Most of my plants, I can say, I have mastered their care. However there are a few that I still haven’t figured out. Calatheas and boston ferns, are among the few. They died before I could ever make a post about them, so in light of this I have decided to stay one step ahead this time.
Look at these two toxic beauties. Alocasia micholitiziana (aka Alocasia frydek) is the velvety looking one. Its deep green leaves with contrasting white veins is so rich and reminds me of lightning. Alocasia amazonica also known as the African mask plant is also of the same family. Its leaves are more glossy and leathery with scalloped edges, but pretty much has the same pattern on its leaves.
As pretty as these plants are, they are the most demanding plants I’ve ever owned. They are not very happy in the average home unless great concessions are made. I don’t think they will last through the winter and so I’m blogging about them now for posterity. I’m still learning all I can on how to make them happy and let me tell you, it takes a lot.
First of all, these plants need a lot of humidity. I am talking about greenhouse kind of humidity. The African Mask plant almost always have rolled up leaf edges which I think its due to how dry it is here especially this winter. I try to mist once in a while but it doesn’t do the job. In fact I lost a couple of leaves when I first got them about 2 months ago. Probably because of their new environment.
Both of them like to be watered frequently in order to keep the soil moist at all times but not to the point of it being soggy. They would do best then in fast draining soil. I’m amazed at how fast the soil dries a few days after watering. Perhaps I need to repot them, although I don’t think that is the cause.
When I brought the African Mask home, both of them starting drooping for no apparent reason. I thought it was repositioning for better light but no matter how far or close I placed it from the window they still drooped. They look much better now. When I brought the Green Velvet Alocasia home 2 weeks ago, it started drooping as well as you can see in the picture below. I’ll probably end up losing a few leaves. They do like indirect sun as direct sun will burn their leaves.
I have had spider mites attack the African mask, twice. It seems Alocasia and spider mites go hand in hand if they are kept in a dry environment. Humid environments will probably keep the spider mites at bay. I usually get rid of the mites by washing them under blasting water and wiping the leaves down. Alocasias can also be attacked by none other than the annoying mealy bug, aphids and gray mould. No glimpse of them so far. The leaves can sometimes die back if conditions are not favourable. This usually happens in winter. Don’t lose hope. If this happens, either your plant is totally dead or dormant. Keep the planter and water sparingly as the rhizomes may still be alive. If it is just dormant, it will grow back. When, I’m not sure but perhaps in the spring. If it doesn’t then accept your plant is dead. The African mask is so called because they look like African masks not because they are from Africa. They are actually from the Phillippines. The Alocasia genus is usually confused with Colocasias. Although parts of both plants are edible there are significant differences. Many Colocasias are cultivated for their edible tubers, taro (yeah, like the bubble tea flavour). On the other hand, some Alocasia have edible stems. These stems, however have to be thoroughly cooked as they are poisonous when eaten fresh. Yikes! Please don’t go cooking your Alocasias unless you know what you are doing 🙂 I am not entirely sure if this kind is even edible. Needless to say, they are TOXIC so keep away from children and pets.
I am still learning on how to care for Alocasias so please share your experiences below.
Share the Plant love:
Hi, I’m Barbara and I’m a little obsessed with house plants. I share my house plant adventures in the hopes of inspiring you to continue to enjoy the greens in your home. And if you have no plants (yet!) I hope this blog inspires you to add some green to your home. So go on! Try it! I think you might quite like it. And who knows? You may end up being … obsessed too.
I found one in a job site with one leaf about hand size, had to rescue it, threw it on floor of car, wet towel to cover from any Sun and dry air as I’m in Australia, easily 32 , 35 degrees hot wet air, our sun will kill most indoor plants outside and just looked in the garden of a factory pulled it out then put it in my bathroom and now it’s so big and its leaves drip moisture constantly ?? , now has bricks around the plastic pot, as it’s in way to small a pot ,,,, feels like it would tip over any moment, it has new leaves three at a time ? ,and now realised it’s a flower! Looked like how an orchard sends worms out it’s stem ,,,,It’s funny I watered it so so so much not realised it can kill it , but I am learning as it’s a new hobby for me , found the smaller dwarf plant!!! same as the big one and its loving the humidity and light , I’m really surprised that I’ve done well and has started my addiction to indoor plants love this plant ,,09 . Feb . 2020
Hi Michael, I’m glad you have this new love for plants. Some plants drip water from their leaves when they have been overwatered. Alocasias tend to do this. If the leaves die back though, don’t throw it out. Keep the rhizome in soil and moist. It will grow new leaves after a while if you do this well. All the best. B08 . Jan . 2021
Rc16 . Nov . 2018
First you are the only blogger that I have read that has written the truth about their experience with a plant. I purchased a Alocasia from Lowes in August 2018.
I am not illiterate and if I am not familiar with a particular plant I will research & ask several plant specialist, before purchasing.
I had not had the plant for 3 days, began to notice discolornation & leaf drooping.
Two days later the plant was dead, so I
decided to wait since I was out of $10
to purchase another one. In September there’s a large garden center I went to and purchased a baby Alocasia, an Anthurium and a baby spider plant. Sadly, all of the plants died!
Thankyou RC for your comment. Yea my experience with Alocasias haven’t been great so I’m staying away from them moving forward.15 . Jan . 2019
For the mask plant, please do not ‘mist’ it – you will kill it. You must use a humidifier if the leaves are curling. This particular species needs STRONG light but not direct light – such as right up against a window or in a room with big roof windows. ‘Misting’ causes problems for quite a few of these plants. Humidifiers are better as they keep the surrounding AIR moist, rather than spraying water directly on the leaves (don’t do that!!). Soil – in winter allow only the very top of the soil to dry out then water a LITTLE bit…little and often, like the maidenhair fern. In summer again a little water every day, only a little, don’t drown it. Hope that helps – they are stunning plants. 🙂28 . Jul . 2018
I have 2 Alocasia Amazonicas, for almost a year now (through the whole winter), and only lost 1 leaf. It seems to thrive by my large north facing window away from direct sun light, next to a humidifier. They are on a weekly watering schedule right now, since Vancouver winter is quite dark. One thing I learned from the nursery is that they are very picky about their water – they need room temperature water that have been sitting for a few days. Cold and harsh water with chlorine can shock their roots. Sometimes, they lost a leaf when a new one is about to come out as well.10 . Feb . 2017
Good luck with yours!
Hi Emily, they were beautiful. Unfortunately I lost them after a long battle with spider mites 🙁14 . Feb . 2017
Nice post! Even in my bathroom with a skylight, my African Mask plant is slowly losing leaves. I had a spider mite issue with mine too. That velvety one is pretty cool – I might get one to document in my “leaf profile” pictures – I’ve done this with Calatheas as my roseopicta is also slowly dying 🙁26 . Jan . 2016
Yes, I’ve seen your leaf profile. Pretty cool. I love how you said no leaves suffered in the making of the pictures lol.30 . Jan . 2016
Alocasias are beautiful. I hade one once.Managed to kill it pretty fast so haven’t tried again. I’m normally good at keeping plants alive, but not alocasias. Visited the greenhouses in Palermo, Sicily once some years ago. There they had real big and healthy alocasias. And a very warm and humid environment with misty water continually sprayed onto it. I think it is impossible to create such an environment at home.25 . Jan . 2016
I agree, it is difficult to provide such an environment indoors. Unless, perhaps you keep it in a bathroom with good lighting.25 . Jan . 2016
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