The Variegated Alocasia is often called the Variegated Elephant Ear or the Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear.
Although the most popular of these is the Alocasia Macrorrhiza Variegata (variegated alocasia macrorrhiza), there are many other varieties that belong to this group.
These include the:
- Variegated Alocasia frydek
- Variegated Alocasia zebrina
- Variegated Alocasia odora
- Variegated Alocasia black velvet
- Variegated Alocasia serendipity
To name a few.
These plants are best known for the white, cream or off white variegations that are very prominent in their large leaves.
How do you care for the Variegated Alocasia? The plant needs bright, indirect light to maintain its beautiful colors. It is less tolerant to low light compared to alocasia varieties with solid green leaves. but like its relatives, it enjoys warm, humid environments.
Allow the soil to dry between waterings to avoid overwatering and waterlogging.
Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear Plant Care
Alocasia Macrorrhiza Variegata Light Requirements
The Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear grows best in bright, indirect light indoors. However, it will be happy with medium light and even fluorescent lighting.
Therefore, you do have a number of options in terms of location when growing it in your home.
However, because the plant’s large leaves are variegated, they need to stay in a well-lit area. Thus, avoid low light and dim spots.
That’s because the white sections of its leaves lack chlorophyll.
It is chlorophyll that gives leaves their green color. And the absence of this allows for the plant’s beautiful variegations.
However, chlorophyll is also what absorbs light in order for the plant to use this to create its own energy.
Therefore, less green sections in its leaves means the Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear needs more light to compensate for the smaller surface area of green on its leaves.
For this reason, if you leave the plant in a dark location, you’ll see its variegations revert to green.
This is the plant’s desperation attempt to support itself by producing more chlorophyll. This way it can absorb as much light as its can in the dim or dark area.
So what does all this mean?
It means that the best way to maintain your Variegated Alocasia’s growth and lovely variegations is to keep it in bright, indirect light like near an east facing window.
However, avoid too much light as well.
The plant cannot tolerate very intense light. This is why it is important to avoid direct sunlight and the rays of the sun between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Too much light will turn its leaves pale or even bleach them. In excess, it can scorch the plant’s leaves and cause black or brown burn marks.
The Variegated Elephant Ear plant prefers temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a tropical plant. Thus, it likes warm weather all year round.
It also means that the plant will be able to tolerate warmer environments all the way up to 90 or 95 degrees Fahrenheit without a problem or any harm.
However, the same cannot be said for the cold.
Because tropical plants don’t see snow, frost or freezing conditions ever where they live, they are not well-suited for this climate.
And the Variegated Alocasia plant will likewise struggle in temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Therefore, keep your Alocasia Macrorrhiza Variegata away from these areas.
Outdoors, it means bringing the plant indoors once the weather drops near 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead, it is best suited for USDA Hardiness Zones 9-11 where the sun is out all year round and weather is warm to hot even during winters.
Indoors, it means keeping it away from air conditioning and cold drafts.
The Alocasia Macrorrhiza Variegata prefers moderate to high humidity between 60% to 70%. It will likewise do well in 50% humidity.
However, try not to get too far below this level.
If the air gets too dry for the plant’s liking, you’ll see its leaf tips and edges turn brown and crispy.
Should you notice this symptom happening, move the plant to the bathroom.
The bathroom is the most humid place in the home because we use a lot of water there.
This gives you time to figure out what you want to do to increase air moisture around the plant.
Here are some options:
- Invest in a humidifier
- Mist the plant a few times a week
- Place it on a humidifier tray
- Give the plant a shower once every 2 weeks
- If you have many other houseplants, you can group it along with those
Try any of these strategies and see which ones work best for you.
If you decide to mist the plant, make sure not to over mist it or wet the leaves too much. If they don’t dry soon, it can cause fungal infections.
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How Often to Water Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear
The Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear likes slightly moist soil. it does not like wet, soggy soil. Nor does it like it to get very dry.
Therefore, balance it important.
Also, because the seasons change, you’ll need to adjust your watering schedule for hot and cold weather.
During the summer, you’ll need to water the plant regularly to keep the soil moist. In winter, allow the soil to dry a bit more before you water. That’s because there’s more risk of overwatering due to the cold weather which makes the soil stay wet or moist longer.
That said, it is worth mentioning that too much water is a much worse situation for the Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear plant compared to too little water.
That’s because overwatering can lead to root rot. And when the roots get damaged, they will limit or significantly reduce their absorption capability.
Once this happens, the roots won’t be able to get enough water or nutrients from the soil to support or sustain the plant. This is why root rot can ultimately destroy houseplants.
Thus, the best way to water your Variegated Alocasia plant is to wait until the top 2 inches of soil is dry to the touch.
Stick your finger into the soil down to about your second knuckle. Then check for moisture.
If the soil at that depth is completely dry, you can add water. Otherwise, wait two days and test the soil again before you water.
Following this simple rule every time before you add water will let you avoid overwatering.
Potting Soil Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear
The best soil for Variegated Alocasia plants is moist, well-draining and rich in organic matter. The plant will also appreciate soil pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
Avoid using dense, heavy or compacted soil as this will prevent moisture from draining quickly enough. As a result, you can end up with waterlogged soil.
Instead, you can create your own potting soil to achieve the right soil for the Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear plant. Just combine:
- 1 part potting soil
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part peat moss
You can likewise substitute the peat moss with coco coir if you want to use something more sustainable and eco-friendly.
Similarly, you can swap out the perlite for pumice or vermiculite if you prefer
This soil will hold just enough moisture to keep the roots hydrated. But a the same time, it will quickly drain excess water to avoid waterlogging or overwatering.
Alocasia Macrorrhiza Variegata Fertilizer
Fertilizer is an important part of caring for your Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear.
That’s because it needs nutrients to grow fast and produce more leaves. Similarly, fertilizer also helps its leaves grow large while preventing any nutrient deficiencies.
However, just like water, it is important to use plant food in moderation.
That’s because too much fertilizer is bad.
The reason is that commercial fertilizer contain salt. Manufacturers use salt to transport the nutrients in order allow the roots to efficiently absorb the nutrients.
However, once the plant takes the nutrients and the water evaporates, you’re left with the fertilizer salts in the soil.
And the more you apply fertilizer, the more these salts build up.
At a certain point, the salts become toxic to the plant. And they can burn its roots.
Therefore, it is important not to over fertilize your houseplants.
Instead, follow the instructions on the product label.
For the Variegated Elephant Ear plant, use a balanced fertilizer. Dilute it to half the suggested strength in the instructions. You can use water.
The reason for this is to reduce the concentration in order to reduce the salt buildup.
This is needed since indoor plants in pots need a low dose of fertilizer compared to the same plant grown in the ground outdoors.
Only apply during spring and summer. And once a month is enough. Although, you can go up to once every 2 weeks if you don’t see the plant growing as quickly as it should.
Don’t feed your Variegated Alocasia during autumn an winter.
Alocasia Macrorrhiza Variegata Pruning
The Alocasia Macrorrhiza Variegata can grow to as big as 12 to 15 feet high and between 4 to 6 feet from side to side. its leaves will become huge and impressive.
But due to their size, they will bend out to the sides as they get bigger.
This means the plant needs a good amount of space.
However, pruning is not something I recommend doing unless the plant gets too big or wide. That’s because it looks stunning the more you let it grow.
And since the leaves make up 75% of the plant, pruning is not something you want to do often.
Instead, pruning is usually done to remove yellow or brown leaves. You can also trim them if there is any infection or damage to the leaves.
Beyond that, keeping its leaves intact are what gives the plant its character.
How to Propagate Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear
The most effective way to propagate the Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear plant is through division.
The plant grows from rhizomes. And you will divide these tuberous roots and separate them with each one growing to its own mature plant over the years.
Unfortunately, you won’t have much luck propagating the Variegated Alocasia from cuttings. Thus, division is the preferred option.
Here’s how to propagate the Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear plant via division.
Unpot the plant and carefully take out the root ball. The bigger the plant, the more patient you need to be so as not to damage ethe leaves.
Once out of the container, remove as much excess soil as you can so you can see the roots clearly.
- There, you’ll see the rhizomes. Unfortunately, because the plant grows in a pot, it will not have as many rhizomes as the same plant that’s grown in the ground outside. This is just the case as the limitation of the surroundings affects how much the roots grow.
- In any case, decide on which sections to take. You can divide the parent plant to 2 smaller plants or more depending on how many new plants you wand and how big the parent it.
- Use a sterile knife to cut and make the divisions.
- Then, plant each division into its own container with fresh, well-draining potting soil.
Each of these divisions will eventually grow into the size of the parent plant.
How to Repot or Transplant Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear
The Alocasia Macrorrhiza Variegata does not need frequent repotting.
Although, you’ll need to do this more often with a young Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear as it is growing quickly.
But once mature, it usually takes about 2 years before you need to repot.
And only do so when the plant is root bound.
To check, look under the pot and see if there are any roots sneaking out of the drainage holes. If you see a few of them, it is a sign to get ready to repot.
The best time to repot is spring or early summer.
To repot the plant:
- Take it out of its container. The larger the plant, the more likely it will become a two person job. However, you can also unpot it yourself by tipping the plant gently on its side and sliding the root ball out of the container.
- Once out, move any excess soil.
- Prepare a new pot that is 2-3 inches bigger than its current container.
- Fill the new pot with fresh, well-draining potting mix up to about a third of the way.
- Then place the plant in the new pot and fill the extra space with potting mix as well.
Is It Toxic/Poisonous to Humans, Cats & Dogs
Yes, the Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear is toxic but only when ingested. Therefore, it is not poisonous to hold or handle.
But if the leaves or stem are ingested, it becomes toxic to people, dogs and cats.
This is because it contains calcium oxalate crystals which are released. These are like very tiny needles that will pierce the tissues and lining in the digestive system.
As such, it will cause pain and irritation along with other side effects.
Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear Problems & Troubleshooting
The Variegated Alocasia Elephant Ear plant does not usually experience any serious pest or disease problems.
However, you still need to always be on the lookout for bugs since they will wreak havoc on the plant once they grow in number.
To get rid of them, spray them off using a hose. But only use a gentle spray so you do not damage the foliage.
Try to be thorough to get rid of all the bugs there including the adults, eggs and larvae.
Root rot is the biggest threat here. But it is preventable as you as you do not overwater the plant. Using well-draining soil also reduced the risk of waterlogging.
Similarly, don’t let the leaves get and stay wet for too long. This can lead to bacterial or fungal infections.
Instead, keep the plant in a well-lit location with good air circulation so water will quickly dry.