Need a greenery to fill the corner of your house? Then, how about Alocasia regal shield with its large heart-shaped leaves?
As a part of Araceae family, this plant has mesmerized many plant lovers and gardeners with its iconic appearance. And bringing it home means creating a mini jungle in your area.
Introduction To Alocasia Regal Shield
A cross between Alocasia odora and Alocasia reginula produced Alocasia regal shield that we know today. It takes each characteristics of its parent plants in term of size and color. The parent plants origin is in Asia but this hybrid was developed in Florida, USA.
The size and shape of this plant resemble the elephant ears. It mostly appears in dark green and purple tone, reddish underside, and ruffled edge. The upright, thick, and long stems help the leaves spreading their “wings”.
This plant basically requires bright indirect light, high humidity, warm temperature, moist soil, moderate fertilizer, and regular watering.
Where To Put Alocasia Regal Shield
One of the initial concern when purchasing this plant is where to put it. You must consider the plant size and growth habits are things before deciding to plant.
Room with higher ceilings
When reaching maturity this plant can rise up 1.5 meters. The leaves also grow into 50 cm in diameter. In a rare case, there are people who succeed to grow this plant until 2.5 meters tall. Therefore, it needs spot with high ceiling if you put it indoor. In other words, small apartment or any space with low ceiling is not ideal for the plant growth.
In outdoor setting, this plant will have wider scope and space to breath freely. Patio provides semi-outdoor setting which is perfect for the plant. You can easily put them at the center or just slide it in the pretty corner. When placing the plant outdoor, beware of strong wind, so make sure you have the shield ready.
Adjusting The Lighting
When it comes to lighting, alocasia regal shield needs bright indirect light.
Outdoor lighting. Morning and afternoon is good for the plant since they aren’t that intense. To protect the plant from the hot midday sun, make sure to prepare a shelter for the plant. You can also put the plant near tall trees to create a natural shade. Strong direct sun could burn the foliage.
Indoor lighting. Normally, most people put the plant near north, west, or east window to obtain the light. However, you must use some filters such as sheer curtain if you out the plant near south facing because the sunshine might be too bright. Since Alocasia tends to grow toward the light source, rotate the plant every week to promote even growth. Using a grow light or artificial light can help too.
How Much Water It Needs?
One of the advantage of having an outdoor plant is the free supply of rainwater. Still it doesn’t mean you can leave your plant as it is.
Check watering time
Whether it is indoor or outdoor, regular watering is important to prevent drought.
You should water the plant when:
- 2-3 top inches of soil dry
- pot is lighter
- moisture level is low
Although weekly watering is common for indoor houseplant, checking the soil condition frequently is safer to make sure your plant is not completely dry.
- Use a spray bottle or watering can and start watering from the bottom center of the pot. Bottom here means the soil and not literally watering the drainage holes below.
- Other suggest to use a measuring cup to prepare approximately 473 ml of water each time. As a note, you might need to adjust the volume since every plant is different.
- If using watering can, pour the water slowly to let it soaks into the soil.
- Last, never let the excess water gather in the soil and the saucer. Watch until the drainage holes stop flowing water.
Signs of wrong watering
- Wilting leaves occurs due to under watering.
- Leaves will drop because of overwatering.
- Root is rooting if the soil becomes soggy after overwatering.
Factor affecting watering
In the growing season particularly in summer, you might have to provide more water, and it can be on daily basis. In fall and winter, reduce the amount of water and frequency. At this time the plant only needs less water during dormancy.
For non-porous pots, give the plant less water because the pot is unable to drain the water well. In contrast, porous pots have better drainage ability, so it is okay to give more water (but not too much).
Along with the pot type, soil mix also affects the watering in terms of porosity. Porous and well-draining soil is always be the right recommendation. And if you somehow make the wrong mix, you can try to cut the water intake.
Alocasia is also vulnerable to chemical substance, and the example for this is tap water. To deal with this issue, let the water sit for 24 hours first. However, it is better to use other free chemical water such as distilled water.
ALWAYS check the soil moisture before watering and ALWAYS wait until the excess liquid is completely dry out.
Since the plant will spend most time in this growing medium, soil plays a crucial part here. A good potting mix would cover basic characteristics that the plant needs.
Any plant needs organic matter or compost for fertility reason. Compost enhances the moisture retention and maintains the soil structure.
Well-drained and aerated
Alocasia regal shield values good drainage as it is sensitive to soggy soil due to overwatering (in most cases). Standing in a prolonged wet condition eventually create one problem to another. In this state the microbiological and chemical process trigger a root rot issue.
Soil with loose structure provide a room for the roots to grow stronger and develop. Furthermore, it could prevent the water from staying longer in the soil. Adding coco coir, perlite, vermiculite, orchid bark, or peat could create a perfect combination to combat overwatering.
Enough or a bit should follows the word “retain” here. As for the reason, the soil needs to be moist NOT becoming wet for a long time. When waterlogged occurs, the root will suffer the most. Fungus might also grow overboard. The soil must be able to keep the plant hydrated but at the same time is porous enough to release the unnecessary water.
Slightly acidic pH
The ideal pH range for Alocasia is 5.5-7. If you buy a ready-to use potting mix product, it usually has contained the pH suitable for the plant needs. Using pH meter could help you in creating your own potting soil. Organic matter such as compost, manure, and mulch will fulfil the lack of acidity in the soil.
Various potting mix recipe
- Well-draining labeled soil + a few handful of coco coir
- Coco coir (30%), perlite (25%), fir bark (25%), worm casting (10%), horticultural oil (10%)
- Jungle-mix labeled soil and a bit of perlite
- Orchid bark, perlite, potting compost (all in equal amount)
Checking the soil quality
Try to squeeze some soil on your hand. If the soil form a quite firm lump, it means your potting mix is wrong. Too moist and clayey soil will disturb the air flow for the root. On the contrary, sandy or too dry soil will fail to retain the ideal moisture level.
A safe temperature range for regal shield is 15-30°C. It could somehow survive in a bit higher temperature, but it hates cold. If you try to mimic the temperature in tropical area, you must adjust the temperature all day.
In a normal household during the day, control the temperature around 20-30°C. At night, as long as it is not lower than 15°C, your plant will be okay.
This plant also feel uncomfortable if placed near heating vent or air conditioning. Both of them deliver hot and cold air that could change the temperature. Alocasia regal shield prefers a constant temperature without sudden fluctuation.
A minimum humidity that this plant loves is 70%. The tendency of loving higher humidity, sometimes make the plant owners feel discomfort especially inside the house. To fulfill the high humidity level for the plant, there are easy tricks you can do.
Pebble tray. As water evaporate from the bottom, your plant will have benefit of high humidity.
Misting the foliage. This simple method is works, but under certain condition. After letting the plant absorb the moisture, let’s say a couple of hours, you should wipe to dry it. If you leave the foliage in a wet condition for a long time, fungus might invade your plant health.
Humidifier. While for some people the two methods above are not quite effective, using humidifier will simplify it. Nowadays, you can easily set the humidifier according to your needs. You don’t have to refill the water in the tray or having a risk due to frequent misting. It also works best if you have many Alocasia. For example, can you imagine how tiring it is to mist all the plants?
Put the plant outside. When summer comes and the hot days become too unbearable, placing your plant outdoor could save your time and energy. If there are other plants nearby, they will ensure the humidity and moisture of your lovely plant.
Note. A humidity level lower than 40% is a warning for your plant safety. The initial sign of low humidity is the leaf edge would be crisp.
In the growing season, regal shield appetite increases. Feed the plant with houseplant fertilizer once a month in spring and summer.
- First, watering the plant.
- Second, dilute the fertilizer at 1/3 strength.
- Third, feed the plant.
Don’t feed the plant when
- the plant is still young, which means it is planted for the first time
- after repotting or propagation, because the fresh new soil already contains many organic matter
- cold season in which Alocasia usually go dormant
Common mistake in fertilizing
- Over fertilizing. It happens when you feed the plant more than necessary. This careless action could harshly burn the foliage. When the soil still provide many nutrients, cut the fertilizer consumption or just don’t feed them at all for some times.
- Cheap and low grade fertilizer. In fact, some people think that any fertilizer will be good for the plant. Consequently, they just grab any cheap ones (maybe because they don’t have money or don’t have other choice) and feed it to the plant. This kind of fertilizer usually comes with high salt content which could kill the plant.
The main purpose of repotting is to provide more spaces for this fast-growth plant. Not only the roots that expand, the big leaves also put a weight to the plant. The unbalance between the plant size and the pot might put your plant in danger.
Those who put Alocasia regal shield outdoor could find their beloved plant scattered because the strong wind has blown them away. Outgrown root, dying leaves, and slower growth are several indications for repotting.
Depend on how rapid your plant grows, repotting usually takes place in two or three years. Repotting in early spring is the right time before the plant starts a new growth.
New pot should be a bit bigger, deeper, and strong to accommodate the plant growth. As the plant needs to breathe easily, choose a pot material which has porous characteristic and stable.
If you think its large size is too much for indoor setting, placing them outside and replant it directly on the ground might be okay. Another way is through base separation that is able to keep the size you desire before the plant gets oversize.
- Watering the plant before repotting keeps it hydrated. After 1 hour, the plant will be ready for the next steps.
- Add the fresh, organic rich, loose soil in the pot bottom.
- Before repotting the plant, remove any abnormality such as wilting leaves, mushy root, etc.
- Sit the plant at the center and leave 1 inch of space under the pot edge so that water spilling doesn’t occur.
- Add the remaining soil but not until the pot edge.
- Water the plant moderately and thoroughly.
Alocasia regal shield grows the roots that produce some clumps or baby plant. Among some propagation method, root division is the famous ones.
- Prepare a good quality pot with porous well-drained soil.
- Water the soil a little bit to make it moist.
- Dig some soil around to make it loose enough in order to remove the plant.
- Lift the plant and clean the soil that wrapped it.
- Find the clump and separate it from the mother plant after make sure each of it has root system.
- When dividing the clump, make a clean cut using sterile knife. If you use your hands manually, always wear protective gloves.
- Leave the plant for a while to let it heal the wound.
- Plant each clump on the mentioned pot. When burying the clump, divide it into half and half part. It means that if the clump size (with its root) is 2 inches for example, 1 inch must be under the soil while the rest stays above the soil.
- Continue the care like what you always do with the mother plant.
In general this plant is toxic to humans and animals. Calcium oxalate in the plant is able to cause numbness, swelling, and irritation on the skin, digestive system, and respiratory system. In severe case you can have breathing difficulty, painful stomach, and even kidney stone problem.
Due to its toxicity, children and pets like cat and dogs could easily become a victim of this poisonous substance. Although the lower part of this plant is the one that contains the most abundant toxin, you should not underestimate the other plant part.
To avoid further problem, you may consider moving the plant in a spot out of the reach of kids and pets. Greenhouse cabinet is a good choice rather than on top of the shelves. Moreover, remember to always use clean tools, wear gloves, and other protective equipment when handle this greenery.
The source of pest infestation might come from open window/door, open outdoor space, infested bag of soil, and improper care.
This insect could appear in brown, red, yellow, green, and black color. They love to stay under the foliage and suck the plant sap.
What to do:
- Mix water and a bit of mild dishwashing soap.
- Dip clean cloth in the mixture and wipe the plant thoroughly.
- Apply insecticidal soap or spray neem oil to repel the stray pests left and to prevent them from attacking again.
Discoloration and the appearance of dark spot on the leaves could be the sign of spider mites. They also form a cotton web on the leaves along the time. They usually invade the plant which is in a dry condition.
What to do:
If you catch them early, simply get rid of the web using alcohol spray or wet cloth will be enough. However, in case of heavy infestation, it is necessary to prune the affected leaves. Then, isolate the plant to stop the spreading of pest. Use either neem oil or insecticidal soap to completely eliminate the remaining spider mites.
Note. Cold water is useful enough as the first aid to fight the pest. When dealing with the pest, you must treat the plant in the sunny day morning.
Basically, by maintaining a proper watering and avoiding both overwatering and under watering, your plant will less likely to get sick.
The common sign you could see is discolored blotch that appears due to overwatering.
What to do:
Trim the damaged leaves and provide fresh potting mix in a clean container. You can either move it in a new container or just change the soil in the current container.
Once you notice a foul smell from your plant, the bacteria probably have developed.
What to do:
Remove the infected foliage. Reduce watering and never let the leaves wet for too long. Controlling water intake is significant action as the bacteria spread through the water droplet.
Beware of discolored or faded leaves, dark stem, and mushy root as they are the symptoms of root rot.
What to do:
Save the healthy root as many as you can find. Put the plant in well-drained soil inside a porous pot with drainage holes. Only give a small amount of water regularly.
Aside from making the plant clean, tidy, and prettier, cleaning could be a perfect time to keep your plant healthy, free from pest and disease.
- Clean the leaves. Place the plant in the sink and then shower regal shield with filtered water.
- Trimming the leaves. Once the dust has gone, remove the dying, dead, and damaged foliage only by disinfected shears. When pruning the leaves, make sure to make a clean cut down to the stem base. Also throw away the debris if you find them. You can repeat this step monthly.
- Refresh the soil. If the soil has been too dry or lost most of its nutrient, you can also replace the soil at the same time.
- Inspect the existence of pest. While cleaning you can check the plant condition carefully. Mostly, pets, bacteria, and fungus are hard to spot. Therefore, you can use this chance to catch them quickly.
Advantages of Planting Alocasia Regal Shield
Have a tropical accent at home. It is perfect greenery companion to place in your terrace, corner of the living room, or near the water features. Some people also choose this plant as it has relation with feng shui.
Natural air purifier. If you often busy roaming around the house, the giant leaves of this plant will help your breathing better.
“Maybe” for cooking. Cooking the stalks is only possible for those who know how to cook it properly. Don’t try this at home without proper skill since it contains poisonous substance.