Propagating Alocasia Polly

Alocasia polly dwarf  "African Mask"
Alocasia polly dwarf "African Mask" | Source

Alocasia Overview

Alocasia is a genus of broad-leaved tuberous perennials from the family Araceae. The specific alocasia covered in this propagation guide is actually alocasia amazonica dwarf, which is a hybrid and grows great as a houseplant. It has a few common names such as elephant ear plant and African mask alocasia. It is often confused with the colocasia species. Both species are within the same family, but have different requirements.

The best propagation method of alocasia is via division. Dividing alocasia into smaller portions can be done due to the clumping or rhizomatous (spreading via underground stems) nature of the root structure. Accomplishing division is relatively simple and will turn a crowded alocasia into two or more new plants.

Care and soil type will determine how successful the newly planted divisions will be. Proper watering is very important also, since newly divided alocasia is susceptible to disease and root rot.

Divided alocasia
Divided alocasia | Source

Dividing Alocasia

Dividing alocasia is simple and only requires a few minutes, a container for the division(s), and some soil.

  1. Remove the soon-to-be divided alocasia from its container.
  2. Use a garden hose to loosen up the soil that is around the roots and corms (bulb-like structures). Soaking the root mass in a bucket of water works well also.
  3. Find a clump with a few corms and gently pull apart the mass. Use scissors to separate the roots and corms if the mass is too dense to pull apart.
  4. Pot the mother plant and the newly divided sections.
  5. Water after potting. Do not expose to very warm or cool conditions until the roots become established again.

Root-bound alocasia with several corms.
Root-bound alocasia with several corms. | Source
Perlite, peat, and sphagnum moss can be used to amend soil.
Perlite, peat, and sphagnum moss can be used to amend soil. | Source

Soil for Alocasia

Alocasia prefer well-drained soil that is kept relatively moist, but not saturated and waterlogged. Loamy soil mixed with perlite provides sufficient nutrients and drainage. Sandy soils may drain too quickly and retain very little water, and clayey soils may retain too much water. Clayey soils also make it difficult for roots to spread out. Sandy and clayey soils can be amended with compost and other organic matter to help facilitate proper drainage while adding nutrients. Nutrient deficient soils will need a little fertilizer every so often if not regularly amended with organic matter.

A balanced water-soluble fertilizer that is between 10-10-10 and 20-20-20 should be added 3 to 4 times a year. Cut the amount of fertilizer on the label in half per application just to be safe. Excessive fertilizer will damage and kill plants with no possibility of reversing the effects.

Water once or twice a week if indoors
Water once or twice a week if indoors | Source

Watering Alocasia

Keeping alocasia moist is essential. Water alocasia one or twice a week if kept as a houseplant, but adjust as needed to prevent water-logging or completely drying out the soil. Saturated soil promotes root rot and disease which may kill the plant if left unattended. It is better for the soil to be slightly dry than too wet.

The summer months require much more watering compared to winter months when growth is slow. Alocasia planted outside will need even more watering, especially during the summer months. There are many species and hybrids of alocasia, so requirements and resistances may differ.

Regularly misting the leaves will help keep the humidity and moisture levels high.

Light and Temperature Requirements for Alocasia

Light Requirement
Alocasia prefer medium to high sunlight. Filtered, partially shaded sunlight is preferred since direct sunlight may burn the leaves. A window that receives light during most of the day will suffice. Very shady areas will not provide enough light. Select a partially to moderately shaded area if planting outside. Only attempt to grow alocasia outside if the climate is warm year around.

Temperature Requirement
The ideal temperature for alocasia is around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Alocasia can tolerate temperatures as low as 60 degrees and as high as 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold temperatures and freezing will kill alocasia. Only plant outside if the climate is warm year around.

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