Alocasia Portora (Upright Elephant Ear) Growing & Caring Guide

alocasia portora

The Alocasia Portora is a very distinctive plant that is hard to miss. It is large in stature reaching anywhere from 6 to over 10 feet tall depending on where you grow it. It also grow to a breadth of 5 feet from side to side.

Its looks is likewise unique as its large leaves grow upright and point upward. This is why it is called Upright Elephant Ear.

The plant belongs to the Araceae family. It is a hybrid that comes from the Alocasia odora and A. poreti.

The Alocasia Portora is likewise able to tolerate a bit colder weather compared to other tropical plant making it possible to keep it outdoors in more regions.

If you need an accent plant or something to bring tropical flair to your home or garden, this is something worth considering as no guest will ever miss it.

Alocasia Portora Plant Care

Light Requirements

The Alocasia Portora enjoys bright light. But it cannot tolerate long hours of direct sunlight on a daily basis. Nor will it do well under intense sun like that in the mid-afternoon and peaks of summer.

As such, plenty of indirect or filtered light is ideal of the plant.

Due to its size, you can likewise grow it in the garden or in a container outdoors. Although in many cases, the plant is kept indoors.

With the former, partial shade is ideal. And, keeping it under a shaded area during the afternoons is a good spot for it.

Indoors, it does best near an east facing window because this provides many hours of gentle morning sun. And, a more passive one in the afternoons.

Its size makes it hard to place it on a tabletop or windowsill. So, it does best beside east facing windows on the floor.

West and south facing windows likewise work well but the plant needs to be distanced far enough to avoid the direct rays.

Otherwise, its leaves can burn over time.

If you don’t have access to natural lighting, fluorescent lights work as well. But, the plant will need much longer exposures, between 12 to 16 hours daily to get the same amount of light it receives from the sun.

 

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Temperature

The Alocasia Portora is hardy to USDA Zones 7b to 11. As such, it can tolerate more cold climate than most houseplants. In fact, it can take a bit of light frost without sustaining damage.

As such, if you live in the regions mentioned above, you can grow this plant outdoors.

It can grow to as bit as 6 to 8 feet tall which makes it well suited for landscaping as well as containers.

In any case, its ideal temperature runs between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit with the middle being its sweet spot.

It likewise offers a bit of leeway both up and down able to do well up to about 60 degrees or slightly less and as high as 86 degrees.

 

Humidity

Similarly, the Alocasia Portora favors humid conditions, ideally over 50%. It will likewise have no problems if humidity goes over 70%.

However, it is very unlikely that your home has is this humid.

In most cases, household humidity runs around 30% to 40% or so, sometimes higher. If you live in dry areas like the desert, it is very important to figure out how to increase moisture in the air to keep the plant healthy.

Similarly, winter causes dry air, which likewise becomes a problem.

So in addition to knowing what relative humidity is in your home, you also need to keep track of its changes depending on the time of year.

This is a less of a problem in Southern California where the sun is out all year round. Nevertheless, I still keep a digital hygrometer to make it easy to keep track of any humidity change that can happen.

alocasia portora upright elephant ear

source: wikimedia commons

 

How Often to Water Alocasia Portora

Your Alocasia Portora does best in drier conditions. That’s not to say it is a good idea to let it dry out since that will likewise harm the leaves.

Thus, if you see a drooping plant with dull looking leaves or foliage edges that are turning brown, it is a sign it needs more water.

That said, overwatering is a bigger threat to the plant. So, staying on the drier side of things keeps it healthier and safer.

Since the plant is actively growing during the warmer months (spring and summer) it also needs more water during this item. Ideally, keeping soil lightly moist is a good idea to help sustain its growth (along with sunlight and fertilizer).

But, as the weather gets colder, in mid fall and winter, reduce watering and allow the plant to dry out a little more. That’s because soil takes much longer to dry in cold weather.

Plus, the plant is resting during this time so it does not need as much water.

A good way to prevent overwatering is to wait until the top 2 to 3 inches of soil dries up before watering again. Checking soil moisture regularly is important.

You can use your finger and stick it into the soil to feel for moisture. Or, use a moisture meter to do so.

A few warning signs to look out for include soggy potting mix. This is usually a bad sign but can still easily be fixed.

Yellow leaves are a more dangerous warning telling you that it is already suffering from overwatering.

And, once you see mold and other fungal problems, you’ll need to act quickly and make drastic changes.

You’ll also want to check on the roots to see if there are signs of root rot and repot if needed.

 

Soil for Alocasia Portora

The ideal potting mix for your Alocasia Portora should be well-draining with the ability to hold just enough water to keep it well-hydrated during the warmer months.

The plant also grows best in neutral to acidic soil.

But, because it is prone to overwatering, the most important things about soil for this plant is the ability to drain excess moisture.

A good aroid mix works really well.

These are not regularly packaged like orchid, cactus and succulent mixes. Instead, they’re more specialty blends so you do need to look around for shops that make aroid mixes.

Alternatively, you can create your own DIY aroid mix at home.

This is a 5-1-1 mix that works really well. It is made of:

  • 5 parts orchid bark, ideally chunky ones
  • 1 part peat moss or potting soil (you can also use coco peat)
  • 1 part perlite

I’ve found that adding compost also helps quite a bit.

In addition to having a well-draining potting mix, make sure that the container you’re using has drainage holes. This will allow any drained moisture to escape out of the pot and not just pool at the bottom.

 

Fertilizer

During the spring and summer feed your Alocasia Portora with a balanced water soluble fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength. Do this once every 2 weeks until the end of August.

You can then take a break from fertilizing it through the winter and start again come next spring.

The plant is not actively growing during winter so it does not need the fertilizer.

 

Pruning

Alocasia Portora will get big reaching 6 to 8 feet indoors. Outside, it will reach 10 feet or a little more than that.

Also, its large leaves will spread a bit outwards even if they have an upright growth habit. This allows them to cover around a 5 foot spread from side to side.

Thus, they make great focus points both indoors and outside. And, they can quickly add an exotic feel to your living room.

However, they also need space to grow.

That said, pruning is mostly about containing the size and width of the plat, especially indoors. As it grows more leaves it will look prettier. However, this also causes it to fan out a bit more.

So, you may or may not want that look.

 

Alocasia Portora Propagation

Alocasia Portora can easily be propagate by separating its rhizomes. There are other ways to propagate the plant. However, I’ve found that this is the most straightforward way.

Here’s how to do it.

  • How you start will depend on whether you the have the plant in the ground outside or in a container. Both methods are similar but how you dig is a big different.
  • In the ground, you want to dig a hole that’s wider than the plant and come from the outside going inwards as you go deeper. This way you don’t damage the plant with the shovel or spade. Be very careful with alocasia plants especially when pulling them out since the stems and roots at the bottom are fairly soft and will easily get damaged.
  • With pots, the plant’s size means it is in a larger pot. I like to dig out the soil closer to the sides of the pot. Once the soil is depleted, you’ll see the root ball. Again be careful here, and you’ll likely need two people one to hold the container while you gently extract the root ball.
  • Once out, start to brush away the excess soil. You’ll have quite a bit of this is the root ball will be bigger.
  • When the excess soil is gone, you’ll see the lower stems and roots connected to each other at the bottom.
  • Now it is time to decide how many segments you want to divide it to depending on the tubers available.
  • Separate these segments with your hands. I find it’ is much easier to control and carefully take apart using your hands.
  • Once you have the separated rhizomes, plant each of them into their own containers.
  • Backfill with soil and water to keep the soil moist.

 

How to Repot Alocasia Portora

Alocasia Portora is a fairly healthy grower. As such, it will likely need to repotting about once a year. When you do so, replace the spent potting soil to replenish its nutrients as well as give it looser soil as well.

I like to check on the plant and its roots before repotting. This is a more reliable way than to count the months or years. However, as the plant gets bigger, it gets heavier which makes lifting it and repotting more challenging at least for one person.

Come time to repot, have a container that’s 2 inches larger than the current one ready. You also have to prepare enough potting soil t fill the container.

If you want to propagate the plant, you won’t need a larger container since you can use the existing one. But, have one or more smaller containers ready to plant the separated plants.

 

Toxicity

Unfortunately, the plant is poisonous. It contains calcium oxalate crystals which our bodies cannot tolerate or metabolize.

So ingesting these causes swelling and irritation to the mouth, throat and digestive tract. As a result, it can lead to vomiting, nausea, dizziness and other issues.

 

Pests and Diseases

Proper care of your Alocasia Portora means you’ll likely only have to deal with very few issues. When it comes to pests, spider mites are the most common issues followed by mealybugs.

Although these are fairly minor problems unless you let them grow into infestations.

Regular inspection and immediate treatment with neem oil or insecticidal soap once they’ve been spotted will allow you to avoid these critters from spreading.

A bigger, more major problem is root rot which can eventually destroy the plant is not discovered early enough and treated quickly.

This is caused by excess moisture. As such, using well-draining soil and avoid overwatering are the two things that prevent this problem.

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