The Alocasia Sumo is also called the Sumo Elephant Ear or Elephant Ear Sumo. It features amazingly large and wide, dark green leaves that can cover your head and torso if you stand beside. It.
The plant looks even more stunning if you allow it to get bushy with 7 or more leaves as they will cover the area above itself like a forest canopy.
The plant is a hybrid that came about from crossing the Alocasia Portora and Alocaia Purple Cloak.
How do you care for the Alocasia Sumo? It needs bright, indirect light, warm temperature and high humidity (> 60%) to grow optimally.
It can reach 10 feet tall with leaves that are 3-4 feet long and 2.5 feet wide. It likes moist soil but avoid overwatering the plant.
Give it well-draining soil and high quality fertilizer monthly during its growing season.
Alocasia Sumo Plant Care
The Alocasia Sumo enjoys a well-lit location with indirect light. It grows best in medium or bright light. However, it will tolerate low light as well.
That said, it is very important to keep the Sumo Elephant Ear away from direct sunlight. The reason is that it cannot tolerate long periods in this intensity.
After a while its leaves will turn yellow or brown. And in extreme cases, they will get scorched which will leave them with black or brown burn marks.
Instead opt for filtered, indirect or dappled light indoors. You can also use artificial lights or fluorescent lights.
This makes a spot near an east facing window ideal. The Alocasia Sumo receives lots of light and a gentle one at that because the sun in an eastern exposure is gentle.
You can also place the plant towards the west.
However, since the west is where the sun is from around noon to late afternoon, you want to shield the plant from the strong rays between 12:00 noon to about 3:30 p.m.
You can distance the plant so never gets touched by the sun’s rays. Or, filter the light by using shades or blinds.
In the north, you won’t have the problem of strong sun. However, check how much light you get from that direction especially during winter.
A northern exposure tends to have the least light of all the directions. As such, it may get a bit too little light during winters. If this is the case, you can move the plant to a brighter location during that time of the year.
Outdoors, partials shade is ideal. And keep the plant away from full sun.
The Alocasia Sumo is not a cold hardy plant. Instead, it prefers warm to hot climate because it is used to the tropical and subtropical weather of those parts of Asia.
This is why its ideal temperature is between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Here it will grow at its best.
That said, the plant will have no problem with warmer climates up to 90 or 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, the same is not true for the opposite.
The plant has trouble once temperature drops under 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
So, try to keep it away from any cold areas including air conditioners and open windows where cold drafts can come in.
Outdoors, this means that if you take the plant outside during the summer, make sure to be ready to bring it back inside the moment the weather drops to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Avoid leaving the plant outdoors during winter.
Instead keep it cozy indoors once the weather gets freezing outside.
Also, be aware that the Alocasia Sumo may go dormant during the cold season. As such, you won’t see the plant grow.
But don’t worry, it will bounce back once spring arrives.
In the meantime, keep it in a warm spot indoors. Also, cut down on watering since it won’t need much water during dormancy. However, don’t allow the soil to completely dry out.
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The Alocasia Sumo has an ideal humidity of 60% and above. But it will tolerate humidity of 50% and a bit lower as well without any harm.
The plant likes this environment because its natural habitat are the tropical and subtropical forests of Asia. Thus, not only is it hot there, it is also very humid as these regions are located near the equator.
This means that the plant will grow the fastest if it is given conditions similar to what it is used to.
That said, it can tolerate lower humidity. But only up to a certain point.
Therefore, it is important to check your plant every now and then if you live in a drier area.
In case you notice browning or crisping on the tips or margins of the leaves, it is a sign that the plant needs more moisture.
I like to keep a hygrometer near my plants to know what the humidity is on any given time. It also allows me to have a basic idea of what humidity has been for the past few weeks.
This way, if the plant starts showing signs of lack of humidity, I know what its tolerance level is.
The good news is, there are many ways to increase humidity around the plant.
The simplest is to move it to the bathroom.
You can also mist the plant. But you’ll need to do this 2 or 3 times a week.
If you don’t have the time to do so or find that you often forget, then setup a humidifier tray. You can simply place water on a tray and some rocks on it to keep the plant above the water level.
Of course, you can always just get a humidifier.
How Often to Water Alocasia Sumo
The Alocasia Sumo enjoys slightly moist soil especially during thee warmer months of the year. However, avoid wet, soggy soil as this can lead to overwatering.
This means that the best way to water the Sumo Elephant Ear is to allow the top 2 inches of soil to dry between waterings.
You can easily check this by sticking your finger into the soil down to your second knuckle. Then feel your fingertip for any moisture. if it feels wet or even slightly moist, wait a couple of days and test the soil again.
Only water when the soil at that depth has dried out.
This will prevent overwatering which is the number cause of houseplant death. The reason in that when the plant sits In water for too long, the roots are deprived of oxygen causing them to suffocate.
Thus, root rot occurs.
Once roots rot, they stop functioning.
This means that no matter how much you water the soil or fertilize it, the roots won’t be able to absorb moisture or nutrients from the soil.
This will cause the plant to get dehydrated and malnourished. Eventually, it will deteriorate and die.
Therefore, avoid overwatering by all means.
Similarly, how to you water is just as important as when you water.
The best way to water the plant is to soak the soil with moisture then allow it to drain. This means adding water to the soil until you see the liquid drip from the drainage at the bottom of the pot, then stop.
Right after, allow the soil to completely drain.
Only return the plant to its original spot after the soil has completely drains. This takes anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes depending on how big your plant and pot are.
In taking this 2-step method, you give the plant enough water to hydrate it. But make sure to avoid overwatering by allowing the excess liquid to quickly drain.
Alocasia Sumo Potting Soil
The best soil for Alocasia Sumo is loose, well-draining soil with pH between 6.1 to 6.5. It will also appreciate soil that’s rich in organic matter content.
The simplest way to make this kind of soil is to combine:
- 1 part potting soil
- 1 part perlite
- 1 peat
Alternatively, you can also go with:
- 1 part potting soil
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part orchid bark
The two are similar although the second one provides more drainage and aeration.
Nevertheless, they both work.
On the other hand, avoid heavy soils like clay or anything that tends to retain lots of moisture. This will cause waterlogged soil which will leave the roots drowning in water.
Sandy soil or soil the excessive drainage is likewise bad as it will drain too much moisture too quickly leaving the plant dry and dehydrated.
Don’t forget to use a pot with drainage holes.
Doing so will allow the liquid that is drained from the soil to exit the pot. Otherwise, it will just collect at the bottom of the container and keep the soil wet.
The Alocasia Sumo needs fertilizer to grow its best. And the bigger it gets, the more plant food it will need. Fertilizer also allows the plant’s leaves to grow to their huge sizes.
However, avoid overfeeding.
Too much fertilizer can burn the roots and damage the plant.
Use a balanced water-soluble fertilizer every two months during its growing season. You can use a 10-10-10 or 15-15-15 N-P-K formulation. This will give it enough nitrogen to promote leaf development.
Dilute the fertilizer by half strength when you apply.
That’s because container plants indoors don’t need as much as those that are grown outdoors in the ground.
Don’t feed the plant in fall or winter.
The Alocasia Sumo will grow to about 10 feet tall. Its leaves will likewise be very impressive reaching about 4 feet long and 2.5 feet wide.
It can grow to 5 or so feet during its first year and reach 8 o 10 feet by the end of the second year. So, you do need to give it enough space to develop.
As such, the leaves are the main attraction of the plant.
And they are also what make up its size.
This means that it does not much pruning.
However, make sure you remove any old, dying, damaged or diseases foliage. This will help the plant grow faster.
Similarly, if any leaves turn brown or yellow, cut them off or remove the affected sections of the leaves. Discolored foliage will not turn green again.
How to Propagate Alocasia Sumo
The two most common ways of propagating the Alocasia Sumo are:
- Rhizome division
- From offsets.
The two are different methods but they do allow you to grow new plants that will eventually grow to look like the parent plant.
Unfortunately, propagating from stem cuttings is not a viable method for the Sumo Elephant Ear plant.
Here’s how to do each of the methods.
Propagating Alocasia Sumo though Division
Rhizome division is the best and most effective way to propagate the Alocasia Sumo. It is easy although can be intimidating in the beginning.
- Start by taking the plant out of its pot.
- Remove excess soil so you can clearly see the rhizome. The plant grows from rhizomes and this is where the stems grow. The rhizomes will also have roots. This way you can plant them successfully on their own.
- Decide which sections and how many sections you want to divide the plant into.
- Then take a sterile knife and cut the rhizomes into the division or divisions you want. You can divide the mother plant into 2 or more new plants. It is up to you.
- Plant each of the divisions into their own pots with fresh, well-draining soil.
Water the plant and keep it in bright, indirect light. Then, take care of each of the smaller plants like you did their mother.
In time they will all reach the size of their parent and can even get bigger.
Propagating Alocasia Sumo from Offsets
The Alocasia Sumo also naturally grows offsets. Offsets are baby plants that grow from the parent plant. They are at the based of the plant.
However, you don’t know when they will appear. And while they can grow any time of the year, all year round they can sometimes take many months or even years before they appear again.
So, you don’t have the power to say when to propagate the plant.
That said, this is the easiest propagation method of all.
Once you see offsets, allow them to grow. Don’t remove them as soon as they start emerging.
Basically, the bigger the offset, the higher its chance to survive on its own. So, give it time to grow first before you separate it from its mother.
I like to wait until the offsets are at least 3-5 inches long before separating them from the parent plant.
To do so, take a sharp knife that has been sterilized by rubbing alcohol and cut the roots that connect the offset to the mother plant.
Then, plant the offsets in their own pot with well-draining soil.
Offsets will grow into clones of their parents eventually.
How to Repot or Transplant Alocasia Sumo
The Alocasia Sumo only needs to be repot once every 2 years.
Note that the figure is just a guide. A better way to know when to repot is when the plant has outgrown its container.
Thus, it will become root bound.
You’ll know when this happens as you’ll see roots growing out of the holes at the bottom of the pot.
Here’s how to repot the Alocasia Sumo.
- Prepare a pot that is 2 inches bigger than the current pot. Or look for a pot that is one size larger than the one the plant is in now.
- Get fresh, well-draining soil and fill the pot to about a third or so with the soil.
- Gently take the Alocasia Sumo out of its current container.
- Remove excess soil on the roots and untangle them any of them are wrapped around one another.
- Place the plant into the pot with some soil.
- Fill the remaining space in the new pot with soil.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
The Alocasia Sumo is toxic to people, cats and dogs.
It is only poisonous once ingested. Therefore, it is safe to hold or carry.
But once any part of the plant is chewed, swallowed or consumed, it can cause a variety of symptoms including pain, swelling and irritation. It can likewise cause vomiting, excessive drooling and difficulty breathing.
Alocasia Sumo Problems & Troubleshooting
When healthy, the Alocasia Sumo is not susceptible to pests. However, if it is stressed, weak or sick, it will be prone to them. Similarly, dust attracts these bugs. So, don’t forget to clean the leaves.
Mealybugs, spider mites, scale and aphids are the most common pests that will come around.
If you see any spray them off with a hose or showerhead.
I’ve found this the simplest solution. And you can repeat every few days until all the bugs are gone.
Alternatively, you can also use neem oil or insecticidal soap to get rid of these insects.
On the other hand, the Sumo Elephant Ear plant suffer diseases and root rot if it gets overwatered. As such, this is preventable. However, there is excess moisture it can cause problems for the plant.
Therefore, it is important not to overwater the plant. Similarly, don’t wet the leaves too much.