This tropical plant called Alocasia zebrina , is not one of the best known and does not require very specific care. Its stems are very showy and one of the main attractions of this species of the small family of Alocasias.
ORIGIN AND DISTRIBUTION OF ALOCASIA ZEBRINA
This small tropical plant is native to Asia and turns out to be an endemic species to the Philippines. Its current distribution according to the GBIF.org portal is summarized to this small archipelago. There are two more dates in North America but they are either spurious data or indoor or greenhouse plants that have nothing to do with a natural habitat.
The Alocasia genus is not very broad but has a few dozen cataloged species. In particular there are 80 and one of the most famous is this one for its stems . They are really attractive.
WHY HAVEN’T YOU HEARD OF THIS INDOOR PLANT?
Their care is not the easiest thing in the world. They are quite sensitive to sudden changes in growing conditions, to irrigation, so it is not usually the ideal plant for forgetful people. However, with proper care it is a fairly fast growing plant .
VARIETIES, SPECIES AND OTHERS OF THE GENUS ALOCASIA
Although they are endemic to a very specific area of the planet, today they are grown throughout the world as an ornamental and there are countless hybridizations within the genus beyond the 80 species described.
The following are not considered accepted species but varieties or hybridizations are:
Alcasia x monrtfontanensis André, Alocasia x okinawensis Tawada, Alocasia sedenii, Alocasia x amazonica.
PETS, CHILDREN … ALOCASIA CAN BE A PROBLEM
Unfortunately, it is quite a toxic plant if ingested. It contains a compound that many plants generate as a defense against herbivorous animals. These are the calcium oxalate crystals that cause serious gastrointestinal disturbances . It is not often that a child ingests a plant leaf, but dogs and cats (especially the latter) may ingest them with purging intentions.
Read more >> Toxic plants at home
CARE ALOCASIA ZEBRINA INSIDE
TEMPERATURES AND LIGHTING
As a tropical plant endemic to the Philippines, we must not forget the temperature and humidity conditions of a climate like that of this archipelago. It requires the typical temperatures of a home. Between 20 and 25ºC is the most common. The big downside is the humidity . In the houses it is not usually high.
In hot climates we can even take it outside during the warmer months.
You need a lot of light sun but not direct . Don’t hold it to a window. Leave it protected. South orientations are suitable for daylight hours as long as the light is dimmed or the plant away from direct rays. Otherwise the leaves will burn.
It can also be had in east-west orientations. However, it is not recommended in shady areas (north orientation). Here we can bring the plant a little closer to the window because direct rays are few and at dawn or dusk, these being less incidents.
YOU HAVE TO FIND THE BALANCE OF FORM
The Alocasia has a mobility and high directionality of its large leaves into the light. This implies that if we leave the pot still, the plant will shrink towards the light side and over time (not too much) it may become unbalanced.
To avoid this, we must turn the pot where it is to force it to compensate its emission of leaves towards the light side and achieve a balance of shape. Let us remember that indoor plants have a large part of their appeal in the silhouette of their bearing. They are vegetable sculptures. And in plants like Alocasia zebrina this aspect stands out.
SUBSTRATE AND SUBSCRIBER
Due to its great sensitivity to waterlogging, root rot and fungal diseases, the soil must be very draining . Although it requires abundant water, almost all of it must be drained quickly if we do not want to promote the appearance of cryptogamic diseases. He is very sensitive in this regard.
It can be fertilized with liquid compost for green plants every 15 days during spring and summer. We always recommend slightly lowering the dosage set by the manufacturer. Substrates already have sufficient nutrients a priori and fertilization should be no more than a complement.
IRRIGATION AND HUMIDITY
Irrigation must be of high frequency of irrigation but little abundant . It is the hardest part to maintain. It is almost a daily care. We must wait for the surface of the substrate to dry before watering again. This situation, in a typical dry environment inside a home, occurs every one or two days in winter, due to heating .
Alocasia zebrina should be kept away from drafts, open doors, and air conditioning.
The humidity is almost as important as or irrigation. Classic solutions work:
- Use of a tray with pebbles or expanded clay and water to create a humid environment.
- Approach other tropical plants that perspire to generate a humid environment.
- Acquire water humidifiers for the home.
- Water sprays with a certain frequency (the least recommended in this case).
It adapts better to pot sizes that are small compared to its size. This does not mean that we can leave the plant in the same container for a long time. An annual transplant is recommended, gradually increasing the size of the pot. The year-on-year size variation should not be very abrupt.
ALOCASIA ZEBRINA DISEASES AND SYMPTOMS
Brown leaves, with yellowish edges, black spots on the leaves … Almost any appearance of this type is usually related to a disease of fungal origin due to excess watering or humidity.
It is also possible that the leaves turn yellow and brown from excessive solar radiation . In this case, the Alocasia zebrina changes its site.
As pests, aphids and cottony mealybugs can be highlighted . The potassium soap is a very effective and safe preventive solution. If the pest has already been installed, it will be necessary to use specific products such as neem oil or specific insecticides.