Hailing from the exotic rainforests of tropical Asia, the Alocasia Amazonica or the ‘Elephant Ear’ plant is one of the most commonly used indoor plants. It is so popular because it allows people to bring a touch of tropical rainforest to your home.
The plant is a hybrid and is evergreen, so it can be cared for all year; its dark green leaves and wavy edges make it stand out from a host of other plants that claim to be similar, and its thick white ribs create a stunning contrast too. Like any tropical plant, however, it does need humidity, water, and heat, and it can be a challenge to take care of.
But fear not, for we have a quick and straightforward guide for how to take care of the elephant ear best, as well as some essential tips and tricks that will make caring for it a whole lot easier.
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Important Things to Know
- The plant itself is said to be over 500 years old
- They have become hugely popular with interior designers and landscapers because of their unique look and colour contrast.
- You can grow an Alocasia Amazonica as an aquatic plant.
- You can cook the leaves of the plant and they do have uses in the culinary industry; however, the raw leaves themselves can be irritants to the mouths and lips of humans and are toxic to cats and dogs.
- In Asia, the leaves have medicinal uses too, helping to prevent swelling and easing the pain of insect bites.
- The preferred temperature for the plant is said to be 18-25 degrees Celsius.
- Direct sunlight is very bad for the elephants ear plant. In fact, the plant is said to survive and grow best in 60-70% shade.
- Leaves can grow to be 30-40cm long.
- The plant require a lot of work, especially in the summer when they should be fed and watered regularly.
Caring for and Growing an Elephants Ear Plant
The Alocasia Amazonica is often not easy to care for because it tends to need similar conditions to its natural environment. This means that caring for the plant will require a little effort. It will need warmth, humidity and no wind, and enough light without direct sunlight.
Basically what it needs is either a greenhouse, or a carefully constructed indoor setup. The plant itself is evergreen, but only when kept indoors when it is not in its original climate. This means that caring for the plant in summer and winter are very different. It may sound a little daunting, but we have an organized guide that we think will help make caring for the plant easier:
The first thing that the Alocasia Amazonica needs is light. You should avoid direct sunlight but be sure to keep your plant in a well-lit room with plenty of indirect sunlight throughout. 60% shade is a good idea for the plant as it gives it time to absorb its food and grow properly. The reason behind using indirect sunlight as opposed to direct sunlight, is that the leaves, although beautiful and often large, can be quite delicate and can bleach or scorch easily.
All plants like and react well to water; however, you will need to be careful not to overwater it or get the leaves too wet with the alocasia. Look to water it in the morning and try to keep the watering close to the root. A crucial point to note is that you should let the pant rest in winter. This means not watering it at all in the winter months. Keep an eye on the soil, it should be dry but if it goes too dry then maybe add a little water because you don’t want the plant going dormant.
As with any plant, you want to make sure that you have the best soil type. For the alocasia, you will want a well-aerated soil so that the plant has more breathing room. You will want to keep the soil light too so that it is not too heavy and damages the roots, harming the plant’s growth.
When it is growing, the elephant’s ear needs to eat a lot. This causes for the grower to have a lot of well balanced and diluted fertilizer. From March onwards, look to feed the plant every 10-14 days until the end of summer. This means that you should not feed the plant from around early September until late February and should let the soil dry a little. Sometimes the leaves on the plant will go yellow. If this happens, try placing Epsom salts around the soil once every 4-6 weeks.
This is a crucial element when looking to care for your Amazonian elephant plant. If the plant is exposed to temperatures that are too warm or direct, its leaves will spoil or will become damaged, similarly, if the plant is subject to temperatures that are too cold, then it will either go dormant or die.
The sweet spot for this plant tends to be between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit and this can be achieved using heat lamps or a warm and humid room. A good investment if you are looking to care for an elephant ear plant in your home is a humidifier. Using this and placing it in a humid room like a bathroom will more greatly increase the speed and chance of leaf growth.
Preparing for any issues
It is rare that things will ever go completely according to plan when growing a plant. Sometimes pests and infections can stall the growth of a plant, or worse, destroy it. One of the main things to look for is fungal infections that can come with overwatering. Too much moisture can lead to a growth in bacteria which in turn, leads to fungal infection. Infections like this will usually show up as brown or black spots.
The best way to treat this is to remove the damaged leaf and move the plant away from any other pants that you may have around. This is important because you will not want the infection to spread across the plant or onto other plants. Once the leaf is removed, use a fungicide spray on the plant to prevent any growth that may be occurring. Similarly, when it comes to annoying pests like spider mites or mealybugs, you can prevent them from damaging the plant by spraying it with soapy water.