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

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Considering growing a pretty plant indoor? Alocasia cuprea could be an option! Its bright and nice foliage will provide a nice touch for your home. If you’re interested, let’s start getting to know more about this plant.


Humid areas in Asia (especially Borneo) and South America are the home of this tropical plant. Thomas Lobb introduced this plant to Europe in 1850s. Since then, it has been gaining many popularity. In 1861, Karl Koch formally documented this plant during an expedition to South East Asia. The name “cuprea” refers to the word “copper” (cuprum in latin), a color that appears in its leaves.

Well-known Nickname

  • Red Secret

Reason: reddish color on the leaf surface

  • Mirror Plant

Reason: when the leaves are wet, they seem like a shining plastic

  • Jewel Alocasia

Reason: distinct color and shiny features of the leaves looks like jewelry that mesmerizes people

Alocasia Cuprea Size and Growth

Unlike many Alocasia species, this plant has a smaller size. The approximate width is 60 centimeters and the height is between 30-45 centimeters.

When its other sibling suddenly get too big in a flash, the growth of this plant is relatively slow. It takes 5-8 years to reach the ultimate height.


Its burgundy heart-shaped leaves with satin like texture make it stands out among others. Different lighting condition might temporary change its color into green, pink, magenta, or bronze. The coppery or metallic surface create a plastic like appearance which shines more when it is wet.

The stems are dark green and the flowers appear in deep burgundy color. These velvety leaves contribute the most to the overall size of Alocasia cuprea. Its huge leaves are the ones taking the majority of the plant size.

Care and Maintenance

Alocasia Cuprea Light Requirements

In its natural habitat, Alocasia cuprea lives under the canopy of trees in the forest. For outdoor setting, having more plant around it will create a good shade. This shade helps filtering the strong sunlight above. Hence, a medium to bright indirect light would be the best option.

In the summer/midday/hot day, never make the plants stand more than 2-3 hours under the direct sunlight. The leaves might turn yellow or brown as a result of strong sunlight.

It is fine to have 1-2 hours of sunlight during winter, but beware of overmuch dry soil. The plant could lost its chlorophyll when it gets less or no light. Then the leaf color starts to fade away, wilt, then die. This plant would receive enough light to thrive if placed near east or north-facing window.

Tips: For indoor setting, use curtain or other means to reduce the exposure of light outside the window. Consider using artificial light when there is no enough sunlight available.


Alocasia Cuprea Temperature Requirements

This plant likes a slightly cooler temperature than its kind. In spite of that, it is weak to cold and frost.

Recommended temperature

  • During the day: 10-29°C
  • At night: 12-18°C
  • Ideal: mostly around 15-25°C

It is harder to maintain the temperature outdoor than indoor. Once the temperature falls below 15°C, put the plant in a warm space for protection. When autumn arrives on your doorstep, you should prepare the plant well.

Note: Don’t put the plant near radiators and heating systems. Keep them far from drafts.

Alocasia Cuprea Humidity Requirement

Alocasia cuprea is a humid air lover. The ideal moisture level for this plant is around 80-90%. The problem is, it isn’t easy to create this level indoor. Low humidity level will turn the leaves dry and crisp. Without enough humidity, it won’t be able to absorb water. To maintain the high humidity, simply follow the tips below.

Available alternatives

  1. Using humidifier. A good humidifier should be able to achieve a right humidity level in the entire room.
  2. Using pebble tray. Prepare a tray and fill it with pebbles for a half amount. Next, add water but stop before it passes through the pebbles above. Leave enough space between the pot and pebble tray below, so that they don’t touch each other. Enhanced moisture will be created as the water evaporates.
  3. Using jars and bowls of water. This is another good alternative to maintain the moisture. Put them around your plant for the best benefit.
  4. Grouping the plants together. If you only have one Alocasia cuprea, you can grouped it with other types of tropical plants. These plants provide a great amount of moisture for themselves and their surroundings.
  5. Keeping it in a closed space. Putting them in a bathroom is one option to maintain their humidity. In case you are uncomfortable, use a closed cabinet which is able to withhold the humidity from disappearing too quickly.
  6. Misting them regularly. It is pretty useful, but some people might find it too troublesome.

Alocasia Cuprea Soil Requirements

This plant should grow in a well-draining and loose soil containing organic matters. A combination of perlite and coir fiber would support the plant growth and health.

Perlite is a lightweight material. Actually, perlite is mined volcanic rock. It is able to hold more water than you can think with such weight.

Coir fiber is made of coconut. The price might be higher than peat moss because it contains more nutrients. You can use sphagnum peat-moss for more affordable option.

You can add other organic matters such as orchid barks into your potting mix. Either way, use a ready-made potting mix available for succulent or tropical plants.

To sum up, both options provide healthy nutrition, neutral pH, and good aeration. They work perfectly to drain excess water while maintaining enough water for hydration. Moreover, this potting mix would prevent root rot and overwatering.

Read also : Alocasia Wentii – Ultimate Care Guide


Despite the fact that Alocasia is known as a heavy feeder, it doesn’t meant each plant will get the same treatment.

Best time. Once a month in summer or growing season. Then, increase the frequency to every two weeks after seeing how it does. In this season, the plant really need more boost for its growth.

How to apply. Choose all-purpose houseplant fertilizer. Use only half amount according to the recommendation. Dilute it at 50 % strength to obtain a liquid form.

Worst time. In cold weather or during fall and winter, you don’t have to feed it. First reason, the plant appetite naturally decreases as the temperature change. Secondly, the salt content in fertilizer accumulates on the leaves, causing leaf burn.

To deal with over feeding or over-fertilization, flush the soil every 3 to 4 months. This action aims to remove the excessive salt content in the plant.


After every watering, your plant needs time to dry out. However, leave it dry for too long will harm the plant. An average amount of water should be given regularly. The plant should not be too wet, yet it is still moist.

What happens when overwatering

  • Abundant moisture left by water block the oxygen from getting through. No oxygen means the root cannot breathe. Then the root is rotten and die.

When watering should take place

  • Two or three times a week of watering will do. When you forget the last time you watering them, use your finger for a simple test. You need to find 2 signs after putting your finger in the soil about 2-3 inches.
  • Soil should not stick on the finger
  • Your finger should not feel any wetness

If these two things don’t happen, delay the watering for another time.


To promote the plant growth and leaf producing ability, pruning is essential. This is not a hard task since Alocasia cuprea has a moderate size of its kind.

Pruning includes removing the yellow, weak, and dead leaves in a regular basis. When cutting the part of dead leaves, do not remove it from the stem. Also remove the leaves that fall on the soil. Unclean cut or rough action can kill the plant.


Because of a large root system, Alocasia cuprea needs repotting constantly after reaching maturity. Under a right condition, you can repot it after 1 year. If not, it might take 2-3 years for repotting since this plant grows slowly.

Once you see the overgrown roots, you can start transferring the plant into a new pot. Spring is the best season to repot since the dormancy period has ended.

Choosing a slightly larger size pot is better. It is usually around one or two size bigger than the original pot. However, an oversized pot may cause overwatering. In this case, the water is retained longer resulting slow drying. So, make sure the pot size suits the plant condition.

Aside from giving more space to grow, the plant also could have fresh potting mix from repotting.

Propagation Method

Regarding propagation, people sometimes also doing it along with repotting.


Best: mid of spring till mid of summer

Okay: end of summer

Root Division

  1. Removing Alocasia cuprea from its pot needs to be done carefully. Careless action will damage the root. Therefore, dig at least 12 inches (30 cm) around the plant to avoid root injury.
  2. Take a look closer to find a group of roots.
  3. Gently separate some of the young offsets apart. You can either shaking it or cut it using sterile shears. Apply 70% isopropyl alcohol to clean the tool before using it.
  4. Prepare a pot with quality drainage holes.
  5. Fill the pot with a few soil. The soil used must have a neutral pH.
  6. Put the young offset on the top of soil. Then, gently wrapped it with the remaining soil.
  7. Keep the soil moist, provide indirect light by facing it on the east or north-facing window. In no time, you will get a new baby plant.

Using Water

  1. Similar to root division, you will use the young offset from the plant.
  2. Follow step 1 to 3 as in root division method. When removing the roots, make sure you don’t hurt the plant.
  3. Clean the soil around the root.
  4. Prepare a clear bowl and fill it with clean tap water.
  5. Stop fill the water before it reaches the top which is about 75%. If the water contains chlorine, leave it for twenty four hours first before using it. It is important because the chemical may ruin the root health.
  6. Next, put the root inside the bowl. The root position must be under the water while the shoot is on the top.
  7. Place the bowl near east or north facing window for better growth.
  8. Clean the water at least once a week.
  9. Pour the water straight from the faucet while the root is in the dry bowl. Do it slowly so not to harm the root. This means aerate the water and let the roots take the oxygen well.
  10. Meanwhile, get a pot with good soil ready. The pot should have drainage holes. Don’t fill the pot with soil fully.
  11. After the roots have grown around 3 to 4 inches longer, they are ready to move into a new place.
  12. Plant it in the pot with a little soil first properly. Once you finish, fill it with the rest of the soil.
  13. Finally, you can let it grow by maintaining a good quality and amount of light, humidity, fertilizer, and water.

Note: For root division and water propagation method, ensure that the offset still have a root. Each new part to be planted should have a minimum of three shoots.


Growth Timeline

The aftermath of propagation process will test your patience, unless you know the knowledge. Pay attention to the two significant periods below.

Day 1 to Day 60

  • A constant watering is necessary during this period. When the plant is dry around 90%, you can start watering. Instead of pouring the water directly, use a spray bottle. Repeat this action mildly. Beware of overwatering.

Day 60 onward

  • From now on, just following the same care and maintenance instructions which have been described. With a proper care, you will see a new plant soon.


Calcium oxalate crystal content in the leaves is poisonous. A close contact to the leaves may cause skin allergy. Accidentally eat it will lead to ulceration of mouth and esophagus. No matter how stunning the plant it, make sure the kids and pets are safe from it.


It is normal for a plant to go dormant in a low temperature. At this time, the growth is not as fast as before and the leaves start to shed. Luckily, there is a simple way to keep it fresh all year around. You just have to control the warm temperature above 15°C.

Problems Found in Alocasia Cuprea

Leaves are the most visible part to see any potential problem find on the plant. Dry, crisp, or yellow leaves are common indications. Although underwatering and lower humidity are mostly the causes, a pest attack should not be underestimated.

Pest Infestation

Dealing with pest infestation is a tough task. For some people, it has become too late since they failed to notice the pest earlier. Still, using insecticide will eliminate the pests at once.


Characteristic: A tiny insect with long antennae and hairy head. A covered cotton-like substance protects the mealybug body. This pest has a quick reproduction phase both male and female. It would spread its colonies through an impressive number of zygotes (egg).

Attack method: When it loses its protection, it also loses the moisture inside the body. Before they become dehydrated and die just within several minutes, they will seize the sap from your plant.

Solution: Remove all the traces of the insects including the affected leaves and flowers. Use a toothbrush to wipe down the stems. Put the plant outside for a while. In the meantime, change the top part of soil. After the plant is dry enough, apply insecticide.

Read also : Alocasia Lauterbachiana : Guide To Grow Your Purple Sword


Characteristic: A tubular-shaped fly. It produces egg-like larvae in yellow hue. These eggs will turn into small black and white flies. From the foliage surface, these pests spread to the entire part of plant.

Symptom: The leaves turn yellow and there are dark patches on the plant.

Attack method: It would scrap off the plant leaves, especially the cell membranes. They enter the house through opened window. A newly bought plant and infected transplantation soil may bring the pest to your plant.

Solution: To eliminate thrips, apply chemical-based pesticides as soon as possible. Other effective alternatives include using insecticidal soap, neem oil, and natural predators.

Spider Mites

Characteristic: It has a small translucent body. It forms a web on the underside of leaves. This web traps the dirt and small bits of compost.

Symptom: The plant will have transparent blotches along with yellow leaves.

Solution: Make sure to get rid of any mite’s remains. Then, separate the affected parts by pruning. Hose down the plant and let it dries before applying insecticide. Other popular solutions are horticultural soap, rosemary oil, cinnamate, herbal tea, etc.


Characteristic: It is only quarter of an inch in size. During spring, its reproduction cycle overdrives as they become more active.

Attack method: This pest would suck your plant sap.

Solution: Wash the visible aphids by using garden hose. Next, use soapy water to wash the leaves to kill the pest. Regarding a simple DIY solution, make a spray by mixing water and vinegar in 3:1 ratio. After that you can spray the infected parts of the plant.

Fungus Gnats

Characteristic: They like dark and humid area as well as poor aerated soil.

Symptom: In severe case, the number of roots decreases and the leaves become yellow.

Attack method: It is challenging to find the symptom earlier because they attack the roots. They would attack your plant anytime throughout the year. Their peak is during colder month, so always be on alert.

Solution: Replace the two inches of compost with a fresh organic ones. For future prevention, keep the remaining soil in a dark and dry location, sealed inside a container. As these pests could fly, it is impossible to eradicate every of them completely. However, you can try the following methods.

  • Use organic and chemical-based insecticide.
  • Place a bowl of water nearby to drown the pests.
  • On the soil surface, spread a thin layer of diatomaceous earth. It is useful to keep down the female adults from laying eggs.
  • Mix garlic and clove water and spray it to the soil.
  • Put sticky pads close to the soil and walls.

Whatever problem you might encounter, please be patient and consistent since it may take a few weeks before your plant is completely healed.



Thick and thin leaves are the general classification of Alocasia Cuprea types. Surprisingly, the thick leaves are less tolerant to moist soil than the thin leaves. A variegated cuprea is rare kind to find.

You could choose other varieties which have specific features here.

  • Variety 1. As the mother plants mostly have coppery color, usually this variety color is copper to red.
  • Variety 2. The leaf surface has lesser veins with less coppery hue. It can produce many leaves. The flower consists of off-white spadix & wine-red spathe.
  • Variety 3. There is one with reddish black leaves
  • Variety 4. Cuprea Green. As its name suggests, it has green leaves, as well as off-white spadix and greener spathe.
  • Variety 5. Alocasia Cuprea Variegata Pink. It might not be up for sale.

Now, are you ready to start planting Alocasia Cuprea at your home? There are different varieties to choose from. Give a proper care so that your plant will thrive and healthy.

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