Alocasia x amazonica, or Elephant’s Ears, makes a bold statement in a houseplant collection. It grows rubbery-looking, blackish green pointed leaves with white veination, creating an unusual, tropical look. I love Alocasias because, ironically, they’re so artificial looking. Their appearance goes against the idea that leaves are soft and papery. Sometimes even spooky. I think that’s so neat.
Some books rate Alocasias as difficult to grow but I disagree. If you’re willing to tolerate a few brown tips or here and there, you’ll probably be successful. The trick for me is not to overthink it but simply take care of the following three issues.
Alocasias like bright, indirect light. They’re understory plants of the rain forest in warm misty places like South Asia, Indonesia, and parts of Australia. So I keep mine in a north-facing window and it does well. They tend to get scorched if set in direct sun.
If you’re the type who overwaters house plants, then this is the plant for you. Alocasias like continuously damp soil. Some sites say it likes to dry out between waterings, but when I’ve let that happen, the tips brown. So what I do is use a half-portion of orchid bark mix and half regular potting soil. This helps the soil drain freely.
Moist Warm Air
Since Alocasias are native to the tropics, they don’t like drafty windows. Keep the room between about 65-80 degrees and the plant will be happy. And because they thrive in the tropics, they like moist air. So if you live in a northern state where the heaters are often on in winter, try running a diffuser or humidifier near the plant to keep it moist. Otherwise, the tips may brown.
Overall, this lovely plant offers some unusual interest and great architecture. Because it’s tall, arrange it with lower bushier plants that like indirect light like Peace Lily, African Violet, or almost any fern. And note, if you have curious dogs, cats, or kids, Alocasia is poisonous so keep it high enough and out of reach. And if some older leaves die back, just snip them off. The plant will continually renew itself.
The best thing to do is to set this plant in a place where you’ll often notice it and enjoy!