How to Grow & Care for Alocasia Wentii (Hardy Elephant Ear)

alocasia wentii

The Alocasia wentii is also known as Hardy Elephant Ear, a name that comes from its large leaves. It also has a few other names including New Guinea Shield and Purple Umbrella.

The plant is said to be a hybrid of the Alocasia Ordora and Alocasia Gageana.

The Alocasia wentii is a stunning exotic looking plant that had long, narrow stems that lead to huge, oversized leaves. It can grow to about 4 to 5 feet high and produce foliage that are 3 feet in length.

It is native to Southeast Asia where it lives in the floors of the tropical rainforests there. As such, caring for the plant means accommodating its climate and environmental preferences.

Alocasia Wentii Plant Care

Light Requirements

The Alocasia wentii thrives under bright, indirect light. It is a tropical plant that enjoys plenty of sunlight on a daylight basis, but cannot tolerate too much intensity or the direct rays of the sun.

As such, it is best to allow it to receive morning or late afternoon sun. Avoid the intense mid afternoon sun as well as that in the peak of summer.

Similarly, choosing the right location is important. And east, west or south facing windows tend to be ideal. Although, in a western and southern exposure it will need some kind of protection to filter the afternoon rays of the sun. Or you can keep it a few feet away from the window.

Because it tends to lean towards where the light is coming from it is a good idea to rotate the plant every few weeks by 45 degrees so all of the sides get equal amounts of light. This allows it grow evenly as opposed to bend to one direction.

On the other hand, it can also tolerate medium to some low light. But, there’s a limit to how little light it can take. As such, you do need to check how much sunlight it receives during winter as it can go dormant if it receives too little illumination.

Should that happen, you can supplement it with grow lights.

 

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Temperature

Like many other houseplants, the Alocasia wentii is native to Southeast Asia. There, you’ll find it growing in the floors of rainforests.

Thus, this environment has made it accustomed to moderate to warm climates with high humidity.

Its ideal temperature is between 55 degrees to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it a bit more tolerant that other houseplants in terms of the cold. And, it won’t have a problem even it the heat goes up to 95 degrees.

However, any more than that and it will begin to experience difficulties.

That said, the colder end is where you want to pay more attention to. That’s because it does not give you much leeway.

Below 50 degrees, it will begin to experience stress. And, once the temperature hits 45 degrees it will have problems including losing some leaves. It will likewise go dormant past this level.

This makes it essential to avoid cold environments both indoors and outdoors.

If you live in an area where winter experiences frost and snow, make sure to take the plant inside during fall as the temperature drops.

Indoors, avoid cold drafts including vents, air conditioners and open windows where cold breezes can come in.

 

Humidity

As mentioned above, the Alocasia wentii enjoys humid conditions. And, this is where it grows the best. Ideally, keep humidity between 60% and 80% to allow optimum growth and see its most vibrant leaves.

However, the plant can likewise tolerate average indoor humidity down to 40%. But, it may or may not too well there depending on other factors like sunlight and watering.

So, the lower you go, the more experimenting and tinkering you’ll need to do to keep it happy.

The plant will give you signs if it is struggling with lack of moisture in the air as the edges of its leaves will turn brown.

Note that brown leaves can also be caused by other issues like too much sunlight, fertilizer or pests. Stress is also a possible cause. But the first suspect to check is humidity.

If you have a digital hygrometer, it will be easy to track what humidity levels the plant enjoys in your home.

Some ways to increase indoor humidity include:

  • Setting up a humidifier
  • Grouping it with other plants
  • Placing it on top of pebbles in a water tray or keeping some water containers near it.
  • Moving the plant to the kitchen, bathroom or any area where you often use water.

alocasia wentii

source: wikimedia commons

 

How Often to Water Alocasia Wentii

The Alocasia wentii needs plenty of water especially during hot weather. Although, it does not need as much indoors.

Nevertheless, avoid dry spells as this causes more issues  with the plant than most houseplants (and eventually damage it). Also, it will need consistently moist soil during its growing season when it produces leaves. This is when it consumes a lot of water.

That said, it is also susceptible to overwatering.

So, you still need to be wary about wet, soggy or waterlogged soil, which can lead to root rot. A bad sign you want to watch out for are yellow leaves.

While older leaves can turn yellow, you should investigate more if there are many leaves turning color at the same time. Normally, it means something else is happening.

Often, too much water is the main culprit. Although too much intense sun, fertilizer and other issues can likewise be the cause.

If you notice this, cut down on water frequency immediately. It is also a good idea to inspect the roots to see if there’s any damage. The roots should look whitish or pale in color and firm. If they’re soggy, brown or black that’s a bad sign.

You do need to treat and prune them damaged/rotting roots immediately and repot in hopes the plant can recover.

On the other hand lack of water will cause leaves to look dry, have some brown edges and droop. With the Alocasia wentii, this can likewise be worrisome (although less so with most houseplants).

Thus, you’ll want to water immediately.

Once nice feature with the plant are its leaves whose shape and tips allow water to naturally drip off. As such, wetting the leaves poses less of a risk since water is able to slide down foliage to reduce potential wetness for long periods.

 

Soil for Alocasia Wentii

When it comes to soil, your Alocasia wentii does best in well-draining soil.

The easiest way to go about this is to get a good Aroid mix. And, you can use this mix for other aroids as well, which happen to be among the most popular houseplants.

Some well known aroids include, alocasias, pothos, philodendron, monstera and anthuriums just to name a few.

There are some nurseries and online shops that sell their specialty aroid mixes. And, these will do really well.

Alternatively, you can create your own aroid mix which is cheaper. Plus, you can tinker with it as you gain more experience.

That said, aroid mixes are a bit complicated and contains at least a few ingredients. Some will reach 7 to 9 elements which makes it bothersome for beginners. I remember trying to figure things out early on.

The problem I noticed with lots of ingredients is it becomes very difficult to adjust later. Because there are so many possible percentages.

The fewer the ingredients, the easier it is to master.

So, after quite a bit of experimenting, here are the components I found you want in a good aroid mix.

Large chunk orchid bark, you want these to be a bit chunky for air flow

Peat moss or potting soil

Perlite

That’s it! You can add compost in there for good measure as well.

Compost never hurts.

The mix I like to use is a 5-1-1. That is:

  • 5 parts orchid bark
  • 1 part peat moss or potting soil (you can use coco peat if you want to be more environmentally friendly)
  • 1 part perlite

Then add some compost.

Something I’ve been trying out that seems to look good as well but needs more testing is potting soil combined with cactus mix.

The main goal is to have something that drains excess moisture to avoid overwatering since the plant is susceptible to that. It also provides enough aeration for the roots to stay oxygenated.

All the while holding to enough moisture to stay moist and keep the plant hydrated.

 

Fertilizer

Like water, your Alocasia wentii enjoys a lot of fertilizer. It is a big feeder so you need to supply it with enough fertilizer.

Apply a balanced water soluble fertilizer once a month during its growing season, making sure to dilute it to half the recommended strength.

You also want to water the soil when you apply plant food.

This will prevent overconcentration.

And just like water, you still want to be careful with overfeeding. Overfertilization will damage the roots and cause foliage to change color.

Thus, it is a good idea to flush the soil every few months to remove excess chemical salts that can accumulate in the soil.

You also want to avoid cheap or low quality fertilizer which tends to leave a lot of these residue. Organic formulations cause the least salts but are also expensive.

But, with proper dose feeding and flushing synthetics work really well and are more economically practical for most growers.

 

Pruning

Alocasia wentii will get quite big with their leaves taking up the largest portion of their size. Outdoors, they can grow to between 4 and 5 feet high with leaves that get to about 3 feet long.

It is likewise a fairly fast growing plant if given the proper care.

As always, growing it indoors reduces its size a bit. And, keeping it in a container will likewise do so.

Fortunately, since leaves grow on their own stems, there’s not a lot of pruning to do.

You may want to trim off a couple of stems here and there as the plant gets bushy and overcrowded but that’s about it.

In most cases, it is all about removing damaged leaves or shaping the plant so its captures the look you want.

 

Alocasia Wentii Propagation

alocasia wentii

Alocasia wentii are actually easy to propagate because they produce offsets. Offsets are kind of like baby plants that have yet to mature. They are smaller but also have their own roots systems.

You can let them grow alongside the mother plant. And, if you do so, you’ll see smaller plants to the sides.

The best thing about them is you can separate them from the parent plant and they’ll grow into a mature plant over time with the proper care.

Here’s how to propagate your Alocasia wentii.

  • Take the plant out of its container.
  • Once you have the root ball out, you’ll find that there will be some offsets attached to the roots. Some can easily be separately gently using your hands. For others, you may need to use a knife or blade. If you do, make sure to sterilize the cutting tool with rubbing alcohol first.
  • After separating, you can now plant the offsets into their own containers. Fill each of these small pots with fresh, well-draining potting mix.
  • Then water the soil to keep it moist.
  • Repot the mother plant into its own container. Replace the spent soil with fresh potting mix.

Since the offsets already have roots and some have grown a bit, they’ll grow much faster than stem or leaf cuttings.

 

How to Repot Alocasia Wentii

You’ll likely need to repot your Alocasia wentii once a year or a little more than that. But, don’t rely on the number of months to decide when.

Instead, lift the pot and check the bottom to see if the roots are coming out of the drainage holes. This is usually the first and most telling sign that the plant has outgrown its current home.

Also there’s not need to rush since the plant enjoys being pot bound.

Thus, you can wait until spring which the best time to repot. Similarly, if you want to propagate the plant, doing both tasks at the same time makes you more efficient.

Something to keep in mind is that try not to move the plant or repot it unless needed. That’s because it does not like either.

As a result, it can drop leaves and stop growing after a move.

So, don’t worry if this happens after repotting. Instead, give it proper care and time. It will take a few weeks to recover. Then, begin to grow again after that.

When repotting, move it to one pot size larger. Avoid going up more than that since it can increase the risk of overwatering due to the excess amount of soil.

 

Toxicity

Keep young children and pets away from your Alocasia wentii as it is toxic when consumed. It contains calcium oxalate crystals which will irritate the digestive tract.

Similarly, its sap can cause skin irritation. So, it is a good idea to use gloves when handling the plant.

 

Pests and Diseases

The large leaves of the plant makes it an attractive target to pests. Alocasias in particular are loved by pests so do expect some unwanted visitors.

For the most part spider mites and thrips are the most common suspects. Interestingly, other pests aren’t too interesting so they’re less likely to come around.

This makes your prevention and treatment effort quite specific as you can focus on those two kinds of critters.

Similarly, fungal issues tend to hound the plant. So, keeping a close eye on moisture is especially important. Since the plant enjoys humid conditions, it increases this risk.

One of the most common problems is leaf spot. And, for the most part you want to focus on the roots (root rot) and leaves.

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