There’s something so intriguing and beautiful about the Alocasia boa. With its massive, green leaves which have highly-serrated edges and robust stems, it’s a favorite for many homeowners.
Also known as the Elephant ear plant, it is sure to make an impressive statement wherever it’s placed. If you’re up for the challenge, the Alocasia boa will make an excellent addition to your space. Here’s a detailed guide on how to care for this plant.
- 1 Alocasia Boa Plant Care Instructions
- 2 Common Problems with Alocasia boa
- 3 Tips to Keep Alocasia Boa Problem-Free
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions About Alocasia Boa
- 5 Conclusion
Alocasia Boa Plant Care Instructions
When choosing a potting medium for your Alocasia boa, the most important aspect to consider is drainage. Opt for a light and fluffy potting mix, which retains just the right amount of moisture around the roots and allows excess water to drain.
Boas also prefer an airy mix too. This way, air circulates freely around the root system, providing the much-needed oxygen for growth.
The mixture I use for my boa typically consists of organic potting soil and perlite to improve the soil’s drainage.
I also like to add a bit of horticultural charcoal, which serves several functions. One, it absorbs any salt residue, preventing the roots from being scorched by excess fertilizer.
Two, it enhances air circulation, and three, it raises the soil’s pH. All three of these functions are crucial when growing an Alocasia boa.
If you can’t access these ingredients, another mixture I would recommend entails a mix of loam soil, perlite, and peat. You’re free to use coarse potting sand in place of perlite.
The ideal lighting requirements for an Alocasia boa are those that mimic its natural habitat. In the wild, the plant is found mostly on the forest floor, underneath tree canopies.
It means it’s not exposed to direct sunlight. So whether you’re growing your boa indoors or outdoors, ensure it’s not subjected to the direct, intense rays of the sun.
You can place it near an east-facing windowsill or a western-facing one, as long as it’s not receiving too intense light. If your window lets in too much sunlight, consider investing in a sheer curtain.
It will filter the light, hence, prevent its foliage from getting burned. Alternatively, you can place it further away from the window.
That said, the Alocasia boa cannot withstand low light conditions for an extended period. Therefore, ensure you’re exposing it to a little bit of sunshine to enhance its growth.
When it comes to watering, you want to wait until the top two to three inches of soil is dry.
This way, you won’t leave your plant sitting in soggy or oversaturated soil as this can result in root rot and fungal infections.
Based on this, most gardeners find that they need to water their Alocasias about two to three times each week.
Since I grow my boa in a partially shaded area and mulch the bed from time to time, my potting mix never dries up too quickly. At times, I only have to water my plant once a week, and it’s good to go.
So how can you tell whether you’re overwatering your plant? Well, if it starts dripping water from the tips of the leaves, there’s a high chance that you’re going overboard.
Winter is a particularly tricky time for the Alocasia boa.
Like other Alocasias, it enters into a dormant period during this season. This causes it to take a longer time to dry up, increasing the risk of overwatering. To avoid this, be sure to cut back on the frequency of watering in winter.
One thing that drew me to the Alocasia boa is the fact that it thrives in the same temperature you find in standard homes. Specifically, it requires a temperature ranging from 60°F to 75°F (15°C to 24°C).
But even then, you should be mindful of where you place your boa. For instance, if you place it near a heating unit or air conditioner vent, this will impact its surrounding temperature, and subsequently, its growth.
Similarly, constant exposure to that gust of wind that gets in every time you open the door could ultimately weaken or damage your plant. To prevent this, place it away from heat sources or areas exposed to cold.
The ideal humidity level for the Alocasia boa is 60%, although closer to 70% is better. Unfortunately, the humidity level in most homes ranges between 40% and 50%. If this is the case, you’ll have to look for ways to increase moisture. You have several options to pick from, such as:
- Misting the plant
- Using pebble trays
- Installing a humidifier
- Placing the plant in a humid spot (such as a bathroom)
Alocasias are generally heavy feeders, and the boa is no different. To satisfy its appetite, consider applying fertilizer every two to four weeks.
The ideal time to fertilize is in spring or summer, to boost its growth. Avoid applying any fertilizer during winter, to allow it ample time to rest.
A common misconception among gardeners is that boas grown indoors shouldn’t be fertilized. After all, you don’t want the plant to grow too tall.
But this is not the case. Boas grown in pots should be fertilized just as frequently. Here’s the deal, the small size of the growing container means nutrients are washed out more quickly when you water your plant. Thus, fertilizing helps to replace those washed-out nutrients.
Similarly, pay attention to the type of fertilizer you apply on your boa. Opt for a slow-release fertilizer as opposed to a quick-releasing one.
The benefit of the former is that it releases nutrients gradually, which helps to sustain your Alocasia for a longer period. Quick-release fertilizers are designed to release nutrients all at once, which can cause your plant to suffer fertilizer burn.
The Alocasia boa is tuberous, meaning it sprouts from just one rhizome. Due to this, it cannot be propagated from cuttings as you usually would with other houseplants. However, this does not necessarily mean that it’s difficult to propagate. If anything, it’s a lot easier.
As a clumping plant, the boa grows outward from the central rhizome. So, if you were to remove it from the pot, you’d notice several plant clumps. These are the parts used for propagation.
Let’s get to the nitty-gritty of propagating:
Start by removing the plant from the container and shaking off excess soil. If your boa is too clumped, consider soaking it in water or spray with a gardening hose to free up its roots.
Once the roots become untangled, the array of clumps and some baby plants that make up the plant become apparent. One thing you’ll notice is that the clumps and baby plants are connected through their roots.
However, they can be separated very easily. Besides, each clump has a distinct root system, meaning you won’t even have to wait for the plant to root. So using gardening scissors or a sharp knife, extract one clump.
Now all you need to do is plant the clump in a fresh potting mix. As we mentioned earlier, the most important aspects to consider when choosing a potting mix are aeration and drainage.
If you’ve been looking for a fast-growing plant, the Alocasia boa is your best bet. As long as you provide the right nutrients and growing conditions, it will develop enormous leaves within no time.
Important to note though is that Alocasia boa is on the bigger side of the size spectrum. A mature boa is 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 m) tall. Its leaves can grow to 24 inches (61 cm) wide.
Thus, you’ll need to set aside a considerable amount of space if you’re growing it indoors.
One of the most important things to consider when potting is the size of the container. For the Alocasia boa, a standard-size container about 10 to 20 inches in diameter and 10 inches deep is the most suitable.
The idea is to provide enough room for the growth of the roots. The more space for root growth, the taller and healthier the plant will turn out. Whenever I notice my Alocasia boa becoming root bound, I like to transfer it to a slightly larger container to allow for continued growth.
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Common Problems with Alocasia boa
Despite its mammoth size, the Alocasia boa is a bit sensitive. It’s susceptible to plant diseases such as stem and root rot, Xanthomonas, and leaf spot.
If you notice dark brown patches on its leaves, alongside a yellowish rim around these patches, your plant may be suffering from one of these diseases.
The good news is, these conditions are just as easy to prevent. Ensure you don’t overwater, keep its leaves dry and provide ample air circulation.
Your Alocasia boa may also get infested with certain pests, particularly aphids, mealy bugs, spider mites and scale insects. To keep these pests at bay, spray your plant with soapy water every couple of weeks.
Not only will this keep pests away, but it will also keep your plant in pristine condition.
Tips to Keep Alocasia Boa Problem-Free
There are a few things you can do to ensure your Alocasia boa grows healthily:
- Water only when the top two inches of soil feels dry
- Don’t expose your Alocasia to direct sun as the leaves will get scorched
- Grow the plant in well-aerated, well-drained, and consistently moist soil/potting medium
- Maintain a highly-humid level
- Use a fertilizer, tailored for its foliage
- Keep the temperature at 60°F to 75°F (15°C to 24°C)
Frequently Asked Questions About Alocasia Boa
What is the Alocasia boa best for?
The Elephant ear plant is highly versatile. You can use it as a ground cover, in which case it would help erosion of the topsoil. It also makes a superb background plant, whereby it provides a sort of backdrop for smaller-sized plants. It can also serve as an edging plant, where it would make a captivating walkway border.
I prefer to make my Alocasia boa the focal point of my living room. It has such stunning foliage that adds a wow factor to my space.
When does Alocasia boa bloom?
Most of these plants start to flower around spring through summer. However, it’s not unusual to find an Alocasia boa that fails to bloom in a particular year; it all depends on their growing conditions.
Is the Alocasia boa toxic?
As beautiful as it is, the Alocasia boa is also toxic. If you chew or bite into it, it will release crystal-like compounds, which can irritate your GI tract. It means that you should keep the plant out of reach of pets. If you suspect that your pet has ingested it, watch out for the following signs:
- Teary eyes
- Excessive drooling
- Oral pain
- Loss of appetite
- Pawing at the mouth or face
Ensure you contact or visit your local vet if you notice any of these symptoms.
Why is my Alocasia boa yellowing?
There are a couple of reasons why your plant’s leaves could be turning yellow. The most common culprit, however, is overwatering.
If your plant is sitting in soggy soil, this can cause its leaves to yellow. To restore its green color, reduce the amount or frequency of watering.
Other likely causes include inadequate light, extremely low humidity levels, nutrient deficiency, and pests. Adjust the growing conditions gradually, until you’re able to pinpoint a specific reason for the yellowing.
Alocasia boa is a superb indoor plant. It is extremely easy to maintain. All you need to do is to set it up in a well-draining potting mix, expose it to bright indirect light, and water only when necessary. This means watering only when the top layer of the soil dries up.
Since the plant is also a heavy feeder, look for a slow-release, well-balanced fertilizer that you can apply when it reaches peak growth.
With its striking appearance, the Alocasia will add a touch of elegance to your home. However, it’s not suitable for all homeowners. Since it’s toxic, it might not be a good fit for pet owners.
If you have pets or small children, keep this plant out of their reach to prevent accidental ingestion.