The Alocasia Dragon Scale is also known as the Alocasia Baginda. Although botanically speaking, its name is Alocasia baginda ‘Dragon Scale’. It is best known for its uniquely stunning leaf patterns.
The Alocasia Dragon Scale does best in medium to bright, indirect light. It also enjoys warm temperature (55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit) and humid conditions (60% to 80% RH).
While it enjoys slightly moist soil, it is also susceptible to overwatering. This makes watering the more challenging part of caring for the plant.
Alocasia Dragon Scale Overview
The Alocasia Dragon Scale features very attractive green leaves with amazing texture and vein patterns. These patterns look like dragon scales which is where the plant gets its names.
If you flip its foliage over, you’ll see that the undersides have a pale cream color with maroon veins. This makes it even more beautiful.
Note the plant’s foliage color does change over time. Therefore, you’ll see a darker shade as the plant matures and ages compared to its juvenile state.
The Alocasia Dragon Scale is native to the rainforests of Asia namely the jungles of Borneo. As such, it enjoys tropical conditions that are warm and humid.
Is the Alocasia Dragon Scale Rare?
Yes, the Alocasia Dragon Scale is a rare plant. And it is not readily available in most shops. Because of this, you may want to check online shops or check out suppliers in Southeast Asia. I’ve found it easier to source the plant there.
Is the Alocasia Dragon Scale Expensive?
Due to its popularity, unique looks and rare nature, the Alocasia Dragon Scale is also expensive. Therefore, be ready to shell out a bit of cash for it. As with other expensive, rare plants, be ready to haggle and canvas around. Prices can vary significantly. This is why I like to go straight to Southeast Asia since prices are much more affordable there.
Alocasia Dragon Scale Plant Care
The A Alocasia Dragon Scale thrives on bright, indirect sunlight. It also does will in moderate light and can tolerate low light. However, for optimal growth, it is best to keep it somewhere with bright light that’s either dappled, filtered or indirect.
It is also important to keep the plant away from very strong light. This includes direct sun and that during the hottest times of the day or year. Otherwise, you’ll notice its beautiful leaves get scorch marks.
This makes an east facing window ideal. You can likewise keep it in the northeast, or if you get sufficient light in the north.
If you decide to place your Dragon Scale Alocasia in a southern or western facing window, it is a good idea to give it some kind of protection or filter the sunlight. Distancing the plant from the window (ideally 3 feet or farther) works just as well.
That’s because the strong sun during mid-day is something its leaves won’t be able to tolerate for long, consistent periods without getting sunburn.
- In case you decide to keep the plant outdoors, in your balcony or deck the best spot is somewhere that’s shaded between 11:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. This partially shaded location will keep your Alocasia Dragon Scale away from the sun when it is hottest.
- On the other hand, if you don’t get a lot of natural light in your homes, worry not. The Alocasia Dragon Scale does well under artificial lights so you can keep it happy and healthy under grow lights.
Finally, for even, balanced growth, rotate the plant about 90 degrees (quarter turn) every now and then. I like to do this every other time I water the plant, which makes it easy to remember to turn it.
Alocasia Dragon Scale Dormancy
As an owner of an Alocasia Baginda Dragon Scale, one thing to be aware of is its dormancy. This happens when there’s little light or temperature gets a bit cooler. Therefore, it is important to keep the plant well taken care of especially in the winter when both conditions occur.
However, do note that the plant can go dormant at any time of the year, not just winter. As long as light or temperature decreases to a point.
When your Alocasia Dragon Scale goes dormant, you’ll notice that it will stop growing. Then, its leaves will slowly deteriorate or even die.
The good news is that it will come out of dormancy. So don’t throw away your plant!
The bad news is it will take months before it does so. Also, in order to “wake it up” from its dormant state, it is important to give it moderate light and temperature.
Also, because it is not growing during this period, make sure to allow the soil to completely dry.
Speaking of temperature, the Alocasia Dragon Scale’s ideal temperature range is between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. As a tropical plant coming from Southeast Asia, it likes moderate to warm conditions.
As such, try to keep it away from cool temperatures. The cooler it gets, the more likely it can go dormant. Just as importantly, it won’t be able to tolerate very cold environments for long periods of time.
As mentioned above, it can recover and grow again even after it dies back. That’s because the plant grows from tubers underneath the soil.
In any case, if low temperature does trigger dormancy, give it enough light and temperature to help it wake up again (with a little patience on your part).
Because of its tropical nature, the Alocasia Dragon Scale does best in USDA Hardiness Zones 9b to 11. If you live somewhere colder, make sure to bring the plant indoors before first frost.
Similarly indoors, keep it away from cold drafts, air conditioners or other locations where the temperature can suddenly drop.
In addition to moderate to warm temperature, another aspect to the Alocasia Dragon Scale’s climate requirements is good humidity.
The plant thrives on high humidity, although this is something not always possible, nor the best thing for your home (considering too much moisture can cause mold problems).
The good news is that it will do well in moderate humidity.
To give you an idea, its ideal humidity range is 60% to 80%. However, it will tolerate 40% and above and grow happily there as well. Thus, it is important to keep track of relative humidity in your home especially if you live somewhere with dry air.
If this is the case, I highly recommend getting a digital hygrometer, which is a very affordable device that lets you know the humidity in any give location in your home at any point in time.
Once humidity drops to the 30s, you have a few choices to hep the plant out. You can increase humidity by using any of the following methods.
- Get a humidifier
- Move the plant to the bathroom
- Place it on a pebble tray
- Group it with other plants
- Give the plant a shower every now and then
How Often to Water Alocasia Dragon Scale
Unlike other alocasia varieties, the Dragon Scale does not need as much water. Instead, it prefers getting a quick drink as it is able to absorb moisture fast then let the excess water drain away.
Therefore, it is very important to avoid overwatering the plant.
Instead, it does best when you saturate the soil with water then allow the excess liquid to completely d rain out. You can do so by deep watering, where you keep pouring or adding moisture to the soil until the liquid starts dripping down from the bottom of the pot, then stop.
Allow all the extra moisture to drip out and drain after that. Depending on how big your pot is, it can take anywhere from 8 to 30 minutes. So, I prefer to just leave the plant to drain. If it is still small, you can leave it in the sink. For larger Alocasia Dragon Scale, the shower or a large tub will work well.
Overwatering can become a serious problem if it happens often enough or long enough. It can lead to fungal infections, turn your plant’s leaves yellow or even cause root rot.
Therefore, always wait until the top 2 inches of soil is dry before adding more water. You can likewise wait until the soil is halfway dry.
Finally, it is also important to be aware that the Alocasia Baginda Dragon Scale is sensitive to tap water. In most cases, it won’t mind. But if there’s a lot of minerals like chlorine and fluoride added to it, it can cause leaf discoloration.
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Alocasia Dragon Scale Potting Soil
The best soil for Alocasia Dragon Scale is well-draining and chunky. This allows sufficient drainage to avoid waterlogging. Similarly, the chunky nature of the potting mix will allow enough oxygen to get the roots.
A simple potting mix recipe that works really well consists of peat moss and perlite.
Another option is to mix equal parts of
- Orchid mix
- Coconut coir
If you want to give the soil nutrients so you don’t have to add as much fertilizer, you can include compost or worm castings.
The Alocasia Dragon Scale is a light feeder. Therefore, it has low fertilizer requirements. This means two things:
- It will benefit from fertilizer
- But you want to avoid overfeeding the plant
Of the two, the latter is more important as it causes more harm than good. That said, without fertilizer, the plant will still do okay. But it won’t grow as fast, produce as much or as big leaves.
Therefore, for optimum growth, fertilizer is a good idea. But in moderation.
Excess fertilizer will leave minerals and salts in the soil. And as this builds up it will become toxic to your plant. Thus, it can damage the roots, stems and turn its leaves yellow or brown over time.
Apply a balanced fertilizer once every 6 months during its growing season (spring to fall). Dilute the dose by half using watering.
The Alocasia Dragon Scale is low maintenance when it comes to pruning and grooming. Most of its size comes from its leaves which are the plant’s main attraction.
Therefore, you don’t want to remove any of them especially because they grow to good size and there won’t be a lot of them.
The only time you really need to trim the plant is to get rid of sick, dying, old or deal leaves and stems. This is a minor task. However, if you notice any infection or disease, make sure to act aggressively.
This will prevent the problem from spreading. It also lessens the risk of attracting pests.
In addition to pruning, it is likewise a good idea to clean the leaves regularly. You don’t need to do it weekly or bi-weekly. Instead, once you see some dust collecting, take a damp cloth and wipe down the leaves.
How to Propagate Alocasia Dragon Scale
The most effective way to propagate Alocasia Dragon Scale is through division of its tubers.
The plant cannot be propagated from stem or leaf cuttings, which is likewise true for other alocasia varieties.
Therefore, you have a couple of options.
- Wait for offsets or clumps to develop then separate these form the parent plant and grow them in their own pots.
- Divide the plant.
The former is easier. But it is also less predictable.
That’s because you don’t know when the plant will produce offsets. And from there, you’ll need to wait weeks for these plantlets to grow big enough before separating them from the mother plant.
On the other hand, division of its tubers requires more work up front. But you can do this whenever you want. Although spring is usually the ideal time to propagate your Alocasia Dragon Scale.
How to Propagate Alocasia Dragon Scale through Division of Tubers
To propagate your Alocasia Dragon Scale follow these steps.
- Carefully take the plant out of its pot. It is usually easier to tip it over and slide the root ball out. The bigger the plant, the more careful you want to be.
- Once the root ball is out of the pot, inspect it. You want healthy roots. And you’re looking for pests, signs of disease, rotted roots and anything else abnormal. If there are, take care of these first.
- If the roots are healthy, brush off excess soil to expose the roots.
- What you’ll see are tuberous clumps. These are what you’ll divide. You’ll also see some offsets if there are any.
- Untangle any of the parts that are meshed together to make it easy to detach these clumps or offshoots. If they don’t come off easily, you can use a knife but make sure to disinfect the blade first with rubbing alcohol before cutting. Make sure that each part you take has its own roots.
- Once you have the separate babies or clumps, you can plant them into their own container with loose, well-draining soil. Keep these in a warm spot with moderate lighting.
- Water the new plants but avoid overwatering.
- At this stage, good humidity will let them grow faster. So, you can cover them with a plastic bag to trap the moisture.
- As they get bigger, they’ll be able to tolerate more light. Thus, move to bright, indirect light.
How to Repot or Transplant Alocasia Dragon Scale
As a general rule, your Alocasia Dragon Scale does not like to be bothered.
Therefore, once you find a good spot for it, let it be.
This also means that it does not like being repotted unless needed. Disturbing it too much can stress the plant or cause it to lose its leaves. It can likewise go dormant on you after repotting.
As such, the only time to repot is when the plant has outgrown its current container. You’ll be able to tell by checking the holes at the bottom of the pot. Once roots start coming out from there, it means they’re looking for more space because their current home is not big enough.
Repot to a container that is 2 inches larger. Avoid overpotting as this makes it susceptible to overwatering.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
Yes, the Alocasia Dragon Scale is toxic. It container insoluble calcium oxalates whose crystals become toxic and act like spikes when you ingest it.
Therefore, this can cause pain and problems with your digestive system. It also produces swelling. Other side effects include vomiting, diarrhea and nausea.
Because of this, keep the plant away from children and pets. If you see them ingest part of the plant, make sure to contact your pediatrician or vet.
Alocasia Dragon Scale Problems & Troubleshooting
The Alocasia Dragon Scale does not generally attract a lot of pests. Nevertheless, you may see aphids, scale, mealybugs or spider mites come around. That’s because the plant’s thick, juicy stems are attractive to them.
This means that it is important to regularly inspect the plant for pests and bugs. If you spot any, immediately take action since it is much easier to get rid of these insects before they grow into infestations.
To prevent pests, it is good practice to clean the leaves or give the plant a shower once in a while. Another option is to spray warm, soapy water every 4 or so weeks. This will keep the pests away.
Root rot is the most serious problem to avoid. And it is caused by overwatering. Therefore, only water once the top 2 or so inches of soil has dried.
In addition, leaf infections are another thing to watch out for.
Again, this is caused by moisture. In this case, it can be from overwatering, too much misting or getting the leaves wet without allowing them to dry.