The Alocasia amazonica, commonly known as African Mask Plant, or Elephant Ear Plant, grows from rhizomes, producing broad heart-shaped narrow leaves up to two feet in length. The leaf blades are dark green, almost black, with thick white or silver veins running throughout the leaves. It is grown as an ornamental houseplant because of its dramatic form and foliage coloration.
Its origin is somewhat of a mystery, but most botanists believe it to be a hybrid grown in the 1950s in Miami, Florida. Therefore, it is categorized as being of Garden origin. It is grown across the world as an ornamental indoor houseplant or in a summer garden.
- African Mask Plant Main Characteristics
- African Mask Plant Care
- Propagating African Mask Plant
- Potting and Repotting African Mask Plant
- Common Pests
- Common Problems
- How to Take Care of Your African Mask Plant (Video)
African Mask Plant Main Characteristics
|Common Name||Elephant Ear Plant, African Mask Plant|
|Botanical Name||Alocasia × amazonica|
|Native Range||Garden Origin|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||10 to 12|
|Mature Size||Height: 1-2 feet; Spread: 1-2 feet|
|Bloom Time||Summer, Spring|
|Propagation methods||by seeds, by division|
African Mask Plant Care
The African mask plant is a popular houseplant. It’s low maintenance and has few needs for day-to-day care. Here’s how to get started.
Light and Location
Alocasia amazonica needs bright, indirect light to grow. Therefore, it should be kept in an area where it can get filtered sunlight for at least six hours per day. Full sun will scorch the leaves, and too much shade will slow growth.
You can keep this plant indoors year-round in a suitable location or move it outdoors to a patio or deck in the summer months. Just remember to move it back indoors before winter.
The watering requirements for the African Mask plant vary depending on the season. The plant needs to be watered frequently in the summer, but much less so in winter. Keep the soil moist but not wet. These plants are also prone to root rot.
This plant requires a warm climate to thrive. Therefore, it should be kept in an environment where the temperature is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature gets too cold (below 60 degrees Fahrenheit), the plant will begin to show signs of being unhealthy.
Alocasia amazonica requires high humidity levels to thrive. You can increase the humidity level for your plant by placing it in a room with a humidifier or by misting it regularly. You can also place a water tray filled with pebbles under the plant to combat air dryness.
These plants need regular fertilization to stay healthy and grow well. You can use a general-purpose liquid fertilizer or one made specifically for these plants. Fertilize the plant every two weeks during the growing season, which is spring through fall.
Propagating African Mask Plant
You can propagate Alocasia amazonica by division, seeds, or stem cuttings.To propagate by division:
- Divide the rhizomes (the underground stems) when the plant enters the spring growth phase.
- Each division needs to have at least one healthy leaf and a small piece of the rhizome.
- Replant them in moist soil and keep them well watered.
To propagate by seeds:
- Sow the seeds in pots or trays filled with moist potting soil.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil and keep the soil moist until they germinate. Germination usually takes place within two to four weeks, but it may take longer.
To propagate by stem cuttings:
- Pick a healthy stem about 4 inches in length and cut it off from the base.
- Clean off the leaves at the base and plant in a fresh pot.
- Water well and wait for the roots to take shape.
Potting and Repotting African Mask Plant
When potting this plant, be sure to use a pot with a drainage hole. The plant prefers moist soil and hates getting waterlogged, so the potting mix needs well-draining. Either use a potting mix specifically for these plants, or you can make your own by combining one part potting soil, one part peat moss, and one part perlite.
When repotting, be careful with the rhizomes (the underground stems that produce the leaves). If the rhizomes are damaged, the plant may not grow back. When potting or repotting an elephant ear plant, it’s best to use a pot that is only one size larger than the previous pot. The elephant ear plant is a tree-like plant that can grow quite large, so it’s no use trying to keep it in a small pot for too long – repotting will be necessary at some point.
Alocasia amazonica is moderately toxic. The sap contains toxins that can cause skin irritations and rashes. In addition, the plant can cause mouth sores, throat irritation, and difficulty swallowing if ingested. If you have curious pets, you might want to reconsider getting one of these.
Scale insects, spider mites, and mealybugs can sometimes infect these plants. You can deal with all of these pests using regular applications of insecticidal soap. Be sure to read the label of the product you’re using to make sure it is safe for use on your plant.
Brown patches on the leaves?
Sunburnt leaves tend to appear brown or bronze in appearance. So relocate your plant to a shadier spot. But don’t place it in complete shade, as that’s unhealthy too.
Plant dying back?
In winter, these plants go dormant. It appears as though the plant is dying, but it just looks that way. Don’t let temperatures fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and your plant should go back to normal once spring rolls around.
Brown, Crispy leaves?
Check the humidity levels around the plant. If they’re too low, bring them up using a humidifier or daily misting. If the humidity is at recommended levels, change the water you use to water this plant. Try using rainwater or distilled water for better results.
Both over and underwatering can cause wilting. Fix your watering routine and be more consistent. If the problem continues, check if root rot has set in (overwatering can cause this). If it does, remove the affected roots and spray fungicide before planting again.
How to Take Care of Your African Mask Plant (Video)
How to take care of African Mask plant?
This plant is easy to take care of, but there are a few things you should know to keep your plant healthy:
1. Make sure your plant receives plenty of bright, indirect light.
2. Water your plant regularly, ensuring the soil is always moist but not wet.
3. Fertilize using liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks.
4. Maintain a temperature above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and keep the humidity high.
How much water does an African Mask plant need?
African mask plants need a moderate to a high amount of water depending on the season. They do best when the soil is kept moist but don’t like to be soaked or dried out. Overwatering can cause root rot, so ensuring the pot has drainage holes is vital.
Why are there brown spots on my African Mask plant?
If the leaves have turned brown but retain their original texture, the most likely cause is sunburn. Move the pot somewhere shadier, and you should be fine. However, if the leaves are crispy, in addition to being brown, then you have a humidity problem. Increase the humidity around the plant and change the water you use for watering. Distilled water works best.