Alocasia cuprea care infographicThe Alocasia cuprea is a unique plant with stiff red, green, or purple leaves that have a metallic appearance. The plant is native to the hot humid areas of South America and Asia. Some of its more common nicknames are Jewel alocasia and the mirror plant.

In this article, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the care and propagation of this fascinating plant.

What Is Alocasia Cuprea?

The Alocasia cuprea is a one-of-a-kind plant whose red, green or purple leaves have a stiff, almost plastic-like appearance. This plant can reach up to a foot tall and its leaves are capable of becoming very big if the plant receives good growing conditions.

There are different types of the Alocasia cuprea plants available. Some are thick-leaved while other varieties have thinner leaves. The thin-leaved Alocasia cuprea is more tolerant to moist soil than the thick-leaved variety.

Quick Overview

Here is a handy table of this plant’s requirements.

Requirements Alocasia Cuprea
Light Thrives well under bright, indirect light
Water Water twice or thrice a week
Soil Loose and well-draining soil
Humidity High humidity levels between 50 to 85 percent
Temperature Temperatures ranging from 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit
Fertilizer Apply fortnightly during the growing season

How to Care for Alocasia Cuprea

Alocasia cuprea requires moderate care in both outdoor and indoor scenarios. In this section, we’ll take a closer look into the dos and don’ts of taking care of this plant.

– Light Requirements

Alocasia Cuprea - unique plantIn order to grow well, the Alocasia cuprea requires bright, indirect light. Never expose your plant to direct sunlight for more than three hours a day because too much light will cause a dull appearance and sometimes the formation of brown patches.

Place it on a north- or east-facing window so that it does not get too much light but receives enough to thrive.

An hour or two of sunlight would be beneficial during winter, though you need to watch out for overly dry soil.

To improve photosynthesis and the light-capturing efficiency of the Alocasia cuprea during winter, dust or wash the foliage. This will increase the plant’s overall health. You can also keep your plant under a grow light for enhanced growth.

– Water Requirements 

Make sure that your plant receives a moderate amount of water for the soil to become moist. The root system of the Alocasia cuprea is very sensitive, therefore, you should use lukewarm water when watering Alocasia cuprea. In cases where you have to use tap water, let it stand for about 24 hours in order to settle the increased levels of fluorine and chlorine before you use it on your plant.

To check if your plant has adequate moisture, stick your finger into the soil about two to three inches deep. If the soil has adequate moisture, you will feel that it is moist and when you pull your finger out, some soil should be sticking to it. Generally, you should water your Alocasia cuprea twice or thrice a week.

Too little water and plenty of water is lethal to the Alocasia cuprea. Inadequate water to your plant results in wilting, greying leaves as well as little or no growth. On the other hand, overwatering leads to brown spots on leaves, a rotten stem, wilting and rapid yellowing of lower leaves.

– Temperature and Humidity

We recommend a temperature range of 50 F to 85 F for this plant during the day. At night, Alocasia cuprea will need temperatures ranging from 54 F to 65 F. Alocasia cuprea plants will do well in high humidity, around 80 to 95 percent. It is better for you to get a humidifier in order to maintain this high humidity.

For improved humidity conditions, you could also create a humidity tray while the heaters are switched on. Make sure to also regularly mist your Alocasia cuprea to maintain a raised local humidity.

– Soil

The soil for Alocasia cuprea should be loose and well-draining. In most cases, the ideal soil would include a combination of the nutritious coir fiber and perlite. Both perlite and coir fiber has neutral pH and the latter contains a lot of aeration, which assists in draining excess water. There are also some commercially available potting mixes that you can make use of.

In addition to perlite and coir fiber, the potting mix may also contain orchid barks and peat.

– Fertilizer

Apply fertilizer to your Alocasia cuprea fortnightly during the growing season. The fertilizer for Alocasia cuprea should be an all-purpose houseplant liquid fertilizer that has been diluted to 50 percent strength. Avoid applying fertilizer during the winter season to prevent leaf burn.

– Potting

Use a medium-sized pot for growing your Alocasia cuprea. A potting mix in an oversized pot may lead to overwatering issues due to long moistening and drying durations. In cases where the plant has overgrown its current pot, transfer it to a larger one.

The Alocasia cuprea growth rate is very slow. Depending on its living conditions, the plant will take two to three years before repotting is necessary.

Under normal circumstances, repotting should be done after two years. However, you can also repot during the spring season. This is the time that the plant comes out of its dormancy. Repotting allows your plant to receive fresh potting mix.

 

How to Propagate

Alocasia cuprea can be propagated using root divisions or through water.

– Propagation Through Root Divisions

Root division is one method used to propagate the Alocasia cuprea. During maturation, the plant creates baby offsets that can be separated from the parent plant for individual propagation.

Carefully take the roots apart or use sterile pruning shears to separate clumps that are too entwined. Upon separating the baby offsets from the parent plant, use a similar potting soil to that of the mother Alocasia cuprea and plant the baby in a new pot.

– Propagation In Water

When propagating the Alocasia cuprea using water, carefully remove the plant from its pot to expose the roots. Shake them gently so that the roots become loose. If they do not become loose, use isopropyl-sterilized pruning shears to disentangle them. Remove any additional soil from the roots prior to filling a clean bowl with soft tap water, up to 75 percent full.

If the tap water contains chlorine, let it sit for a day. Place the roots into your bowl so that they are immersed in water and put the bowl on a north or east-facing window. Replace the water with new water on a weekly basis and run a faucet into the clear bowl. As the roots grow, prepare a suitable potting mix in an appropriate pot but do not fill it up with soil just yet.

When the roots have grown up to three or four inches long, plant them in their final pot. Take care not to break the roots before adding the rest of the potting soil. Now you can care for your new plant as you would the parent.

Problems

With appropriate care, the Alocasia cuprea is unlikely to give you any problems. It will stay happy as long as it has the right conditions such as well-draining soil, aeration, humid conditions and adequate moisture. Regular application of insecticides will protect your plant from damage by insects. Let’s delve deeper into some of the common problems that can affect the Alocasia cuprea, together with the possible solutions.

– Downy or Powdery Mildew

If your plant is exposed to poor aeration and too much moisture on the leaves, it will be susceptible to downy mildew. Powdery mildew is characterized by the formation of a fine white powder that affects your plant from the soil line going upwards. In more severe cases, the stems or leaves become yellow and the plant experiences stunted growth for the new offsets.

To counter the effects of powdery mildew on your Alocasia cuprea, remove the affected leaves and wipe the plant with a cloth that has been soaked in soapy water. This will help in removing the thin layer of powder.

You may use a chemical-based fungicide or an organic one as well. Among the organic remedies you can use are Neem Oil, horticultural or insecticidal soap, and baking soda or milk.

When using Neem Oil, dilute it with water and mist the foliage once a week for a month. Spray the insecticidal soap on a weekly basis for a month and keep inspecting for new infestations. When using baking soda or milk, dilute with four parts of water and remove the mildew with a cloth. FungusClear Ultra is an example of a chemical-based fungicide that you can use to eliminate powdery mildew on your Alocasia cuprea.

– Leaf Spot Disease

Leaf spot disease is characterized by orange, yellow or brown spots that slowly spread across the leaves. Sometimes, the spots will have dark circular bands on the lesions. Ensure that your houseplant gets good air circulation, optimum levels of humidity and temperature, and its leaves are not loaded with water.

We recommend the use of Chlorothalonil to counter the effects of leaf spot disease. Chlorothalonil also helps in defending the plant from future attacks. It is important to use the prescribed dose by the manufacturer and do regular washings on the leaves so that the plant will not suffocate. Regular washes are advisable because they allow the plant to respire and photosynthesize better.

Take special care to remove infected parts and isolate the plant. This helps in symptom relief and prevention of further attacks. It is better for you to revive the Alocasia cuprea so that new, healthy growth occurs.

– Southern Blight

Southern blight results from excess moisture on the plant’s body as well as in between the leaves. Exposure to high temperatures and poor aeration worsens the progression of southern blight. As a result, the Alocasia cuprea will rapidly lose its lower leaves, which is quickly followed by root rot. The leaves and roots will change from a creamy yellow to a brown mushy color after several weeks.

This disease is contained within the leaves so you cannot scratch it off. It helps to remove the damaged leaves and throw away any gunk that is present on the soil line. Hydrogen peroxide aids in keeping southern blight under control. It is important to include a splash of hydrogen peroxide for every three irrigations in order to stop the continuation of further disease and rot.

Be careful and always follow the manufacturer’s prescribed dosage. Excess hydrogen peroxide will expose your Alocasia cuprea to a chemical burn. Isolate your plant and you will notice that the disease will gradually fade away. However, take note that the already-affected leaves will not transition back to their initial green appearance.

– Rust Disease

Rust disease is a fungal ailment that is passed on to plants by spores. When infected, the Alocasia cuprea leaves will appear “rusty.” The disease follows a fungal cycle in which the rust lesions on your Alocasia cuprea start as orange or yellow spots on leaf surfaces. The spots then spread to the undersides of the leaves during the late spring months.

The stage that follows is the formation of cinnamon brown spots which resemble a rust color. After that, the brown spots will turn to black. With the severity of the infection, the leaves will turn yellow, dry up, and eventually die. At this point, it is better for you to remove any infected leaves and destroy them immediately.

You will have to use a fungicide to treat severe cases of rust disease. Bio-fungicides are an option as well. Make sure you test the treatment before using it on your plant so as to avoid harming it further.

– Botrytis or Grey Mold

Botrytis or grey mold attacks the foliage or flowers of the Alocasia cuprea. Tiny orange or black spots will form on the flowers, while small spots and yellow lesions will surround the leaves. The affected parts then fall on the soil line, thereby molding over the plant and becoming severely infectious.

Make sure to use a sterile pair of scissors to remove and throw away any infected flowers or leaves because these parts will contain the disease. If not thrown away, the disease is most likely to spread to the rest of your Alocasia cuprea and to the neighboring plants as well.

It is also helpful to apply the fungicide called Fighter, which will get to work upon using it for the first time. However, take your plant outside and gently wash the leaves with an outdoor hose prior to administering the fungicide.

In cases where the nighttime temperatures exceed 59 F, place your plant outside in a sheltered area for about a week. However, if the temperatures are too low, isolate and place your Alocasia cuprea in a well-lit location away from direct sunlight.

Eliminate any more mold or severely affected leaves and avoid saturating the foliage of the plant. Wait three weeks for the symptoms to clear before reintroducing the plant back into the home, where you should provide nourishment to allow new and healthy growth.

– Mealybugs

Mealybugs can attack any part of the plant that is above the topsoil. These pests can cause a lot of damage due to their ability to multiply quickly. In its lifetime, the female mealybug can lay up to 300 eggs, and male mealybugs can fly up to half a mile, impregnating females.

Use a damp cloth or your fingers to remove and crush all cottony webs and bugs that you can see on your Alocasia cuprea. You can also wipe wooded stems using an old toothbrush. Remove any affected flowers and leaves and take the plant outside for a gradual hose down. To do away with any live bugs that have fallen, replace the top inch of the soil.

Let the plant dry off prior to applying either a chemical-based or organic pesticide. A repeat of the same process is necessary on a weekly basis up to a whole month. In addition to horticultural soap, Neem Oil and natural predators, you can also use a thin layer of diatomaceous earth powder directly on the soil, or mix it with water and mist on the Alocasia cuprea. Chemical pesticides as per the manufacturer’s instructions are also good at eradicating mealybugs.

– Thrips

Thrips are contagious, minute, tubular-shaped flies that can severely damage Alocasia cuprea. They can gain access into the home through open windows, infected transplantation soils or newly-purchased plants.

The initial symptom is yellow, egg-like larvae that will appear on foliage surfaces. Within seconds of inspection, tiny black and white flies will be moving around the entire plant, including flowers, stems and the soil.

During infestation, you will notice the formation of yellow, dark patches on the plant within a few days. Thrips can cause unimaginable damage because they are capable of scraping off cell membranes from plant leaves. Therefore, quick action must be taken to prevent the death of your Alocasia cuprea plant.

Chemical-based pesticides can be used to eliminate thrips. In addition, Neem Oil, natural predators, diatomaceous earth and insecticidal soap are also effective methods to eradicate thrips and save your Alocasia cuprea.

– Aphids

Aphids love sucking the sap of the Alocasia cuprea. These pests grow to about only a quarter of an inch. However, aphids can kill your plant if there is an infestation. Aphids are largely active in spring and their reproduction cycle is in overdrive during this period.

Use a garden hose to wash off any visible aphids. Afterwards, use soapy water to wash plant leaves as aphids will die when they come in contact with soap. Do a soap test on one leaf of the Alocasia cuprea before washing the whole plant.

You can mix three parts of water with one part vinegar to make a spray that acts against aphids. Use a garden sprayer to spray all infected areas of the plant. Alternatively, make use of Neem Oil to eradicate aphids.

– Spider Mites

Spider mites have small translucent bodies and hide in the folds on the underside of leaves. With time, there will be the formation of tiny groups of webs that trap bits of compost or dirt.

When spider mites invade the Alocasia cuprea plant, they cause minute transparent blotches as well as yellow leaves. Once you notice these symptoms, quickly take action before the rest of the plant and nearby ones are affected.

Remove and crush any mites that you observe on the plant before pruning off the affected areas. Gently hose down the plant outdoors and let it dry prior to the application of any pesticides. It is important to repeat this process on a weekly basis. To help the situation, spray Neem Oil onto the foliage according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Other pesticides you can use include diatomaceous earth, cinnamate, rosemary oil, horticultural soap, herbal tea and natural predators. Also, make use of chemical pesticides as instructed by the manufacturer.

– Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats do most of their damage to the plant’s roots. Usually, smaller infestations are not damaging to established plants, but in huge numbers, fungus gnats can decrease the number of roots and lead to the yellowing of leaves.

Make sure you provide the optimum growth conditions to your plant because these pests love humid, dark and poorly aerated soils. In some instances, fungus gnats feast on flowering plants’ nectar, thereby potentially spreading diseases to your plants.

Take note that fungus gnats can launch their attacks any time throughout the year, although they are most active during colder months. They can enter your home through open doors or windows, compost from a poorly-kept bag, as well as in newly-bought plants.

When you buy a new plant, make sure to replace two inches of the surface compost with a trusted fresh batch. If you have to keep soil for future use, keep it in a securely enclosed container in a dry and dark location such as a shed or garage.

Methods of eradicating fungus gnats include organic and chemical-based ones. Due to their ability to fly, it is difficult to crush most of these pests. Spread a thin layer of diatomaceous earth on the potting soil surface to prevent the adult females from laying eggs. You can also introduce sticky pads near potting soil and on walls, place small bowls of water to drown the pests, or spray a garlic and clove water mixture onto the soil.

Conclusion

Alocasia Cuprea - Mirror Plant

For a whole new experience in plant parenting, the Alocasia cuprea is definitely an option to consider. Here is a summary of the main points you can always have at your fingertips:

  • The Alocasia cuprea contains stiff red, green or purple leaves that have a metallic appearance.
  • The plant thrives in bright, indirect light.
  • The Alocasia cuprea requires moderate amounts of water for it to grow well. Its root system is very sensitive, so lukewarm water should be used to water the plant.
  • Temperatures ranging from 50 F to 85 F are recommended during the day. At night, Alocasia cuprea will need temperatures ranging from 54 F to 65 F. 
  • The Alocasia cuprea does well in high humidity, with levels ranging from 80 to 95 percent.
  • A well-draining soil that contains perlite and coir fiber is advisable when growing the Alocasia cuprea. Soil that has good aeration is excellent for this plant.
  • We recommend the use of a liquid houseplant fertilizer that has been diluted to half its strength.
  • Root divisions and water are used for the propagation of Alocasia cuprea.
  • Some of the common pests that affect the well-being of Alocasia cuprea include mealybugs, aphids, thrips, fungus gnats and spider mites.
  • Common diseases that might affect Alocasia cuprea include Botrytis, rust, Southern blight, leaf spot and powdery mildew.

Now that you are well-equipped with the care instructions of Alocasia cuprea, it’s time to take action and explore this amazing plant. Have fun!

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