Among Alocasia genus, there are various varieties to choose from. If you consider to introduce a new exotic plant to your living space, how about growing Alocasia Bambino? Why? It is because its appearance, both structure and color simply draw people in to keep looking at it.
To solve your dilemma, let’s get to know more about this attractive dwarf flora.
Alocasia Bambino is a native to Southeast Asia, but you can also find it in Australia and South Pacific Island. Its natural environment makes this plant comfortable living in a humid and warm area.
This plant is not the “original” or mother plant to begin with. You can get a hold of this beauty after cultivation that involves selective breeding and other genetic terms. This effort allows us to witness that peculiar looks like no other plant.
In general, Alocasia leaves either have short or long foliage. In this case, Alocasia Bambino has a long deep green arrowhead-shape leaf, light colored and wide veins, as well as purple undersides. The veins mostly appear in white. Typically, the leaf length reaches 15-27 cm and 5 cm wide.
Pink petioles stand strong to bear the leaves on the top. It might produces flowers although they only last for a few days and have insignificant presence. Compare to other miniature plants, this plant is tall enough. In overall, this plant could rise up to 30-40 cm tall, specifically in indoor setting. Yet, don’t worry because it wouldn’t take much of your space.
Space and Position
You can choose the options for placing the plant below.
- Any place that needs green decoration
Once you decide the perfect spot, now arrange the condition around it. The spot you choose should provide medium or bright indirect light, high humidity (minimum 60-70%, but can be higher), warm temperature, and good air circulation.
Note. Checking the current weather around your home is crucial as it might affect where to place the plant.
Fallen leaves, pale leaves, and dying leaves are the usual signs of dormancy. In the cold weather, the plant will hibernate or “sleeping” as a survival method. While Alocasia Bambino takes a rest, reduce the watering frequency or completely stop watering.
Some of you maybe panic. To ease your mind, check whether your plant might sick or experience pest/fungus attack. Once you are sure there is no serious problem, just let the plant as it is.
If you live in a tropical location or an area with high humidity and warm temperature, dormancy will seldom occur. When it does, it would be quicker.
Back in the tropical zone, this variety usually thrives under the shade of other trees. It means that they are not that good with direct-burning hot sunshine. Thus, it is easier to control the light when growing it inside the house.
It will be okay if you put the plant near blinds, windowsill, or window sheers. These material would filter the outside direct sunlight.
Let it go outside once in a while to get a sunshine is fine too. However, don’t let this plant stands alone under midday sun. This condition will scorch the leaves. Even though creating a shade will help, it should not too dark to take away the important light. This plant would give its best in less light spot as long as the room temperature is around 20°C.
Read also : Alocasia Amazonica : The Correct Way To Grow
The humidity where the plant stays should be 60% at minimum. A dry environment is not suitable for this tropical plant. One of the room with high humidity at home is bathroom. Plenty of humidity comes from the shower. Another room is kitchen where water is the main character.
Actually, you don’t have to put them there all the time. You can always put them back at your table or shelves after they fulfill the need for high humidity. If don’t want to bother yourself to move them around, there are other things you can do. Misting the plant, using humidifier, or placing pebble try under the pot could promote the humidity.
Note. Never put your plant near air vent or heater as it lowers the humidity.
You should not leave the plant in a wet condition too long after misting because it might lead to fungal disease and pest infestation.
Like most tropical plants, Alocasia Bambino is more familiar with warm temperature. In other words, this plant hates low or cold temperature. Try your best to maintain the temperature around 18-24°C for their sake.
An example of bad area in the house is home office with AC. Other area where draft could pass through is a big NO. When using a fan, open a window/door, remember to protect your plant from them. In short, the plant must avoid abrupt change of airflow especially the cold ones.
Soil to use for Alocasia Bambino should meet the following requirements.
- Contain organic matters (e.g. finer bark, orchid bark, coco coir, etc.)
The combination of this criteria retain enough moisture.
Potting Mix Options
- Orchid soil mix
- General potting soil
- Succulent mix
- Tropical mix
- Peat moss, succulent mix, all-purpose potting mix (1:1:2)
- Succulent mix, orchid bark, potting soil (2:2:2)
Others add perlite, compost, and peat to the ready-made mixture to enhance its growth.
Don’t use compact/heavy potting mix since it locks the water around the roots. The overload moisture is hurting the roots, which if left untreated will kill the plant. Maintain the soil condition, so that it isn’t dry, wet, or has sandy texture. Control the soil pH in the range of acidic to neutral.
Note. Some Alocasia varieties can live well in water, but Alocasia Bambino is not included in this group.
Watering schedule is important in case you are a busy person who tend to forget. Initially, a routine schedule helps preventing under/over watering. This job is also one of the trickiest things to do for the plant maintenance. Wrong watering will lead to many problems from the simplest to the most serious issue like root rot.
Type of water. The recommendation includes rainwater, bottled water, filtered water, and unsoften water. The water given must be in a room or warm temperature. If you only have tap water, leave the water for one night before any use. This plant is prone to chemicals, so you must do this when using tap water.
Water amount. Alocasia Bambino needs moderate amount of water regularly. The water keeps the soil moist. Thoroughly pour water slowly and wait until the excess water drains out through the drainage holes and the top soil line is dry. Normally, the moisture meter shows number 4-5 after a proper watering.
Frequency. The plant should be content enough by once/twice a week of watering. Adding more water might be okay during the growing season or hot day. In contrast, in cold season reduce the water amount or don’t give any water. As a non-drought resistant plant, never let your plant dry for a long time.
The use of fertilizer is not only to make the plant healthy but also to let it grow big and has pretty foliage. Under warm weather, feed the plant once a month using all-purpose fertilizer. Apply the ¼ diluted liquid fertilizer/water soluble fertilizer when watering the plant. This type of fertilizer is more qualified for the plant in indoor setting.
Another alternative is using slow-release fertilizer (commonly available in pellets) to feed the plant twice every year. This option is suitable for outdoor setting because the surrounding condition is rather hard to control. Fish emulsion or seaweed could work well too. And then, don’t feed Alocasia Bambino in the frost season as it usually goes dormant.
To find out the right fertilizer dosage, follow the recommendation on the label. Giving a little more fertilizer on the early growing season is somehow okay. However, don’t over fertilizing because it probably leads to thinner foliage and weak stems.
Pruning and Cleaning
For growth. Cutting the dead and old leaves promotes the plant growth. It also makes the plant looks neat and not spread wildly. Always use clean tools when pruning.
For health. A right diagnosis on the plant condition will prevent any owners from facing the worst situation. For example, the fungal or pest attack might show similar symptom that could be mistaken as a common thing such as discolored leaves. Removing the affected parts would save the plant.
Cleaning Alocasia is simple. By using a damp paper towel or soft cloth, carefully wipe the plant thoroughly. This process will get rid of the dust and a pest potential. After that you can move to pruning.
So far, the best way to propagate this plant is through rhizome division during spring or summer.
Prepare the necessary tools and equipment such as knife/shears, gloves, etc. All of this must be in a sterile condition.
- ONLY propagate the mature, hydrated, and healthy Alocasia Bambino.
- Take the mature plant from its container.
- Clean it from the attached soil.
- Separate the rhizomes in a clean area.
- Inside the pot with fresh soil mix, put the rhizome upward. Gently press the soil around it to strengthen its position. The upper part of the rhizome should be visible on the top soil line to avoid stem rot.
Now, follows the recommended tips and guidance to grow this plant. Don’t forget to give them fertilizer in the early weeks of growing. On the second to third month, the roots and shoot start to get bigger. In this crucial time, never let your guard down. Entering month 4 to 6, you could see the mature size of it.
Potting and Repotting
Whether you plant a new plant or repotting the old one, you only need a small size container. In terms of repotting, checking the roots will inform you when to repot.
After you see the roots outside the drainage holes and the plant starts to look bulky in the pot, repotting is necessary. When repotting takes place, the roots might get hurt or damaged a little bit during the process. For this reason, spring is the right time for repotting since the roots could heal quickly.
Even when the plant is overgrown, the difference is not too significant. Most of them can stay pretty long in the same pot. Thus, repotting is carried out every year, two, or three years. Preparing a new pot with 1-2 inch larger (width and height) from the old pot is enough.
A good pot should made of well-drained and porous material. Additionally, the new container must have adequate drainage holes which let the excess water comes out but still keep the soil moist.
- Use a screening between drainage hole and the soil. This method is useful to allow water drains while securing the soil (and its nutrients).
- Add soil to the pot and fix the plant position at the center.
- Have a space between the top edge of pot and the soil inside. With this trick, you won’t experience spillover when watering this greenery.
- Water the plant and wait till it drains.
Alocasia Bambino has poisonous calcium oxalate that could affect your health. If this substance accidentally touches your skin or even swallowed, you might face irritation, swelling, and digestive problem. That is why children and pets should not have an easy access to this plant.
Recognizing the issue can be neither easy nor difficult. Leaves often show the reaction on how the plant feels.
Watch out for mealy bug, scale, whitefly, spider mite, and aphid. These insects often attack the neglected plant. First of all you have to eliminate all the infected parts (usually leaves). Second, apply pesticide or neem oil on it. Last, exile the sick plant from others to stop the pest from spreading. You might need to check other plants too, to see if they have already infected or not.
Overwatering or under watering are the common cause of leaf discoloration. The right way to solve it is by controlling the water amount and watering frequency.
Disease, lack of light, pest, and overwatering are the culprit candidate for dropping leaves. Remember to always care the plant properly as it should be regarding its lighting, watering, and regular pest/disease inspection.
Again, overwatering indeed gives much trouble to this plant. Overwatering makes the soils soggy instead of moist. Make sure a few inches of the top soil parts dry between watering.
Another cause of brown edge is over fertilization. Too much fertilizer means the nitrogen amount is higher than it should be. Eventually, it burns the leaves.
Direct sun exposure is a dreadful especially if it happens for a long time without supervision. To deal with this matter, use a filter or create a shade to block the direct sunshine.
You can avoid this issue if you control the watering. To save the dying plant, remove the root rot to separate it from other plant parts. Repot the healthy plant in a new container and new moist soil.
Tips When Buying Alocasia Bambino
Find the Right Size
Since this plant has a compact size, you can be a little confused about the actual size of it. If you consider buying a young version of this plant, there might be a small differences to look at. Hence, try to ask in detail about them.
Check for Similar Plant
Alocasia genus consists of diverse yet similar varieties. Even though, their care routine is alike, picking the right one would satisfy your initial intention of having Alocasia Bambino.
Examine its Health
There is a possibility that your future plant has problem such as pest infestation. Undeniably, sometimes the nursery or local garden might overlooked some of the plants unintentionally. Therefore, check the plant you want to buy before you taking it home. If you find the problem after that, do prevention measures to deal with pest attack as mentioned above. For the sake of its health and other plants, quarantine the plant for a few weeks.
Alocasia Bambino vs Alocasia Polly
At a glance, both looks almost identical. To avoid mistake, here are some aspects to differentiate these varieties.
Size. Bambino is smaller, but taller than Polly.
Foliage. The shape of Polly leaves is rounder resembling heart shape. The scalloped edges is striking thus giving strong impression. Meanwhile, Bambino leaves is longer with its arrowhead shape.
Color. Bambino has bolder color than Polly.
Other than that, they are not much difference. Expert assistance will help you understand more about their features.
Indoor or Outdoor
Alocasia Bambino can live indoor and outdoor. Great preparation and anticipation will let the plant get the best treatment.
Indoor. This plant is not a fan of sudden change. As a result, it is easier to keep it indoor because you can control the necessary elements. The light and humidity are normally stable inside the house. During fall and winter, you don’t have to bring it back again inside.
Outdoor. Nature usually gives many things for free. Rainwater and bright light are there. Depend on the location, it is better to provide a shade or shelter outside. Hot sun at twelve o-clock is dangerous than a morning sun. Generally, you must try to mimic the natural habitat of this Southeast Asia native as closer as possible.
Reasons Why You Should Have It
· A beautiful greenery to add your collection
This plant is truly a “sophisticated” fella to begin with. The current appearance is only available after the cultivation. It does not grow naturally in the wild. Moreover, with more than 70 varieties you can start by having this small size Alocasia before adding others. As a reminder, it is getting harder to obtain this plant due to the popularity, stock, and price. So, be prepared for a battle.
· A simple care
Planting and growing it is simple, thanks to its size and looks. The problem is to keep it under control. Aside from the difficulty to buy this plant, for some reasons the care and maintenance can be a hassle. This plant is sensitive to various things from drought, cold, and overwatering. However, if you can go through all of this, you deserve a reward.
· A stress reliever
After going so much through to raise this plant, let yourself enjoy its existence. Journal of Psychological Anthropology has published a study revealing that having indoor plant help reducing the stress level. If you spend more times at home, try to take a look at this plant once in a while.
· An air purifier
The more plants you have, the air purification will get better. Still, don’t forget the toxicity of this plant.
· Green all year
Keep being green is the great feature of Alocasia Bambino. You can see the green color anytime regardless the different season.
With the discussion above, let’s sum up the things that Alocasia Bambino needs.
- Bright indirect light. No matter what, try to provide this kind of light at regular basis. If you need to let it get sunshine outside, only do this in the morning or afternoon for 1-2 hours.
- High humidity. With various appliances and equipment at home, maintaining high humidity level is a piece of cake.
- Warm temperature. Always observe the temperature change either indoor or outdoor.
- Moist soil. Too wet or soggy soil will block the oxygen from entering the plant. Consequently, your root is rotting. Porous and well-drained soil mix is a must.
- Moderate watering. Adjust the amount and frequency of watering according to the season. Underwatering and overwatering have bad impact on the plant overall health. Watering has become the source of many Alocasia issues up to this day.
- Adequate fertilizer. Fertilizer burn might occur due to over fertilizing. The purpose of feeding is to support the plant in case the soil nutrient decreases. Hence, feed the plant within the boundary.
Now, are you ready to welcome this plant at your lovely home?