Alocasia silver dragon is a hybrid plant comes from Alocasia Baginda, one of Alocasian varieties. Borneo or Kalimantan is the origin of this dwarf evergreen. After the world notices its loveliness, from newbie, plant lover, collectors, up to expert gardeners are racing to obtain this plant.
Most Alocasian basically have elephant ear-like form of foliage. In another word, the leaves are heart-shaped with silvery-green hue along with dark green veins. Its texture, in particular resembles dragon scale. That’s is why people call it as a mystical plant that comes straight from the fairytale.
Aside from Silver Dragon, African silver mask is another nickname for this plant.
The best clue to take care of this plant is knowing its characteristic. Just knowing from its native origin, Borneo, the words you think will be “tropical”. It means that warm weather, high humidity, and shaded area are the condition you should try to imitate at home.
Altogether, Alocasia silver dragon is sensitive to change. The other things this greenery hates are: cold temperature, draft, and hot direct light.
Despite its stunning looks, Alocasia silver dragon has harmful content inside. According to the research, the toxicity level is number four. A contact with the poisonous content here would cause irritation and swelling in the skin and on the mouth. The worst is you can run to hospital when it severely attacks your indigestion tract including throat as well as esophagus. Hence, never let the kids and pets touch it.
Any Alocasia will naturally go dormant once the temperature gets lower than it needs. It is a normal process, so don’t be panic. The most notable sign you can see is the falling leaves. During this time, the growth gets slower than usual.
At this time you also can take a rest because you don’t have to give a lot of water and fertilizer. To sum up, it just sleeps, not dying. It would back again when warm season arrives. Additionally, by setting up a certain environment, you can decrease the dormancy period or even prevent it. An easy effort you can do is maintaining the light and warm temperature around the plant. Just make sure it doesn’t get cold.
A mature silver dragon could reach 50 cm in height when planted in indoor area. The foliage size is about 15 cm while the width is 5 to 8 cm. The young leaves come in tiny size with smooth texture. They begin with jade green color and change into silvery green once they mature. Long petioles group together to sustain the leaves and the whole plant.
As a slow growth plant, Alocasia silver dragon doesn’t expend its size that much. Even though compare to its basic structure, the foliage is surprisingly large. Under uncommon condition, you would get inflorescence blooming from it. Still, don’t expect that too much precisely when you grow it indoor.
If it is your first time growing this beauty, take a notice on its growth cycle below.
Any first time beginner should provide the plant with indirect light, high humidity, warm temperature, as well as sufficient and frequent watering. To avoid overwatering, wait until 90 percent of the soil to dry before the next watering.
On the 2nd month, commonly you can see the proof of shoot development. From now own, the baby plant starts to gear up the growth to reach maturity.
60th and so on
After the shoot, the foliage and petioles would show their face to the world. You just have to repeat the proper care and maintenance so that your Silver Dragon is always healthy and pretty.
The important characteristics the soil must be moist, slightly acidic, porous, full with nutrient, (organic matters), and have good aeration. A common mix you can use is perlite and mulch. Adding or mixing garden compost, coco coir, or peat, would also an option. Others also like using coco coir rather than peat moss for renewable reason.
An excellent potting mix would provide three benefits for the plant.
- Support good drainage
- Provide useful bacteria
- Upgrade soil texture
What if you are a newbie in gardening? No worry! You could buy any quality potting mix out there. When you are still confused, choose one with houseplant, succulent, or indoor labels. As long as overwatering doesn’t occur, you can be sure you have used the right potting mix.
Read also : Alocasia Cuprea : Caring and Loving A Tropical Plant with Unique Foliage
There are several points to look for when watering the Silver Dragon.
Water the plant if 30 percent (2.5 to 5 cm) of the upper soil line have dried. If the soil tends to be heavy or have clay-like texture for a while, give less water. Crispy tips on the leaves is also a sign that your plant needs water. Be prepare that low humidity level might also cause it.
In spring and summer, water the plant 2-3 times a week because of the high temperature. In contrast, during winter or cold season, reduce the frequency by once every week. If you grow the plant indoor, you should reduce the watering frequency earlier in winter. There is a case when it is enough to water it once every two weeks.
You might make a mistake regarding the potting mix. For instance, add more water if the soil is dry for a long time. If the soil appears to be more clayey and heavy, you may have to water less often.
Pour warm temperature water slowly on the soil first before continuing to other parts. Then, wait until the excess water flows out the drainage holes. After that you can repeat the action next time.
How to Check
You can use fingers to check the soil moisture first than do watering. If you don’t want to get dirty, using moisture meter would be very convenient for your need. Redo this action each week to check the soil and plant condition.
Note. Although under watering isn’t that good for the plant, overwatering brings more severe effects. Once waterlogged happens, the soil get too wet causing root rot.
A strategic position is crucial when you decide where to put Alocasia silver dragon. The most suitable light is around medium to bright indirect light. Putting them under a hot bright light for a long time such as midday sunlight could burn and discolor the leaves quickly.
When exposing the plant under the sunshine, morning is the right time. In the event that you take it outside at noon, make sure there are other plants around. These plants will act as a shelter and filter the direct sunlight above. Moreover, you can place it under patio or any area with shade.
When it must stay indoors, utilize artificial light if necessary. East or west facing window is the usual spot of this plant at home. Using curtain or frosted glass will help the plant getting the best light to grow.
Note. It must get the balance light. It means that too bright and too dark spot would arise various problems. For example, slow growth rate and rotting.
It would thrive in a warm temperature ranges from 15°C to 27°C. Some even survive in temperature of 35°C. However, it is only possible under some conditions. If it receives enough light and consistent watering, it could somehow live in a higher temperature area. And commonly, a normal home temperature would be able to make your plant happy.
For a precaution, put the plant indoor when fall starts instead of waiting for winter. Inside the house try to maintain the temperature of 12°C at the minimum. Lower than that will slow the growing process of the plant.
To prevent temperature fluctuation, you should not put the plant near heater and AC. One of the effect of this careless action is dryness.
Along with warm temperature, high humidity level is a must for Silver Dragon. Try to keep the humidity between 60-80%, the higher the better. When the location you live doesn’t support this condition, make a use of things around you.
Humidifier is not only work for your own needs but also for the plant. You don’t have a humidifier? A set up of pebble tray filled with water is a more affordable option. Then, if you like to be active, spray the plant occasionally. Misting is not a bad thing, but it might lead to plant diseases. The thick leaves may needs longer time to dry which later attract unexpected problems.
Other prefers to group the plant to increase the humidity level. When growing it outdoor, there is a trick to control the humidity. You can spread the mulch on the plant base. It must be thick enough in order to hold moderate moisture and decrease evaporation.
In addition, one the easiest way to check the humidity is by a humidity meter. It’s relatively cheap and it supports you in caring for this plant.
For outdoor setting, the hardiness zone is 9-10. On the other hand, for indoor setting, the hardiness zone is 4-11.
Read also : Alocasia Lauterbachiana : Guide To Grow Your Purple Sword
It is important to provide extra nutrients for Alocasia silver dragon during the growing season. Depend on each plant, you can feed it every one or two months. Basically, the feed should be a diluted balanced fertilizer. Make sure to read and follow the instruction on the label.
It works best in supporting the development and vitality of the leaves.
Bone Meal Fertilizer
Based on its original habitat, it used to live in a place with calcium rich soil. Naturally, the rainwater helps the release of calcium in the soil as well as rises the humidity. Fortunately, this fertilizer contains this very important substrate. This amazing content support the growth of the cell. Furthermore, it would boost the plant immunity so that it is resistant to disease.
Liquid vs Non-Liquid
- The liquid here means that you should dilute it with water as most fertilizers are in powder form. The liquid fertilizer seeps into the soil easily while maintains its nutrient supply for the plant. Due to its form, you have to feed it more frequently.
- Non-liquid fertilizer can stay longer on the soil. People also call it a slow-release fertilizer. It comes in the form of tablet, stick, or granule. Simply add it into the substrate after following the instruction of each product. It is able to control the overmuch and abrupt concentration in under control since it decomposes gradually in the soil. As a result, you don’t have to feed it often.
Other options you could try is any natural or domestic plant fertilizer, calcium-rich tomato fertilizer, or other chemical free fertilizer. Some also add worm castings when using the slow-release fertilizer.
Your plant must be healthy, before you feed it. The recommended usage usually around 1/3 of the prescribed dose. The right dosage could prevent over fertilizing. Always water the plant after feeding it with nutrients.
Don’t use cheap and low-grade fertilizer! This kind of fertilizer accumulates the soil-forming crystal which is likely to harm your lovely plant.
Note. Remember that both soil and fertilizer works side by each. They support each other to provide the nutrients the plant needs. You need to provide both the quality soil and the right watering to maximize the plant growth.
The period for a successful propagation starts from spring to the end of summer. Doing this activity in winter or cold days would only result in failure. Any propagation method needs a gently and careful treatment. Never forget to use sterilized tools and wash anything that come into contact with the plant.
- Clean the soil and dirt around the plant base. You can either shake it or use a hose (but don’t too strong).
- Take the rhizome carefully.
- Next, cut one third of the rhizome or at least 2.5 cm long using a clean sharp knife. If you use finger, please wear gloves. However, using knife is preferable.
- Plant each part in vertical position in well-draining soil which has been watered. Spare some spaces around 1/5 of the top surface so that it is not completely buried.
- Next, put them under indirect light and keep the moisture well. New leaves would grow soon after 2-4 weeks after the roots establish.
- Split the bulbs/clumps you can find using a hygienic knife. They are mostly under the ground, but some might appear above the soil.
- Each bulb must has the same share of rhizome and leaves before you plant it.
- Put them in a fresh potting mix inside small pot. Try a combination of perlite and peat (50:50) to achieve the best moisture requirement. Don’t let the soil dry and don’t let them stay in cold temperature. You could see the sprout after a few weeks (2-3 weeks).
Tips. Water the plant before bulb division to lessen the damage when removing the root ball.
Potting + Repotting
Alocasia silver dragon opts to stay in the same pot for a longer time. It can hold on until 2 years at minimum, root bound is not an issue providing that the air circulation is well-maintained.
If you live in a perfect environment to grow this plant, it might grow faster than usual. Eventually, the size will outgrow the pot or the roots will poke through the bottom. You might also propagate this plant after it matures. It will save more time to do repotting and propagation together.
You usually need a slightly bigger diameter container for repotting. Unexpectedly, too much space in the pot would interrupt the growth. One of the pot type material to choose is terracotta. It is made of glazed/unglazed fired clay, so the color is mostly brownish orange. And recheck again whether the new pot has the necessary drainage holes.
A stable plastic container is another option for the new pot.
Notwithstanding a specific time in a year, spring or summer is still the best period for repotting. During this period, the plant could grow to its content freely. As Alocasia silver dragon is quite sensitive to sudden change, a health condition of the plant is a must for repotting.
By considering its size and form, there is no need to perform extensive pruning here. In spite of that, some pruning is crucial for different reasons.
- First, it might be a sign that your plant is sick. Removing the sick leaves will avoid the infection form spreading.
- Second, it is able to maintain the plant healthy appearance.
- Third, it could enhance the airflow on the leaves.
Pruning the damaged, wilted, old, fading, and ill foliage protects the plant from bacterial and fungal disease.
Any plant could suffer from disease and pest infestation, including Alocasia silver dragon. Early prevention is always the best solution before anything bad happen. Below, there is a list of problems that your plant might encounter.
Symptom: spotted and damp leaves
Action: get rid of the affected foliage, replace the soil to the aerated & loose potting mix
Cause: low humidity level, bad water supply
Action: improve the humidity water, check your watering method so far and fix what is wrong
Brown Leaf Edge
Cause: dry soil, low humidity
Action: adjust the humidity and watering schedule
Cause: cold air current/draft
Action: don’t open the window or door when the wind is strong, or you can create a blockade for the plant to protect it
Symptom: leaves are drooping and wilting, the roots turn mushy and have unpleasant color (usually turn to brown)
Cause: overwatering and clayey container
Action: quickly find any sick root and remove it from the healthy ones (firm and white), repot the healthy ones in a better pot quality filled with fresh soil.
Symptom: yellowing or blanching leaves (most know it as yellowing leaf), the lower part shows this symptom earlier before continuing to the whole plant
Cause: nutrient deficiency, over fertilization (the salt amount increase inside the plant), disease, insufficient watering, over watering
Action: ensure that the soil is well-drained and the pot has proper drainage holes. Then, it will allow the excess water and fertilization to drain completely.
Note. Always provide the same amount of quality water.
Symptom: dark spot on the leaves, these leaves later will invite the bacteria and fungus
Cause: ignorance in caring and maintaining the plant
Action: use insecticide after throwing out the infected leaves, clean the leaves using neem oil to remove the remaining pest
Symptom: cheese like-holes appear on the leaf
Cause: unexpected warm draft, cold temperature
Action: increase the humidity level more than 70%, apply neem oil once a week and repeat this action for 2-3 weeks
Action: “Clean” the plant in strong running water to get rid of the pest. And then spray insecticide evenly. You can also make a natural plant remedy easily. For example, you could use horticultural soap, vinegar (after diluted with water), and need moil. Apply your preferable solution in a sunny day morning.
Decoration. A perfect decorative plant is how people describe it. Its miniature size and unique foliage will impress anyone who look at it.
Air-purification. Yes, this plant is beauty. Even so, it works pretty well as a natural air purification. It is doing more for your indoor space more than you think.
As a matter of fact, it is not easy to find it on the nursery and market. If you live outside the native area of Alocasia silver dragon, it can be more challenging. Howbeit, many people really like it so that sellers or providers try to increase the stock on the market. And as you can see the skyrocketed price is not a joke. In conclusion, the chance to get this evergreen highly relies on the supply and location.
- Stem cutting is impossible because it would disturb the nutrient distribution throughout the plant.
- Silver Dragon cannot grow in water by itself. It still needs well-draining soil or leca.
- It will thrive if you place them in terrariums and indoor terrestrial pots.