Alocasia range from the luxurious Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ to the other-worldly ‘Dragon Scale’ and ‘Red Secret’, the striped stems of Alocasia ‘Zebrina’ and the shield-like ‘Alocasia Amazonica’ (pictured above).
They originate from the forested areas of Southeast Asia, Borneo, the Philippines, New Guinea and even Australia. In size, alocasia range in from huge statement plants to petite species with decorative leaves and stems.
Despite their exotic looks, their requirements are straightforward: Bright, indirect light, and moist but not soggy soil.
They are happy in any well-lit living room, bathroom, bedroom, study or office as well as on the patio, out of direct sunshine. They tolerate medium light but not low light.
Water once a week in summer and avoid over watering by allowing the top 5cm of soil to dry out before watering. Push your finger deep into the soil to check its moisture. If it is still moist, delay watering by a day or so.
A liquid feed once a month in summer will keep plants looking their best and encourage new leaves. Keep the plant neat by removing the older leaves as they die. Mist the leaves In very hot and dry weather.
Being tropical plants, alocasia don’t like the cold and may die down in winter but will sprout in spring. However, indoor plants should continue to look good if kept in a warm, bright room and away from draughts.
These dragons don’t breathe fire
Alocasia ‘Dragon Scale’ was the first dragon and it set people talking. Are its strange slightly reptilian leaves real or artificial? Puffy with strongly marked veins, the leaves look ever so slightly Halloween. It can grow up to two metres with one massive leaf per stem. Because of its strange dark green to grey colouring, it does best with bright indirect light and a humid environment.
Alocasia ‘Silver Dragon’ is a beautiful silver version and is more compact. Fully grown it is one metre in height, making it an unmissable, medium high feature plant. Being shallow rooted it doesn’t need a very large container. It produces a profusion of silvery leaves with dark green veins and an embossed edging.
Alocasia ‘Pink Dragon’ is for collectors who want a plant that stands out. Its named for its distinctive pink stems, that show off the deeply veined green leaves, with an attractive burgundy under-leaf. Show off the young plant in a table-top planter and as it grows, make a feature of it in a metal plant stand that adds height. Bright filtered sunlight (but not direct sun) will bring out this plant’s subtle colours.
King of the jungle
There is something majestic and mythical about Alocasia Amazonica. Its elongated shield like leaves are etched in silver and the dominant silver midrib and veins stand out against the dark green background. It is the star of any show and most certainly Instagram worthy.
If you have an indoor atrium, courtyard or sheltered patio, create a naturally humid environment by combining it with other tropical plants like Birds nest fern, bromeliads, and Zantedeschia.
Plants that outgrow their pots can be divided and repotted in spring.
There is something very appealing about miniature versions, and they are easy to have around as they fit in anywhere.
For those of us who spend hours in front of the computer, taking a 15 minute break every two hours is a good way to protect our eyes. What better way than to rest them on a beautiful or intriguing plant?
Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’
This mini alocasia is exotic and dramatic with heart-shaped black velvety leaves (actually very dark green) demarcated by silvery- white veins and stems. The effect is jewel-like and is an immediate attention grabber. The plant remains compact, growing about 25cm high and wide. A decorative tabletop or coffee table plant. Let it dry out moderately between watering.
Alocasia Amazonica ‘Bambino’ falls into the’ must have’ category because they are so petite and appealing! Like big Daddy Alocasia Amazonica, it has striking, shield-shaped dark leaves with silver veins. But it only grows up to 30cm, making it easy to accommodate anywhere in a warm, humid room with bright, indirect light.
If the plant develops spider mites it means that the room is not humid enough. Spray with a dilution of Neem oil and move Bambino into a more humid space or closer to the humidifier.
Still on the wild side
Alocasia’ Zebrina’ or the Zebra plant, is an airy plant that grows up to 1m high and wide with graceful stems and pointed arrowhead -shaped leaves at the end of each stem. The stems are its main feature; a soft beige with brown stripes or spots, that have prompted its nickname of the zebra plant. Displaying this plant on a raised base or on a plant stand and with plenty of space around it, will make a feature of its stems and leaves
Alocasia Red Secret
Like the dragons, the leaves of this alocasia are unlike any other. The upper side of the heart-shaped leaf has a metallic, bronze glow, but its ‘secret’ is the radiant burgundy red under leaf. These unusual alocasia are set to make their appearance around Valentine’s day next year. . Despite its unusual looks, it easy to grow. It adapts to different light conditions, growing faster with bright light and slower with low light.
For more information visit LVG Plants.
TEXT: Alice Coetzee