Some dozen rhizomatous plants belong to the alocasia genus, originally from Malaysia and other tropical areas of Asia, generally cultivated in Europe as house plants. Long petioles appear from the fleshy rhizomes, bearing very large leaves of various colors depending on the species; the most common species have dark colored foliage, variously variegated with white or silver veins; some species have green foliage, others purple or with metallic reflections. There are also numerous hybrids. Over time, the petioles of the leaves can begin to generate a sort of squat stem, even if it happens rarely in the specimens cultivated "in captivity"; in nature these plants produce flowers similar to calla lilies, white in color, but flowering rarely occurs indoors.
Easy to grow
These plants commonly find space in the house, where they can best vegetate even in a not excessively bright corner; to develop at their best they need a fairly large space, otherwise they will tend to lose foliage in the parts close to the walls. As happens for many other rhizomatous plants, also the alocasias (also called elephant ears) in autumn and winter go through a period of vegetative rest; this period can be characterized by the presence of foliage, if the plants are grown indoors in the heat, but it can also happen that the rhizome goes into complete vegetative rest, losing all the leaves until spring. If this happens, avoid watering the plant until the days begin to lengthen again, in February-March, otherwise the rhizome could rot; therefore let's water the soil when it is dry, between February-March and September-October, perhaps also adding fertilizer for leaf plants to the watering water, every 12-15 days. For the remaining months we water only if the leaves are present, and only sporadically.
To recreate at home the tropical climate from which our alocasias come, remember to vaporize the foliage often, especially when the domestic heating is on, and also during the hot summer days. In this way we will also drive away mites and scale insects, which often nest on the underside of large leaves.
Some extra care
As with many other plants with large leaves, alocasias also tend to accumulate all the dust and greasiness present in the air; this real smog over time, in addition to making the leaves unpleasant, tends to make the plant deteriorate; to prevent dirt from accumulating on the foliage, clean it periodically, using a slightly damp microfibre cloth.
We also remember to repot the plants every 3-4 years; the elephant ears they do not like to live in excessively large containers, so we look for a vase that is large and heavy enough to be able to keep the bulky foliage erect, and we always try to use the same vase even when we repot our alocasia, but replacing all the soil it contained, now exhausted .
Elephant Ears - Alocasia: What if we grew them outdoors
As mentioned before, alocasias can also lose their foliage in autumn and winter; and are grown at minimum temperatures above 12-15 ° C. For these two reasons we can think of creating a bed of elephant ears in the garden, placing them at the foot of other shrubs, or in any case in a semi-shady corner, also sheltered from the wind, which could damage the foliage. However, remember that in autumn we will have to let the foliage dry out and extract the rhizomes from the ground, to grow them at home or to store them until the following spring in a cool, dark and completely dry place.