Alocasia Amazonica: How to Care for Alocasia Elephant Ear Plant (African Mask)

Alocasia Amazonica: Caring for Alocasia Elephant Ear Plant (African Mask)

The Alocasia Elephant Ear plant (Alocasia amazonica) is a stunning ornamental houseplant with large arrow-shaped leaves, pronounced white veins, and wavy edges. Also called the African mask plant, the Alocasia amazonica is a tropical flowering plant that thrives indoors. The large impressive glossy dark green leaves make a bold statement growing in medium-bright rooms or partial shade.

Alocasia elephant ear plants are renowned for their sizeable leafy foliage. This hybrid tropical plant is a larger version of the compact Alocasia amazonica ‘Polly.’ As an indoor plant, the Alocasia African mask has the same features as the smaller cultivar.

This article is a complete care guide for growing the Alocasia elephant ear plant indoors. At the end of the article, you’ll find helpful tips on resolving care issues with Alocasia amazonica plants.

How to Care for Alocasia Amazonica (Elephant Ear Plant)

To care for Alocasia elephant ear plants, grow the potted houseplants in bright indirect light. Water African mask plants when the top layer of soil is dry. Alocasia amazonica thrives in temperatures between 65°F and 80°F (18°C – 26°C) and moderate humidity. Fertilize every two weeks during the growing season.

Alocasia Elephant Ear Plant Facts

Alocasia Amazonica

Alocasia amazonica is also called ‘elephant ear plant’ and ‘African mask’ plant

The Alocasia elephant ear plant is a perennial hybrid tropical plant in the family Araceae. The plant’s native habitat is tropical and subtropical regions where the large-leafed plants grow on tropical forest floors. The large triangular-shaped leaves can be as tall as the plant.

Despite having the botanical name Alocasia amazonica, the stunning plant doesn’t originate in South America. Alocasia plants grow in the wild in the jungles of Southeast Asia. It’s thought that the Alocasia amazonica hybrid cultivar was developed in a Miami nursery. Its common names such as ‘elephant ears’ and ‘African mask’ plant refer to the unusually-shaped large green leaves.

Alocasia amazonica is a fast-growing plant that grows indoors up to 2 ft. (0.6 m) tall. Its evergreen arrow leaves can also grow as long as 2 ft. (60 cm). The leaves are shiny and green with conspicuous creamy white veins, and its arrowhead foliage sometimes turns purplish-green color.

Alocasia elephant ear plants grow outside in USDA zones 10 through 12. The rhizomes or tuberous roots aren’t cold-hardy, and the plant won’t survive outdoors in temperate climates. You can easily grow African mask plants indoors in bright conditions and above-average humidity.

Related reading: Cool and unusual houseplants.

Alocasia Elephant Ear Plant (Alocasia Amazonica) Flowers

The African mask plant (Alocasia amazonica) is a flowering plant species that blooms in tropical environments. Like all types of aroids, Alocasia plants produce white spathe-like flowers, similar to peace lily flowers. These Alocasia flowers have a flowering spadix surrounded by a colorful leaf.

Alocasia elephant ear plants only flower in ideal growing conditions. Therefore, they rarely—if ever—bloom indoors. But don’t worry, the small insignificant flowers are no match for the stunning broad-leaved foliage.

Alocasia Amazonica (Elephant Ear Plant) Care Guide 

The Alocasia elephant ear plant grows well indoors if you give it proper care. The three most crucial care factors for Alocasia plants to thrive are adequate light, plenty of humidity, and adequate watering. It’s also vital to avoid overwatering the plant so that its rhizome roots don’t rot in damp soil.

Let’s look in more detail at how to care for Alocasia African mask plants indoors.

Alocasia African Mask Light Requirements 

The Alocasia elephant ear plant grows best in bright light, protected from direct sunlight. Plenty of light keeps the foliage dark green and prominent veins white. The best location for African mask plants is near an east- or west-facing window. Alocasia elephant ear plants don’t grow well in low light.

Alocasia plants grow in dappled sunlight in tropical forests. Although the leathery leaves seem robust, intense sunlight can damage the foliage. Too much sunshine can cause the leaves to become pale and lose their color.

Alocasia elephant ear plants are not plants that survive for a long time in the shade. Growing in dark conditions can also cause the leaves to fade and eventually die. If you notice that the leaves are drooping and yellowing, move the plant to a brighter location.

The Best Soil for Elephant Ear Plant (Alocasia Amazonica)

The African mask plant grows best in loose, porous soil that has excellent drainage. Mix one part peat moss, one part potting soil, and one part perlite for an Alocasia potting mix. This houseplant soil recipe is a fast-draining soil mix that holds just enough moisture without risking root rot.

When caring for an Alocasia elephant ear plant, avoid dense potting soil. Amending the soil with peat moss provides essential nutrients and loosens the medium. Also, perlite is an ideal addition to houseplant soil to aerate the mix and increase drainage.

Soil should be porous enough to dry out partially between waterings. Soil with fast drainage is the best way to prevent roots from decaying. Here are some reasons why Alocasia potting soil isn’t draining well:

  • The Alocasia amazonica could be rootbound, and water can’t drain freely.
  • The potting soil could become compacted, and water starts pooling on the soil’s surface.
  • There is too much clay in the soil, and you should amend it with peat moss and perlite.

How to Water Alocasia Elephant Ear Plant

Water your Alocasia elephant ear plant as often as the top layer of soil dries. In summer, you may have to water the Alocasia plant as often as once a week. In winter, every two to three weeks is usually enough to water the plant.

Generally, only water the African mask plant when the top 1” (2.5 cm) of soil is dry. All you need to do is poke your finger in the soil. If the top layer is bone dry, it’s time to water the plant. If there is still some moisture, wait for a few days before checking again.

Water just enough to keep the Alocasia soil moist, but not wet or saturated. The best watering technique for this plant is little and often. Most houseplants thrive when you drench the soil between watering. However, with Alocasia plants, that could risk causing root rot. So, provide enough water to reach to the roots and only water when the soil partially dries. During winter, it’s acceptable to let the soil almost completely dry before watering it.

Although Alocasia amazonica species isn’t a drought-tolerant plant, it can survive bouts of dryness.

Temperature Requirements for Growing Alocasia Amazonica at Home 

The Alocasia elephant ear plant thrives in average room temperatures. Keep the indoor temperature even between 65°F and 80°F (18°C – 26°C) and try to avoid sudden temperature fluctuations. Generally, if you feel comfortable—not too hot or too cold—the Alocasia should grow well.

Temperatures below 55°F (12°C) causes growth to slow and become dormant. Cold temperatures can result in leaf drop. However, the Alocasia plant should start regrowing when it warms up.

The best way to care for the Alocasia elephant ear plant is to avoid temperature extremes. In summer, keep the Alocasia pot out of cold airflow from AC units or drafts from doors or windows. In winter, avoid placing the plant pot near hot air vents or radiators.

Humidity Requirements for Alocasia African Mask Plant Indoors

Alocasia Amazonica needs at least 50 percent humidity to grow well indoors. Increase room humidity by misting the leaves regularly, putting the pot on a pebble and water tray, or using a room humidifier. Plenty of air moisture prevents the leaves from developing crispy brown patches.

Here are some ways to humidify Alocasia elephant ear plants:

Mist the leaves—Fill a spray bottle with filtered tap water. Finely mist the leaves every other day but avoid getting them too wet.

Group houseplants—Grow houseplants together to create a humid atmosphere to encourage fast growth.

Pebble tray—Put a layer of decorative stones on a tray and half-fill with water. Place the Alocasia pot on the pebbles so that evaporating moisture humidifies the African mask plant.

Room humidifier—Boost humidity levels by using a humidifier to have at least 50 percent humidity.

Fertilizer for Alocasia Elephant Ear Plant

The Alocasia elephant ear plant benefits from fertilizing twice a month during the growing season. Plants in the Alocasia genus tend to be heavy feeders. Use a diluted balanced fertilizer for houseplants to provide additional nutrients. Only apply fertilizer every two weeks from spring until the end of August.

It’s good to remember that mineral salts can build up in potting mixes. So, it’s a good idea to flush the soil every two to three months. All you need to do is run warm water through the soil for a couple of minutes to remove excess nutrients.

Pruning Alocasia Amazonica Houseplants

The Alocasia elephant ear plant has few pruning requirements. Typically, the only reason to prune Alocasia foliage is to remove damaged, decaying, or dead leaves. The plant stems grow directly from tuberous roots. To prune Alocasia plants, snip off the leaf stems near the soil line.

Repotting Alocasia Elephant Ear Plants

The Alocasia elephant ear plant is a fast grower and needs repotting every spring. Repotting Alocasia plants in a larger pot allows roots more room to grow. You can also check the plant’s roots for signs of decay and, at the same time, refresh the potting soil.

Here are some handy tips when repotting Alocasia elephant ear plants:

  • Choose a new pot that is one or two sizes larger than the current one.
  • Always grow the plant in a new pot at the same height as the previous one.
  • Trim off brown or mushy roots.
  • Always use the appropriate fresh potting soil to encourage healthy growth and reduce the risk of disease.
  • Use the repotting process to divide the rhizome roots and propagate the plant.

How to Propagate Alocasia Amazonica 

Propagate the Alocasia elephant ear plant by dividing the roots. The tuberous roots grow small offsets that are easy to separate from the ‘mother’ plant. You can plant these ‘babies’ directly into fresh soil to grow new plants.

To propagate African mask plants, gently remove the root ball from the container. Clean excess dirt from the rhizome. Look for small offsets and gently ease them away from the main root. Plant the original plant and the smaller propagated plants in individual pots with fresh, moist potting soil.

Is Alocasia Amazonica (Elephant Ear Plant) Toxic?

The Alocasia elephant ear plant is poisonous to cats, dogs, and other animals. The ASPCA says that Alocasia plant species contain insoluble calcium oxalates. Ingesting parts of the plant can cause oral irritation, swelling, excessive drooling, and vomiting.

Pests Affecting Alocasia Amazonica Growth

Red spider mites and common spider mites can infest Alocasia elephant ear plants. Get rid of mites by using a neem oil solution. Add 2 tsp. neem oil and 1 tsp. liquid Castile soap to a spray bottle containing one quart (1 l) of lukewarm water. Shake well and thoroughly douse the plant’s foliage with the natural pesticide.

To care for Alocasia elephant ear plants properly, it’s vital to know how to spot the signs of houseplant pests. Spider mites are identified by thin silky strands dangling from leaves. Or you may notice webbing on leaves or stems if you’ve got a more extensive spider mite infestation.

Related reading: The complete guide to using neem oil on plants.

Diseases Affecting Alocasia Amazonica Growth

The most common disease affecting the Alocasia elephant ear plant is root rot. Roots start to decay when the tubers sit in wet, soggy soil. In time, the damp soil develops fungal diseases that eventually kill the roots and the plant. The best way to avoid root rot is to water your tropical plants correctly.

Usually, by the time signs of root rot appear on the plant’s stems and foliage, root damage is extensive. Usually, stems near the base of the plant turn black and mushy. Root rot is one of the reasons why African mask plant leaves turn yellow.

The best way to revive an Alocasia plant suffering from root rot is to repot it in a fresh potting mix. Remove or cut off any part of the root that has signs of decay. In severe cases, it may not be possible to save Alocasia plants that have rotting roots.

Alocasia Amazonica (Elephant Ear Plant) Care — FAQ

Alocasia elephant ear plant doesn’t need a lot of care. Usually, with some extra humidity, bright light, and average room temperatures, the African mask plant thrives indoors. However, a few issues can cause the foliage to droop and lose its color.

Do Alocasia elephant ear plants die in winter?

Alocasia plant species become dormant in winter and stop growing. Cold weather and dry soil cause the leaves to die back. However, if you only water the plant occasionally so that the potting soil is slightly moist, it should start to regrow in spring.

How do I care for Alocasia elephant ear plants in winter?

During the winter dormancy period, it’s vital to avoid overwatering the Alocasia plants. Colder conditions and damp soil can cause fungal root infections. Also, you shouldn’t leave a potted Alocasia elephant ear plant outdoors during winter if you live in USDA zones 9 and below.

Why are my Alocasia amazonica leaves yellowing?

Watering issues are usually the reason for African mask plants getting yellow leaves. Overly dry soil or a wet potting mix prevents nutrients from reaching the leaves. Gradually, the leaves will lose their shiny dark green color.

Why are my Alocasia amazonica leaves turning brown?

Alocasia elephant ear plants develop brown tips or spots if they lack humidity. To prevent more brown, crispy patches on leaves, increase humidity by misting the arrowhead leaves daily. You can trim off the brown tips to improve the plant’s appearance.

Why are my Alocasia African mask plant leaves drooping?

Several care issues cause Alocasia foliage to wilt and droop. The most common reasons are parched soil, overly damp soil, insufficient light, a pest infestation, or a lack of nutrients. To help bring your plant back to life, you need to work out what is causing poor growth.

For example, dry soil, brown tips, and drooping growth could indicate that the Alocasia plant needs watering and more humidity. If the potting soil is damp and the plant is in the shade, moving it to a brighter location could revitalize its growth.

How do you revive an Alocasia plant?

To bring an Alocasia elephant ear plant back to life, resolve the underlying issue. If the soil is overly dry, drench the plant’s roots and water as often as half of the potting mix dries. In cases of root rot and waterlogged soil, you may need to repot the Alocasia plant. However, if the roots have extensive decay, you may need to cut your losses and dispose of the dying plant.

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