Mostly, people like Alocasia because of their evergreen stunning leaves. Like other species and hybrid in this genus, Alocasia Polly basic care is simple. If you could let it stay in a warm and humid environment supporting by indirect bright lighting and adequate watering, it would thrive in joy.
It is a hybrid with scientific name Alocasia x amazonica ‘Polly’. Other common names of this plant include Kris plant, African Mask, and Elephant Ear.
In fact, Alocasia Polly doesn’t have a clear origin. Even though some people think it has relation with Alocasia sanderina, the parent plants of Polly is still indistinguishable. Since Alocasia is as native to Asia and Australia, we could expect the same care routine for Polly.
Another varieties such as Alocasia amazonica and Alocasia bambino have similar looks.
Alocasia Polly is a rhizomatous perennial plant that could grow 90 cm in height and width indoor. The width of its arrowhead-shaped leaves is between 2-25 cm, while the height range is 2-50 cm. The deep green foliage has wavy edges and creamy colored veins. The flowers rarely bloom and they don’t have a major role in plant growth.
You can expect the new leaves per month. In the spring and fall one or two new foliage would grow. In winter the leaves might wither due to dormancy, but the plant will grow new leaves in the warm months. The thick stems have a function to store moisture for supply. Thus, it could support the plant when the soil is dry.
There are times when we would go to such length just to obtain something. Caring a plant for the first time is not easy indeed. The first thing you should after getting/buying the plant is to separate it in a secluded place.
Why? It is to make sure your plant doesn’t bring any pest or disease with it. For around 2 weeks, try to observe the plant health and behavior. While maintaining the soil moisture through watering, you could move it back with others if there is no issue.
As a growing medium, soil is crucial for the growth of this plant. A well-draining and loose soil will retain a right amount of water, thus keep the soil moist. The balance of potting mix should not make the soil soggy. A common soil composition you can try is potting soil and perlite in the same ratio.
Potting soil works to hold a moderate moisture. Coco coir and sphagnum moss also have the same functions as potting soil. And in order to promote good drainage, perlite as well as pumice charcoal, orchid bark, and so on would be a perfect companion for the soil. Besides promoting drainage, perlite also spare spaces for the root to grow better.
Instead, a clayey or compact mix could hinder the air circulation and water drainage in the soil. Consequently, the roots have trouble to breathe which later make it stress, rot, and then die. If the water takes a longer time to drain and creates a pool in the pot, it may be the sign that you get the wrong potting mix.
What to do with the wrong soil mix
- Create a new potting mix by lying mossy peat or coco air in the empty container base.
- Add the rest of soil and we recommend you to add compost.
- The plant position should be right in the middle or near the top soil line to provide more spaces for growing. This is especially important for the roots because they grow down below instead of upward.
Improper watering has become a source of many problems for this plant. Both over watering and under watering usually happen which make many first time gardener panic.
Amount and frequency
A lot of experts suggest to water the Alocasia in small amount frequently. To provide the right supply of water you must consider the area and time. Making a watering schedule might help, but when the season and environment change it would be a hassle to readjust it again.
This plant needs time to dry out between watering. It is slowly retaining the moisture until the next watering. However, don’t leave it for a few days since it is not resistant to drought. Normally, people watering Polly once a week.
In hot days of summer, more water might be necessary as it would drain faster due to the high temperature. This plant still requires water in cold season to keep the soil moisture, but reduce the amount and frequency.
Watering time check
Checking the top most soil (5-7 cm) often will ensure the right time for watering. If the soil is a bit dry, you can water the plant. Another method to check the watering time is by lifting the pot. It the pot is lighter, it means your plant is dry and needs water.
How to water
Only use free chemical water such as bottled water or rainwater. When only tap water available, let it rest overnight before using it for watering. Start watering from the bottom is better than from the top. Wait until the excess water completely flows outside the pot bottom holes. Throw any water that might still left in the saucer.
- Guttation or dripping water. There are times when the plant throw out the excess water through the leaves. It might help to wipe the leaves carefully to shorten the guttation process.
- Yellowing leaves. Simply following the guide above, and your plant will be fine.
Read also : Alocasia Bambino : The Little Amazonica
It is sufficient enough to feed the plant with organic liquid fertilization, diluted at half strength, once a month. Repeat this action during growing season of spring and summer. In winter, you could stop feeding it or you can reduce the frequency by every two months. You might not need to give fertilizer for about 1 year after buying or repotting the plant because of the fresh soil.
The common, organic, houseplant fertilizer already has beneficial ingredient to fulfill the plant nutrients. Following the instruction on the fertilizer label is the best way when feeding Alocasia Polly. Giving too much fertilizer could burn the plant. In contrast, feeding it less than required will cause nutrient deficiency. Below is some signs of it.
- Small and unpleasant new growth could be the sign of calcium deficiency.
- Yellowing leaves of the old leaves and those in the lower position shows that the plant lacks of nitrogen.
- Dry and brown leaf tips and darker color on the older foliage might occur due to less phosphorus.
Note. If you use fertilizing sticks, always follow the recommended instruction. Since it could last longer (around 100 days), you only have to feed this plant 3 to 4 times a year.
Light and Temperature
You know that as a tropical plants, Alocasia Polly would require the same set up like its predecessor. On the floor of tropical rainforest, this plant grows under the trees and other plants around it. In place of strong direct sunlight, it receives partial light thanks to its surrounding environment. Now, you should try mimicking this lighting setting at home.
Inside the home, provide bright indirect light by placing it near north, east, or west facing window. Using curtain or any other means to filter the sunlight if too bright. Although indirect light is preferable, it doesn’t mean that this plant loves low-light condition. To solve this problem, utilize an artificial light inside and sometimes put the plant longer under the sunshine in the morning or afternoon.
If your terrace, garden, or patio doesn’t have shade or empty, it is better to keep the plant indoor. Without the shade, your plant will get scorch from the direct sunshine. In short, you should provide enough light wherever you put the plant is.
Note. Alocasia Polly naturally grows toward the light. For this reason, you must rotate it 90° each week. By doing this, the plant can grow evenly upward.
The plant will thrive well in a temperature range of 18-29°C. In its original habitat, chill or frost doesn’t exist, therefore it cannot withstand the cold. Fortunately, a normal room temperature usually could work for them. In addition, you must keep Alocasia Polly away from AC, heater, and draft. These things change the warm temperature that this plant needs.
Humidity and Moisture
As this plant loves humidity especially the higher ones, dry air is NOT a compromise. The average humidity for this plant should be around 60-70%, more is better. In winter, maintaining this level is harder due to the use of radiators and heating systems. Low humidity levels means the plant is lacking the moisture in the air and in the soil.
To combat the bad effect of low humidity and moisture level, follow the actions below.
- Completely move the plant into a higher humidity area such as bathroom or kitchen.
- Set the humidifier according to the season and the plant needs.
- Place a watered pebble tray under the pot to increase humidity.
- Always remember to check the dryness of soil and water it regularly.
- Misting the plant could provide moisture, but don’t overdo it. Let the plant absorb the water for a while before wiping it dry. If you let the plant wet too long, this condition might cause fungal infection.
Pruning plays a role to make your plant prettier and tidier. There is not much to do except removing dying or dead leaves. Cut the leaf stem at the plant base when trimming the plant.
Alocasia polly contains a poisonous substance called calcium oxalate. Children and pets usually become the victim of this toxic content. When it touches the skin or even swallowed, irritation, swelling, vomiting and stomach problem could occur. You must wear protective garment and use disinfected tools when handling this plant.
Planting: Potting and Repotting
Unlike other plants, this greenery is absolutely okay with squeezing in a small pot. That’s why you can repot the plant every 2 or 3 years. Other people even dividing the plants into smaller units rather than removing the whole plant into a bigger container.
The plant will “force” you to repot if the roots have been taken the area outside the pot. And if your plant seems to stop growing or showing slower growth, you better repot it quickly. Don’t rush because the best time to repot is in spring or summer. If, the roots have outgrown in winter, please wait patiently while maintaining its health till warm season comes.
Drainage holes are vital as it would let the excess water to run out. As a result, the soil becomes moist and not too wet. If you don’t have a pot with drainage holes, create the drainage holes using tools you have at home such as drill. Also, you must choose the pot material carefully by considering the strength, porous or non-porous, and size.
How to repot
- You must prepare 2-5 cm larger pot (with drainage holes) and fresh organic rich potting mix.
- After take the plant from the old pot, clean the remaining soil, particularly around the roots.
- Fill the quarter of the pot with soil.
- Repot the plant and add the rest of soil.
- Press the soil around the plant gently.
- Give a moderate amount of water and watch until there is no excess water left.
Read also : Alocasia Amazonica : The Correct Way To Grow
You can do propagation if the plant has matured. It is better to do propagation during growing season for speedy recovery.
Because of the rhizome that clumping together, rhizome division is the best method to propagate this plant.
- Remove the mother plant carefully from the pot.
- Shake the plant to remove the soil it.
- Place the plant temporary on the clean plastic bag to inspect how many clumps you can get.
- For clump that is hard to detach, make a vertical cut using sterile knife to obtain an intact clump.
- Any clump to replant usually would have a root system. If not, you can easily promote the root system by watering them or using sphagnum peat moss (moist).
- The clump should be in a little bit dry condition before replanting takes place.
- Now, you can put each clump with its root system in a porous potting soil. Let the part above the rhizome on top of the soil instead of suppressing it under the soil.
- Provide adequate amount of water. When new shoot tips appear, your propagation is highly successful.
You can try this propagation method if you want to see how the roots grow. This method is also pretty easy even for beginner.
- First, cut the healthy stem and its foliage cleanly.
- Second, put the stem in water. Many like using clear glass or transparent vase.
- Third, position the container (you can use whatever you want) under a bright indirect light.
- Finally, when the root length reaches 2-5 cm (1-2 inches), this plant will be ready for transplanting into the soil.
This insect often attacks DRY Alocasia Polly and it is one the biggest enemy of this plant. Under watering makes the plant dry, thus attracting this pest to come. Spider mites take the chlorophyll, weaken the plant immune. When caught early, you can get rid of them faster before it spreads.
The leaves turn yellow or the green color start to fade away. When you check it carefully, you could see white-cotton web on the foliage.
- Isolate the plant after you ensure that spider mites have attacked.
- Remove the affected part of plant, but don’t throw it directly at the soil.
- In severe case, you might have to use chemical insecticide in order to eliminate the pest and the eggs. However, in a mild condition try to use a plant-based miticide, neem oil, and insecticidal spray intended for spider mite.
Note. Occasionally applying neem oil can prevent the pest for coming back. Moreover, try to water the plant regularly so that it doesn’t experience drought specifically the root.
The source of pest problem doesn’t only come from the inside but also the outside. Overwatering, contaminated potting soil, & over fertilizing might cause pest infestation. After bringing your plant back from the sunshine outside, mealy bugs also might come to your plant without your knowing.
Almost similar to spider mites, you must keep the plant away from others. Next, dip the cotton swab in alcohol. And then, try to remove the insects diligently. It might be a nuisance, but this method is quite effective. Try to be patient as you should repeat it for several days.
On the top, you can see the foliage droops and withers. Then, the stem base will turn darker. And the most serious sign is when the roots are mushy and don’t have a clean white color anymore.
- Roots are the first part to inspect. The current root condition will determine whether you can save the plant or.
- If there are still healthy roots (firm & white), separate them from the sick root (soft, brown/black).
- Replant the healthy parts in new porous balanced soil mix.
Note. A moderate watering, well-draining, and enough drainage holes could prevent root rot issue.
Fungus attack the plant because the plant is in a wet condition for a long time. Overwatering and too frequent misting could trigger this problem.
Orange or brown small spots will appear on the leaves and they would get larger without quick treatment.
Prune the affected part and then apply copper fungicide in case of uncontrollable condition.
The highlight of Alocasia is the foliage not the flower. People usually will take one of the following action regarding the flower.
Get rid of the flower
Some leaves might lost their energy while producing the flower. The leaves could face discoloration, withering, or falling. As a result, people decide to prevent any sign of flowering before it really blooms to protect the leaves.
Adoring the “rare” flower
As an evergreen, flower is not the focus of its growth. Actually the flowers are not that impressive compare to the foliage, either in terms of shape, fragrance, or function. At a glance, it seems like a small bud. The flower consists of a spathe (which resembles leaf) that wraps the spadix inside. The color is a mix of white, cream, and some green (especially before bloom completely).
Because the flowers only bloom under a perfect condition and some luck, they have become a rare sight for plant lover. After it blooms, it would last for a month at the longest. Hence, they let the flowers to appreciate it as a part of natural process.
Bring Alocasia Polly Back from Dormancy
Even though dormancy is a normal process, you may want to let the plant keep growing instead of “sleeping”. Luckily, you can shorten the dormancy period with simple steps.
- Move the plant near a window and artificial light indoor.
- Make it warm by placing a heat mat below and wrap the plant inside a plastic bag.
- Give lukewarm water to imitate the rainstorm in the forest.
Indoor setting would be a better option if you live in a cold climate area. It is easier to control the humidity and temperature when the plant is inside. In addition, you should provide the bright indirect light and shelter.
- Greenhouse. This place provide ample light, high humidity, and a lot of moisture because of greenhouse material and the existence of other plants there.
- Humidity box. If you don’t have a greenhouse, this option is more affordable and smaller. You could use a transparent container, fill it with sphagnum moss, and put your plant inside.
- Kitchen/bathroom. Both of them naturally provide higher humidity rather than other rooms at home.
Note. When placing the plant near a window, make sure you also protect the plant from the winds and too bright sunlight.