Alocasia, also known as African mask plant or Kris plant, is known for its large, heart-shaped leaves with attractive contrasting veins. These bold tropicals can add a striking, jungle-like vibe to your space. And you know us, we're always looking to add that feel to our homes.
While alocasia may look similar to their cousins colocasia, or elephant ear plant, colocasia have edible roots and are typically grown outdoors. However, alocasia are inedible and are more often grown in containers as indoor plants.
There are many striking varieties of alocasia with a wide range of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Look for houseplant-specific or compact varieties which won’t grow too large to be used as an indoor plant; these types typically don’t grow more than two or three feet high or wide.
Alocasia x Amazonica, also known as Alocasia ‘Polly,’ features shiny, deep green leaves with angular edges and contrasting white veining. Another compact variety, ‘Silver Dragon,’ has silvery, pale green leaves with dark green veining that shows red on the underside. Alocasia regulina ‘Black Velvet’ is a small-sized variety that has soft, velvety round leaves colored almost black with contrasting white veining.
Best Growing Conditions for Alocasia
Plant your alocasia in a container with a loose, well-drained soil. You can also use a potting mix made of two parts African violet mix or a blend of equal parts coarse sand or perlite, peat, and potting soil.
Alocasia plants grow best with lots of bright, indirect light. A window that doesn’t get harsh direct sun, like a north-facing or east-facing window, can be a great spot for this plant to thrive.
If you do have an outdoor space, such as a yard, deck, balcony, or fire escape that’s not in direct sun, your alocasia will benefit from living outdoors in the warm summer months.
Display your alocasia where temperatures don’t drop below 60 degrees at night. As alocasia is toxic to people and pets, choose a spot that’s out of reach of children, dogs, and cats.
How to Care for Your Alocasia Plant
Since alocasia are tropical jungle plants, they need consistent soil moisture. Keep the soil evenly moist, but avoid allowing it to dry out completely or become waterlogged. Your plant may need a little less water when growth slows in the winter, so keep an eye on the soil during the spring and fall transitions.
Alocasia plants benefit from high humidity. Place your plant on top of a tray of pebbles with just enough water so that pebbles will elevate the bottom of the pot above the water line; this will add humidity to the air around your plant as the water evaporates.
You can also group your humidity-loving tropical houseplants together, which can help to create a more humid microclimate in your space. Consider running a humidifier near them to create the best conditions.
Alocasia can also do well on a windowsill in your bathroom, where they’ll get good light, and steam from the shower will add moisture to the air.
Feed your alocasia with half-strength liquid houseplant fertilizer three or four times per year. Plant to repot your alocasia every couple of years or when it becomes root-bound (signs include roots growing out of the bottom of the pot and soil that drains too quickly because it is too bound up in the roots to absorb water). Be sure to cut back any shriveled or rotten roots before planting with fresh soil in a slightly larger container.
Your alocasia may bloom, but its flowers aren’t particularly showy, with the tiny blooms growing on a buff-colored spadix surrounded by a pale green or white spathe.
How to Propagate Your Alocasia Plant
Like many of their cousins in the aroid family such as philodendrons, pothos, monstera, and ZZ plants, alocasia are easy to propagate via cuttings or division. The best time to divide your alocasia is in spring or early summer at the start of the growing season.
Step 1: Carefully remove the mother plant from its pot and use your fingers to loosen and remove soil from the roots.
Step 2: Gently pull apart the the root ball into clumps, making sure that each clump includes at least a couple of potato-like tubers among the roots. Use a clean, sharp blade or pruners to separate the roots if needed. Each clump will grow a new plant.
Step 3: Plant your divisions in appropriately sized containers with well-drained potting mix, then water the new plants. You can also place small divisions in water to allow new roots to grow before planting in soil. Keep divisions in a space free from drafts or temperature fluctuations while their root systems reestablish, then care for them as usual.