How to Grow Alocasia Houseplants

Alocasia plant
Jeremy Samuelson / Getty Images

There are many things you might call the Alocasia genus— stunning, architectural, jewel-like—and all of them are appropriate. Sometimes called elephant ears (a term that is also applied to Colocasia, Xanthosoma, and even Monstera), these are very tropical collector’s plants that have a passionate following. Although there is some variation among the different species and hybrids, these general rules apply to most Alocasia species.

Growing Conditions:

Light: Varies from shade to full sunlight. Ask the grower if the plant is sun-trained. Leaf color tends to be better among plants with more light.
Water: Keep moist all year, with very high humidity. They are water-loving plants.
Temperature: Will start to suffer below 60ºF. Some will die back during colder weather and resprout from the rhizome.
Soil: Loose, well-drained potting mix.
Fertilizer: Can be heavy feeders, especially large specimens. Feed with liquid fertilizer during growing season, or frequent, small applications of granule fertilizer.

Propagation

Most Alocasia can be propagated by clump or rhizome division. Cut off a piece of the underground rhizome and pot up separately, then keep warm and moist until growth begins.

Repotting

Repot annually into larger pots with fresh, free-draining potting soil. Divide the rhizome annually to keep the plant a manageable size and increase your collection.

Varieties

There are about 70 species of Alocasia, as well as dozens of hybrids. Alocasia are primarily hybridized for their leaf form, color and size. For pictures of Alocasia examples, see the Alocasia Image Gallery.

Grower's Tips

Alocasia range in size from the jewel Amazon lily (A. Amazonica) to the truly enormous A.

macrorrhiza. Additionally, the plant has been extensively hybridized. Most Alocasia will do okay in shade, but they often appreciate slightly brighter, filtered sunlight. The bigger ones can be trained to handle full tropical sun. Keep all species warm, moist and humid. Trim away failing leaves. Like all aroids, the Alocasia flower with a typical spathe and spadix, but the flower is usually unremarkable and can even be slightly vulgar.