Alocasia Azlanii (Red Mambo): Grow and Care Tips

Have you ever wondered why Alocasia azlanii is famous among gardeners and plant lovers? Do you need to know more in case you want to grow them? Stay here and get the answer to your questions.

History

Alocasia azlanii initially grows in Serawak Region, Borneo Island. Living in such an exclusive spot, the world finally find out about its existence after the recent cultivation. Now, as you can see this plant popularity soars around the world. In areas around cultivator, for around 28,000 years this plant has been cultivated as grocery.

Basic Information

Botanical nameAlocasia azlanii
NicknameRed mambo
OriginAn endemic of Borneo Island, particularly in Serawak Region.
FamilyArum, Araceae
HabitatTropical rainforest or places with warm temperature.
HighlightThe leaf color ranges between green, red and purple.
GrowthAble to grow till 60 cm tall when reach maturity.
SoilAerated and well-drained soil
WaterRoom temperature water
LightBright and indirect light
TemperatureIdeally between 15-30°C
HumidityA minimum of 60%
ToxicityContain calcium oxalate crystal that is poisonous for human and pet.

Appearance

The base color of the leaf is waxy green and the red, purple, or black veins as well as light green sides accentuate the foliage. The shape is oval and the leaves grow in upright pose. From far away it looks glossy and wrinkled, but still pretty. When entering maturity, the leaves could grow until 20 cm.

The size of Alocasia azlanii stem is around 25 cm in height. Moreover, the flowers produced have cream color.

Beginners might misperceived it as taro. Some also said that the leaves look like banana.

How To Grow And Care For Alocasia Azlanii

You don’t need any special skills or experience to grow this decorative plant. As long as you follow the basics, you’re going to be fine.

Soil Composition

For this plant, a good soil must be able to retain the necessary amount of water. The soil mix composition you can use including coconut husk and perlite in 1:2 ratio. Another composition you can try is potting soil (1/3), peat moss (1/3), and perlite (1/3). These combinations will create a well-draining soil with good aeration.

A good quality soil will keep the water inside for the plant while letting the excess water flows through drainage holes. As a result, the roots won’t be soaked and don’t suffer from root rot.

Although a quality potting mix assures the plant growth, you must check it often. There are times when the top soil takes longer time to dry. And it is likely that you accidentally mix an imbalance soil composition. The common case is there are too much perlite as well as peat moss. To solve this issue, you could use a ready-made cactus mix.

Note: It is crucial to keep the soil moist but be careful with dry and soggy condition.

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Fertilizer

During growing season (spring and summer), feed the plant once or twice a month. In the fall, giving it fertilizer once a month if necessary. Then, stop feeding the plant in the winter as it goes dormant.

To prevent over-fertilizing, it is better to follow the instruction on the product label. The common recommendation is a half of diluted balanced fertilizer, but not more. Sometimes, people also feed the plant with high nitrogen (after mix it with water). If you overdo it, you will burn the plant.

Note: Diluted fertilizer is important because the plant prefer liquid form of feed.

Watering

Red Mambo indeed loves water as what it usually gets in the wild. Still, you need to control the amount and frequency. Commonly, the duration between watering is two weeks. If around five centimeters or 30 % of the soil surface have dried, you may give it some water. The soil condition after watering should be damp instead of soggy.

Overwatering. Too much water make the soil wet. Then, wet soil would obstruct the oxygen from entering the plant. Consequently, the roots are getting weak and eventually rotting.

Underwatering. It will turn the leaves into yellow. The leaves might droop or turn brown. Black spot might appear on the leaves too. Despite of that, you have to reduce the water intake in winter or cold season.

Tips: Some people use moisture probe as an indicator for watering. This device works by assessing the moisture content in the soil. If number 2 is up on it, it means your plant needs water. You should start watering from the ground instead of directly pouring it on the leaves.

Lighting

Alocasia azlanii requires bright indirect lighting.

It is fine for the plant to stay under the morning sun for a while. Contrarily, direct sunlight in the midday is BAD since it could scorch the leaves.

If you put the plant outside in the garden or patio, you must provide a sheltered area. This can be achieved by grouping it with others plants.

If you decide to grow the plant indoor, artificial lighting could help you. Choose a full range LED and position it 30 cm away from the plant. Let it stays there for 14 hours each day.

Humidity and Temperature

As a tropical plant, Red Mambo used to grow in a high humidity climate. So, you should maintain at least 60% of humidity level. The plant growth is slowing down when living under a low humidity environment. Other visible signs of low humidity are brown foliage as well as brown patch.

You can spray the plant with water 2-3 times to enhance the moisture. In case you’re too lazy, using automatic mister and humidifier will greatly help your plant to stay moist.

Cold draft is the enemy of this plant. It would stress out the plant. And then, it becomes more vulnerable to pest and disease. The problem is, the temperature condition at home is usually colder than outdoor specifically in a dark room. Therefore, you must keep them in temperature around 18-24°C.

If you are still worry, you can buy a humidity meter to observe the humidity and temperature condition. It will tell you when you need to pay more attention to the plant.

Note: An abrupt temperature change could harm the plant. So, keep it away from cold window, heater, and AC.

Read also : Alocasia Cuprea : Caring and Loving A Tropical Plant with Unique Foliage

Propagation

Propagating Alocasia azlanii will save more money than buying a new one. You just have to do it in summer and or spring because the roots sprout faster. You can choose the following propagation methods as you like.

Division Method

As the most preferable propagation method, division indeed gives faster results.

  • First, take out the plant from the pot and remove the soil gently.
  • Second, split the rhizome using a clean knife. Here, both parts must have enough roots for a successful propagation.
  • Third, use a fresh and well-drained potting mix in a pot with good drainage holes. Then, put each part inside. After a few weeks, sprout will pop out from the roots after a proper continuous care.

Offset Method

This is the second most popular propagation method after the division. It just need baby plants which thrive all year around.

  • By using a sharp and sterile tools such as knife or pruning shears, cut the roots connected to the main plant.
  • You need to separate the young plant from its parent.
  • Next, repot it in a smaller size container to avoid drowning.

Reminder: Only chop the offsets after the height reaches 7.5 cm. A bigger size offset will allow the propagation to work out well.

Seed Method

When the growing season has passed, this method is the available one. This might happen when you forget or too busy. Unfortunately, this is the most vexing method. Moreover, it would test your patience due to the slower result. In case you might have to do it, you could follow the steps below.

  • In autumn, soak the seeds for one night in water. Then, scatter the seed in a well-drained soil.
  • The depth to plant the seeds in the soil should be 1 or 1.5 cm. Give a little bit of water and wrap the container with plastic bag. This process aims to keep a constant and high humidity level.
  • Keep the soil moist while the container stays under a bright indirect sunlight.
  • Germination highly depends on warm temperature. Hence, the seedlings needs to be warm too. You can make a use of a heat mat placed below the container.
  • The right time to move it into bigger pot is when the seedlings grow to 5 cm in height. Do this carefully to protect the roots.

Using Corms

This method is not for newbies since the corms have a higher probability to contain virus. In contrast, the method is quite simple. Once you take the plant, clean the roots from any dirt. Then, divide the rhizome using sanitized knife. Next, plant the already separated plant as in the previous methods above. In a few weeks you could see the result.

Note: An unfavorable opinion states that some gardeners choose to purchase another plant rather than propagate them. They decide to do that because a possibility that Red Mambo can easily rot after splitting and putting it in a pot. As an additional information, they need to get the plant first (which is hard) before they can do propagation.

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Potting

Every two years, repotting is vital because Red Mambo needs more spaces to grow. In fact, this process can stimulate the growth of this plant. The sign for repotting is the roots emerge through the drainage hole.

Irregular or late repotting will cause:

  • Stunting growth
  • The plant to lose its moisture
  • The plant might die especially without enough water and light

Basic requirement for repotting is a slightly larger size of pot with drainage holes. When choosing the pot type, you must pay attention to its ability to retain enough water without making the soil soggy. For example, although terracotta pot has light weight it can be awfully porous. While stoneware is able to protect the plant from bacteria or fungus from entering. Others also use clay pot for their plant.

Common Issues

Like other greeneries, this plant can be susceptible to disease and pest.

Diseases

Brown leaves. This might occur due to pest infestation and overwatering. While the roots might not be visible enough, dying stem can a sign that your plant is sick from root rot. To deal with this matter, you need to take away the affected part to save the healthy ones.

Dropping leaves. If you leave the plant for a long time without water, this condition will occur. Underwatering or lack of water begins to ruin the life cycle of Alocasia azlanii in this case. Gradually the stem is getting weaker then dropping. Regular watering in a right amount is able to avoid this problem and save the plant.

Yellow leaves. The possible causes of this phenomenon are overwatering, bad soil moisture, and insect infiltration. Maintain the humidity and provide enough water can solve this problem.

Shedding leaves. Both underwatering and overwatering are the reason behind this issue. Again, you must consistent with watering and fulfill the water needs of the plant.

Brown spot. Too much sunlight would burn the leaves and eventually they get blacken. To prevent the plant from dying, prune the foliage and let it grows under indirect sunlight.

Handling Pests Problem

Mealybugs, spider mites, scales, and aphids are the common insect that attack Alocasia azlanii. Among others, spider mite often attacks this houseplant.

How to check

Shake the plant slowly while holding a piece of white paper under the leaves. See if there are any pest that fell on the paper. After you can identify them, quickly act to deal with it.

Solution

In general, using either chemical or organic insecticide will eliminate both the pests and their eggs. You also can use neem oil as an alternative here.

Prevention

  • Soapy water

Sprinkle the plant using soapy water has two purposes. First, it stops the pests from getting closer to the plant. Second, it avert the dust from coming back. You basically also try to control the minimum 60% of humidity level with this method.

  • Warm water + wash cloth

Dip the wash cloth in warm water and then damp the leaves. You should do this every one-two weeks.

  • Organic products

One of organic products you can use is horticultural oil. These products are safe to apply on your beloved plant. To make sure, try to test it first in small area.

Read also : Alocasia Stingray : All You Need To Know About

Other Alocasia Varieties

Even though there are more than 97 species of Alocasia plants, the list below only describes the widely known ones.

·        Alocasia Amazonica

This variety is a hybrid resulting from alocasia longiloba and alocasia sanderiana combination. For many beginners, this exotic plant is easy to maintain. This is the reason why it is famous.

·        Alocasia Zebrina

Even without white veins, this plant is still amazing with its arrow-shaped or shield leaves. As its name suggests, the pole-like stalks have zebra print in yellow and black hue.

·        Alocasia Melo or Alocasia Rugosa

Its sizable thick green foliage has loose texture as well as deep veins. These features differentiate this plant from others. It can easily grow in small pot or container because of its short and thick figure.

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FAQ

Is it okay to prune Alocasia azlanii?

There are two things you should do about dead leaves. You must find the reason why it happens beforehand.

If the cause of withering leaves is pest infestation including insect and fungus, you absolutely have to remove them. The sooner you do it, the faster your plant will heal.

On the other hand, if it is only a natural cycle of a plant, let them be is better. Why? These left over leaves actually could protect the stems. Furthermore, it is able to store the food for the plant particularly during cold season.

Is Alocasia azlanii a strong plant?

Compare to other alocasian, this plant is practically like hulk. When the leaves shed, it still can survive and will be back in no time. It also has enough resistance toward pests and diseases. To some degree, it is amazing that this plant is able to live without watering for several months.

Is Alocasia azlanii difficult to grow?

Generally, it is wrong because a proper care will make it thrive well. However, this plant is quite sensitive with temperature change, humidity, and watering.

Is Alocasia azlanii difficult to propagate?

Growing this plant from a bulb can be pretty challenging as it tests your patience. When the mature plant have produced bulbs, keeping it healthy is not easy but it is possible.

Where should I grow Alocasia azlanii?

Because of its natural habitat, people worry that Red Mambo is not suitable for indoor setting. However, don’t be panic. If you decide to grow it indoor, you should take it out for morning sunlight in every season. When you put it back indoor, ensure that it stays in temperature between 65-75°F. Using humidifier and pebble will also keep your plant happy at home.

Try to position the plant in sunny room since in a dark room the temperature may drop 20° compare to the average room temperature. By maintaining its original habitat, you could prevent dormancy or cutting the dormancy period shorter easily.

As a matter of fact, in non-tropical areas, the plant still can live comfortably. You just have to make maintain warm temperature and high humidity at your home.

How toxic is Alocasia azlanii?

It could be highly toxic if being consumed raw due to the oxalate crystals content inside the plant. This insoluble and poisonous content could penetrate the tissue and enter the blood stream. Consequently, severe irritation and inflammation of the GI tract and mouth would occur.

Those who suffer from this effect should hold themselves from eating anything for 2 days. If they don’t have any dental or gum disease they must stop consuming anything for 4 hours.

This one of the reasons why the expert suggest to use glove when handling this plant. If you have kids and pest, make sure you keep them away from playing with this plant.

Why Alocasia azlanii is rare?

Alocasia azlanii is one of the recently discovered plant. Its gorgeous foliage has attracted a lot of people to display them at home. The exact reason why this plant is so rare is the fact that it is an endemic flora of Borneo.

Without the recent cultivation effort, strangers like us might never know their existence.

Where can I get Alocasia azlanii?

If you ask about this before the current cultivation, you might have to spend a long time journey inside the wild. With a little bit of fortune you can try to order it online. Beware that due to its rarity and popularity, you might have to spend more fortune on this plant. If it takes longer, you could visit the nursery of Alocasia azlanii in Asian countries.

Is it worth it to grow Alocasia azlanii?

Yes, if you have that determination. You can have several advantages for having this plant.

  1. You could decorate your home, garden, or patio with its magnificent foliage.
  2. If you success to propagate it, you can sell it. This plant is hard to find and buy both online and offline. There are collectors who will not hesitate to spend their wealth on it. As a result, this makes Red Mambo is the most sought-after decorative plant around the world.
  3. You can brag about it to your friends or fellow gardeners. It is already a challenge start from getting this plant on your door step. If you success to grow it up to propagation, you should reward yourself.

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