Alocasia Cucullata Plant Care – Growing Buddha’s Hand for Good Luck

alocasia cucullata

The Alocasia cucullate is also known as the Buddha’s hand.

This is a beautiful plant you can grow indoors or in your garden depending on which you prefer. But, for the later, keep in mind that it is a tropical plant. So, it won’t be able to survive freezing winters.

The plant is best known for its gorgeous heart-shaped leaves that are perched on the ends of its long, thin slightly arching stems.

The leaves themselves are oversized relative to the plant. As you want something with a bit of weight so the plant stays balanced even as more stalks and leaves grow.

Each leaf features a lovely green color with slight crinkling which give them texture and extra character.

It is native to Southeast Asia and grown in different areas in Chine, India, Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka.

It is likewise said to bring good luck as it is a often grown in Buddhist Temples in Laos and Thailand. This is where it gets its nickname as the Buddha’s hand.

Alocasia Cucullata Plant Care

Light Requirements

The Alocasia cucullate is a tropical plant. This makes it prefer sunny conditions all year round. It is not well suited for frost or snowy winters. Thus, most people keep it indoors as a houseplant.

This also means that plant prefers plenty of bright light. But, it cannot tolerate direct sunlight or overly intense rays from the sun for long hours at a time. This is due to its natural habitat where larger plants and trees block out the direct rays of the sun.

As such, bright, indirect, dappled or filtered light is best. Otherwise, too much sun can burn its leaves and turn their color.

Outdoors, it is best suited for partial shade. And, you want to keep it away from the harsh afternoon sun as well as the middle of the day during summertime.

 

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Temperature

Similarly, the plant’s Southeast Asian origins means it enjoys moderate to warm weather. And, it can likewise tolerate hot conditions as well.

The ideal temperature for your Alocasia cucullate is between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Here, it will grow at its best. This also makes it easy to grow indoors as most households keep this climate conditions.

That said, you do need to keep it away from drafts. This includes vents, air conditioners, heaters and open windows.

Temperature fluctuations are likewise a no-no.

But, the biggest threat to the plant is the cold. Since it never snows to gets close to being cold in its native habitat, the plant is not accustomed or ready for that kind of climate.

Thus, keeping it away from temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit is important. That’s because the cold will damage the plant.

 

Humidity

On the same note, the Alocasia cucullate enjoys humid conditions. Ideally, it prefers levels of 60% or higher. And it will grow its best and produce its most vibrant leaves when humidity is kept between 65% and 80%.

The plant can likewise tolerate over 90% humidity with no problems. This makes it a good terrarium plant if you wish to keep it in one.

Unfortunately, all these levels are way above what normal household humidity is here. In Southeast Asia, that’s the norm. But, not in North America where humidity tends to average between 30% and 50% in most homes, with the bulk on the lower end of that range.

Thus means that it is important to increase humidity to keep the plant happy.

Misting is a popular choice. But, I’ve found that it may not be enough if humidity tends to be around 30% or so. That is unless, you’re willing to mist a few times a day, everyday for 365 days a year.

That’s a lot of work. And, a bit too much for most busy people.

Of course, you can experiment and see how it works where you live. You’ll need a digital hygrometer to constantly check whether you’re doing enough or not.

Thus, I prefer other more hands off options. Here are a few you can try.

  • Set up a humidifier
  • Place the plant on pebbles in a water tray
  • Group it along with other plants
  • Move it to a more humid room like the bathroom

 

How Often to Water Alocasia Cucullata

Water is probably the area of care you want to focus your attention to. Unlike light, temperature and humidity, watering is something you need to do manually on a regular basis.

For the 3 above, once you’ve found the right conditions you can leave the plant there and it will be happy.

When it comes to water, you  Alocasia cucullate enjoys moist conditions during the warmer months. But it is also prone to overwatering. Thus, you want to be careful about suturing the soil too much.

On average, you can expect to water it once every 7 to 14 days or so. The range will vary depending on where you live, how much sun its gets, the temperature, humidity levels and the kind of soil you use.

So, don’t compare to other people because it is almost impossible to have the same exact conditions in your home. Instead, use the range as a starting point.

A better way to gauge when to water the plant it to rely less on time and more on feel. You can do so by sticking your finger into the soil down to about 2 to 3 inches into the soil.

You want the soil to be dry at this depth before you water. If it feels even a little bit moist, wait a day or two then test again.

This will let you adjust according to how the plant and soil are drying up.

The reason this is more effective is that the plant needs more moisture during spring and summer when it is actively growing. In winter, the plant will rest. And, the cold weather means soil will take longer to dry.

Thus, a fixed water schedule can be problematic. On the other hand, going by feel lets you automatically adjust based on how the plant and soil are doing.

 

Soil for Alocasia Cucullata

Soil is another very important aspect of caring for your Alocasia cucullate. That’s because it affects how much water is retained or drained.

Heavy soils tend to retain more water. Sandy soils drains moisture quickly.

As such, the kind of soil you use influences how much or little moisture the plant gets.

Since the plant can get into trouble with overwatering, a well-draining potting mix is ideal. Note that this is different from overly fast draining soil that will pretty much allow the liquid to pass through without much resistance.

Instead well-draining soil means it holds just enough moisture to keep the plant hydrated. And, will drain the excess moisture to avoid waterlogging.

Additionally, the plant will grow best when soil pH is kept between 5.5 to 6.5.

And, it also prefers loose, well-aerated soil which will allow oxygen to easily get through to its roots.

An easily potting soil mix recipe you can use for your Alocasia cucullate combines:

  • 1 part potting soil
  • 1 part peat
  • 1 part perlite or coarse sand

As with other houseplants, avoid using garden soil.

 

Fertilizer

The Alocasia cucullate is a good sized plant. And, it needs to be fed as such.

Apply a balanced water soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength once every 2 weeks during spring to early fall. It will not need to be fed during winter when it is not actively growing.

As much as the Alocasia cucullata needs a good amount of plant, you want to avoid overfeeding it. This can eventually damage the plants by causing fertilizer burn.

Thus, a balance between regular bi-monthly feeding during its active growing seasons without overdoing it is key to a healthy plant.

 

Pruning

Outdoors, the Alocasia cucullate can get to a fairly good size. It will also get bushy.

Indoors, it will grow to about 3 feet or so with its long upright or arching stems and huge leaves on the ends.

This makes the plant very pretty to look at. And, it also reduces maintenance work.

However, you do need to trim it on occasion. That’s because the plant can get very bushy. When it does it will expand outward and you the leaves will dominate its looks so you don’t see the stems any more.

This will cause the plant to look like a huge pile of leaves that’s a little messy. Frankly, not its best look.

Thus most growers limit the number of stalks by pruning.

 

Alocasia Cucullata Propagation

alocasia cucullata

source: Flickr (jungle rebel)

Alocasia cucullate is best propagate through division. This entails separating the mother plant into smaller segments and growing the other segments as individual plants in their own cotnainers.

The process is messier than stem or leaf cutting because you need to get the plant out of its container. But, the results are much quicker in that you have a semi-grown plant from the get go instead of having to root a cutting which takes months before you see any actual plant come out.

The best time to propagate your Alocasia cucullate is during spring. And, it is a good idea to do it when you repot.

Here’s how to propagate Alocasia cucullate through division.

  • Before you begin, prepare a new container or containers and fill them to about a third to 40% with fresh potting soil. if your current plant it in the ground, you can follow the same steps but instead of taking it out of its container, you’ll dig up the plant, then replant the mother and divided plants into different spots in the garden. So the process is very similar.
  • Next, carefully take the root ball out of the pot.
  • Brush away any excess soil and check the roots to make sure they are healthy.

Now you can divide. You can do this in many different ways.

But, the simplest way I’ve found is to use a hose and clean out the root ball. The this takes 1 to 2 minutes depending on how big the root ball is. if you grow the plant it the ground, this also gets rid of small bugs and other things.

The goal of hosing down the root ball is to remove excess soil and soften the soil as well. After that, you’ll easily see each of the stems with their roots as they’ll automatically separate from one another without the soil keeping them together.

There are a few that will be linked together so you may see 2 or 3 stems together. I like to leave them as it and plant them in one pot.

Now you have many different stems, you can plant one or two in each small pot. Or if you only want a few new plants, group more together. It’s really up to you.

To do so:

  • Get your containers with potting mix and plant each segment or stem in it.
  • Then water the soil.
  • Repot the larger mother plant into its original container then water the soil to get it moist.

 

How to Repot Alocasia Cucullata

Your Alocasia cucullate will need to be repot every 12 to 18 months or so. It enjoys being pot bound so you don’t have to hurry.

You do want to wait until the plant shows signs that it needs a bigger place to live in before doing so. That’s because any time you move it from its home, it will experience some shock which take a little bit of time to recover from.

The best time to repot is during spring to early summer. Although I prefer doing so early in its growing period so it can recover and grow during the same season.

When moving, choose a container that is 2 inches wider in diameter. Avoid going more than that as it increase the risk of overwatering.

 

Toxicity

Keep the plant away from kids and pets. It can irritate skin for some people so using gloves when you handle the plant is a good idea if you have sensitive skin.

Similarly, it can irritate your eyes so keep your hands away from your eyes when you touch the plant. And, make sure to wash your hands after handling it.

 

Pests and Diseases

Your Alocasia cucullate is susceptible to leaf spot, which is caused by too much moisture. Similarly, overwatering can lead to root rot.

As for pests, mealybugs, aphids and spider mites are the most common problems. You can use neem oil and insecticidal soil to prevent them from coming around. Although giving the plant proper care and living conditions goes a long way.

Besides this, the other issues are often caused by too much sun or water and humidity problems.

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