Plant Care  |  March 10, 2020

Alocasia Care


PRO TIP: Alocasia leaves can become top heavy on their slender stems. If yours begin to droop, it can be a sign of the plant having too little light, too much or too little water in the soil, or not enough nutrients. The plant will right itself over time but you also can stake the stems while it recovers.

Boasting some of the most striking foliage in the houseplant world, the Alocasia is an increasingly popular addition to indoor plant collections due to its unmatched visual and sculptural appeal. There are around 80 species of this distinctly veined stunner native to subtropical Asia and eastern Australia, and some specimens boast leaves that can grow up to almost three feet long!

Alocasias need bright, but indirect light. This is due to the plant's natural habitat, on the forest floor beneath the tree canopy. Direct sun will cause the leaves to burn, so avoid placing your Alocasia in a spot where it'll be exposed to direct sun for a prolonged period. This plant is not tolerant of lower light conditions though, so make sure the space you're placing yours in feels very bright. Alocasias are native to — and grow best — in humid environments, so avoid placing yours near to an A/C or a heater if possible.

If you are unsure about the lighting conditions in your home or office, read our guide for how to measure light in your space.

Dieffenbachia Sterling Leaf

Most varieties of Alocasias propagated for indoor use are hybrids, and are grown for their appealing leaf appearance. Alocasia frydek, pictured here, is a result of this process.

Routine Maintenance

PRO TIP: Alocasias are prone to pests like spider mites. Check the undersides of the leaves regularly for webbing, and wiping them down frequently with soapy water will aid in prevention.

Always be sure to assess your plant’s watering needs upon receiving it. Before giving your plant a drink, it is best to check the moisture level in the soil first to ensure it isn’t moist right beneath the surface. Also, consider aerating the soil of your plant before the initial watering. The best way we have found to obtain an accurate moisture reading throughout the soil is with a soil probe, which allows you to check your plant's moisture level at the root level and can also be used to aerate the soil if ever overwatered. Our Monitor Brass Soil Probe is an elegant option.

Here's the thing about Alocasias: They like soil a little on the drier side, but require high humidity to prosper. Counter-intuitive, we know! For your plant's optimal comfort, we recommend placing a pebble tray or a humidifier beneath your Alocasia. For watering, allow the top 2-3" to dry between watering to ensure the plant isn't sitting in soil that is too wet. During the winter, Alocasias will go through a dormancy period and will require less frequent waterings as the soil will take longer to dry. Alocasias can be susceptible to root rot and fungal infections if their soil doesn't have proper drainage and becomes waterlogged, so we always advise potting these plants in a vessel with a drainage hole or in planter that maximizes air exchange to the roots like our Self-Watering Planters.

These plants grow best in a humid environment and humidity can also help combat some of the Alocasia's most common pest, spider mites. Placing a pebble tray nearby is a good way to increase the humidity around the plant consistently, and frequent misting is encouraged too. When misting, try not to get the leaves too wet as sitting water can damage the leaves and weigh the stems down. Keep the plant away from the dry air that is emitted by heaters and air conditioners.

Rotate your plant periodically to ensure even growth on all sides and dust the leaves often so the plant can photosynthesize efficiently. When dusting the leaves, also take the opportunity to inspect the undersides and keep an eye out for pests. Misting your plant can help keep the leaves clean and free from dust build-up.

Remember each plant is a unique living thing and may have varying needs, especially in their individual locations. Pay attention to the condition of your Alocasia and its watering needs and you will have a long and happy relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are my Alocasia leaves drooping?

  • Droopy leaves are often caused by over or under watering, pests, insufficient light, or insufficient nutrients in the soil. Firstly, consider your recent care and whether your watering schedule needs adjusting. The Alocasia likes its soil to be allowed to dry out slightly between waterings. Next, consider the light it receives in its location. Is it bright? Are the seasons changing? You may need to move it closer to the light source. If none of these seem to be the issue, it may've outgrown its pot. Alocasias can grow very quickly through the summer and like to have space, so consider increasing the size of the pot it's in and refreshing the soil.

Discoloration and drooping leaves on an Alocasia plantLEFT: An example of underwatering on a drooping leaf of the Alocasia Frydek. Note the leaf is yellowing and losing its structure. RIGHT: Brown spotting or holes in the leaves can signal that the plant isn't receiving enough water. The drooping foliage and dry soil are what confirms this Alocasia Polly needs more water. 

I think my Alocasia may have spider mites. What do I do?

  • As any Alocasia collector will tell you, Alocasias are extremely prone to spider mites, and dealing with spider mites is a routine part of parenting this unique plant. Firstly, isolate the plant from the rest of your collection. Rinse the leaves and the stems with soapy water, and follow this by wiping the plant with Neem oil. Lastly, increase the humidity around your Alocasia upon placing it back in its original spot. Spider mites thrive in dry conditions, so regular misting and a nearby pebble tray can help prevent the bugs from coming back. Find further details and instructions for spider mite treatment here

My Alocasia lost all its leaves! Should I throw it out?

  • There's still hope! Unlike many other low-light tropical plants, Alocasias are able to bounce back, even if they have lost all their leaves. This is due to the reserve energy they store in their thick tubers. If your Alocasia is looking worse for wear, we recommend placing it outdoors in a shaded area during the spring or summer. We've revived many a fallen Alocasia this way at the Greenery shade house and are happy to say they can come back with a vengeance!

Why are there spots on the leaves?

  • Alocasias can be sensitive to salts, minerals, and chlorine in tap water, which causes spotting. Let the water sit for 24 hours in a bucket or your watering can before giving it to the plant. This will allow for some of the unwanted materials to evaporate. Alternately, use distilled water.

How often should I fertilize my plant?

  • In general, house plants will thrive when they are fertilized spring through fall. Fertilize once a month with an organic houseplant fertilizer, following the package instructions for dilution and administration. Greenery Unlimited uses an organic potting mix with a slow release fertilizer in the soil so your plant will not need fertilizer within the first 6 months of receiving it, but may benefit from small doses.

How often does my plant need to be repotted?

  • For smaller desktop plants, we suggest repotting once every 12-18 months. Typically you want to choose a potting vessel 1”- 2” larger in diameter to allow for growth. Don’t choose a pot much larger than the previous as this could drown the plant's roots. If you prefer to maintain the current size of your plant, repot into the same vessel, providing new soil and trimming away some roots and foliage. Spring or summer is the ideal time to repot as the plant is at its strongest.
  • For larger floor plants, we suggest repotting every 18-24 months. Typically you want to choose a potting vessel 2”- 4” larger in diameter to allow for growth. Don’t choose a pot much larger than the previous as this could drown the plant's roots. If you prefer to maintain the current size of your plant, repot into the same vessel, providing new soil and trimming away some roots and foliage. Spring or summer is the ideal time to repot as the plant is at its strongest.

Standard Planter Instructions

All of our Standard Planters include a removable drainage plug to give our customers the option of drainage. While no drainage is sometimes preferred for its aesthetic simplicity, we don't recommend this option for beginners as watering mistakes can be hard to rectify.

Whether you choose to use drainage or not, we always recommend using a layer of drainage (such as our Aeration Stones) at the base of the planter. A drainage layer allows the plant's roots access to oxygen in the pockets between the drainage medium, and a lack of drainage can cause anaerobic damage to your plant.

If you decide to utilize the drainage hole for your pot, make sure to include a Plant Saucer beneath your pot to collect excess water. For most plants in standard planters, we recommend watering about once a week. Water the soil mass until water begins pooling in your Plant Saucer.

With no drainage hole, you will need to be more precise in your watering. While we would love to give you a specific measurement of water to provide for your plant, the reality is that a plant's water requirements vary wildly depending on factors such as light exposure and the overall health of the plant. You will need to learn to tell when the plant is thirsty based on how its foliage looks. Droopy foliage is usually the first sign: when your plant looks a little slumped over that's usually a visual indicator that it's thirsty.

The best solution for checking your plant's moisture level, drainage hole of not, is to use a Soil Probe to determine the moisture content of the soil at the bottom of the planter.

Self Watering Planter Instructions

The Self-Watering Planters require a deep and thorough watering of the topsoil after they are first planted. This is important because the roots of the plants first need to grow into the reservoir in order to drink from it. Water your plant from the top for two to four weeks before using the reservoir. During the dormant seasons, or for plants that have slower growing habits, consider top watering for longer.

TEST: After the initial top water period, fill the bottom water reservoir. If the water in the reservoir is absorbed into the planter, it means the plant is ready for regular reservoir servicing. If not, be sure to continue top watering for a few more weeks until the plant has started drinking from the reservoir.

RESERVOIR SERVICING: Once the reservoir empties on its own, do not refill the reservoir right away. Similar to how humans need a breath of air between gulps of water, most plants require a drying out period. Allow for the reservoir to empty all the way between watering. All plants are different in their needs so the amount of time the reservoir sits empty will need to be determined, but know that for most plants this period is between 1-3 days. 

From here on out, you should rarely topwater the plant while using the reservoir system. Watering from below allows the plant to drink at its own pace, and can help combat certain issues like fungus gnats by allowing the top layer of soil to dry out more. Please note that if your plant's soil dries out too much, it can impair the wicking ability of the Aeration Stones in your planter. If your soil becomes too dry, we recommend giving it a thorough watering.

For more information on our Self Watering Planters include planting instructions, visit our blog post on How to Use Our Self-Watering Pots.

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