Commonly called elephant's ears, alocasia plants belong to a genus of more than 70 different species, all native to southern areas of Asia. Large, bold, arrow-shaped leaves marked with prominent and sometimes colorful veins characterize the plants. Gardeners typically grow alocasia species in tropical climates or as houseplants, though many types will survive in northern gardens with proper winter care. Winter hardiness varies among species, though most types of alocasia perform as perennials in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11. Elsewhere in the country, the plants must be removed from the garden before the first frost of winter or grown indoors in containers.
Dig a hole in the soil just deep enough to hold the plant's rhizome. Place the rhizome in the hole, and then cover lightly with soil.
Water thoroughly immediately after planting to soak the soil and collapse any air pockets. Space alocasia plantings 4 to 6 feet apart to accommodate their mature spread. Continue to water lightly once every five days for the first three to eight weeks of growth or until the plant emerges from the soil.
Water alocasia once every week during spring, summer and fall to keep the soil moist at all times. Do not water during winter, when active growth has ceased. Apply water directly to the soil to avoid getting the foliage wet, which increases the risk of fungal diseases.
Feed once every three weeks during spring and summer using a complete 20-20-20 NPK fertilizer at half the strength recommended on the package. Water lightly both before and after applying to release the nutrients into the soil and prevent injuring the roots.
Dig up alocasia rhizomes immediately after the first frost of winter in zones above 8. Remove all dirt and allow the rhizomes to dry in a shady location for 24 hours. Store indoors in slightly moist peat moss until the following spring.
Things You Will Need
- Peat moss
- Plant alocasia outside during spring after the threat of frost has passed in a location that receives full sun or light shade and consists of well-drained, moist soil.
- Grow alocasia as houseplants if desired. Plant the tubers in 18-inch pots filled with high-quality, hummus-rich potting soil. Place in full sun to light shade, water once per week to keep the soil moist, feed once every three weeks and remove leaves when they turn yellow in late fall. The plants will enter dormancy for a few months after this. During this period, provide filtered sunlight and watering about twice per month. Resume regular care when new growth begins in spring.
- Do not remove any green foliage from alocasia plants at any time. Even during the dormant period, the leaves will continue to store energy and nutrients for the following growing season. Only remove yellow leaves, which will soon die.