Alocasia cucullata is an evergreen, dazzling plant with characteristic showy, heart-shaped leaves. Apart from being a space beautifier, this plant is believed to attract fortune wherever it is placed.
Plant experts associate the lush green foliage of Alocasia cucullata with creating a sensation of peace and tranquility that you will definitely want to experience.
A plant with such vintage vibrancy would require the best care possible, and this article will provide you with all the tips and tricks you need to be the excellent parent your plant would ever have.
Alocasia Cucullata Characteristics
Alocasia cucullata is an evergreen herbaceous perennial that belongs to the Araceae family. It is classified among plants that are known as the elephant’s ear. Alocasia cucullata is also known as the Buddha palm plant.
This name is because this tropical plant has slender stems that hold large, heart-shaped leaves that appear as if they are waving in response to every slightest breeze.
Alocasias are native to the tropical rainforest of Southern Asia. The stems of Alocasia cucullata are upright, fleshy, and resemble rhizomes in appearance. The leaves are dark green and have a spectacular heart shape, prominent veins, and a glossy appearance. Generally, the foliage of Alocasia cucullata is very dense.
The Buddha palm plant produces small, green flowers throughout the year. These flowers are hardly noticeable because they hold close to the stem and are hidden under the plant’s dense foliage.
Alocasia Cucullata Size and Growth
Alocasia cucullata grows at a relatively fast pace. It grows in a multi-stemmed fashion, up to a maximum height of about 13 feet. The length and width of the leaves of Alocasia cucullata are 15 and 11 inches, respectively. The Buddha palm plant is smaller than other Alocasia plants, which is why it is suitable for growing as a houseplant.
The Buddha palm plant’s growing season is in summer and spring. During winter, the plant’s metabolism slows down as it enters a state of dormancy. Reduce your watering frequency during winter and stop fertilizing the plant because there is no growth taking place.
Alocasia Cucullata Care
Alocasia cucullata is a durable plant that is easy to grow, propagate, and maintain. Most of the conditions that this plant requires for optimum growth can be easily created in most home settings.
Alocasia cucullata thrives well under well-lit conditions with bright sunlight. The health of this plant dramatically deteriorates when it is placed in spots that are highly deprived of light.
You can determine whether your plant is receiving enough light by assessing its growth pattern. If one side of your Alocasia cucullata is stretching out, it is a reflection that the plant is searching for light, so put it in a brighter space.
In low light conditions, regularly dusting Alocasia cucullata increases its efficiency in capturing the little light available. Dust particles obscure the ability of the plant leaves to intercept light. Also, apply this trick in winter and autumn, when days are shorter.
Bright, direct sunlight scorches the leaves of Alocasia cucullata, thereby stripping it of its beauty. The foliage of the plant might appear paler, lined with a bleached touch on the leaves. If you should plant your Alocasia cucullata outdoors, be sure to grow it under a tree where it can get filtered light.
The soil for Alocasia cucullata should always be moist but not excessively wet. You should frequently water your plant with warm water, making sure to use little amounts each time. Overwatering your plant may cause root rot, apart from increasing the plant’s susceptibility to fungal infections.
Too dry soil conditions are also destructive to the plant. To regulate the soil’s moisture, always make sure that the top three inches of the potting soil are dry before you can water again. When you water, do so evenly so that all parts of the plant have access to water.
If you notice droplets on the tips of your plant’s leaves, they are a sign that you are overwatering. Releasing these droplets is an adaptation technique that Alocasia cucullata uses to remove excess water.
Reduce your watering frequency if this happens. You can also wipe the droplets with a cloth because they can cause irritation if they come into contact with human and pet skin.
Warm temperatures between 64 F and 72 F are supportive of the growth of Alocasia cucullata. These temperatures are naturally available in many homes, making Alocasia cucullata a great option for an indoor plant.
In homes that have low-temperature conditions, a heated room would create good growing conditions for your plant. In temperatures under 60 F, Alocasia cucullata may shed off all its leaves.
Avoid placing your plant close to the windows, where it can be affected by cold drafts and breezes. Even drafts of air from air conditioners and heaters are not favorable for the Buddha palm plant.
Such low temperatures can cause your plant to become dormant. Freezing environments, especially outdoors, can kill your Alocasia cucullata.
The humidity requirements of Alocasia cucullata are above average, ranging between 60 and 80 percent. The humidity in most homes is around 50 percent on average. This means that most homes need to be slightly customized to accommodate the growth of the Buddha’s palm plant.
The leaves of the plant may dry up in humidity conditions that are under 60 percent. Misting the plant with lukewarm water is a great idea, as long as you will not do it regularly.
Frequent misting can make your plant more vulnerable to diseases and infections by microorganisms. Alternatively, you can simply place your Alocasia cucullata in the bathroom or kitchen, where humidity is relatively high compared to other rooms like your bedroom.
You can even use a humidifier to raise the average humidity around your plant. Another feasible strategy is to place a tray with water and pebbles close to your Buddha palm plant. This boosts the humidity levels in the plant’s vicinity.
Alocasia cucullata requires well-draining soils that can also retain moisture well. Such soils help to avoid the roots of the plant sitting in water while maintaining the moisture that it requires.
To create the soil that the Buddha palm plant needs, add loose organic matter such as peat moss to the regular potting mix. To increase the aeration of the soil, also add perlite.
The rule of the thumb when preparing soils for Alocasia cucullata is that the soil should neither be too wet nor too dry.
Alocasia cucullata prefers acidic soils whose pH range is 5.5 to 6.5. This pH range aids the plant’s efficiency in absorbing nutrients. To test the pH of your soil, collect a sample of about three teaspoons and vigorously swirl it in distilled water.
Filter the liquid through a coffee filter, dip a pH test strip into the filtered liquid, and get your reading from the strip.
Alocasia cucullata is a heavy feeder during its growing season, so adding fertilizers does help in keeping up with the plant’s appetite.
If the plant is potted, the amount of soil that the pot can hold cannot keep up with the rate at which the plant draws nutrients. Moreover, the frequent watering that the plant requires may leach some of the soil’s nutrients, thereby increasing the need for additional nutrients.
Prior to planting your Alocasia cucullata, mix two pounds of slow-release fertilizer with every 100 feet of soil. As the plant grows, you can add the fertilizer at least once every month during the plant’s growing season.
You can also apply little amounts of soluble fertilizers each time you water your Alocasia cucullata. Fertilizing during the winter is of no use because the plant’s growth is at a halt.
When you choose your fertilizers for the Budda’s palm plant, we recommend the ones that are rich in nitrogen, although an all-purpose fertilizer also doesn’t disappoint. Please note that adding too much fertilizer can burn the plant.
If your plant is burned by adding too much fertilizer, water your plant until the water begins to leak through the pot’s drainage holes to flush out the excess fertilizer. Also, reduce the amount of fertilizer you add each time and cut down on the applying frequency.
Grooming and Repotting
As Alocasia cucullata grows, older leaves fall off while new ones grow. Remove the old leaves as soon as they appear unattractive and loosely held. When the stems become ungracefully thin and tall, you can cut them back to the ground to promote a new, vigorous, and compact growth.
The same applies when your plant is growing beyond your desired size, use disinfected pruning shears and remove one or two vines.
The Buddha palm plant likes to be root bound, so you need to leave it in its pot for some time, even if the roots look crowded. When you finally repot the plant, be sure to do so during the summer or spring when the plant’s growth is at its peak.
You should choose a pot that is slightly bigger than the previous one. Just make sure it accommodates the roots of your plant well. You can use any type of pot for potting your plant. If you find it difficult to make a choice, a terracotta plant will do a great job.
One easy way to multiply your Buddha palm plant is by dividing its rhizomes. Simply uproot the plants gently. Shake off any soil from the tubers and then divide them. Soak each tuber in water for a few hours, ideally not more than 24 hours. Be sure not to soak your tubers in chlorinated water.
Prepare your potting mix and water it. Plant your soaked tubers in the moist, watered soil. Lightly water your tubers for a couple of weeks while ensuring that your plant is in a place with warmth and dappled light. It will take a couple of weeks before you see the first sprouts on your tubers.
The easiest way to keep Alocasia cucullata relatively safe from problems is by keeping it healthy through appropriate watering, feeding, and environmental conditions. While these measures will reduce the chances of severe problems to your plant, they won’t make it completely resistant to some attacks by pests and diseases.
Let’s explore some of the problems that you should anticipate when you take care of your special Buddha palm plant.
All parts of Alocasia cucullata are toxic to horses, cats, dogs, and humans when ingested. If it touches the eyes or skin, the elephant ear plant causes eye and skin irritation. This is because the plant contains calcium oxalate crystals that make its edges sharp.
When consumed, Alocasia cucullata can cause a burning sensation on the eyes, lips, and mouth, leading to symptoms such as vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, and difficulties in swallowing food. Contact with the eyes can also cause pain, redness, and swelling.
Severe swelling can block air pathways, leading to death. However, these are rare cases because the intensity of the inflammation is hardly severe enough to block the airways. To keep your children and pets safe while you enjoy the vibrancy that the plant gives to your home, keep it out of their reach.
If Alocasia cucullata is accidentally consumed, quickly wipe the mouth with a wet cloth and drink milk. Immediately contact a poison control center. Be ready with information such as the period after consumption, plant part, and estimated eaten amount when you call the poison control center.
– Root Rot
Although Alocasia cucullata requires constant moisture, soggy soils are not supportive of the plant’s growth. Waterlogged conditions are caused by overwatering and soils that do not allow for proper drainage. When the Buddha palm plant grows in soggy oils, it may suffer from root rot.
If you notice some dark brown or black spots that are lined with a yellow rim, your plant has been affected by Xanthomonas. The spots mentioned above are noticeable on both the upper and lower sides of the leaves.
Xanthomonas is a signal that your plant is being deprived of water. To reverse Xanthomonas, water your plant whenever you should.
When the leaves of your plant drop and lose their vibrancy, then your Alocasia cucullata might be in a dormant state, where it exists as a corm. The Buddha palm plant does this as a mechanism to adapt to the low temperatures that exist during winter.
You can further confirm dormancy by pushing your finger into your plant’s soil and feeling the underground corm. If it is squishy and unfirm, then your plant might be dead. A firm corm, coupled with dropping leaves, is a sign of dormancy.
To completely avoid dormancy, create temperature conditions of around 60 F. To get your plant out of dormancy, place its pot in a plastic bag and put the plant in a relatively warm spot in your home.
Keep checking your plant each day, ensuring that the soil is moist and no condensation may cause rotting. After about two weeks, you will notice a small leaf bud sprouting from the corm. This is a sign that your plant has jolted out of dormancy, meaning you can place your plant in your favorite place again.
– Spider Mites
Spider mites are small sucking pests that can destroy your plant within one week if not spotted and controlled at an earlier stage. To spot these tiny, hideous critters, develop a habit of checking your plant regularly. However, spider mites are too small to easily identify, considering that the biggest size is about a 1/50 fraction of an inch.
If you notice yellow spots or a fine webbing on the stems and leaves of your Alocasia cucullata, then you are dealing with a case of invasion by spider mites.
If your plant is heavily infested with spider mites, trying to save it might put other plants at risk because these sap-suckers can easily travel by floating on the breeze. However, if a few parts have been affected, first isolate the attacked plant to protect the others.
Remove the affected parts before bagging and incinerating them. You can then wash off the remaining parts of your Alocasia cucullata using a garden hose prior to any other treatments.
You can buy miticides from your local nursery or other garden supply stores. Treating your plant with the miticides every 14 days protects it from new attacks. Organic pesticides such as Neem oil are among the best options for eradicating spider mites.
Be sure to follow the manufacturers’ instructions on how to dilute the Neem oil and then thoroughly spray your plant, especially on hidden spots such as the underside of the leaves.
– Other pests
You should be on the lookout for the other pests, like mealybugs, aphids, scale, and whiteflies. You can prevent your Alocasia cucullata from being attacked by these pests by regularly spraying your plants with insecticides. In case your plant is affected by these insects, Neem oil is a great choice.
Taking care of plants has never been so much fun. Before you go on to implement what you learned in this article, let’s have a recap of the main points again.
- Alocasia cucullata is a tropical herbaceous plant that belongs to the Araceae family.
- The plant grows to a height of up to 13 feet, and it’s smaller than the other plants that are in the same family.
- Alocasia cucullata requires bright, indirect sunlight for optimum growth.
- Moist, well-draining soils are supportive of the plant’s growth, while soggy and too dry soils can kill the plant.
- The Buddha palm plant thrives well in temperatures between 64 F and 72 F.
- Alocasia cucullata is a heavy feeder during its growing season, so fertilizing the plant during that time is a great idea.
- If you need to maintain a particular size of the plant, you can trim it with disinfected pruning shears.
- Frequently repotting Alocasia cucullata is unnecessary because the plant is root-bound.
- The Buddha palm plant is propagated through rhizomes.
- All parts of Alocasia cucullata are toxic to pets and human beings.
- Root rot and Xanthomonas are the diseases that usually attack Alocasia cucullata.
- As you care for your plant, the pests that you should look out for include mealybugs, spider mites, scale, aphids, and whiteflies.
We have just filled your toolbox for excellently taking care of Alocasia cucullata. Use each of these tools that we have given you for its purpose and let your plant showcase its beauty!
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