Alocasia Polly is quite a striking plant. From its arrow-shaped leaves to its bold coloring, many get attracted to having it has their houseplant. It is simply hard to ignore this tropical plant. But although it looks fantastic, you must know that it’s also tricky.
That may be the case, but don’t worry. This article introduces you to more about Alocasia Polly, especially how to take care of it. Let us start with some simple facts about this so-called African Mask plant.
Alocasia Polly Facts
- Botanical Name: Alocasia Amazonica
- Common Name: Elephant’s Ear, Alocasia Polly, African Mask
- Plant Type: Perennial
- Mature Size: The houseplant variety can grow up to 4 feet tall with leaves about 20 inches long or more
- Sun Exposure: Partial Sun
- Soil Type: Porous or loam; 1-part soil, 1-part perlite or 1-part peat and coarse potting sand
- Soil pH: Acid, Neutral; 5.5 to 6.5
- Bloom Time: Spring and Summer
- Flower Color: Light butter yellow
- Hardiness Zones: 10 to 12
- Native Area: Tropical and subtropical Asia and Eastern Australia
What is Alocasia Polly?
Alocasia Polly is a stunning tropical plant characterized by its leaves shaped like arrows. As a tropical plant, it is the happiest when placed somewhere warm and humid but not directly under the sun.
This plant also likes to be kept moist but not soggy. Alocasia Polly is native to the South Pacific, particularly in the Philippines. Taking care of it is of medium difficulty, so it needs just a bit of attention to thrive.
Types of Alocasia
Alocasia has more than 70 species and dozens of hybrids. These plants are highly hybridized due to their appealing color, leaf form, and sizes. Two of the most common species are the Alocasia Amazonica and Alocasia Macrorrhizos.
Alocasia Amazonica is jewel-like Amazon lily. It is a houseplant variety that can grow up to 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. On the other hand, Alocasia Macrorrhizos is huge and can grow up to 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide.
Besides these two, Alocasia is fantastic because it is often hybridized. You will find more and more types of them. It might be hard to keep track. Most of its species does well in the shade, but they like it to be a bit brighter with filtered sunlight.
As for the bigger types, you can train them to handle the sun better. Still, keep them moist, warm, and humid. If there are falling leaves, trim them away. General indoor plant care tips work with all Alocasia varieties.
Alocasia Polly Care
One of the notable things about Alocasia Polly is its rapid growth even in northern climates where the growing season is shorter. But in the warmer season, you will see it produce new leaves almost every week.
The leaves of Alocasia Polly are quite striking. The shape varies from a wide heart shape to slim arrowheads. Besides the shape, its colorful veins are fascinating as well. There is also the fact that its leaves come in textures such as waxy, thick, glossy, or slimy.
Another unique characteristic of this plant is how it enters a dormant period. Around late in fall and winter, Alocasia Polly “rests.” During that time, its leaf growth will be reduced, and it will remain as it is throughout that period.
It is natural, so don’t be alarmed when this happens to your plant. Just continue caring for your Alocasia Polly. Once the growing season comes, your plant will once again continue to grow rapidly.
Alocasia Polly Growth Rate
This plant is a fast grower. It can grow an average of 1 to 2 leaves every month, although smaller plants less often. Alocasia Polly can grow new leaves as quickly as it drops them.
You need a large enough pot for Alocasia Polly. Since it grows quickly, you need one that can accommodate their growth rate. Otherwise, you will need to re-pot it more than once a year.
This plant needs porous soil. With good soil, you can ensure your Alocasia grows well. As for the potting mixture, make sure it is light enough for excess water to drain quickly. It must be well-drained, well-aerated, but remains moist.
Best Soil Mix for Alocasia Polly
The recommended soil mix for Alocasia Polly is one-part soil, one-part perlite/coarse potting sand, and one-part peat. Whatever soil mix you use, just make sure it is light but keeps moist well.
For Alocasia Polly, use a general fertilizer for houseplants. Make it one with iron and apply it to the plant every week in spring and summer. Don’t use fertilizer in winter since that won’t be necessary given the plant’s growth slows naturally.
Lighting and Sunlight
In terms of light, note that as mentioned, Alocasia Polly needs just enough lighting. Its lighting needs vary from shade to full tropical sun. It all depends on the variety you have. Try to find if your Alocasia is sun-trained.
Also, you should know that the varieties that grow well in more light often have better leaf color. During winter or when light is low, you can increase the amount of light that your Alocasia Polly gets.
Alocasia Polly thrives well in room temperature. You should avoid putting it in a location where it is too cold. Otherwise, your plant will become dormant. Avoid placing it somewhere with a temperature below 10 degrees as much as possible.
If not going dormant, some varieties of Alocasia Polly die in the cold weather. Sometimes, they re-sprout from the rhizome. It is ideal for temperature zones 6 to 11 where you can plant it outside in your garden.
Water and Humidity
Make sure to keep all your Alocasia plants moist the entire year. This plant is water-loving, after all. However, remember that you should only keep it moist. Soggy is not ideal, or the plants will not get enough oxygen.
During the dormant season, you can water them less. The best condition for this plant is humid environments. You can raise the plant’s humidity by putting it on a tray with pebbles. Add water up to just below the bottom of the pot.
Keep the plant from cold drafts, so don’t put it near air conditioning, windows, and doors. When watering potted Alocasia Polly, water it thoroughly with the excess water draining from the bottom of the pot.
When it comes to repotting, do so every year. Re-pot your Alocasia Polly into bigger pots using new, fresh-draining potting soil. It is also ideal that you divide the rhizome every year to keep it manageable while also increasing their numbers.
Repotting is essential for most houseplants in case your plant has outgrown its pot. It can also be because its root becomes bound. When it comes to the pot, you want to choose one that’s large enough to accommodate Alocasia’s root system.
Prune any damaged stems or leaves using clean, sharp shears. You don’t need to trim Alocasia Polly due to its size or shape. You might do so if it becomes overgrown or misshapen. Cutting 1/3 of the leaves to the base helps make it symmetrical.
Alocasia Polly Problems and How to Fix
There are a few problems you may encounter in caring for Alocasia Polly. Some of those issues and how you can fix them are written below. Check them out!
Alocasia Polly Leaves Turning Yellow
Several things can be the cause of your plant’s yellowing leaves. It could be due to improper soil moisture. More specifically, it might be because of overwatering. Remember that it likes to be damp but not saturated.
On that note, the solution is to keep a regular water schedule. You should also provide enough water that flows down the drainage hole of the pot down into the saucer at the bottom. Make sure to throw the excess water away, not letting the plant sit in it.
Another possible reason for the leaves to turn brown then eventually yellow is low humidity. Your Alocasia Polly will like it if you give it an increase in moisture through a humidifier, regular misting, or pebble tray.
If you exposed your plant in direct sunlight, that could also cause the yellowing leaves. It means the foliage was burned. Also, Alocasias that adapt to medium light may develop yellow leaves if placed in low light. In that case, simply adjust the lighting.
A stressed or weakened Alocasia Polly is susceptible to pests. Some bugs, such as spider mites, can drain moisture from your plant. When that happens, it quickly manifests into yellowing leaves.
Make sure to check for pests and kill them early on to prevent them from reproducing. The effects of pests are worse if your Alocasia is unhealthy. As such, keeping your plant in good condition is vital.
Sometimes, the yellowing is natural. It can be because the plant is producing new growth. In that case, the yellow leaves are the older foliage. You will find them often at the bottom of the plant, which means you don’t have to worry.
Alocasia Polly Leaves Going Limp and Drooping
One possible reason that your Alocasia’s leaves are going limp and drooping is incredibly dry soil. In that case, remember to keep a watering schedule for your plant. Follow it consistently to avoid having dry soil. It may also be because it doesn’t have enough humidity.
Alocasia Polly Brown Spots
If your Alocasia’s leaves are showing brown spots, they may be burned by too much sunlight. Remember that although it loves a sunny spot, it cannot tolerate direct sunlight unless trained.
In that case, you need to find the perfect placement where it can get indirect sunlight for a few hours a day. You should also water it enough. Also, don’t cut the leaves because that will only make it worse, not to mention they are still functioning.
Alocasia Polly Yellow Leaves Turning Green Again
Yellow leaves turning green again is actually good news. Compared to other tropical plants, Alocasias can bounce back. The reason is that this plant has reserve energy stored in its thick tubers.
If the leaves are yellowing and you followed the advice mentioned above, the blades should turn green again. You can just continue what you are doing – giving it enough sunlight, water, and proper humidity.
Alocasia Polly Dying Down in Winter
If your Alocasia Polly is not doing good this winter, then you need to re-check your winter care. During the cold season, this plant often goes dormant. By that, it means the plant stops growing leaves and remains as it is until summer.
A dying Alocasia Polly during Winter means it is too cold. You need to put it somewhere less cold with a temperature above 10 degrees. If there is sunlight, make sure it gets enough lighting.
Alocasia that is grown in too low light causes it to lose much of its leaves’ green color. It is up to the point that the upper surface of the leaves becomes almost black. It is a natural response if the plan is in low room light without water.
It will drop, loose color, and die slowly. You can stop this by moving the plant somewhere with enough lighting. Of course, don’t forget to water it enough. With proper care, your Alocasia Polly should bounce back.
Alocasia Polly Diseases
Alocasia Polly looks amazing and all, but it is quite sensitive. It is particularly susceptible to several diseases such as crown, stem, and root rot. It can also succumb to Xanthamonas and Leaf Spot.
The tell-tale signs your plant might be sick include dark brown or black spots with a yellowish rim. You can prevent it generally by not over-watering your plants and keeping the leaves dry.
Don’t forget to provide proper air circulation near and around your plant. As for pests, scale, mealy bugs, spider mites, and aphids are common in Alocasia plants. Spraying warm soapy water on the plant can keep these pests off.
How to Propagate Alocasia Polly
You can propagate Alocasia through rhizome division. It is easy to propagate the plant. Just make sure to use one that has reached a specific size. If it’s not fully developed yet, reproducing it will likely fail.
Propagate the plant by re-potting it during spring. Follow these steps:
- Remove the arrow-shaped leaf carefully.
- Shake the soil off and divide the rhizome into a few pieces.
- Before continuing, let the rhizomes dry a bit.
- Now, plant the rhizomes in new pots.
The top part of the rhizome must be planted over the soil. The recommended soil mix is peat and sand.
Alocasia Polly Flower
Alocasia Polly does bloom but rarely and not always. If it does flower, it looks like the usual spathe and spadix. However, the flower does not look anything good. Sometimes, it even looks a bit vulgar, which is not appealing at all.
Where Do You Buy Alocasia Polly?
There are many places where you can buy Alocasia Polly. If there are garden shops near your home, you can ask them there. If not, online sites like Amazon and Etsy are good places to start. There are also other online shops selling all kinds of Alocasia.
Frequently Asked Questions
#1. Should I Trim Brown Edged Leaves Off My African Mask Plant?
It is not necessary to trim the brown tipped leaves. Cutting them will make the cut part browner as the plant seals the injury. The browning of the edges of the leaves of your African Mask plant is a common problem in indoor houseplants.
It is called “tipping,” referencing the leaves that dry out or turn brown. The reason could be a few things like chemical burn due to too much fertilizer, overwatering, dry stagnant air, or root rot. The best solution is to find the cause and deal with it there.
#2. Can You Keep Alocasia Polly Alive in Water?
Yes, you can. Alocasia Polly does not rot in water. As it tends to grow in wet and moist places, it stays alive in the water. For example, it grows well in the rainforest climate of Brazil.
Alocasia Polly’s roots need oxygen. It means the plant can also live in water since it can also get oxygen from it. On the other hand, they do not get enough oxygen in dense or really wet soil, so make sure not to plant it like that.
#3. Can I Use Vermiculite or Perlite for Alocasia Polly?
You can use perlite or vermiculite mixed with other soil types. Alocasia Polly is a hybrid, a mix of other Alocasias. It is quite sensitive, particularly when it comes to overwatering. As such, you need a soil that drains fast. The best soil mix is light but evenly moist.
#4. Does Alocasia Polly Need Sun?
Yes. Alocasia Polly needs sun. It needs bright but indirect sunlight. The reason for this is the plant’s natural habitat being a forest floor underneath a canopy of trees. If the sun hits it directly, the leaves will burn, so avoid putting it in direct sun for a long time.
#5. How Big Does Alocasia Polly Get?
How big an Alocasia Polly gets depends on the variety. Some varieties can grow as much as 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide to 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide. These are mostly the houseplant types.
#6. Is Alocasia Polly Poisonous to Dogs and Cats?
Alocasia Polly is toxic to both cats and dogs. This plant contains insoluble oxalate crystals released when it is chewed or bit on, resulting in irritation to the mouth and GI tract. Your pets may have been poisoned of Alocasia Polly if they show signs:
- Oral pain
- Reduced appetite
- Pawing at the mouth or face
Sometimes, swelling of the upper airways happens. It makes it difficult for your pet to breathe. Be sure to take your cat or dog to the vet if they accidentally ingested Alocasia Polly.
Alocasia Polly vs. Elephant’s Ear
Alocasia Polly is also called Elephant’s Ear, which is actually the common name for a group of perennial tropical plants. Elephant Ears have big, heart-shaped leaves like an elephant.
Xanthosoma, Colocasia, and Alocasia are all Elephant Ears. So, while Alocasia Polly is an Elephant Ear, not all Elephant Ears are Alocasia. It may be confusing, but they are not precisely the same.
There you go. With this article, you have more knowledge about Alocasia Polly than before. If you plan on caring for this tropical plant, hopefully, what you learned here will help make it a success.