Alocasia dragon scale is a perfect miniature of the giant Alocasia. Due to its size, the care can be relatively easier than other Alocasia varieties. It might be a bit fussy, but once you get to know better, caring for them can be fun.
A big elephant ear foliage is a common features among Alocasia. And to save more space at your house, picking the small Alocasia hybrid such as alocasia dragon scale can be an alternative.
Scientific name : Alocasia baginda ‘Dragon Scale’
Origin : Southeast Asia (Kalimantan)
Feature : compact size, dragon scale-pattern foliage
Light : bright indirect light indoor, partial light outdoor
Humidity : 60%-70%, higher is better
Temperature : 15-28C
Soil : well-draining soil
Watering : small amount on regular basis
Fertilizer : organic houseplant fertilizer
Size and Growth
In an ideal condition, Alocasia dragon scale could grow around 1 m tall and 50 cm wide. New leaves have metallic green hue, pale green on the lower part, and dark veins. The foliage color will get bolder as it matures. All these features create a dragon scale-like pattern which make it looks magical.
Compare to other Alocasia varieties and hybrids, it doesn’t need a big area to grow. It thrives fast in spring and summer while in winter it would enter dormancy period. The plant will grow slower or stop growing until the warm season comes.
The growth speed of this plant is different depends on the several aspect such as location, temperature, humidity, lighting, and so on. Hence, don’t even try to give more water or fertilizer as this plant won’t necessary grow bigger or faster because of it.
As one of the unique hybrid of Araceae family, it is not easy to get a hold of this decorative plant. Due to the high demand, the low supply rises the price. If you cannot find them in local nursery and garden center, try searching online.
Tips for buying Alocasia Dragon Scale
- Make sure you buy the right plant because there are other plants that have similar features with Alocasia Dragon Scale.
- Check the seller credibility.
- Read the review.
- Check the plant health. If you buy online, as a prevention it is better to isolate the plant first to observe any issue that might be brought from outside such as pest and fungus infection.
Alocasia is more familiar living under the shadow of trees in a tropical and subtropical area near water feature. Following this fact, there are some requirements when it comes to choose the ideal location. Although some people rely on the aesthetic value when placing this plant, you must consider the light, humidity, and temperature. Before deciding the right location, inspect the location temperature as a whole NOT ONLY the room.
- Bedroom. Only put the plant if the room provides ample light. However, it can be unpleasant to increase the humidity inside especially if you often use the bedroom.
- Kitchen. This place is naturally warmer and humid, but don’t put them near ovens. Since Dragon Scale is small, it is okay to put in small kitchen.
- Bathroom. It can provide high humidity and warmness but lack of light generally. Therefore, make sure it gives light from overhead window for example.
- Near large window. With curtain, north/east window is good during summer. In addition, south/west window is more suitable in winter. The window also must have good insulation to prevent cold air from gettin in and out.
- Coffee table. A perfect spot to highlight your room.
- Terrarium. Maintain a good air flow is one of the important aspects here.
- Garden. If you put the plant alone, protect them with shade. Bringing other plants near it will work better to provide constant moisture and to defend the plant from direct sunlight.
Don’t put them…
- Near kids and pet. The kid is weaker than adult, so it is dangerous. The pets is smaller than human, thus they are vulnerable too. Small amount of toxic substance of the plant may cause severe damage if accidentally consumed.
- In cold room. This plant cannot stand cold condition.
- In area with poor lighting. Using grow light may help.
Bright Indirect Light
To get a better understanding of this specific requirement, we will discuss it briefly. The background of this aspect is the fact that Alocasia Dragon Scale lives under the canopy of other plants around it. As a result, the trees filter the direct sunshine before it reaches the plant. The canopy of trees in the wild is thick enough, thus mimicking this condition at home could be a bit tricky for some.
Avoiding direct bright light exposure
A regular room actually has provided a basic lighting condition. What you should avoid is the exposure of sunshine near the window. The impacts of having strong light exposure are: burnt leaves, pale leaves, wilting leaves, dehydration, and losing humidity.
Avoiding dim lighting
Although Alocasia dragon scale might be able to grow in a dark corner of your house, this is far from what the plant needs. It still grows, but what you’ll get is a weak plant with thin stems and faint leaf veins. In short, the plant health will deteriorate. The clearest difference you can see is the undeniable small foliage and leaf discoloration.
Maintaining a warm temperature range from 60°-80°F is quite easy especially indoor. Generally, any Alocasia could survive in the same temperature as human inside the house. The problem is how to protect them from temperature fluctuations.
- Summer: 68°-85°F
- Winter: above 60°F, lower than 50°F will cause dormancy
- Night: 55°-60°F
The common cause of high temperature is heating vent, fireplace, and radiator. The plant would easily lose the important moisture if you it near these things.
Air conditioner and draft (from fan or outside the house) that might pass through the open window could suddenly drop the ideal temperature. Dormancy (long dormancy might kill the plant) decrease the humidity level, freeze the plant, and damage the cell and tissue of the plant. The leaves also may turn brown or yellow, and droop.
What to do
- Scan the area near the plant instead of the entire house.
- Hygrometer is useful to check the temperature and humidity.
- Wait for plant recovery when moving them, so do this gradually (acclimatization).
- Only remove the completely damaged leaves, while the rest should be three in case they could restore themselves along the time.
- Place them near a close window. The north or east facing window is better because it usually don’t get much heat from the sun.
- Watering regularly with room temperature water to control the temperature. DON’T USE WARM WATER!
About air conditioner, the plant could live in the room with it, but not too close and the humidity must be ideal. AC in summer is fine but not in winter. If the AC is on in winter, take them out of the AC room.
Water the plant frequently since AC cause dry air, but check the temperature first because in cold condition the plant requires less water. Moreover, the direct air from AC should not reach the plant easily.
Compare to light and temperature, keeping the right humidity level is a little but difficult. You might be able to endure the 40-60% humidity. Yet, 60-70% is the ideal range of humidity for this plant. When the plant might need or even demand a higher humidity, that’s where you might feel uncomfortable by it. Thankfully, it would be satisfied enough within the range you will feel okay too.
It prefers high humidity and lower humidity means danger for the plant.
Advantage: could set/program the humidifier to keep a specific humidity level constantly
Disadvantage: it can be expensive, might be only useful for plant and not the owner
Advantage: could have specific target, the plant only and no human included, affordable
Disadvantage: you must refill/change the water frequently to keep evaporation runs
Advantage: simple task, quick/instant
Disadvantage: misting is useless if the humidity is below 40%, might cause fungal disease which is not only hurt the plant but also other greeneries nearby
The basic requirement of soil for Alocasia dragon scale is the ability to retain enough water while letting the excess water out. The keywords for ideal potting mix are well-draining and aerated.
Houseplant potting soil actually has provided a good base for the plant. The mix of coco coir, perlite, and orchid bark (1:1:1) usually works well in any Alocasia varieties. And in one way to another, adding sand or perlite is normal when the soil seems too heavy.
- Coco coir and peat moss. Both could enhance the moisture retention capability. Peat moss is more expensive than coco coir.
- Perlite. Good for aeration and water retention.
- Orchid bark. Hold moisture and slowly release it.
- Sand. Used for better drainage.
To adjust the proper watering you must consider several aspects such as temperature, soil, pot condition, and others. Rather than directly give a lot of water at once, the recommendation is to provide a small amount of water in regular basis.
Is too much water bad?
In summer, the advice is to water the plant 2-3 times a week. Why? At this time, the moisture will dry quickly because of the hot temperature. As a result, you should water the plant more frequently to keep the soil moist.
Is it okay to water it less?
The plant usually needs less water in the winter or when they go dormant to keep hydrated. Watering it once a week should be fine. Too less water or even no water would droop the leaves and even kill it.
The right sign for watering
Always check the top soil condition before watering. If 2-3 inches of upper soil is dry, you can give water. You should cancel the watering is the soil is still wet when you push your finger inside. Check to make sure no waterlog in the soil and it does not create a pool of water on the saucer.
Factors affecting watering
- Type of water. Room temperature water, distilled water, and rainwater are the good candidate for watering Alocasia dragon scale. You should not use tap water UNLESS you get rid of the chemical inside by letting it in a jar for one night.
- Pot type. Some types of pot do a bad job in retaining the moisture and let the water flow too much through drainage holes. When you use this kind of pot, try to adjust the water intake or simply change the pot to a better one.
Note. Overwatering and under watering create problems for the plant. Always check the plant condition after and before watering.
When planting Alocasia dragon scale for the first time, sometimes people don’t feed the plant because the fresh soil has contained the necessary nutrient. Still, along the time any plant will need good fertilizer for their growth.
- Balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer, diluted at half strength should work. You can feed the plant every six weeks in the growing season (spring till early autumn). As an advice, try to check whether the fertilizer is rich in calcium as this substance is what the plant get in the wild.
- Organic or natural fertilizer is always be the safest option. Although you can use chemical fertilizer, you must follow the label instruction properly. A concentration of some fertilizers tends to result in overfeeding. Therefore, love your plant by giving it the best fertilizer.
Too much fertilizer and too little fertilizer
Over fertilization might occur when you feed the plant too much or because the bad quality soil hold the fertilizer for too long. The wasted fertilizer slowly become poisonous to the soil and the tips and edges of foliage will turn brown. Don’t be sad because you can simply flush the soil with water to clean it up from the toxin and salt left inside. You can do this once in a couple of months and remember to make sure the water drains well.
As a light feeder unlike other Alocasias, this plant is less likely to suffer from under fertilization or under nourishment. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that giving it less than it needs is okay. When the plant lacks of nutrient, the growth will be slower and your plant might look tired as you can see form its leaves and posture.
Other than low temperature, less light/darker condition could also trigger dormancy. This natural cycle usually occurs in winter, but if your home is always cold, your plant can go dormant anytime in a year.
Fallen and dying leaves are one of the initial way for the plant to save its energy. It will grow slowly than before and it probably stops growing. Don’t easily get rid of your plant once you see this signs because deep in the root, this greenery is preparing for new growth.
Limit watering stop fertilizing
You might think since the plant is in cold condition, it doesn’t need water. Well, you’re wrong! This plant still need a bit of water for keeping soil moisture and as a supply for the warm season. Reduce the watering frequency and amount of water during dormancy. In terms of feeding, fertilizer consumption should stop for a while.
Maintain the light and temperature
Even with slow growth, Alocasia dragon scale still tries living its best. You must keep indirect light and make sure the temperature doesn’t fluctuate that much. In addition, repotting and propagation is banned during this period.
It is not necessary to repot Alocasia Dragon scale very often as it has compact size and likes to squeeze in one pot. Commonly, the plant requires repotting due to outgrown roots, soil problem, or health problem. You can do this every 1, 2, or three years depend on the growth speed. Spring is an acceptable time to repot as the plant is ready to gear up after dormancy.
- Prepare a slightly larger pot
- Fill the pot with fresh, well-draining soil.
- After lifting the plant gently from its old pot, shove away the remaining soil.
- Put the plant in the new pot and water it properly.
- A mature/adult plant. Young plant needs to wait for at least 2 years before it is ready for propagation.
- Carry out in mid spring or summer. In this growing season, the plant will have more boost to grow and heal itself from any change. Thus, the propagation has higher successful rate.
- Sterilized tool (e.g. knife, shears, etc.) and protective equipment (gloves, glasses, and others). Alocasia contains toxin substance that could irritate the mouth, skin, as well hurting your stomach. You must clean all the tools and requirement after and before taking care of this plant.
- Small pot. It is because oversized pot may cause overwatering.
- Take out the mother plant carefully.
- Lay the plant on the ground and loosen the soil around it.
- Remove each pup along with its root and replant in new pot containing good soil.
- Give it water thoroughly and let each of them adjusting to the new environment.
- After that, you can do the care as usual.
- You must find the firm and brown corms after you lift the main plant from the old pot.
- Separate the corms using sharp and clean blade.
- The cut corms may have root system or not, but the majority of roots should stay with the main plant.
- Peel the outer layer of the corms if possible so that the roots will grow quickly. The appearance after the peeling process is deep brown while the color inside is brighter.
- Use an empty bottle, small glass, or small container. Whether you use water or sphagnum moss, make sure that you bury or submerge the bottom part while the top part stays free.
- Cover the top container with plastic bag to keep the humidity. Some also suggest to use humidifier.
- Let the plant stay in a spot with bright-indirect light and warm temperature.
- If you use plastic bag, open the plastic bag for air circulation once in a while.
- When you see a new growth like small roots (below) or stem (top) the plant will be ready to move into the soil. It commonly occurs after a few weeks of patience.
- While moving the plant into a new home, don’t remove the plastic bag yet to reduce the effect of plant shock.
Pruning and Cleaning
Trim the dying leaves and stem using sterile tools. Cut the dying part near the base and be careful not to pull the whole plant. Clean the dead leaves and the like that fall to the soil in case your plant is sick. Occasionally wiping the leave using damp cloth also beneficial to get rid of dust and debris as well as promote effective photosynthesis.
Basically, the problems in Alocasia dragon scale come from improper care and natural condition. The improper care here include things like overwatering, direct lighting, extreme temperature (too hold and too hot), etc. In other hand, there are times when you won’t notice that the nature sometimes bring the pest into your plant. It may occur after you bring your plant outside or when you open the window/door near the plant.
Weak stem and leaf discoloration. There are various causes of this issue. For example, if overwatering is the cause, you just have to adjust the watering according to the ideal requirement. If the culprit is fungus you should remove the affected part and isolate it from the rest of greeneries.
Root rot. As one of the most serious issue here, a quick action is the key to save the plant. Remove the sick roots and repot the plant in a good soil and pot while maintain moderate watering. You must inspect the plant condition more frequently and follow the guidance for caring and maintaining Alocasia dragon scale.
Pest infestation. Spider mite, mealybug, and scale often attack this plant. You can use neem oil or insecticidal soap to deal with the pest and prevent them from coming back ever again. Try to use natural/organic and free chemical ingredient. For chemical insecticide and the like, always follow the instruction and read the caution. These pests have tiny appearance, so make sure to eliminate each of them and their egg completely.
Deal with Plant Stress
Stress might happens due to sudden change of environment. You must be patient and let the plant handle it with time. Don’t ever try “help” them by giving more water, fertilizer and so on because it only make everything worse.
- After purchasing Alocasia. You may see a decrease in the leaf number after you receive the plant. This reaction is the result of acclimation. In order to help the plant, don’t feed it as the plant needs time to produce new growth and familiarize itself in new place.
- Relocating indoor-outdoor or outdoor-indoor. When the temperature drops, some people hurriedly the Alocasia inside. People also might put the plant outside in summer, after it stays inside during dormancy.
- Repotting and propagation. Even though the plant only move to new pot, the plant still could suffer from shock. You may see the leaves have different color or wilting. Sometimes, the plant looks hurt and showing slow grow. However, don’t worry because after a while they would get better and you can start caring for them like usual.
Note. You must train the plant step by step instead of rushing them to adjust faster.