To the genus alocasia belong some tens of rhizomatous plants, originating in Malaysia and other tropical areas of Asia, generally cultivated in Europe as houseplants. From the fleshy rhizomes sprout long petioles, which bear very large leaves of varied color and depending on the species; the most widespread species have dark foliage, variously variegated with white or silver veins; some species have green foliage, others purple or with metallic reflections. There are also numerous hybrids. With time the petioles of the leaves can begin to generate a sort of stubby trunk, even if it rarely happens in the specimens cultivated "in captivity"; in nature these plants produce flowers similar to calla lilies, white in color, but flowering rarely occurs in the apartment.
Of easy cultivation
These plants commonly find space at home, where they can best vegetate even in a corner that is not too bright; to develop at their best they need a fairly large space, otherwise they will tend to lose the foliage in the parts near the walls. As with many other rhizomatous plants, 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 at home 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 we avoid watering the plant until the days begin to lengthen again, in February-March, otherwise the rhizome could rot; then water the soil when it is dry, between February-March and September-October, perhaps even adding fertilizer for leafy plants to the water for watering, 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 alocasies come, let's remember to vaporize the foliage often, especially when domestic heating is active, and even during the hot summer days. In this way we will also remove 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 obtuseness present in the air; this real smog with time, in addition to making the leaves unpleasant, tends to make the plant perish; to prevent dirt from accumulating on the foliage, clean it periodically using a slightly damp microfibre cloth.
Every 3-4 years we also remember to repot the plants; the elephant ears they do not like to live in excessively large containers, so we look for a vase that is sufficiently large and heavy to be able to keep the bulky foliage erect, and we always try to use the same vase even when we repot our alocasia, replacing all the soil it contained, now exhausted .
Elephant ears - Alocasia: And 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 consider creating a flowerbed of elephant ears in the garden, placing them at the foot of other shrubs, or in any case in a partially shaded corner, sheltered even from the wind, which could damage the foliage. However, we remember that in autumn we will have to let the leaves dry up and extract the rhizomes from the soil, to grow them at home or to store them until the following spring in a cool, dark and completely dry place.