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Alocasia Macrorrhizos – Ultimate Care

Alocasia Macrorrhizos – Ultimate Care

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(image credits, IG: ellemenoh.plants)

Alocasia plants are admired for their stunning foliage. There are about 79 species in the Alocasia plant family.

All of them have exotic leaves. Alocasia Macrorrhizos is a huge plant that can grow 15 feet tall (4.5m) and 8 feet wide (2.4m).

This plant will grow best in filtered sunlight and optimum humidity of 60% or above. For potting soil, I suggest preparing a mixture with perlite, orchid bark, and peat moss. This variety also needs an average temperature of 50 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (10-30 degrees Celsius) for optimum plant growth.

Alocasia Macrorrhizos or the Giant Taro has dramatic, huge leaves that add a lush green look to your indoor space.

The ruffled leaves have a high resemblance to elephant ears. Alocasia Macrorrhizos is an excellent plant for your shade or container garden.

This species comes from Asia; it is native to India, Sri Lanka, and the Indonesian Islands.

This tender perennial can easily become the center of attention within a garden or room.

In warm summer months, my plant produces new leaves every week. The arrow-shaped leaves make this a perfect focal plant.

In 1753, this species was described as Arum Macrorhizum; later, in 1839, it was included in the Alocasia genus.

This plant is highly poisonous since it contains calcium oxalate. Chewing any part will release these crystals resulting in swelling and irritation in the mouth. This will also cause difficulty in breathing.

Alocasia plants can be briefly described as fast-growing but sensitive houseplants.

Therefore maintain the proper plant care if you want to enjoy the true beauty of this plant. This article will help you get the basics right for a healthy and robust Alocasia Macrorrhizos.

 

 

Alocasia Macrorrhizos Plant Care

 

Soil

Soil is an important component of plant care; make sure Alocasia Macrorrhizos is planted in a loose but well-draining potting medium.

This will ensure proper water retention and drainage. Always choose an organically rich rooting medium for your plants to help them establish a strong root system.

I’m growing mine in a mixture of general purpose compost and perlite. I have created an aerated potting mixture with the following materials.

  • Orchid bark
  • Coarse perlite
  • Peat moss

The recommended USDA hardiness zone for this Alocasia is 10 or 11. They prefer drier soils; therefore, your potting mix should have good drainage.

Your plant is highly vulnerable to root rot or other fungi because of improper drainage.

 

Water

Let the topsoil layer get almost dry before the next watering. This ensures your plant never gets overwatered. While watering, make sure the moisture is distributed evenly.

This water-loving species needs plenty of moisture throughout the year. But it needs less water in cold months, so you can reduce watering in autumn or winter.

Once the dormant period begins, the plant starts resting. The dormant period could be anywhere from late fall to winter.

The rapid growth will diminish, and the plant will remain as it is throughout dormancy.

You can give a few hours of morning or evening sunlight to prevent overwatering.

I always let the actual soil condition decide if my plant actually needs any water. Insert your fingers to make sure no moisture is sitting under the surface.

Tap water contains high concentrations of chlorine or fluorides. Therefore, I would suggest keeping it for 24 hours.

Otherwise, these chemical impurities will clog the soil and damage the plant’s health.

 

Light

Plants that are exposed to proper sunlight have good leaf color. The best lighting environment for this plant is partial shade. The best location is a window with bright, indirect light throughout the day.

Full sun exposure is detrimental for the plant because, in most cases, it burns the leaves.

Avoid placing it in a very dark spot because lack of sunlight can lead to root rot or soil mold.

You can install overhead grow lights to provide even distribution of light for maximum vertical growth.

Unlike some other houseplants, this variety does not tolerate low light levels.

Choose a sheltered spot in your outdoor garden to protect the huge leaves from strong winds.

You have to also protect your Alocasia Macrorrhizos from direct, harsh sunlight because it will dehydrate the plant and scorch the lovely green leaves.

 

Temperature

The best indoor temperature for this plant is between 60 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 30 degrees Celsius).

Your plant will not be happy when the temperature starts dropping below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).

Another scary thing for this plant is cold draughts from a window or door.

If you want to grow it outdoors, do it only if the temperature stays above 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).

In summer, this plant can be placed outside but should be brought inside as soon as winter starts.

Being native to humid environments, this variety does not like sitting next to an air conditioner or heater.

 

Humidity

After water, the next most loved thing by Alocasia Macrorrhizos is humid conditions.

You have to create a constantly moist environment with at least 60% humidity, similar to its natural habitat in the tropical forest. If you keep the air moisture very low with high temperatures, your plant will start browning.

To raise the humidity, you should use a water tray. A water tray placed under your pot has the same impact as misting. Because as this water evaporates, air moisture level increases.

 

Fertilizer

You can add balanced liquid fertilizer in the growing months to ensure necessary nutrients. Granular fertilizer can also be used, but you will have to apply it more frequently.

I would highly recommend using a regular houseplant fertilizer every two weeks in spring, summer but monthly at other times.

Use the fertilizer at half the recommended ratio to prevent toxicity.

Another pro tip is to moisturize the soil well before fertilization to protect the roots from burns.

 

Repotting

Repot it annually by refreshing the soil mix. Make sure the new pot is only one size larger than the previous one. If you do not refresh the potting soil every year, the plant will develop more roots, but the soil will be insufficient for water retention.

 

Pruning

Pruning and maintenance are necessary to encourage better-growing conditions. You have to remove the plant debris and the dying leaves.

To reduce bacterial diseases, always use disinfected shears. Trim your plant with clean incisions to avoid shocking the plant.

 

Propagation

Propagation allows you to not only expand your collection but also helps you maintain a manageable plant size. Alocasia Macrorrhizos is propagated by the following method:

Basal Offset Distribution

  • Plants like Alocasia Macrorrhizos produce basal offsets that can be used for propagation. Choose a basal with a healthy root system and at least three leaves.
  • Water your plant well prior to propagation. This will eliminate the risk of transplant shock.
  • The first step is to take the plant out from its pot. Remove soil surrounding the plant for better access.
  • Place your fingers close to the node junction and carefully remove the offset. You should also separate the root system, leaves, and stems from the original plant.
  • Transfer the offset to a new pot with fresh potting soil. Maintain the light, water, and temperature conditions based on the instructions provided in the previous sections.
  • Take special care of the newly transplanted Alocasia Macrorrhizos for the first few weeks.

 

Blooms

The flowers on this Alocasia variety have yellowish-green spathe with spadix. Some growers say that they closely resemble the flowers of Calla Lily.

Even though the blooms are very unattractive, this plant repeatedly blooms every few months. The flowers appear in late spring or early summer and last only for five days.

 

Growth

The thick, green leaves have prominent veining patterns. The tip of the leaves is pointed, and the base is arrow-shaped.

These leaves point and grow upwards. With the right conditions, the leaves can grow 3 to 6 ft in length (90 to 180cm) and 2 to 4 ft (60 to 120 cm) in width.

The glossy green leaves decorate the rigid stems to create a statement piece.

This species will roughly take 5 to 10 years to reach maturity and the ultimate height.

 

Alocasia Macrorrhizos Vareigata

The variegated version has textured splashes of yellow and white on the upper and lower sides of the leaves.

The variegation is very prominent, making the huge leaves even more beautiful. Sometimes the variegated version produces completely white leaves, but these leaves are weak due to lack of chlorophyll.

This variety needs medium indirect sunlight for good leaf growth and variegation.

According to most gardeners, this variegated version of Alocasia is also a  fast-growing and easy-going plant. But the issue is that it is rarer and thus harder to find compared to the classic version.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Common Problems for Alocasia Macrorrhizos

 

Crown Rot

Crown rot is spread by a soil-borne fungus. This disease is supported by a heavy and water-logged soil mix.

Yellowish leaf margins or dark spots on the leaves are major signs of disease. As the rot spread, the parts near the soil surface start rotting.

The tissue in the infected areas will die, causing them to turn dark brown.

Younger plants have difficulty dealing with crown rot, but even the well-established mature plants will start wilting as the rot progresses.

  • Avoid overwatering
  • Do not let the leaves of your Alocasia Macrorrhizos plant remain wet for too long.
  • Maintain proper air circulation around the plant.
  • You can also use fungicide for early infections.

 

Pests

If you do not maintain good plant hygiene, mites will form webs on the lower sides of the leaves.

Mealybugs are more prominent than spider mites because of the white cottony mass. Regularly inspect the hiding spots on the plant like the undersides, leaf axils, and leaf/stem joints. Keep the humidity levels high to combat spider mites.

You should spray your plant with a mixture of mild soapy water every week to prevent pest damage. This spraying will also remove dust particles from the leaves. A good quality insecticide can kill both the pests and their eggs.

 

Yellow Leaves with Brown Halos

This issue is a result of several cultivation problems. Any of the below reason could be the culprit for this damage:

  • Overly saturated soil in between waterings.
  • Very dark location with little light.
  • Tap water or too cold water was used.
  • Lack of proper fertilizers.

Make sure you regularly feed your Alocasia Macrorrhizos to have healthy, green leaves.  You should immediately remove all the infected leaves and eradicate the above issues.

 

Fungal Leaf Blight

You will notice fuzzy growth and tiny lesions on the leaves of your Alocasia when infected with this fungal disease.

These lesions also release fluid and turn dark in a shade of purple or black. If you don’t treat this virus, the whole leaf will collapse as the fungus spreads.

Treat your plant with a foliar application of a good quality copper-based fungicide. You should apply this fungicide two times every week.

If your plant is located outdoors and it’s the rainy season, reduce the application to once a week. You should also stop watering your plant from above to prevent wet leaves.

 

Rust

Rust is a fungal disease that will not kill your Alocasia but ruin the beautiful look of the leaves. The two common symptoms of rust on houseplants are:

  • Rust-colored brown spots on the lower side of leaves.
  • Large, faded patches on the upper side of the leaves.

You can confirm the presence of rust by cleaning the leaves with a white cloth. If it turns orange, your plant is infected with rust.

You have to discard the rust infected leaves to stop the fungus from spreading. Enhance air circulation around your plant and always keep the foliage dry.

Rust is organisms that depend on living plants for their survival. They should be treated as soon as possible because rust can travel through plant tissues.

You should also reduce the humidity levels because high humidity encourages the growth of rust.

 

Tips for Growing Alocasia Macrorrhizos

  • Always use lukewarm water since the root system of this Alocasia is sensitive to temperature fluctuations.
  • Brown leaves mean your plant is asking for more humidity.
  • Avoid using chemical leaf shine products; instead, regularly clean the leaves with lukewarm water.
  • Never overwater because it will eventually cause a lack of oxygen.
  • Overhead lighting is the best option based on the growth structure of this plant. Lateral light might cause lopsided growth.
  • It’s always safer to underwater your Alocasia Macrorrhizos, especially if it’s located in a shady or cool location.
  • Irregular watering is not good for this plant. Don’t let your plant go through droughts frequently because this forces it into dormancy.
  • You can add a thin layer of grit at the bottom of the soil for good drainage.
  • Make sure there is one drainage hole in your pot so that extra water can escape.
  • Mist your plant regularly using a spray bottle for better humidity. Do not let the mist water stay on the leaves for too long; this will weigh down the leaves and stems.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Alocasia Macrorrhizos

 

How will I know if my Alocasia Macrorrhizos is underwatered?

The main symptoms of an underwatered houseplant are yellow leaves, brown leaf margins, and stunted growth.

 

What should I do to save my overwatered Alocasia Macrorrhizos?

Reduce the frequency of water applications. You can also place your plant in a spot with good light to dry out the water trapped in the soil.

 

Should I fertilize my Alocasia Macrorrhizos in fall and winter?

Like many other houseplants, this Alocasia does not grow actively in these two seasons. Therefore, I would recommend withholding feeding for the months of fall and winter. This protects your plant from over-fertilization.

 

The new, young leaves on my Alocasia Macrorrhizos are brown; what is wrong?

This is due to the low air humidity level. You should increase the humidity around your plant to make sure the new leaves do not develop brown patches.

 

I have noticed mold growth on the soil of my plant; is that normal?

This is because of overwatering or too much sun exposure. So you should immediately alter your plant’s watering schedule and light conditions. You should also replace at least the top 2 inches of soil with a fresh mix.

 

My plant is not showing any sign of growth for the past few weeks; what is the issue?

Do not worry; your plant is not dead. The slow growth indicates it’s entering the dormancy phase and getting ready for winter. Keep caring for your plant because everything below the soil surface is still active.

 

What are some symptoms of under fertilization for Alocasia Macrorrhizos?

Stunted or pale leaves are a major symptom of nutrient deficiency for this plant.

 

My plant has developed pale patches right after I moved it outdoors; what can I do?

The leaves have developed these patches because you have moved the plant from a dark location to a very bright outdoor area. Make sure your plant is not sitting in direct sunlight; give it some time to adjust to the new lighting condition.

 

Conclusion

This plant is made for forgetful gardeners and fun to grow in outdoor gardens or in pots.

It is low maintenance, subtropical species for planting enthusiasts. Alocasia Macrorrhizos boasts its striking foliage in any location. The leaf structure makes this plant visually appealing.

Alocasia Macrorrhizos is an easy-care plant that can bring freshness and life to your home, giving it a sense of calm.

If you like Alocasia, I suggest you read our article about Alocasia Polly next or if you like giant Alocasia, and chances are that you do, have a look at my Alocasia Brisbanensis article.

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