Plants 101

How To Care for an Alocasia

Alocasia ranks as one of those dependable houseplants, but that doesn’t mean it is short on style.

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Alocasia ranks as one of those dependable houseplants, but that doesn’t mean it is short on style. This tropical plant holds another common name: the elephant ear plant.

While a common indoor plant, the name alocasia refers to many diverse specimens. The alocasia jewel is a rarer species with chocolate-colored leaves. In contrast, the alocasia polly features distinctive leaves that houseplant fans will be very familiar with. Strikingly designed heart-shaped or arrowhead-shaped leaves help indicate that this plant is an alocasia.

There is so much to explore with the easy-to-find houseplant alocasia. Read on to learn all about how to care for an alocasia, from choosing the proper temperature, soil, humidity, and watering schedule for your happy plant.

About the Plant

The alocasia family of plants features a vast spectrum of sizes, colors, and textures within its diverse assortment of species. If you consider bringing home an alocasia, dive deeper into the needs and characteristics of the specific species that catches your eye.

While their appearances vary widely, each of these plants thrives in a tropical environment indoors or outdoors. These plants originated in tropical rainforests from China to India, the South Pacific, and Eastern Australia. If you choose to plant an alocasia outdoors, make sure you live in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 10b to 12a.

How big do alocasia get? This isn’t a simple question. The Black Velvet species of alocasia is popular for its dark foliage and compact size. However, the Golden Lutea can reach eight to 10 feet in height with neon yellow leaves! There are more than 80 species of alocasia.


Think of the dappled sunlight which naturally occurs in a rainforest when you consider where to place your alocasia indoors. Bright, indirect light provides the best fuel for your alocasia to achieve its rapid growth.

If you choose a location with too much direct light, your alocasia may suffer from scorched leaves. Scorched leaves may appear as a targeted brown spot on leaves or an overall orange tinge to foliage.

An alocasia kept in a room with too little light may be the answer to the common question, why is my alocasia drooping?

Alocasias planted outdoors thrive in part sun. Choose a spot with direct morning sun and a break from the heat in the afternoon.


An alocasia’s robust rhizome root system can get soggy with too much water. If about one-quarter to one-half of the soil is dry, your elephant ear plant is due for watering. Tap your finger lightly on the top of the soil. If the soil does not stick to your finger, consider watering your alocasia.

Water until liquid flows out of the drainage hole at the bottom of your plant’s pot. This is a clear indicator you have watered your alocasia enough. Clear away any excess water collecting in the saucer underneath the drain.


Try to mimic a rainforest climate for your alocasia. If you live in a dry place, use a humidifier or trays of water to increase the humidity in the air around your tropical plant.

Consider placing your alocasia in a room with higher humidity. Bathrooms and laundry rooms foster a consistently humid environment for happy alocasias.

Proper humidity leaves help promote the best environment for your alocasia. Low humidity results in stunted plants which fail to grow new leaves.


Maintain a temperature above 60 F for your elephant ear. Avoid placing this plant near drafty environments, exterior doors, or other places with temperature fluctuations.

If you choose to move your alocasia outdoors in warm temperatures, bring them indoors for the winter. Alocasia does not tolerate frost and should come inside even before temperatures drop below 50 F.


Well-drained soil provides the best growing environment for alocasia. Slightly acidic soil, which makes up the majority of mass-produced, peat-based potting soils available, supports the growth of elephant ears. You can’t go wrong with any ordinary potting soil, but make sure your planting pot contains a drainage hole.

Common Problems

Alocasia ranks as a plant with a straightforward care routine and contains very few common problems. Being able to identify some of these issues will help you learn how to care for an alocasia.

Does Alocasia Attract Pests?

Pests like aphids, spider mites, or mealybugs can appear on alocasias. Help prevent infestations by wiping down leaves and not overwatering your plants. An insecticidal soap effectively ends infestations of these common pests.

Why Is My Alocasia Drooping?

A drooping alocasia can be a reaction to several things. First, move your alocasia to a location with more light to reverse drooping. If that doesn’t work, adjust your watering routine. Both too much and too little water can promote drooping. Your alocasia may need fertilizer if the previous two remedies do not help.

Why Is My Alocasia Polly Turning Yellow?

A yellowing alocasia typically points to one culprit: overwatering. Cut back on watering until about half of the plant is dry. Check on the moisture level of your alocasia every week to 10 days.

Is Alocasia Toxic to Pets?

Yes. Dogs, cats, horses, and humans should all avoid ingesting alocasia. While it is not lethal, these plants can make humans and creatures uncomfortable with symptoms like mild stomach and mouth irritation and vomiting.

Level of Difficulty

Alocasia needs a simple maintenance routine and a common household environment to thrive. Because most homes provide the humidity and temperature an alocasia enjoys, houseplant beginners can feel accomplished when growing an alocasia.

Water and fertilize an alocasia simultaneously with most other houseplants to keep it happy, thriving, and not overwatered. Choose general, all-purpose plant food to fertilize your elephant ear plant.


Once you know how to care for an alocasia, it provides an excellent houseplant to brighten any room or to give as a gift. These striking plants come in so many colors, sizes, and textures for a beginner-friendly plant with maximum personality. Simple watering, temperature, fertilizer, sunlight, and soil requirements make alocasia straightforward and rewarding. Don’t shy away from alocasia. These plants are simple to maintain and fascinating to collect.

Words By The Sill

Empowering all people to be plant people—a collection of articles from The Sill’s team of plant experts across a variety of plant care topics to inspire confidence in the next generation of plant parents. Welcome to Plant Parenthood™.

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