and mushy roots, trim them back completely before repotting with fresh soil in a new or sterilized container.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why does my Alocasia have patchy, pale spots?

Symptom

Larger grey or pale patches on a few leaves. The spot may look dried out and somewhat bleached.

Cause

When your plant is exposed to the hot sun, it begins to evaporate more moisture from the leaf surface than the plant can replace. Leading to bleached areas or large grey patches on leaves.

Solution

You may be pushing the limits on how much direct sun your plant can handle. Try moving it out of reach of those direct rays of sun or moving to a spot that receives only minimal direct sun in the mornings or evenings. While this should prevent further burning, the spots will not "heal", so it's up to you if you'd like to prune off the affected leaves.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why are there tiny pinpricks on my Alocasia?

Symptom

Pale areas across the leaf that look dusty or like tiny pinpricks on closer inspection.

Cause

Unfortunately, these are a tell-tale sign of spider mites. These wretched pests pierce the surface of your plant's leaves in order to suck out the nutrients—leaving behind pale areas and pinpricks. These pests seem to love the highly textured surface of the Alocasia leaf since it produces plenty of nooks and crannies for them to build their webs and hide their eggs. Left unchecked, these buggers can decimate a plant.

Solution

Whenever you're dealing with pests, the first step is to isolate you plant away from all your other plants to avoid potential spread. Next, you can begin a regimen of neem oil, diluted with  water a bit of mild soap. You'll want to spray this solution liberally all over your plant, including leaf undersides. And repeat the treatment every few days to ensure you've eradicated the pest and any eggs.

Preventative measures include maintaining good air circulation and avoiding overly dry conditions. Spider mites in particular love warm, dry conditions.

More on pests here.
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