Alocasia silver dragon is a variety of alocasia baginda, one of the 97 species of the eponymous genus of exotic plants with extremely decorative leaves from the Araceae family.
Baginda alocasias are native to Borneo, where these herbaceous perennials with prominent features grow in the ground layers of tropical forests.
The cultivar, awarded for its almost out-of-this-world beauty, is one of the most sought-after types of alocasia, which stands out equally in the group of plants and as a solitary decoration of the room.
In addition to the common name Alocasia silver dragon, the plant is also known as Elephant ear Silver dragon or the African silver mask.
What Is an Alocasia Silver Dragon?
Silver dragon alocasia is a dwarf species that when grown indoors reaches only 1.5 to 2 feet in spread and height.
Alocasia silver dragon leaves grow on long, upright, pink stalks that appear from the rhizome root, forming a compact leaf rosette. The velvety leaves have the shape of an elongated heart and can grow 6 inches long and 3 to 4 inches wide.
The pronounced ribs give the foliage an unusual texture reminiscent of dragon scales.
The emerald green color of the leaves has a silvery sheen that is even more pronounced by the dark green color of the veins. The color intensity of each leaf changes as it grows, creating an irresistible display of silver and green tones.
Mature silver dragon plant blooms with an inconspicuous piston-shaped flower framed in a pale green or white bract. Yet, the blooming is pretty rare in indoor plants.
Like all other plants from the Araceae family, the Alocasia silver dragon is a very poisonous plant. All plant parts contain calcium oxalate, a toxic substance that causes skin irritation and disorders such as vomiting or diarrhea in both humans and pets.
On the other hand, the plant is a powerful purifier, so in its case, the saying that all good things come with a price is really valid.
Alocasia Silver Dragon Care
Even if you don’t have much experience growing tropical plants, you can host an Alocasia silver dragon in your home because it is not overly demanding, despite its exotic appearance.
Of course, there are some conditions you need to meet, but with the help and advice we share with you in this paragraph, it will not be a big problem.
Alocasia silver dragon is sensitive to excessive light and exposure to direct sunlight. It grows best if it gets a lot of filtered light. Do not place it too close to the west or south window as its leaves quickly get sunburned.
To grow evenly, it needs uniform lighting on all sides. However, such conditions are difficult to achieve except in the greenhouse. As a result, the plant often distorts towards the light source, which ruins its shape. To avoid this, rotate the pot once a week so that all the leaves get enough light and the plant can withstand compact growth.
If you place the plant in a position with less light, the leaves will lose their color intensity, and the silvery sheen may be completely absent. Additionally, the leaves of the plant that grow in the shade never reach their maximum size creating a thinned rosette of pale leaves.
Proper watering rhythm is one of the vital factors in the successful cultivation of this beautiful houseplant. It is sensitive to overwatering and unnecessary wetting of leaves and stems, but also lack of water causes stress manifested by dry brown leaf tips or twisting the leaves.
The basic rule is that the watering frequency depends on the season, temperature, sunlight, and soil composition in which it grows. In the period of intensive growth from spring to autumn, water it approximately two or three times a week, as soon as the substrate dries on the surface. Alocasia silver dragon likes moisture in the soil but does not tolerate a swampy or soggy environment.
If you want the plant to feel comfortable, learn to distinguish moist from wet soil. The lower half of the substrate should always be slightly moist but never wet or completely dry.
From autumn to spring, water the plant once a week or once every ten days. In this period, when there is little natural light and when temperatures are lower, the plant will enter a dormant phase. It means it will not give new leaves since all processes are reduced, and the plant collects energy for the new season.
If the plant rejects some leaves, do not panic. At this stage, this is a common occurrence. When watering the silver dragon alocasia, do not use tap water. Namely, the plant is sensitive to salts, minerals, or chlorine that this water contains, which can cause leaf spots when deposited in the soil.
Therefore, always leave the water to stand for at least 24 hours, which is usually enough for these elements to evaporate before watering the plant. Alternatively, you can use distilled water that does not contain potentially harmful substances.
The soil in which you plant your silver dragon alocasia must meet several conditions: good permeability, airiness, nutrients, and a slightly acidic to neutral pH reaction in the range of 5.0 to 7.5.
Rapid water flows through the soil is necessary to avoid its retention and accumulation around the root system. The thickened fleshy rhizome root is very prone to rot if it is exposed to excessively wet soil.
On the other hand, the soil should not dry out completely then it should retain the required amount of moisture without endangering the plant. That is why you can combine standard potting soil with coarser sand or perlite and peat moss in equal proportions.
You can add one handful of compost to the mixture to raise its nutritional value. Additionally, compost and peat moss have a slightly acidic reaction, and their intake contributes to maintaining an acceptable pH factor.
Whether they are hybrid or indigenous species, all plants in the Alocasia genus require an elevated level of humidity in their environment. The rainforests they come from have a humid environment, so they will need similar conditions when grown as an indoor plant in other climatic areas.
Some of the Alocasias are not so sensitive to reduced moisture values. Yet, with an Alocasia silver dragon, this is a non-negotiable condition. If you do not want it to die quickly like a bouquet of cut flowers, provide it with humidity of 80 percent and more.
As this value is pretty above the standard 30 to 50 percent in our homes, here are some tips on how to create the right conditions:
- Use a pebble tray under the planter in which you grow your plant. If it has a drainage hole, do not allow water from the pebble tray to enter the pot. Use a smaller tray to prevent diffuse soaking of the substrate.
- Install a humidifier that will allow you to control the humidity in the air without much effort. This practical device will permanently put the issue off the agenda.
- Alocasia silver dragon is not a big plant, so you can find a place in the kitchen or bathroom, rooms that always have a high humidity level.
- Wipe the leaves regularly with a damp cloth to remove dust but also provide extra moisture.
To Mist or Not to Mist?
For most tropical plants misting leaves is a simple and effective way to provide extra moisture in the air. Unfortunately, the Alocasia silver dragon does not belong to this group.
Tiny drops of water stay on its thick velvet leaves for a long time and accumulate in the grooves of the veins, which favors the development of fungal diseases. Therefore, avoid misting because it can cause more harm than good.
Outside the tropical climate zone, the silver dragon plant is grown as a potted plant protected from low temperatures. The ideal range for growing this beauty goes from 60 to 80 F all year round. It is not resistant to frost and suffers as soon as the temperature approaches the freezing point.
In areas with a continental climate, the plant can spend the summer outside in the garden or the terrace. You could place it in the shade so that the hot summer sun cannot reach it in the hottest part of the day.
As long as it is not in direct sunlight, with regular watering, it does not mind even if the temperatures exceed 90 F. However, as early as the beginning of September, when the night temperatures drop below 55 F, bring it into the house
Uniform temperature without large oscillations and positions where it is not exposed to drafts or the flow of cold air or hot air from heaters guarantees its successful cultivation.
Natural fertilizers such as manure, compost or mulch, are the best option for this plant since the soil to which you add these materials is most reminiscent of the ground in which the plant grows in its natural ecosystem. You could add them in a ratio of one-tenth of the total soil mass to provide enough nutrients and avoid overfertilizing.
It is best to add the material at the beginning of the growing season, preferably during transplanting. However, you can add it later in the season by simply burying it in the substrate. After applying the fertilizer, be sure to water the plant.
The next option is slow-release fertilizers in granules, tablets, or sticks that you can add to the substrate. Since these fertilizers come in different concentrations, always follow the instructions on the amount and mode of application on their packaging. Their advantage is that they gradually decompose in the soil and thus avoid excessive and sudden concentration, potentially harmful for plant roots.
Additionally, when you apply these fertilizers, you know that the plant will be fed for at least the next few months, which simplifies the care of this plant.
Finally, you can use liquid fertilizers for plants with decorative foliage with a balanced N-P-K ratio of 10:10:10 or similar. Dilute it to one-third of the recommended dose and water the plant with the solution once a month.
Alocasia silver dragon is not a plant that needs an annual transplant. If placed initially in a pot of the appropriate size, it can stay in that pot for at least two years. It does not mind the root bond as long as the air can circulate freely through the substrate.
Therefore, transplant adult plants every two or three years. However, as this is a fast-growing species that under the right conditions can reach the size of an adult plant in one season, you can transplant it as soon as it outgrows an existing pot or the roots come out through drainage holes.
Like most plants that grow in a rosette, the Alocasia silver dragon does not need drastic pruning. Standard removal of wilted, diseased, or damaged leaves is all you need to do when it comes to pruning. The measure affects the general appearance of the plant and improves the airflow among the leaves. It is good for the prevention of fungal and bacterial diseases.
You can propagate Alocasia silver dragon in two ways: by dividing clumps or by dividing rhizomes.
– Plant Division
Mature Alocasia silver dragon plant usually develops several clumps that grow side by side in the same pot. Each one grows from its part of the rhizome root. Therefore each can be separated and grown as an individual plant.
Water the plant profusely and allow the substrate to absorb water before the division procedure. It will make it easier to remove the root ball from the pot with minimal damage.
When you remove the plant, carefully clean it from the substrate, and if necessary, rinse the remaining dirt under running water.
Now when you can see the place where each clump appears, you could separate them. Each clamp should keep its share of leaf mass and rhizome.
When you divide the clumps, plant them in smaller, individual pots in a mixture similar to the one they previously grew.
The process is not particularly stressful, so the new plant will continue to grow pretty quickly.
– Rhizome Division
Alocasia root has a fleshy, thickened part resembling an elongated potato from which tiny root veins grow. With a sharp, sterile knife, you can cut the root into pieces at least one inch long. Take care that each part has already developed veins.
Stick the parts vertically into a mixture of moist peat and perlite but do not bury it with the substrate. Leave one-fifth above the surface.
Place the pot in a warm spot and keep the moisture in the substrate.
In the next 2 to 4 weeks, the rhizome will take root. The new leaves will appear soon.
Each part of the rhizome treated in this way can become a new plant, provided that the soil does not dry out or rot due to excessive moisture.
Under optimal conditions, the Alocasia silver dragon is a plant that is not particularly prone to diseases. However, if some of the requirements are not adapted to its needs, you can expect the following:
Yellowing of leaves – this deformation is always associated with inadequate watering. The leaves turn yellow due to lack but also due to excess water. Therefore, you have to adjust the watering to the needs of the plant.
Brown tips or edges of leaves are most often the results of dry air in the room. It also occurs as the initial stage of drying the leaves due to lack of moisture in the substrate. As mentioned earlier, high humidity is a factor you must meet if you want to share your home with this stunning plant.
Sudden leaf fall is the result of exposure to drafts or cold air currents. Therefore, do not place the plant next to a window that you often open in winter.
Brown spots on the leaves indicate bacterial infections. Unfortunately, they are common in plants that prefer high humidity. Moisture and heat in combination with stagnant air or too dense rosette of leaves through which the air flows poorly result in these diseases. Immediately cut off the infected leaves and treat the plant with a fungicide. Of course, pay attention to the level of soil and air moisture to prevent the disease from returning.
- In this article, we have learned that the fundamental care for this plant includes:
- Position in a warm and humid place with lots of indirect lighting
- Highly permeable soil with neutral or slightly acidic ph reaction
- Watering once a week during the growing season, less often in winter when the plant is dormant
- Additionally, fertilizing with natural fertilizers mixed into the soil
- Transplant only when the plant outgrows the pot, and the roots begin to exit through the drainage holes
The fact is that the Alocasia silver dragon is not the easiest plant to grow since its tropical origin requires slightly specific growing conditions. Yet, by following our tips, it is an obstacle you can overcome. After all, its unusual beauty is worth a little extra effort.
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