Scientific name: Alocasia and Hybrids
Synonyms: Elephants Ear, Taro
Native to Asia, Elephants Ear plants are also called African Mask Plant or Kris Plant. Its attractive foliage and ability to grow quite large, under the right circumstances, make it a great addition to a house plant There are about 70 different species of Alocasia. Some have large velvety leaves, while others have glossy leaves with striking white veins.
Depending on which species you have, you may find the plant “dying back”, or retreating, in winter. Some Elephants Ear plants enter a stage of dormancy, so there is no need to worry. You’ll notice this happening if everything above the soil dies off. Continue caring for the ‘empty’ pot by watering it as needed. Do not fertilize, and in spring you will find new shoots growing.
NOTE: The Elephants Ear plant is very poisonous and should be kept away from children and pets.
- Brown leaves: Brown leaves on the Elephants Ear plant could be caused by two problems: Overwatering or the cold. Check your watering schedule and ensure that the soil is moist and not soggy. Check that the plant is placed in an area where it is warm enough, 15°C or more.
- Leaves are dry and/or crispy: Dry, crispy leaves are caused by low humidity. Increase humidity to address this.
- Crown, leaf spot, and stem or root rot: These diseases are caused by overwatering and usually appear as dark brown or black spots on the leaves surrounded by a yellowish rim. To prevent this, avoid over-watering, keep the leaves dry, and provide it with good air circulation. If your plant does get infected, immediately remove the infected and damaged leaves. Treat it with an organic Fungicide.
- Pale/Patchy brown leaves: This is caused by too much light, usually direct sunlight. This may also occur if you have moved the plant from a dark area to a very bright area too quickly. The plant may have been unable to adapt to its new surroundings sufficiently.
- Pests: to prevent an invasion of Mealy Bugs, Scale, Aphids or Spider mites you can spray your plant with warm soapy water every few weeks. This will also keep the large leaves dust free. If you do find that you have an infestation of pests, spray the plant with an ultra-fine insecticidal oil, such as Neem Oil. This will kill the pests as well as the egg.
- Origin: Asia
- Height: Grow up to45cm – 1.2m, depending on the species.
- Light: Requires very bright, indirect light but must be kept out of direct sunlight as that will burn the leaves. Avoid low lighting as much as possible.
- Water: Water well and then allow the top 2-6cm of soil to dry out before watering again. Water the plant less frequently in winter when it is dormant.
- Humidity: Elephants Ear grow best in high humidity. Increase humidity by placing it among other plants or placing it on a tray of pebbles and water. Ensure that the plant is not sitting in the water.
- Temperature: Elephants Ear plants prefer indoor temperatures to be warm at 15 – 26°C. If the plant is exposed to prolonged temperatures below 15°C, it will become dormant and may drop all of its leaves. Keep the plant away from cold drafts.
- Soil: Use an organic, well aerated soil mix.
- Fertilizer: Use an all-purpose fertilizer diluted by half. Feed once a month, but don’t bother to feed it in winter (unless the plant is actively growing).
- Repotting: Repot in springwhen it has outgrown its pot or has produced a lot of offsets.
- Pruning: Remove any yellow or leaves developing brown/black spots immediately.
- Propagation: Division - Remove any offsets (at the same time as re-potting your parent plant) that may have sprung up from the parent plant and pot. Best time to do this is in spring.
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