The Alocasia nebula is a rare and high maintenance plant that will reward all of your efforts with dark green, silvery, thick leaves with impressive veining. It looks wildly exotic, and so are it’s care requirements.
Also known as elephant ear plants, Alocasias are among the most alien-looking houseplants you can get your hands on. Caring for this plant will be quite a challenge even for fairly experienced plant collectors, so I would definitely not recommend it to a beginner.
The list of requirements is long, so without further ado, let’s get into everything you need to do so that your Alocasia nebula can thrive indoors.
- 1 Alocasia Nebula Plant Care Guide
- 2 Common Problems with Alocasia nebula
- 3 Tips to keep your Alocasia nebula problem-free
- 4 Frequently asked questions about Alocasia Nebula
- 5 Conclusion
Alocasia Nebula Plant Care Guide
What soil you choose for your Alocasia nebula can make or break your success with this plant.
Alocasias have rhizomes and tubers in their root system, so it is very important to consider this when deciding on the ratios of soil in your soil mix.
I recommend you mix one part of regular soil, one part peat, and one part perlite. Peat is the surface organic layer of soil and will make your medium more nutritious for your Alocasia nebula, while the perlite will keep the medium well aerated and light.
Consistencies of soils and peat can vary, so keep in mind the final soil product should be well-draining, and feel free to add some perlite if it feels heavy.
Give your Alocasia nebula plenty of indirect light, but avoid direct sunlight at all costs. Its delicate leaves are very prone to sunburns, and you definitely don’t want to sacrifice their majestic beauty.
You can also put it in partial shade, or even better under artificial light. An east or west-facing window will be appropriate; a well-lit bathroom would be perfect for it.
If you are not sure how well lit your home is, and you don’t know where to put your plant, you can find apps for your phone to help you with that. You place your phone where the plant would be, and it tells you how much light reaches that spot.
Many people come to find their homes are darker than they thought. Give it a try; it will help you find the perfect place in your home for your Alocasia nebula.
Your Alocasia nebula will need partially moist soil. If that sounds ambiguous, let me explain. This is a crucial part of mastering the care of your Alocasia nebula.
This plant needs the soil to be somewhere between semi-moist and semi-dry. This means watering quite often, but not with a lot of water.
A good trick I have picked up through the years is watering my alocasias with a spray bottle. I got one of those pressure sprayers that you pump air in, and it sprays a fine even mist with just one press of the button.
You can also use a regular spray bottle; the point is to evenly and slowly spray the soil and do it until you feel you have gotten moisture to the soil’s upper half.
Then, I wait for the soil’s top to become dry to the touch and water again.
This results in watering your Alocasia nebula three times a week during the warmer, growing season and around two times a week during the winter. The soil should be evenly moist, not at all soggy.
If you decide on using a humidity meter to help you figure out a good watering schedule, be careful not to hurt the rhizomes and tubers when sticking it into the soil.
It is also of paramount importance that you do not water your Alocasia nebula with tap water.
Alocasia nebula likes warmth. Ideally, that temperature is between 60 and 80F. If you expose it to lower temperatures for a substantial amount of time, you will put it into dormancy, which means it will drop all or some of its leaves.
It is also obviously not frost tolerant. It will do the dame “dropping of leaves” trick if exposed to sudden drafts or too high temperatures. They are dramatic like that.
Get used to it, and remember this doesn’t mean the plant is dead! Don’t give up on it; the tubers are still keeping it alive, and with time and the right conditions, it will start putting out new leaves again.
Alocasia nebula loves high humidity. There is no way around it, it will either have to live in an enclosed container like a terrarium or a humidity dome, or you will have to have a humidifier.
A typical 50% humidity will just not cut it. Some people find that their Alocasias grow best when they live in water instead of soil, which makes sense since this means the water from its container will constantly be evaporating and thus raise the humidity near the plant.
You can try to do the same with a humidity tray, but I am willing to bet you will see some crispy edges sooner or later despite your best efforts.
You should be striving for a minimum of 65% humidity or more whenever possible to let your Alocasia grow and thrive to its full potential.
Fertilize your Alocasia nebula with extreme caution, as fertilizer burn can occur very quickly with these plants, and it will also stagnate and wilt with too little nutrition. Use a liquid fertilizer but dilute it to ¼ of its strength and pour it in after watering the plant.
About every two weeks during the growing season will be enough, but the tricky business starts as the plant goes dormant.
As with other plants, they won’t be able to use up that much fertilizer during the winter, so I stop fertilizing when I see the plant has slowed down and feed it only once a month until next spring.
If something stressful happens and it goes into dormancy out of season, remember not to fertilize it as much during that time as well.
There are two ways you can go about propagating your Alocasia nebula. Whatever method you choose, you should do it in spring and summer.
You propagate it by division, but you can put the new plant in either water or soil after that. Most people grow their propagated Alocasia in soil, but they can thrive in water just as well.
Either way, I recommend you try to be as delicate as you can with this plant and handle it very gently to avoid unnecessary stress. Propagation is best done as you are repotting your Alocasia nebula. As you take it out of the pot, you will realize it grows in clumps. Here’s what you should do:
- Take the plant out of its pot a shake off the soil. If needed, shower the root ball to have a good look at what is going on.
- You will notice your plant is growing in clumps that are connected through the roots. Inspect the plant and choose what part you are going to remove. It should be healthy, have a leaf or two, and its own root system.
- Gently separate the clump away from the main plant, use a disinfected knife or scissors if the roots are too tangled or connected to dislodge it.
- Prepare your new pot if you are planting it into soil. Since this is not a cutting and you don’t have to wait for roots, you can put it directly in a new pot with the recommended soil mix. I suggest you premoisten the soil and make a hole in it to accommodate the new plant.
- Put the plant it, don’t pack the soil too much as you are doing so, and water one more time. If you are putting it into water, give it distilled, aquarium or rainwater. Simple as that.
And that’s it. Your new Alocasia nebula is ready and will probably put out new growth pretty soon. Make sure it is exposed to some extra moisture, a little bit of warmth, and not direct sunlight.
These plants have the potential to grow pretty quickly. During the summer months, you can expect a new leaf every week or so if you are caring for it the right way.
Every subsequent leaf is bigger than the one before.
As a mature plant, the Alocasia nebula can grow up to 3 ft in height, and mature leaves can be up to 17 inches in size.
It grows in a shrubby fashion, and with the right maintenance, you will have quite a substantial Alocasia nebula bush to admire.
As most rhizomatous plants, Alocasia nebula will appreciate being slightly root-bound. Don’t make the same mistake as me when I repotted a ZZ plant into a giant pot, thinking it will grow more branches when it has space.
I just caused waterlogged and packed soil around the tubers that slowly started suffering and disintegrating from root rot.
Consequently, I suggest potting your Alocasia in a smaller pot, just big enough to accommodate its root system comfortably. You can re-pot every year to give it fresh soil, but increase the size of its pot only when it is absolutely necessary.
When choosing a pot, it must have drainage holes, and if you tend to overwater your plants go for a terracotta pot that will help you by absorbing some of the extra water you might give to your plant.
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Common Problems with Alocasia nebula
I have probably already mentioned this plant is delicate and sensitive, and the same goes for pests and diseases. It is prone to several issues like stem and root rot, bacterial leaf spot, Xanthomonas, and pests like mealybugs, scale, aphids, and many others.
We don’t know why these plants are so inviting for all these afflictions, but it probably has something to do with its soft and delicate flesh and people not knowing how to take appropriate care of them. If the plant is healthy and in good shape, it is less susceptible to disease and pests.
Let’s see what you can do to prevent these issues and deal with them if they appear.
If your plants’ roots are rotting, your plant will slowly wilt, yellow, and drop its leaves. Root rot can kill a plant in a matter of days, and when you notice, it’s more than likely too late already.
Try to save your plant by repotting it in sterile and more aerated soil. Before re-potting, cut away any afflicted roots and wash the root ball with an antifungal remedy to remove any spores that could further damage them.
Bacterial leaf spot
You will recognize it because brown wet spots with yellow halos will appear on the leaves of your plant. Contaminated tissue cannot be saved, so remove it from the plant as soon as possible.
There is no treatment other than prevention, and since bacterial spots appear when the soil is overly wet for prolonged periods, try to ease off on the watering for a while.
Mealybugs are little white sap-sucking bugs that look like tiny cotton balls.
They are slow and easy to spot, and you can remove them one by one with a q-tip dipped in alcohol or by spraying your plant with water and dislodging them that way.
Treat your Alocasia with some neem oil or some other gentle insecticide.
Tips to keep your Alocasia nebula problem-free
- Give it a well-draining soil high in organic material (heavy on peat)
- Keep the soil evenly moist, find the right balance between semi-dry and semi-wet (water with a spray bottle)
- Keep in bright but indirect light
- Keep away from sudden temperature changes, drafts, heat sources
- Give it a lot of humidity
- Observe it often to spot pests and diseases as soon as possible
Frequently asked questions about Alocasia Nebula
Is the Alocasia nebula safe for pets?
Alocasias are highly toxic for pets and children when ingested. They can cause allergic reactions in the skin and eyes as well. Keep it out of the reach of children and pets.
What is the best artificial light for my Alocasia nebula?
The best light for houseplants is fluorescent lightbulbs that emit the full spectrum of wavelengths. They are usually marked as “cool white,” and they don’t heat up, so they are perfect for indoor houseplants.
Should I remove spent leaves from my Alocasia nebula?
Yes, you can prune all yellow or spent leaves from you Alocasia nebula with disinfected scissors or a knife. Do this as soon as possible to avoid any bacterial or fungal issues.
The Alocasia nebula is a moody and needy plant. If you tend to shower your plants with too much water and attention, the Alocasia nebula might be right up your alley as it will take a lot of your time and effort. Study it well and get to know its needs and wants, as this beautiful plant and its jewel green leaves are worth every minute of your time.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.