Of all of the Alocasia hybrids, Alocasia maharani or 'Grey dragon' is one of the most unique. Known for its grey-green highly textured foliage, the maharani is a jewel Alocasia native to the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. A popular houseplant, it is easier to grow than some of its finicky relatives. Because of its easy care and eye-catching appearance, this rare Alocasia can be difficult to find but well worth the effort. Pet owners should be aware that Alocasia maharani is considered toxic to cats and dogs.
What is a Jewel Alocasia?
|Botanical Name||Alocasia maharani|
|Common Name||Alocasia grey dragon, African mask maharani|
|Plant Type||Perennial, corm|
|Mature Size||14 in. tall (indoors)|
|Soil Type||Moist but well-draining|
|Bloom Time||Spring, summer|
|Flower Color||Green, white|
|Hardiness Zones||10, USDA|
|Toxicity||Toxic to pets|
Alocasia Maharani Care
When it comes to Alocasias, caring for the maharani is not much different than caring for other varieties of the houseplant. Some growers find the maharani easier to care for than other varieties like the Alocasia dragon scale. All Alocasias are known for being slightly picky about their growing environments and are not the hardiest houseplants on the block. The most important thing to remember when it comes to their care is that they need consistent moisture to survive indoors. This is not a houseplant that you can forget to water for a couple of weeks at a time!
Also keep in mind that while the Alocasia maharani is a flowering plant, its flowers are generally not as prized as its magnificent foliage and it is not uncommon for them not to flower when grown indoors. So don’t panic if you aren’t seeing any flowers. Some growers even choose to cut the flowers off of the plant when they do bloom to redirect that energy back into producing foliage.
The maharani does best in several hours of bright, indirect light when grown indoors. Avoid direct sunlight where possible, especially the harsh afternoon rays, as they will easily burn the delicate leaves of this tropical plant.
To help prevent overwatering and root rot, this Alocasia needs an airy, rich, and well-draining soil mix. A mixture of potting soil, perlite, and orchid bark is ideal for these plants.
The soil should stay consistently moist, but not wet between waterings. This means that during the spring and summer when the plant is actively growing and temperatures are warmer you will likely need to water it once or twice a week. In the fall and winter, you can cut back on watering as the plant requires less moisture.
Temperature and Humidity
This Alocasia is native to Southeast Asia where it is accustomed to warm, humid conditions. Although many houses tend to be on the drier side, the Alocasia maharani grows well in average household temperature and humidity levels. However, it will thrive if provided with some added humidity. Try placing a small humidifier close to the plant or growing it in a naturally humid room like a kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room. If moving your maharani outdoors, ensure that it is not exposed to temperatures below 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) when possible.
To encourage vigorous growth it is best to fertilize this Alocasia regularly during the active growing season. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength once a month during the spring and summer.
Propagating Alocasia Maharani
The Alocasia maharani can be propagated by dividing and growing its corms. Propagating by corms is not quite as easy as propagating other houseplants, like pothos, from stem cuttings. With a bit of patience and care, corm propagation is possible.
Corms can be separated from the mother plant at various stages—from a single corm to a more established little plant. These steps explain how to grow a corm from a single bulb without soil. However, if you have separated a corm with established growth skip to step three.
- Separate the corm(s) from the mother plant by unpotting the plant and gently digging around in the soil. Some corms may still be attached to the mother plant by a root which you can cut off at the base of the corm. Others may already be separated and come out easily.
- Peel the brown outer layer away from the corm to expose the light green center.
- Prepare a small container with moistened sphagnum moss. Place the corm in the moss with the pointed side down and the top sitting above the moss. Cover the container with a small clear plastic bag to create a humid greenhouse-like environment.
- Place the container in a location that receives bright, indirect light. Keep the sphagnum moss evenly moist (but not soaking) at all times.
- After a few weeks, you should begin to notice some growth starting—either from the top of the corm or from the bottom where roots will begin to grow. Continue to nurture the small plant in the moss until it has a strong root system and a few established leaves, at which point it can be transplanted into soil.
- Prepare a small pot with a well-draining potting mixture and plant the small Alocasia in the mixture, watering well after planting. Return the pot to the same location with bright, indirect light.
- Keep the soil evenly moist and enjoy your new Alocasia maharani.
Potting and Repotting Alocasia Maharani
There is no need to repot this Alocasia frequently, it does well in the same container for a couple of years, or until its roots have outgrown the space. Once you notice roots growing out of the pot’s drainage holes it is time to move it to a larger pot. Wait until spring or summer to repot when the plant is in its active growing period to help prevent shocking the plant.
Choose a new pot for your Alocasia that is one to two inches larger than the previous container. Moving it into a pot that is too large can lead to accidental overwatering so it is best to go up in size slowly. Then, remove the plant from its container and gently brush away excess soil from around the plant’s roots—being careful not to break any. Add fresh soil into the new pot and then add your plant, patting the soil down firmly around the roots. Water well after repotting and return it to the same location where it was thriving.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Alocasia maharani is not susceptible to any particular pests but keep an eye out for signs of spider mites, fungus gnats, mealy bugs, and thrips which are all common houseplant pests. This Alocasia is susceptible to root rot which can occur as a result of wet soil conditions. Prevent root rot by ensuring that the plant’s pot has drainage holes and by using a well-draining soil mix to help wick water away from the plant’s roots.
Common Problems With Alocasia Maharani
While the Alocasia maharani can be grown quite successfully indoors it can be finicky if it is not receiving the right care. Keep an eye out for the following common problems.
Overwatering is the most common cause of yellow leaves on an Alocasia maharani and it can also be an indication of root rot. Ensure the soil remains moist but not soggy and that the pot has adequate drainage to prevent waterlogging. If you notice yellow leaves on your Alocasia, check the roots for signs of root rot.
If your Alocasia is developing brown leaves, it is likely because the plant needs more humidity. Remember that these jewel Alocasias grow naturally in humid rainforest conditions and appreciate high humidity when possible.
Under ideal conditions, this Alocasia has compact growth with short stems and medium-sized leaves. Leggy growth, or elongated stems, is an indication that your Alocasia maharani is not receiving enough light. Usually, you will notice that the stems are elongating towards the nearest light source. Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse leggy growth, but you can prevent it. Provide your plant with several hours of bright, indirect light every day, and rotate your plant regularly to prevent lopsided growth.
How big can an Alocasia maharani get?
Compared to some other plants in the Alocasia genus the maharani is known for being a small and compact plant. At maturity, it usually tops out at about 14 inches tall.
Is the Alocasia maharani rare?
This Alocasia is considered rare and hard to come by, although not as rare as other Alocasias like the Alocasia dragon scale or Alocasia silver dragon. While local nurseries may not carry it, check online or with specialty plant shops.
Can you propagate the Alocasia maharani from a leaf?
No, Alocasias (including the Alocasia maharani) cannot be propagated by leaf or stem cuttings and can only be propagated from dividing and growing corms.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “Alocasia.” Aspca.org. N.p., n.d. Web