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How to Care for an Alocasia Polly

Alocasia polly is a dramatic tropical plant that is frequently shown off in beds, borders and containers. Known widely as African mask plant and elephant ears, alocasia has deep green leaves with very prominent veining that looks like it has its own pulse. The leaves are heart shaped and have ruffled edges, which add to the dramatic appearance. It thrives in filtered to full shade, warm temperatures and consistent humidity. It is hardy in USDA zones 8b through 11 and container grown plants can be overwintered indoors in cooler climes.

Plant your alocasia polly where it will receive a filtered sunlight or shade exposure. Some direct morning or late afternoon sun can be tolerated in cooler months.

Provide a nutrient rich and moisture holding soil that drains well enough to not be constantly wet. Amend garden soil at planting or top dress the soil once a year with compost or well aged manure to boot the nutrient value of the soil. Mulch around the base of the plant with cocoa bean hulls or shredded bark to feed the soil and hold in moisture.

Water your alocasia polly regularly so that the soil is always at least lightly to moderately moist and never dry. When the soil feels just moist to the touch an inch down, it is time to water. Depending on the humidity in your climate and the time of year this may mean watering every few days to once every 2 weeks.

Feed your alocasia polly once or twice a year with a water soluble fertilizer formula according to label directions. Choose a good quality balanced formula or one that is acid rich such as MirAcid. Always apply over wet soil with the first application of the year in the spring.

Prune away any damaged leaves or stems with clean sharp secateurs if necessary. Alocasia polly does not require pruning for size or shape but if it becomes overgrown or misshapen by damage, you can safely cut away up to one-third of the leaves down to their base to restore a symmetrical appearance.

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