African Mask Alocasia (Elephant’s Ear - Amazonica Polly)
African Mask Alocasia (Elephant’s Ear - Amazonica Polly) is clearly an overachiever. Most foliage plants “wow” you with rich leaf color, interesting markings or variegations, maybe even an unusual leaf shape. But this little showstopper? It does all three. These leaves are a lush purple underneath, a richly metallic bronze-green on top, and marked by striking white veins—oh, and they’re massive, up to 12”-18” long, and shaped like hearts with jagged edges.
More good news: Somehow, this dwarf variety of the original (and notably larger) Alocasia Amazonica squeezes all this appeal into a plant mere 18”-24” high and wide when mature. How’s that for making the most of your space? Polly is an ideal specimen plant, combining easy-to-manage compact size with a larger-than-life presence that instantly makes the room feel more dramatic, wild, and exotic.
True, Polly has some specific needs—humidity, warmth, bright-but-not-direct-sunlight, and consistently moist-but-never-soggy soil—that make it a bit more high maintenance than your average “set it and forget it” sansevieria. But it’s more than worth the extra effort required. There just aren’t that many plants of any size that can match Polly’s ability to bring the jungle to you no matter where you are.
Characteristics and traits of a Elephant’s Ear Alocasia (Alocasia x Amazonica 'Polly')
Scientific Name: Alocasia Amazonica ‘Polly’ (syn: Alocasia Polly, Alocasia x Mortfontanensis, Alocasia Lowii Var. Grandis x Alocasia Sanderiana)
Common Name: Elephant’s Ear (shared with others), African Mask, Kris Plant, Jewel Alocasia, Alocasia Alligator
Indoor: All year in temperatures above 65°F
Outdoor Zones: 10-12
Type: Perennial evergreen. Propagated via division
Mature Height: 18”-24”
Mature Width: 12”-24”
Plant Height when Shipped: XXXXXX
Growth Rate: Moderate
Flower: Rare - creamy white spathe and spadix similar to tiny half-peeled banana
Foliage: Arrowhead-shaped leaves up to 12” or more long, dark green with bright white veins and a chunky jagged edge.
Plant Care and Advice for Elephant’s Ear Alocasia (Alocasia x Amazonica 'Polly')
Grown In: Inside: all zones year round, Outside: zones 10-12
Light Requirements: Bright indirect (best) to medium. Full sun can overheat the plant and scorch its leaves
Water Requirements: Keep soil consistently moist in summer (March-August) with frequent modest waterings anytime the top 1” gets dry. Decrease amount in cooler months to prevent root rot. Always let drain well.
Drought Tolerance: Good
Temperature: Likes indoor room temp. 65°F-85°F. Bring in when outdoor temps fall below 45°F.
Air Purification: Good
Toxicity: Toxic. If ingested, can cause drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, and pain and swelling of the tongue and lips. Excessive handling may also cause contact dermatitis.
Fertilizer: General liquid given at half-strength 1-2 times a month in spring and summer.
Container Friendly: Yes, with proper drainage
When repotting African Mask Alocasia, it’s vital that you choose a container with a hole in the bottom to ensure proper drainage. We’d also recommend a heavy container, especially if the plant is to be kept outside—those big leaves catch the wind like kites.
Polly absolutely requires a quick-draining soil, and likes those with a bit of organic matter to provide nutrients. A 2:1 mix of African violet soil and sand/perlite works well, as will the “jungle mix” offered by many garden supply stores. Whatever soil mix you settle upon, be aware that repotting is the perfect time to propagate African Mask Alocasia by dividing the newer plantlets from the parent plant and giving them their own pots (see Expert Tips), and spring is the best season in which to do so.
When caring for African Mask Alocasia ‘Polly’, it may help to keep in mind that you’re trying to recreate the conditions it would encounter as an understory plant in a rainy tropical jungle.
Bright indirect light is best, followed by medium light. Low light is going to be too low most of the time. Moreover, direct sunlight is actually bad because it can overheat the plant and scorch the leaves.
African Mask Alocasia ‘Polly’ likes a lot of water, especially during the growing season. In spring and summer, you want the soil to be perpetually moist, but never saturated or waterlogged. To walk this tightrope, many plant parents choose to water frequently, but in moderation. Anytime the top 1” of soil dries out, water the soil (but not the leaves) with a medium amount of water. During fall, winter, and any other dormant periods, reduce the amount of water significantly, but still avoid letting the soil dry out completely.
African Mask is happiest at temperatures between 65°F-85°F and will start to lose leaves if temps drop below 50°F for long. It also loves humidity, so strive to keep it away from A/C vents, central air vents, drafts, exterior doors, and even artificial heating, all of which can negatively impact the temperature and/or humidity around the plant.
There are actually many ways to increase Polly’s local humidity, and they’re all good. You can mist the plant lightly with distilled water anywhere from twice a week to twice a day. You can get a mechanical humidifier. You can place the plant on a tray filled with pebbles and a slightly lesser amount of water, which will boost humidity as it evaporates. Finally, you can give the plant a shower of lukewarm water in your shower or sink—just be sure to let the soil drain fully afterward.
Elephant’s Ear Alocasias like to eat, so it’s a good idea to supplement their water with a half-strength dose of general liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks from April to August. Flush the soil every few months to avoid buildup of excess salts, and withhold fertilizer in fall and winter.
Finally, this probably goes without saying, but keep this plant out of the wind, which can be hard on those big, beautiful leaves.
Alocasia Amazonica 'Polly' plants sometimes enter a sort of dormancy, typically brought on by shorter days and cooling temperatures, in which they will die completely to the ground. If this happens, take comfort! There’s a strong chance your plant is not dead, but just resting. Keep giving it good light and small amounts of water, (no fertilizer, though) and the plant should “wake up” and regrow when the weather warms.
As with most tropical plants, the biggest threat to Alocasia x Amazonica 'Polly' is overwatering. You want the plant’s soil to be consistently moist, but never soggy—waterlogged conditions greatly increase the risk of root rot.
If your plant begins “weeping” by releasing drops of water from the tips of its leaves (a process botanists call “guttation”), ease up on the water. If the leaves turn yellow, then proceed to brown or black, especially if the leaves or the stems also become mushy, it’s likely the plant has already contracted root rot. For a minor case, just let the soil dry out and water less. If the case appears severe, you may be able to save the plant if you remove it from the existing pot and soil, trim off any rotting roots (you’ll know them by their awful smell), and repot the plant in drier soil.
If only the older leaves are dying off, there is probably no cause for alarm. This is natural aging. However, if your Alocasia x Amazonica 'Polly' is yellowing or fading evenly across old growth and new, but there’s no sign of overwatering, the plant likely needs more light. The exception to this is if the color seems to be bleaching out in the areas that get the most sunlight—in that case, you probably want to give the plant less sun.
Brown leaf tips and/or edges are likely a case of too little water, too little humidity, or too much direct sunlight. However, if all of those things appear to be in balance, the browning could be due to a buildup of leftover fertilizer salts in the soil. Flush heavily with clean water and allow to drain completely.
Droopy leaves? The plant wants more water, more humidity, or more light. Brown spots with yellow outlines? It could be too much water, and it could also be that Alocasia Amazonica 'Polly' is cold. Check for drafts, A/C vents, or just chilly windows. If that all seems fine, consider treating the plant for an infection (see below).
Spots of brown, purple, black, or yellow-rimmed spots on the leaves of Alocasia Amazonica 'Polly' can indicate a fungal infection. These can be challenging to treat in such a water-loving plant, but copper-based fungicides can help. But the best cure is prevention—reduce the odds of an infection developing in the first place by striving to water the soil instead of the leaves.
If pests such as spider mites, thrips, or mealybugs invade your Alocasia x Amazonica 'Polly', dispose of them by wiping the plant’s leaves daily with a damp cloth or by applying neem oil, Mite-X, or insecticidal soap. Mealybugs can also be controlled by dabbing them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.Alocasia x Amazonica 'Polly' is most easily propagated by division. When you repot the plant, simply divide the offshoots large enough to have roots and give them their own pots. Note: be careful to plant them at the same depth. Piling the soil too high around the stem can cause it to rot. Give them the same water and light as you normally would from there on out, but let them acclimate for 3 months before offering fertilizer.
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when you buy any 3 or more items!
That's right - As soon as your shopping cart contains any 3 items, your shipping is FREE! Eligible for ground shipped orders going to the same address only.
And if you only order one or two items, shipping is just $7.50 per item!
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