There are many different types of Alocasia - which we will be featuring during this update, but the one we refer to here best suits the common name for all Alocasias - "Elephant's Ear Plants" Superb, oversized, dark green leaves bearing white, or even reddish, veins. Sometimes referred as 'Upright' Elephant Ears because of the long stems that support the giant leaves. These stems can send the leaves 2m tall where they droop spectacularly - as do real Elephant's Ears!
The individual leaves can grow to a length of 3 feet+ (1.2m max) so very deserving of the common name.
Image of Alocasia Spp.- Elephant's Ears - Growing in natural habitat Indonesia.
Alocasia macrorrhyza is also known as the Giant Taro. It is widely grown in in SE Asia and other parts for its rhizomes and shoots. These parts are edible once cooked, but can cause stomach upset if any part of the plant is eaten un-cooked. Taro normally boiled or baked, before being used in sweet dishes and assorted goodies!
Contact with cut areas and sap may cause skin irritation. All parts of this plant will cause sever stomach upset if eaten.
Its needs: Draught-free, moderate light, but no direct sun. Good potting compost, open and well-drained - Addition of chipped bark or similar will help achieve this. Essentially. all of the Alocasia group need very high humidity - particularly in the growing season - so not at all easy to grow as a house plant.
It can however, be grown quite successfully under glass where good temperature and high humidity can be maintained.
As tempting as they look and are often wrongly described, Alocasia is not the ideal indoor plant - other then for a short time.
Care: This plant should be well-watered with a
feeding of high nitrogen
fertilizer to promote leaf-growth. Warmth and high humidity essential.
Good for: A feature plant, an ‘architectural specimen’, good in a draught-free quiet area. There are even larger plants of this type, including: Alocasia gigantean .
Additional plants may be gained by removing side shoots offsets and re-potting. Alternatively, in the dormant period, the rhizomes can be carefully divided or cut up with a sharp knife.
High humidity which is necessary will be hard if not impossible to maintain in the normal household.
When grown under glass, the main pest will be mealybug, though brown scale insect may also be a problem. The other main houseplant pest being red spider mite, but will not be a problem thanks to the high humidity needed for cultivation.