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Alocasia spp.

Alocasia Overview

Scientific name:

Alocasia spp.



Water requirements:


Light requirements:

Indirect Sun

Table of Contents

Introduction to Alocasia

Alocasia is a genus of tropical plants that are known for their large, arrowhead-shaped leaves. They are commonly called elephant ears due to the resemblance of their leaves to an elephant’s ears. Alocasias originate from the rainforests of Asia and Eastern Australia, where they thrive in hot, humid environments.

Alocasias make great office plants because they purify indoor air by removing toxins such as formaldehyde, xylene, and ammonia. Their large leaves also have an aesthetically pleasing, tropical look that can liven up any workspace. Some popular Alocasia varieties for offices include Alocasia ‘Polly,’ A. amazonica, and A. ‘Stingray.’

There are over 70 species of Alocasia. Some of their common names include elephant ear plant, African mask plant, Kris plant, and upright elephant ears. Their botanical name comes from the Greek word “alos,” meaning horse, referring to the shape of their leaves.

Why Alocasia Thrives Indoors

Alocasias prefer consistent warmth, indirect sunlight, and high humidity – conditions that are easy to provide indoors. By using pebble trays for humidity and keeping them away from hot and cold drafts, Alocasia plants can flourish inside an office.

Unique Qualities

Alocasias have stunning foliage available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Their leaves can be solid green, variegated, or even black, like in the popular Alocasia ‘Black Velvet.’ The striking leaf patterns make them stand out from other houseplants.

Many Alocasia varieties also produce small flowers and berries, adding seasonal interest. While the flowers are not very showy, the cluster of red or orange berries can be quite attractive.

Detailed Description of Alocasia

Alocasia plants are known for their stunning, distinctive foliage. The broad, arrowhead or heart-shaped leaves can grow quite large, up to 3 feet long in some species. The texture of the leaves is thick and waxy, with prominent veining that often contrasts dramatically with the deep green color of the leaf surface.

One unique feature of Alocasia is that the leaves point upward and stand horizontally, rather than drooping downwards like some similar plants. This gives the plant a very sculptural, architectural look. The leaves are also often dramatically decorated, with wavy edges, lobes, or variegation adding visual interest.

Distinctive Features

Some of the most distinctive features that set Alocasia apart include:

  • Thick, glossy, waxy leaves
  • Vibrant leaf veining and coloration
  • Large, arrowhead shaped leaves
  • Upright orientation of leaves
  • Textured leaf edges – ruffled, wavy, or lobed

Differences Between Species

While all Alocasia share the same basic features, there is actually quite a bit of diversity among the 70+ species. Some of the differences include:

  • Alocasia amazonica – Distinctive ribbing on the leaf undersides
  • Alocasia macrorrhiza – Dramatic arrowhead shaped leaves up to 3 feet long
  • Alocasia zebrina – Striking yellow veining against dark green leaves
  • Alocasia baginda – Deep purple stems and leaf undersides

So while they share a family resemblance, exploring the different Alocasia species reveals a diversity of forms, textures, and colors that keeps these plants interesting.

Optimal Care Guide

Providing the right care is crucial for Alocasias to thrive. Here are some key things to consider when it comes to lighting, watering, temperature, humidity, soil, and potting for your Alocasia:

Light Requirements

Alocasias prefer bright, indirect light. Place them near a bright window where they will receive plenty of ambient sunlight but no direct sun rays. Direct sun can scorch their leaves. Aim for 12-14 hours of bright, indirect light per day.

Watering Schedule

Water Alocasias when the top inch or two of soil is dry. Take care not to overwater them as they are prone to root rot. Water them thoroughly until it runs from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Allow any excess water to drain fully before returning the plant to its decorative pot or location.

Temperature & Humidity

Alocasias thrive in warm conditions between 18-25ºC. Keep them away from cold drafts. Maintain a humidity level around 60-70% to prevent spider mites and crisping leaf edges. Group plants together, use a humidifier, or place pebbles under the pots to increase humidity.

Soil & Potting

  • Use a well-draining potting mix, not standard potting soil
  • Add perlite or orchid bark to improve drainage
  • Repot every 2 years in spring into slightly larger pots
  • Choose pots with drainage holes using free-draining materials like terracotta

Following these optimal care guidelines will help your Alocasia flourish and maintain their vibrant, tropical appeal.

Benefits in the Office

Having Alocasia plants in an office setting provides several benefits for employees and employers alike. Firstly, Alocasia is excellent at purifying indoor air by absorbing toxins and removing harmful chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene. This creates a healthier work environment and reduces sick days taken by staff.

Additionally, the vibrant green leaves and unique shapes of Alocasia species add appealing aesthetics to any office space. Studies show that having plants in a workplace increases productivity by up to 15% as well as boosts creativity and concentration. The visual presence of plants is soothing and helps employees feel happier at their jobs.

There is also evidence that Alocasia and other plants lower psychological and physiological stress in office settings. By producing oxygen and reducing carbon dioxide levels, Alocasia helps regulate mood and energy levels, reducing anxiety, fatigue, and headaches. This allows staff to feel more relaxed and focused.

Key Benefits Summary

  • Purifies indoor air by absorbing toxins
  • Increases productivity, creativity, and concentration
  • Provides appealing and soothing aesthetics
  • Lowers psychological and physiological stress

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Alocasias are stunning plants, but they can be prone to certain issues if not cared for properly. Here are some of the most common problems that arise with Alocasias and how to resolve them.


Overwatering is one of the most common reasons Alocasias struggle. Too much moisture causes root rot and a whole host of other problems. Signs of overwatering include:

  • Yellow, droopy leaves
  • Mushy or rotten roots
  • Blisters or lesions on leaves

To fix, allow the soil to completely dry out between waterings. Water less frequently, and always make sure excess water can drain out the bottom of the pot.


While overwatering is more common, underwatering can also cause issues. Parched, dry soil leads to drought stress. Symptoms include:

  • Brown, crispy leaf edges
  • Stunted growth
  • Leaves drooping or curling inward

Water your Alocasia thoroughly whenever the top inch of soil becomes dry. Mist the leaves every few days for extra hydration.

Improper Lighting

Too much or too little light leads to poor plant health. Signs of improper lighting include:

  • Pale leaves show too little light
  • Brown scorch marks indicate too much light

Place in bright, indirect light. Move to a shadier or brighter spot if needed until symptoms resolve.

Pest Infestations

Spider mites, mealybugs, thrips, and other pests can attack. Look for:

  • White cottony buildup on leaves
  • Tiny bugs crawling on the plant
  • Speckled or stippling damage

Isolate affected plants. Wipe leaves down with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Apply every 5-7 days until pests are gone.

Fun Facts and Trivia

Alocasia plants have a long and storied history. They originated in the tropical regions of Asia and the Pacific Islands, where they have been cultivated for centuries as an important food crop due to their starchy tubers. In some cultures, Alocasia is known as the “king of vegetables” and plays an integral role in cultural events and rituals.

Interesting facts about the history and unique properties of Alocasia

  • The name “Alocasia” comes from the Greek words “alos,” meaning “other” and “khasia” meaning “habitat.” This refers to the plant’s ability to adapt to various environments.
  • There are 79 known Alocasia species, with new varieties still being discovered in remote jungle areas.
  • Certain Alocasia species can grow massive leaves, with some reaching over 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide!
  • The veins on Alocasia leaves inspired the art deco architectural designs seen in many 20th century buildings.

Alocasia’s role in different cultures

In Southeast Asian cultures, Alocasia tubers and leaves are used in traditional medicines and served at weddings and coming-of-age ceremonies. The Hawaiian name for Alocasia is “kalo,” and it’s considered a sacred plant that brought life to the islands.

How Alocasia has evolved over time and its significance in various contexts

Modern hybrid Alocasia cultivars have an astounding diversity of leaf shapes, textures, and colors compared to early wild varieties. Over time, Alocasia has transitioned from a staple food crop to an ornamental houseplant and landscape showpiece, prized for its tropical flair.

As an adaptable, resilient plant, Alocasia has become a symbol of strength, endurance and standing out from the crowd – an apt metaphor for its own remarkable history and evolution.


After learning all about the unique appearance, optimal care, and benefits of the Alocasia plant, you may be inspired to bring some into your own office space. Alocasia can be an excellent addition for creating a lively, healthy environment for employees. Its lush green leaves and visually striking shapes will brighten up any room.

Incorporating Alocasia into Office Spaces

When choosing Alocasia for your office, consider the available light and humidity. Place them in bright, indirect light near windows, or supplement with grow lights. Group plants together to increase humidity. Rotate plants weekly for even growth. Choose hardy Alocasia varieties like Alocasia Polly or Alocasia Amazonica that can tolerate office conditions. Add pebble trays for extra moisture.

Contact Aztec Plants

Aztec Plants specializes in providing beautiful, healthy plants for office spaces of all sizes. Click here to contact them about incorporating luscious Alocasia into your office décor. Their team of experts can help select perfect plants and provide ongoing maintenance to keep your Alocasia thriving.

With its captivating foliage, Alocasia is sure to improve happiness, focus, and creativity. Contact Aztec Plants today to bring these benefits to your office!

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