Alocasia Cuprea (Jewel Alocasia) Plant Care Guide

Alocasia Cuprea

The alocasia cuprea is best known because of the very unique copper-like look of its leaves. In fact the word cuprea means copper in Latin.

The plant is likewise called by other common names as well including the mirror plant and jewel alocasia.

That said, it is its arrow shaped foliage that makes it both stunning and interesting. They come in either dark purple or dark green colors. So, don’t be surprised to see variations of it.

The plant itself is native to Borneo’s forests. And, as such is used to tropical conditions.

Alocasia Cuprea Plant Care

Alocasia Cuprea Light

The Alocasia Cuprea needs bright, indirect light for it to stay healthy. This includes maintaining its uniquely beautiful leaves.

That said, it cannot tolerate either extreme. That is, direct light or too little light.

Its natural habitat are the forest understory in tropical regions of Asia and South America. As such, it is used to living under the forest canopy but above the plants in the forest floor. This protects it from the sun’s rays but allows it to get a lot of light.

This makes it vulnerable to direct sunlight, which will scorch its beautiful leaves. And, if left there for long periods of time, will cause it to die.

On the other hand, too little light will make it difficult for it to produce enough chlorophyll. Over time, your plant will likewise lose energy and slowly deteriorate.

Indoors, this makes an east or north facing window the best places to put the plant, with the former being more ideal due to the generous amount of gentle morning sunlight it receives.

If you want to keep it in the west or south, make sure that the plant is kept a few feet away from the window (and the sun’s rays). Alternatively, you can use curtains or other kinds of cover to filter the sunlight.

Outdoors, the plant is best situated in partial shade. This makes it perfect in a shade garden or a patio with some kind of cover, yet enough bright light.

 

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Alocasia Cuprea Temperature & Humidity

Because it is used to tropical forest conditions, the Alocasia Cuprea is best suited in warm climate areas. Ideally, you want to keep it where the peterature stays between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on where you live, you’ll also want to monitor how big a drop the nighttime temperature is.

One example are high desert areas like some regions of California, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. If you live in these locales, the big drop in nighttime temperature can be problematic to your plant. Ideally, you want to keep it between 55 and 65 degrees.

This also means that in most parts of the country, the Alocasia Cuprea is best grown as a houseplant in containers. Most homes have indoor temperatures that provide perfect conditions for the plant.

It also allows you to take it outside during the summer and bring it back indoors when it begins to get cold in the fall.

That said, humidity is another issue. The plant likes high humidity. It thrives when the level is between 80% to 90%. Unfortunately, that is way much higher than the average household humidity which is around 40% to 50%.

This means you’ll likely need to apply some humidity raising method to accommodate the plant. Since the difference is so high, a humidifier is a great choice. While more costly and requiring more maintenance, humidifiers let you se the target humidity allowing the machine to regulate it.

Other options including setting the plant on a pebble tray and grouping it with other plants. If you use either, you will want to get a hydrometer, which is very inexpensive. This way, you’ll be able to instantly tell what the surrounding humidity is. And, adjust as needed.

alocasia cuprea

source: wikimedia commons

 

Watering Alocasia Cuprea

Your Alocasia Cuprea likes living in moist conditions. But, it will become susceptible to root rot if you let it stay in wet, soggy soil. Similarly, it won’t do well if you leave it to dry out. This makes watering a very important aspect of your plant’s survival.

And to get the right balance, you will want to test the soil each time before you water. This is the best way to ensure that you are not overwatering your plant. Doing so also allows you to keep it well hydrated without over or underwatering.

Before you water, stick your finger into the soil up to about 2 inches deep. This gets to the level of the joint that’s closest to your palm. If the soil down there is dry, it is time to water. If it is still moist, wait 1 to 2 days before testing again.

In case your plant’s leaves start to turn yellow, the first thing you want to check for is overwatering. Although there are other reasons for this, overwatering is one of the most dangerous. So, you want to eliminate it first.

To do so, stick your finger into the soil. If it feels wet, you want to investigate further. Unfortunately, the best way to do so is to dig up the plant or unpot it. That’s because of two things:

  • You want to see if the rest of the soil is all wet or waterlogged. If so, this means you need to scale back on your watering routine. Also, you’ll want to move the plant immediately to a new pot with fresh potting mix and let leave it a few days without water before watering again.
  • You want to check for root rot. This is the worst scenario. Ideally, there will be no rotting roots. But if there are, you want to catch it early. Thus, the unpotting of the plant. If some roots are brown, black, soft or mushy, you’ll want to trim them off and repot the plant with fresh soil. If most of the roots look like this, you’ll likely end up having to throw away the plant. Ideally, roots should look whitish, light tan and somewhat firm.

 

Soil

Since it is susceptible to overwatering and root rot, you want to provide your Alocasia Cuprea with well draining soil. However, you still want the potting mix to hold some water to allow your plant to absorb it.

Thus, the easiest way to get these two features it so combine peat moss and perlite. You can likewise use coco coir and perlite.

Both peat and coir retain moisture without making your soil heavy. Meanwhile, the perlite makes it fast draining.

Together, they allow the soil to hold moisture and nutrients long enough for the plant to absorb them. Meanwhile, the perlite lets the excess moisture drain faster so the soil doesn’t become waterlogged.

 

Fertilizing

When it comes to feeding your Alocasia Cuprea, you want to be aware of its growth cycle. That is, the plant is actively growing during the warm months. And, will become more dormant in the winter.

As such, it will drink and need more plant food during its active growth period. On the other hand, during its dormant phase, you won’t need to water it much and not feed it at all.

Remembering this is crucial because if you follow a regular schedule you’ll be underfeeding the plant when it is growing and overfeeding it in the wintertime.

As a result, it won’t grow as much in the spring and summer. And, may get damaged by the excess fertilizer salt buildup from overfeeding. The latter becomes an even bigger problem considering that the Alocasia Cuprea is a heavy feeder.

So what does this mean?

It means you want to change feeding strategies depending on the time of year.

During the spring and summer, even until early fall, feed it with a balanced fertilizer diluted to half strength every 2 to 4 weeks. You’ll want to start with once a month and gradually increase based on how it responds.

Come wintertime, stop feeding altogether. This prevents it from experiencing fertilizer burn.

Because of the heavy feeding, flushing the soil every 3 to 4 months to remove excess salt buildup is a good idea. Here’s how to do it.

  • Slowly pour water on the soil for about 3 to 5 minutes. You don’t want to dump and soak it. Instead just slowly pour. This allows the soil to absorb the water.
  • Now, allow the excess liquid to drain. All the extra water will now drip from the holes at the bottom of the pot. And, the excess salt along with small particles and soil will drip with the excess moisture.
  • Allow all the excess water to drain. This will take another 5 to 12 minutes.

While this is a time consuming thing to do, it will keep your plant safe from excess salt buildup and the resulting fertilizer burn it causes.

 

Pruning Alocasia Cuprea

Alocasia Cuprea are small plants that don’t grow more than 12 to 18 inches tall, with its oversized leaves taking up most of its size. Additionally, it doesn’t grow out of control or extend outwards.

This makes it fairly low maintenance when it comes to pruning.

That said, you do want to prune old, discolored, damaged or dying leaves. This keeps your plant looking nice. But more importantly, it keeps it healthy.

There’s also no need to prune it regularly like some other houseplant which get fuller or bushier as you prune. That’s because trimming the Alocasia Cuprea doesn’t produce a similar effect.

 

Alocasia Cuprea Propagation

The best way to propagate your Alocasia Cuprea is by division. Unfortunately, while stem cutting is an easier method, it doesn’t work for this plant.

The best time to propagate it is when you repot the plant. Since it doesn’t like being moved, combining the two tasks reduces the shock and trauma the it experiences when taken out of its container.

Here’s how to propagate Alocasia Cuprea.

  • Before you begin, pick a suitable place to work. It will get messy as soil particles will crumble. So, you’ll want to do this outside, in the sink or lay down newspapers on the floor.
  • Gently take the plant out of its container. Brush away excess soil and spread the roots away from the rootball if they’re all wrapped around it.
  • Look for offsets. These are baby plants produced by the mother plant that will grow up to become clones of their parent because they have exactly the same genetic makeup. As such, they’re the easiest way to get a “copy” of your current plant.
  • Trace the roots that are connected to the offset/s, then gently separate from the mother plant. If it doesn’t easily come apart, use sterilized pruning shears (using rubbing alcohol).
  • Repot the mother plant into fresh potting mix.
  • Pot the offset into its own container with fresh well draining potting mix as well.
  • Water them and place both in bright, indirect light.

 

Alocasia Cuprea Transplanting & Repotting

Due to its small size and slow growth, repotting isn’t much of an issue. You’ll only need to repot it every 2 to 3 years depending on its living conditions (which affect its growth rate).

That said, when the plant becomes rootbound or when you start seeing it roots start peeking out the holes and creases of your pot, it’s a sign to move them to a larger container.

Similarly, you may want to repot them to refresh the soil. But, in this case, you may keep them in the same container if they haven’t outgrown it. That’s because alocasias like staying in slightly smaller containers.

Here’s how to repot your Alocasia Cuprea.

  • Before you begin, pick a slightly larger pot. Ideally you only want to move up 2 inches bigger. This prevents the plant from sitting in too much water when placed in a much bigger container.
  • You also want to have fresh potting soil on had.
  • If you plan on propagating your Alocasia Cuprea, you can use the existing pot. But, make sure you have enough fresh potting mix for both plants.

Note that the best time to repot your plant is when it is actively growing. Thus, you can do so in spring or early summer. This allows it to take advantage of the fresh soil’s nutrients and extra room to grow.

  • The first step in repotting is to gently take the plant out of its current container. Carefully slide it out.
  • Once the plant is out, inspect the root ball and roots. You want to see healthy roots.
  • Brush away excess soil and untangle the roots.
  • Fill the new pot with fresh potting soil. Use the plant to estimate how much soil to put at the bottom of the pot so that the plant stands out of the container as high as it did in is old pot.
  • Insert the plant into the new container and fill the extra space with potting mix.
  • Water the plant and place it back in its original location.

 

Toxicity

All alocasia plants are toxic to humans and animals. That’s because they contain calcium oxalate crystals in their cells. As such, when any part of the plant is consumed, it will cause irritation and at times swelling in the mouth, throat and digestive tract As a result, your kids and pets may start to vomit and have problems swallowing.

 

Pests and Diseases

Alocasia Cuprea are relatively resistant to pests and disease as long as it is healthy. Unfortunately, its need for water and high humidity make it prone to overwatering. As such, it is key to be careful here. Overwatering is its biggest enemy which can lead to root rot as well as bacterial and fungal infections.

Similarly, because of its large foliage, pests are attracted to it. These little critters love plants with large leaves because there is more for them to suck and chew on.

The most common pests infesting your Alocasia Cuprea include mealybugs, spider mites and aphids. As such, it is important to regularly inspect your plant’s leaves for them, both front and back sides.

If you see any pests, immediately separate the plant from any other plants near it. Then check those plants for infestation as well. Pests will move from plant to plant so you want to quarantine all that are affected.

Once separated, treat with insecticidal soap and water or neem oil. Make sure to be consistent as the treatment doesn’t get rid of them immediately. Often, it takes a few weeks to resolve.

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