Today Vee and I thought it best to talk about one of our new loves that we found through our passion for plants.
(Saoirse and the Elephant Ear)
What you see above is the leaf of a Colocasia, or rather, an Elephant Ear and in some instances these can grow upwards of 3 feet!
These plants are native to subtropical Asia and Eastern Australia and therefore need bright, indirect light. Something similar to a jungle floor below the canopy.
(If not sure what type of light your home has, look here for our previous post on plants and light!)
I’m a huge fan, and Vee is rather fond as well.
I feel that one of the greatest lessons that I have gained from sharing a space with such a beautiful plant is that one must be okay with letting go. You see, the colocasia belongs to the family of what you would call, Tubers. As the plant matures, the older leaves at the bottom sometimes shrivel away to make space and give energy to those that are just beginning their journey.
The elephant ear (colocasia) reminds me of the circle of life.Tweet
If you have been following the buzz of indoor planting this year you’ve probably come across the term ‘alocasia’. Alocasia is almost synonymous with colocasia, however, there is one obvious difference.
Alocasia (upright elephant ear) can be defined as those in the species that are upright and have a growth pattern that is directed in an upward trajectory.
Colocasia is almost exclusively used to identify elephant ears, those whose growth pattern more resembles that of an umbrella as the leaves droop over the side.
These are some best practices that we have picked up along the way as the year has presented us with obstacles and challenges as new plant owners.
Elephant ears are prone to spider mites! No one told us, and I’m sure no one has probably shared this with you either. The huge leaves and small spaces created along the giant veins provide the perfect habitat for these pesky blighters. They are quick to make themselves at home and will drain the life-force from your plant with a quickness.
(If spider mites are found there are plenty of videos online describing how to rid yourself of the problem, but we will be adding our own video here soon!)
This next tip is just plain confusing, especially if this is your first venture with a plant such as this.
Elephant ears prefer dry soil, but being a tropical plant, they need high humidity to survive and thrive.
Yes, that’s right.
They want to be moist and humid up top, but the top 2-3 in of soil need to be dry before you water it. This can be best achieved with a proper watering schedule and a misting spray bottle.
Whenever watering your plant be sure to give each leaf a once over so as to check for any signs of stress and/or pest invasion.
Speaking of watering, one fun fact about the alocasia: when these plants have had their fill of H2O they will let you know by collecting droplets at the edge of their leaves. Nothing bad has happened yet, but you best put the watering can down…
Be sure to rotate your alocasia regularly so as to evenly distribute nutrition, and while doing so be sure to dust the leaves. This allows for proper photosynthesis to occur.
If you are thinking of repotting your plant consider this:
For a desktop size they can be happy in one home for 12-18 months.
For a floor size specimen they can have the same home for 18-24 months.
However, regardless of the size, when repotting be sure not to go up too many sizes as this will cause the roots of your plant to drown under the excess soil and water.
Lastly fam, Spring and Summer are the best seasons to repot your plants as this is when they are the hardiest and will most likely survive the shock.
Top 5 FAQ’s
As with any rise in popularity, many questions have arisen over how to properly care for these plants. Having learned through on hand experience some of these questions have made their way to our ears. We’ve chosen the five that we hear the most and hope that this rundown of topics will answer any questions you might have about your new, green friend.
My alocasia is drooping?
Drooping can be described as the moment when the tube and leaf of your plant begin to sink lower than where the natural threshold should be. It can seem like the tube is almost ‘bending’ at the weak point. As stated above, the plant will naturally be weighed down by the weight of the leaves, but drooping will be obvious as it will almost always present itself in tandem with another visual indicator of stress on your plant.
Drooping is often caused by incorrect watering.
It can also be the side-effect of pests.
Drooping can also be an indicator that your plant needs more light, or even that it needs more nutrients in the soil.
There are many steps you could take to alleviate drooping, and as we descend the other FAQ’s hopefully you begin to see what those steps could look like depending on your specific situation.
We felt this was a great FAQ to start with because it can mean SO MANY THINGS!
But rest assured, the one thing that is for sure is that your plant is stressed and it needs your help to do something about it.
My alocasia is turning yellow?
The yellowing of leaves almost always means that the soil moisture of your plant is incorrect, i.e. you are overwatering.
One of the best solutions to this problem is to follow a regular watering schedule. Keep in mind that this schedule needs to change depending on the season and temperatures that follow.
Just to give you an understanding of what you should be shooting for:
During the hot summer months you may need to water it everyday, but when it cools down and perhaps starts to rain more often then the watering should be less frequent. Just remember to check the soil before watering.
When watering be sure to give enough so that there is flowing liquid out of the drain hole at the bottom, but do not let the alocasia sit in standing water as they will begin to develop root rot and this can cause your leaves to turn yellow.
It’s important to follow the schedule as alternating between bone-dry and moist soil will stress your plant. This stress will manifest itself by yellowing the leaves.
Also be sure to remember that humidity factor! Tropical alocasia loves her misting spray bottle.Tweet
But do remember this as well; at the end of the day this plant still lives by the mantra ‘out with the old and in with the new’. The older tubes and leaves will gradually shrivel and fall away to make room for the young, new growth.
My alocasia is dying?
Yeah, it just might be.
But you are in luck, my friends!
The alocasia is one of the few tropical species that can survive beneath the canopy with no leaves. It does so by storing excess energy in its tubes.
Don’t give up hope, and continue to send your plant positive thoughts, because come Spring all you need do is put that baby out on the porch and voila! You’ve got yourself one tough elephant..ear!
These plants are sensitive to a few factors, but hardy when you need them to be, so if all hope seems lost just hold fast and you might just find yourself surprised.
My alocasia is dripping water?
This one is such an awesome evolutionary trait of the species!
If you come to find that your plant is dripping water off its petals fear not, it has just had too much to drink.
The elephant ear collects water droplets on the edge of its leaves to signify that the plant has had enough hydration and must rid itself of the excess before requiring more.
Just think of it as a nice way of making your life easier, and then put down that watering can.Tweet
My alocasia is not growing?
This one has a few different answers depending on a few factors:
1: It could be any mixture of the problems stated above, because plants in stress are less likely to flourish (grow).
2: The pot in which the plant resides is too small and is therefore stunting the growth of your plant.
3: And the last likely reason could also be due to the fact that the plant is merely not in the right season for growth and is in fact laying low until the warmer months.
With their huge, spanning leaves and fun tube-like growth it’s not hard to see why these amazing plants catch the eye of both novice and plantsman. A single plant alone can make a statement for an entire room, but two of them and you’ve got yourself a show.
We hope that this has left you feeling motivated and/or inspired.
If you have an alocasia, or colocasia, go forth and unlock the potential of your amazing tuber!
If the thought of having one has peeked your interest, then its about time you go and do something about it.
From all of us here at HomeoStaySis!
~Love and Positivity~