A combination of Alocasia Zebrina and Alocasia Micholitziana produces a hybrid called Alocasia Sarian. The name “zarian” comes from a Pilipino agricultural journalist, Zac B. Sarian.
It is a rhizomatous plant with stunning leaves which is a native of Southeast Asia. To let the plant shows it best growth potential, you need to consider the location, weather, and season.
Classification and Nickname
The family structure of this plant are Araceae (Family) –> Aroideae (Subfamily) –> Alocasia (Genus) –> Zebrina (Species). Alocasia genus itself has many species, varieties, and hybrids that reach more than 70. Tropical and subtropical areas of Southeast Asia and Eastern Australia are the place where we can find this evergreen.
It has two famous nickname.
Elephant ears. Many Alocasia varieties also get this nickname because the parent plants have wide and pointy leaves that resemble elephant ear.
African mask. Many say that the triangular shape foliage of this plant is quite similar to the famous mask found in African culture.
A common structure of this plant is a green, large, and heart-shaped leaf. The leathery, stiff, and glossy texture complement each other with the bold veins on the leaf surface. These veins may come in different pattern and hue. One of the well-known pattern is zebra strips. The young leaves tend to have a more arrowhead shape before they mature.
The tall, round, and smooth stems work together to support the big foliage. Alocasia sarian might produce a very ordinary look flower. Ordinary here means they don’t have bold color, fragrant smells, even significant presence. Actually, these “flowers” only consist of some spathe protecting the spadix. In the early summer or late spring, they might bloom but just stay for 5 days at most.
In overall, the average height of Alocasia Sarian is between 150-300 cm and even 360 cm in outdoor space. It could spread widely up to 60-180 cm. In a limited indoor area, the maximum height is only 90-120 cm while the leaf length is around 30 cm.
Durability and Sensitiveness
As a perennial plant, it basically has good durability. It stays green all year with proper care and maintenance. However, it is also quite fragile and fussy about several aspects. Here are the list that you should pay attention to.
- Alocasia Sarian is not resistant to draught and draft.
- This evergreen also hate sudden temperature change.
- Last, it could suffer from transplant shock.
A large size means this plant needs plenty sunlight. Without proper lighting, the leaves will easily drop and the growth gets slower.
Inside the House
Since the light source is not as much as the sunshine outside, the trick is to use overhead lighting. At night, this type of light will fulfill the light requirement. Position the pot near a closed-east/west facing window, preferably less than 90 cm from it. Remember to rotate the pot occasionally to encourage even growth on all plant parts.
Outside the House
This plant will be delighted with a couple of hours under morning or afternoon sun. In the case that you grow it mostly outdoor, sometimes a hot sun scorches the leaves. It might also lost its color or develop brown patch. Having trees around or building an upper shade on the terrace would provide partial sunlight. Moreover, these also help protecting the plant from draft.
Note. Cleaning the leaves occasionally would get rid of the dust as well as recover the leaf ability to receive the light.
Maybe more water in summer
In the growing season, this plant would ask for more water about 2-3 times a week. The higher temperature and high humidity in the spring and summer encourage the plant to grow rapidly. You might need to give it more according to its needs. Contrarily, you must reduce the watering in cold season.
Why it still needs water in winter
In cold weather, Alocasia Sarian tends to go dormant where their growth is slowing down or stop for a while. And you are wrong if you think this plant doesn’t need water. This plant requires water in order for the soil to stay moist. Once this cold period ends, the plant would be ready to regrow.
ONLY use free chemical or no water without mineral salt content. Room temperature distilled water is perfect for indoor plant and rainwater for outdoor plant. You could use tap water after resting it overnight.
If you have made a watering schedule, always check the top soil condition before every watering. You can use your finger to check the wetness of the top 2 inches of the soil. Dry top soil means it can receive water. On the other hand, wet top soil means you have to wait longer for the next watering. After every watering, wait until the excess water flows out through the bottom of the pot.
Amount of water
Experts suggest giving a small amount of water regularly to control the soil moisture. A proper watering balances the moisture in the soil. Since watering aims for moist soil, don’t overwatering. This careless action make the soil soggy instead of moist. Furthermore, root rot might occur because of it. In addition, you should not let the plant completely dry too since it would cause crispy and curled foliage.
Over watering indication: yellowing leaves, weak stem, wet roots.
Under-watering indication: brown leaf edges, hindered growth, yellowing leaves.
Read also : Alocasia Amazonica : The Correct Way To Grow
You must aim for well-drained, moist, light, and organic rich soil for Alocasia Sarian. The right potting mix enable the roots to breath and retain the adequate moisture for the plant. The simplest soil mix to use consisting of an equal amount of soil and perlite.
A regular houseplant potting soil is available in stores. This product has already contained basic nutrient and its texture support well-draining ability. Meanwhile, adding organic matters such as perlite, coco coir, and vermiculate could lighten the soil. A light soil would also let more air into the soil.
A dry, rocky, clayey, and sandy soil texture is bad for this green plant. Soil with these characteristics will reduce the important moisture and make the soil too wet/soggy.
Only by maintaining the ideal temperature range, this plant is going to grow fast. This plant cannot tolerate either extreme cold or extreme heat for extended period. A temperature under 12°C would means a serious matter for this plant, which is death.
Shifting the plant position to indoor during cold season would save this plant from frost outside. Inside the home, you must also control the temperature well. Never put the plant close to air conditioner, fan, or any source of cold and wind. Moreover, exposing them to hot source such as heater is bad too. Pay more attention at night time because the temperature usually drops.
A high humidity level will keep the foliage to stay fresh and bright. It is easier for those living in Southeast Asia, the origin of the plant. However, living in cold climate means more effort is necessary to keep the desired humidity of 60-70%. Brown leaf and curling tips are the symptoms that your plant experiences low humidity. Additionally, an average room temperature is only around 50%.
Increasing the humidity with humidifier is a more convenient solution for this issue. The upgraded quality humidifier will let you set the humidity level as required. Or, simply grouping greeneries at the same area could rise the humidity level naturally.
Aside from natural factor, watering is also important in maintaining the humidity. The plant relies the most on the roots to absorb water. Hence, misting the leaves once in a while will only have a little effect on the overall humidity.
If you’re not so sure with the humidity in your preferred location, consider moving them in bathroom which has a higher humidity level compare to the other rooms at home. Providing a high humidity level has another benefit; to repel the pests away. Spider mites for example really hate a humid environment.
At the early stage of growth, the baby plant needs 15 cm of a general houseplant fertilizer given in the growing season. Just sprinkle the recommended amount around the plant base soil.
Fish and seaweed emulsion fertilizer as well as balanced liquid fertilizer (half-strength) are more suitable for diligent gardeners. With these kind of fertilizer, you need to apply them or twice a month.
On the other hand, a slow-release fertilizer is a choice with less effort since you only need to apply it 3 times a year in average. While watering, this fertilizer dissolves slowly and adds nutrient into the soil. Its slow pace also lower the risk of fertilizer burn and over fertilizing which greatly affect the root.
Cheap fertilizer might damage the root as it contains undesirable salt. Completely stop feeding the plant in autumn and winter because the plant is in dormancy period.
There is no need to repot the plant often unless your plant grows rapidly. You could either repotting them after the outgrown root popping on the bottom or when the current pot has become too small. In another way around, repotting commonly has become an annual task.
- Don’t rush the young plant for repotting, wait until they mature.
- Since the plant might shock a little bit during repotting process, you should repot in summer or spring. In these seasons, the plant will recover faster and grow better.
- Give water to the plant a day before repotting takes place. This step is beneficial to avoid transplant shock.
- Carefully remove the roots and make sure they are replanted in the same quality requirements.
- Repotting means you use fresh-new potting mix. Thus, you don’t have to feed them for a while.
- If the plant lives in a rather dark area, you can improve the drainage by adding small grit in the container base.
Many beginners face failures because of the wrong pot. Although Alocasia family could survive in small pot, it still needs larger pot for the root expansion. And of course, the pot must own enough holes for smooth drainage. If you accidentally buy new pot without drainage hole, create your own holes by drilling.
Propagation process is almost identical with repotting. It transfers some of the plant part, while repotting just moving a whole plant to a new container. With all the similarities, there are several things you must take a note. To cut down the process, you better do both task at the same period specifically in the mid of spring or early summer.
As a tuberous plant, propagation through cutting is not suitable for Alocasia Sarian. For the most part, you just have to remove the rhizome and the offset and then replant them in a new fresh soil.
- Prepare a pot made of material that could retain enough water and has drainage holes.
- Fill the pot with fresh, organic rich, and porous soil. Having perlite and coco coir in the potting soil would provide ample nutrient for the plant.
- Put the offset with its root system directly in the pot center.
- Add the remaining soil, but be careful not to cover the whole plant.
- And then spray some water to keep the soil moist.
- Leave the plant under indirect bright light.
- It may take a few weeks before the leaves grow since the plant might still recover from the shock while adjusting to the new environment.
- This method requires a small jar or container to host the offset. Many love using glass vase in order to witness the beauty of Alocasia.
- Fill the vase with water and leave it for one night, particularly if you use tap water. For a safety reason, this step works to prevent the chemical substance in the water from hurting your plant.
- Submerge ONLY the root in upright position and leave the offset out of the water.
- Pick a spot with excellent lighting requirement (you know what and how) and put the vase there.
Note. Direct sunshine is unfavorable because it could stimulate algae growth and increase the water temperature.
- Due to evaporation, you need to bring new water to fill the vase. In addition, you should change the water if it gets dirty faster. Depend on the condition, other would change the water after a few months periodically.
- Adding a small dosage of liquid houseplant fertilizer is a great idea to encourage growth.
- If you have notice something new grows from it, relocate the plant to soil.
Primarily, the root starts to develop in week 3-5, continued by the shoot. In the next 3-6 months, you can see the miniature version of the mature plant.
One of the aspect that make this plant attractive is the beautiful lines of foliage. The old leaf produces new leaves on the same stem. The intensity of veins and color varies depending on the condition where the plant lives. Under a perfect environment, Alocasia Sarian could grow new leaves every week.
When the plant is getting weak due to the owner neglect, it can easily become the pest target.
Spider mite attack
Grey patches appear when spider mites have settled down on the leaves. If you spot a cotton-spider web like stuff on the stem and the bottom of the leaf, it means these insects enjoying their life at the cost of your plant health.
- First thing first, isolate the plant to stop the insect from spreading (we hope not).
- Cut the infected leaves cleanly using sterilized shears or knife. Make sure not to carelessly dispose it on the soil itself.
- Wipe the leaves using mild dishwashing soap.
- Next, the roughest and maybe the fastest way to handle this is using chemical pesticide. It immediately kill the pests along with their beloved eggs. Still, use it calmly because overdoing this would not make your plant better.
- Are you afraid of the chemical substance? No worry. You can practically make your own natural remedy with things available at your kitchen. Herbal sprays and neem oil could save your plant without endangering the plant life.
Because spider mites prefer dry plant, it is crucial to maintain a high humidity level around the plant. By doing so, you can prevent the pest attack as well as keep the plant happy.
· Brown Spot
Possible cause: hot direct sunlight for extended period, irregular watering schedule, low temperature and humidity, over fertilizing
Troubleshooting: move the plant to get a bright indirect sunlight, diligently water the plant in small amount, feed the recommended dosage of fertilizer, and provide a warm and humid place.
· Fallen Leaf and Yellow Leaf
Possible cause: over or under watering (bad watering practice)
Troubleshooting: adjusting the watering according to the requirement
· Root Rot
Possible cause: overwatering, cold temperature
Symptom: foul smell, dark and mushy root
- Find the roots in trouble, take them away, and save the healthy one. If you don’t see white and firm root anymore, stop right here and discontinue your saving effort.
- Replant the unaffected plant into a new pot with fresh soil.
- Only watering after the upper side of soil dry and wait the remaining water drains. Placing heat meat under the pot could keep the plant warm.
Note. Every time you take care of the plant, please use protective and clean equipment. This plant contains toxic substance that may cause irritation and GI problems.
No matter what, you cannot control what the nature brings. Dust, plant debris, and dying leaves, you need to take care of them. Grooming as well as pruning and cleaning play a vital role in lowering the risk of fungal and bacterial diseases and promoting new growth.
- ONLY use hygienic and sharp tools when grooming to reduce trauma and preventing infection.
- ONLY remove the leaves which are COMPLETELY dying, damaged, or wilted. If the leaves only half dead or half-yellowed, let them be first. They are still working hard on the plant.
- The incision you make on the leaves should not pass the yellowed tissue.
- Furthermore, the cutting direction must be downward to heal the wounded part quickly and the water flows without passing the sensitive part.
- Wipe the leaves with damp clothes to erase the dust. A clean surface would ease the photosynthesis process.
How to Deal With Dormancy
In order to stay alive in a cold place, Alocasia Sarian will grow slowly or even stop growing for certain period. It conserves its energy and nutrient while waiting for warmer season. Although the plant is practically “sleeping”, it doesn’t mean you stop caring for it.
- Cut the watering
Alocasia Sarian still needs water, but not too much. Besides keeping the soil moist, the plant is going to store the water for the next growth phase. Just give a small amount of water once or twice a month.
- Reduce the lighting
Extreme lighting could hurt the plant and it just need less light considering its current state.
- Maintain the cold
It means that you cannot either expose it too draft or heater. In short, you should keep away the plan from all things that would bring sudden temperature change. Try to maintain the present cool condition during dormancy.
- Inspect the pest potential
Bugs may find your plant as a good meal during dormancy. Regular check and cleaning using natural treatment could maintain its health and dismiss the pest.
When Alocasia Sarian sends a signal to awake, here are some tips to bring it back on track.
- In indoor setting: give adequate watering, provide a proper light, increase the humidity, and put in a warm place.
- Keep the soil temperature at least 21°C. in fact, the temperature in the air is less crucial than the soil temperature.
- If your plant seems hard to wake up, you can cover the plant with plastic after putting a heat meat below the pot. By increasing the humidity, the plant will wake up faster.
- Restart the regular plant care and maintenance immediately after you see new growth.
- Feed the plant when it has come back to its daily life.
Utilize Alocasia Sarian as…
· Attention grabber
You can easily put them in balcony, corner of the house, patio, and terrace. An example of smart arrangement is placing long vine plants next to Alocasia. Its presence would also bring a tropical vibe in your living place.
· Air purifier
When growing outdoor, this plant could even reach 3 m tall. And with its large leaves, it becomes a perfect air cleaner. Try to breathe slowly when you are close to this plant.