The Alocasia Polly is often referred to as the African Mask plant because of its stunning leaves. This has made it among the most popular houseplants around. So, if you happen to own one, it is always a good idea to propagate the plant at some point in its life whether to have a backup plant at home or to give to friends.
How to propagate Alocasia Polly? The most effective way to propagate Alocasia Polly is by dividing it to smaller plants. This is due to its rhizomatous nature. Thus, unlike many other houseplants, you cannot propagate Alocasia plants from stem or leaf cuttings. As such, it is important to wait until your plant is mature and big enough before you propagate it.
Below, I’ll take you through the step by step process of how to propagate your Alocasia plant at home.
How to Propagate Alocasia Polly (African Mask Plants)
Alocasia are generally straightforward to propagate.
However, most people find it intimidating because you cannot propagate it from stem or leaf cuttings. This makes it feel like it is more difficult to do so.
But that’s not the case.
And I’ll show you below one step at the time.
Because the Alocasia Polly grows from a single rhizome, it cannot be propagated through cuttings. Instead, your best option is to divide the mother plant into smaller plants.
This has its pros and cons.
On the plus side, the new plant or plants are already somewhat semi-grown. Therefore, you don’t have to root them or wait for roots to grow. Instead, just care for it and it will keep growing new leaves.
However, propagating it takes more time at least initially since you need to unpot the plant and divide the rhizome.
Another con is that you’ll need the mother plant to mature before you can divide it. And because division entails taking a part of the parent plant, there’s a limit to how many times you can divide it since it needs time to grow and get bigger in between.
What Tools Do You Need to Propagate the African Mask Plant?
Before you begin propagating your Alocasia Polly, it is a good idea have all the tools prepared. This way you already have them nearby while you’re propagating your African Mask plant.
This makes the process faster. But is also ensures that you don’t end up leaving the plant’s roots exposed to air for very long periods of time while you’re looking for any tool.
Here are the things you’ll need:
- A healthy Alocasia Polly (don’t propagate the plant when it is weak, sick, wilting or under stress)
- A pair of scissors or pruning shears
- Rubbing alcohol
- Extra pot for the new plant
- Fresh, well-draining soil
- Plastic or newspaper to cover the surface (this makes cleaning up much easier and faster afterwards)
How to Propagate Alocasia Polly Through Division
Unpot Your Alocasia Polly
Carefully unpot your Alocasia Polly. Avoid pulling the plant or jarring it out of its container. This can cause shock or stress.
Instead, tip the pot over to its side and gently slide the root ball out of the pot.
Brush Off Excess Soil to Reveal the Roots
Once the plant it out of the pot, brush off the excess dirt and remove potting mix from the root system. This will allow you to clearly see what you’re working with and where you’ll be dividing the plant.
You can use your fingers to run through the roots to separate them and take the soil out. Or for a larger plant, you can use a garden hose to spray off the soil.
Look for the Sections and Divide Them
When you have the soil mostly cleared out, you’ll easily see natural separations. Look for a clump with a few corms. These look like bulbs at the bottom.
Then divide the mass into sections.
You can use your hands since they are usually easy to separate. However, the mass is dense or stuck together, you can use a pair of scissors, pruning shears or knife.
Just make sure to sterilize the blade with rubbing alcohol first before making any cuts. This will ensure that you’re not passing any pathogens from the blade to the plant.
You can divide the parent plant into 2 or more plants. Similarly, you can divide it into a bigger and smaller plant or two similar sized plants, it is really up to you.
The bigger the plant, the more divisions you can get out of it.
Some people divide their Alocasia plants not just to grow new plants but also to limit the size. This makes it easier to keep indoors especially if you don’t have a lot of space.
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Pot Up the Plants
Once you have your divisions, pot up all the plants.
Pot up the mother plant into its container. Or you can use a smaller container if its size has shrunk quite a bit.
Make sure not to get too big of a pot for any of the plants since overpotting will increase the risk of root rot due to excess soil.
Then, pot up the division.
Use the extra pot and fill it with fresh, well-draining potting mix up to about 40% of the way. Then, place the new plant in and backfill the remaining space with soil.
Water the soil after you pot up your plants. Use room temperature water and avoid cold or hot water.
Also water the soil until moist. Avoid overwatering it.
Take Care of Your African Mask Plant
Finally, place your Alocasia Polly plants in a well-lit location with bright, indirect light. Ideally, the spot gets moderate to warm temperature and good humidity.
If you want to help the new plant grow and you don’t get a lot of humidity in your home, you can cover the plant with a plastic bag.
Best Soil for Alocasia Plants
One important factor when propagating your alocasia is to make sure to use the right kind of soil.
This is true when potting up a new Alocasia you got from the store, repotting it or a smaller divided plant.
The best soil for Alocasia plants needs to be well-draining and loose with pH between 5.5 and 6.5 (slightly acidic).
It is important to avoid heavy soils or those that hold on to too much moisture as the plant is prone to overwatering. Thus, any excess moisture or waterlogging can put it at risk of root rot, bacterial and fungal infections.
Note that well-draining soil does not mean that the soil will drain all the water very quickly. Instead, what it does is hold just enough moisture to keep the roots hydrated. Then drain excess moisture.
This way they roots get the water they need but they don’t sit in water for very long periods of time. The former keeps the plant healthy while the latter prevents overwatering or waterlogging.
It is also a good idea to use rich soil with good organic matter content. Although you can amend the soil by adding a layer of compost.
Similarly, you can use fertilizer provide it nutrients.
Alocasia Polly Propagation Common Problems & How to Fix Them
One of the most important things to be aware of is that propagation is never 100% successful. As you gain more experience, you will achieve very high success rates. However, there’s always a chance that something may go wrong.
The good news is there’s usually a way to fix the problems. However, you want to spot them early.
This is why it is always a good idea to closely monitor your newly divided plants, including the parent.
Why Isn’t the New Alocasia Polly Growing Any New Roots?
One of the most common issues of propagation is that the new plant is not got growing new roots.
This can happen if the new plant experiences shock. For this reason, it is always good to be careful when dividing the plant. Having ideal conditions will reduce the chances of shock.
If your new plant experiences some shock it won’t grow at least initially. This can take a few days after getting divided. Similarly, it may drop a few leaves.
When this happens, give it some time to recover. And during this time ensure that it gets proper care.
Doing so will help with recovery and allow it to start growing soon after that.
To avoid any shock for your new plant, propagate it during a warm day. Avoid very hot or very cold days at this adds to the stress of propagation.
This is why spring and early summer are the best time to propagate houseplants.
Additionally, don’t jar the plant out of its pot if it seems stuck. Being very aggressive can increase the risk of shock.
Also avoid letting the roots stay exposed to air for very long periods of time.
Finally, make sure to provide the new plant with sufficient light. if you don’t get enough natural light into your home, you can use grow lights.
Why are the New Leaves on the Alocasia Polly Small?
If the new leaves on your Alocasia plant are small it can mean two things. The plant’s root system is still young and growing or the new plant is not getting enough light.
Often, if you take a smaller portion and divide it from the parents, the roots may still be less mature than the parent plant.
As such the new leaves will also come out smaller.
However, as the plant matures its root system will develop. This will allow new leaves that grow then to be normal sized.
Thus, give your new plant some time to grow.
In the meantime, you can prune the smaller leaves as this will encourage new growth.
On the other hand, the new plant may produce few and smaller leaves because it is not getting enough light. Make sure that your divided plant is getting bright, indirect light.
Avoid low light as this will slow down the rate of photosynthesis. In doing so, the plant won’t have as much energy. Thus, you end up with fewer and smaller leaves.
Why are the Leaves on The New Plant Turning Yellow?
If the leaves of your new Alocasia plant are turning yellow, it can mean that the plant is getting too much light or it is being overwatered.
Too much intense light or direct sun will cause the leaves to turn yellow and burn. Thus, avoid leaving it in the path of the sun’s rays as much as possible.
Instead, keep the plant in bright, indirect light for optimal growth.
On the other hand, yellow leaves can also mean an overwatered Alocasia plant. This can lead to root rot, so make sure to check its roots for many black, mushy and foul smelling roots.