Houseplant of the month – September: Alocasia
Alocasia can add an exotic, tropical ambience to any interior. It’s an air-purifying plant and can be kept indoors all year round – your home, the office, schools or public indoor areas are all suitable homes. The larger examples look best stood alone in a larger space. Smaller plants can be stood in groups. To allow the Alocasia’s spectacular stems and foliage to look at their best, a simple base for this plant is perfect. Did you know the x Amazonica variety (Elephant Ear) has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit?
Caring for Alocasia
Alocasia originated in tropical rainforests so this plant will thrive in a nice warm spot with lot of humidity.
- Stand your Alocasia in a light spot but out of full sunlight
- Room temperature of 18-22 °C is ideal, this plant must not get too cold.
- Water regularly with room temperature water and don’t allow it to dry out.
- Spray your Alocasia now and then using a plant spray. A quick shower in the bathroom, or outside in a summer shower of rain will also help with humidity but without leaving the plants wet.
- Feed twice a month with plant food, during the growing season but only once a month over the winter (the dormant period).
Alocasia is member of the Arum Lily family and grows in the tropical rainforests of South East Asia to Eastern Australia and widely cultivated elsewhere. The plant is prolific in Borneo where it can actually grow to a height of 4 metres. There are 79 different varieties of Alocasia currently recorded. This plant has been grown for food in countries around the equator for many thousands of years however the original plant has since been hybridised and is not edible, but is wonderfully attractive.
Varieteis of Alocasia
Alocasia x amazonica has the most recognisable leaf veins and has many cultivars. There’s the compacter growing Alocasia ‘Polly’ and the smaller ‘Bambino Arrow’ – these plants’ leaves resemble African masks.
Large leafed varieties are:
- ‘calidora’ :Big, glossy green leaves with very thick stems.
- portadora’:Big: glossy green leaves and striking reddish brown ‘spots’ along the stems.
- lauterbachiana: Long, wavy-edged leaves with red undersides and red stems.
- cucullata :Arrow-headed leaves and a nice compact shape, in green.
- ‘california’:Exceptionally big leaves and can handle lower temperatures making it suitable for a conservatory, as a container plant.
- ‘Black Velvet’ : A silvery white vein in almost black foliage, quite velvety too
- zebrina : Arrow-headed foliage with unusually striped stems.