Alocasia tiny dancer or tiny dancer elephant ear plant is a relatively new cultivar in the Araceae family, hybridized by LariAnn Garner in the USA and introduced to the world in 2013.
Unlike other representatives of this genus, such as Alocasia Poly or, which is a plant of impressive dimensions, Alocasia tiny dancer is much smaller in size but equally exotic, extravagant, and decorative.
Due to its simple cultivation and unique appearance, the plant won the ‘Most Unusual Aroid’ award at the International Aroid Society Show.
Although a cultivar, the Alocasia tiny dancer has retained all the primary characteristics of the Alocasia genus. Slightly cupped Alocasia tiny dancer leaves grow on long light green stems that emerge from the base of the plant, creating a playful bushy form by the time. Each leaf grows to 4 inches in length, has a pointed tip and a slightly upwards bent leaf plate.
Like other alocasias, the plant has a thickened tuberous root, in which it stores water and nutrients and spreads more horizontally than vertically. Since it grows only 14 to 20 inches in height, it is an ideal potted plant that easily fits into any space from the window sill and terrarium to small corners, where it will bring a note of merriment with its delicate appearance.
Although mainly grown as a houseplant, Alocasia tiny dancer can be grown outdoors in a garden in USDA climate zones 10 and 11.
Proper Alocasia Tiny Dancer Care
Although it is not particularly demanding for cultivation, Alocasia tiny dancer is a plant that comes from another region, so you should pay attention to some specific conditions that it may require, such as soil composition or humidity. But here are details that will help you learn what this plant needs to thrive and decorate your home successfully.
Alocasia tiny dancer is a plant of tropical origin, and therefore it has somewhat specific requirements regarding the soil in which it grows best.
It means that you need to provide your allocation with nutritious, light, airy, and well-drained soil of neutral to slightly acidic reactions with a pH factor between 5.5 and 7.
Therefore, it is easiest to get a ready-made potting mixture intended for growing tropical plants, which you can find in better-equipped garden centers.
Alternatively, you could make a homemade mixture consisting of 50 percent standard potting soil for houseplants, 20 percent peat moss, 20 percent soil for orchids, and 10 percent perlite. Mix the ingredients well so that all the elements are evenly distributed.
Tiny dancer is a plant that loves light but does not tolerate direct exposure to direct sunlight in the hottest part of the day. For proper and lush growth and the beautiful fresh green color of the foliage, it needs at least 6 hours of indirect light per day.
Therefore, the plant will enjoy position next to the east or west window or on the window sill of the north window.
Although it is rather adaptable and will tolerate slightly shady positions, insufficient amounts of light will slow down the plant’s growth. It will give fewer stems and, over time, grow scattered and inconspicuous with rare shoots that bend towards the closest light window.
If you place the plant on a spot where there is not enough natural light, you can provide additional lighting by using artificial light. The plant responds well to such lighting as long as the light source is far enough so that the heat does not damage its leaves.
Alocasia does not tolerate excess water in the pot and is prone to rot. On the other hand, lack of moisture also adversely affects the plant, slows its growth, and often results in dry leaf tips. Proper watering is therefore crucial for the successful cultivation of an Alocasia tiny dancer.
As a general rule, you should water your alocasia once a week, but it always depends on all other conditions in which the plant grows, such as the size of the plant and the pot, soil composition, the ambient temperature, exposure to light, or the amount of moisture in the room.
Therefore, it is best to establish your own watering regime tailored to the needs of a particular plant. Before watering again, you could allow the surface layer of the substrate to dry to a depth of 1/5 of the total container depth.
After watering, be sure to pour out the water that collects in the tray. In the winter months, water less frequently, just enough so that the substrate does not dry out completely. It is the period when the plant is dormant, physiological processes are reduced to a minimum, so its water needs are reduced too.
What all plants of tropical origin have in common is that they thrive in conditions of elevated levels of air moisture. As a typical representative of the tropics, the Alocasia tiny dancer also requires a humidity level of 50 percent or more.
Yet, it does not mean you should try to duplicate the tropical jungle atmosphere in your home! Instead, you can try one of the simple and proven methods listed below, by which the humidity is effortlessly raised to a satisfactory level.
- Misting is an easy way to raise the humidity in the plant’s immediate vicinity. You can spray your Alocasia tiny dancer every second or third day with lukewarm room temperature water. Morning is the best time to do this since the water droplets will have enough time to evaporate during the day, reducing the risk of fungal diseases that usually accompany high humidity conditions.
- The pebble tray is another handy way to combat dry air. All you have to do is to place the pot with your Alocasia tiny dancer on a tray filled with water and balls of expanded clay. Gradual evaporation of water from the tray will change the microclimatic conditions and ensure that your allocation feels at home.
- Humidifiers are a welcome help, especially if you have more tropical plants in the room and during the winter months when the air humidity level drops below 30 percent due to heating.
Tiny dancer is sensitive to low temperatures and works best if you provide it with a uniform temperature from 65 to 75 F throughout the year. In other words, it is a plant for a pleasantly heated living room, especially in the winter months.
It is sensitive to sudden changes in temperature, so do not keep it in a room where the difference between day and night temperature is more than 10 F. The lower minimum it can withstand is 50 F but only for a short period. Since it is not frost-hardy, temperatures below 40 F cause irreversible damage and decay of the plant.
Alocasia tiny dancer is a plant with an accelerated metabolism. Under appropriate conditions, it is very productive, grows fast, and gives numerous new leaves during the growing season. Therefore, it needs additional feeding, no matter how nutritious the soil in which the plant grows is.
Fortunately, it is not picky about fertilizers, and you can supplement it with standard all-purpose water-soluble fertilizers for houseplants. Once in fourteen days, you could add fertilizer to the water with which you hydrate the plant diluted in a ratio of 1: 2 concerning the recommended concentration. Start feeding in March and feed the plant regularly until the end of October.
A tiny dancer belongs to the group of plants that grow better if the root does not have too much space. Therefore, transplant it only when it completely outgrows the pot and when part of the root begins to appear through the drainage hole. The best time to transplant is spring before a new growth cycle begins.
When transplanting Alocasia, take a pot with drainage holes that are only 0.5 inches larger than the one in which the plant previously grew. Before filling the container with the substrate, be sure to put a thin layer of tile debris or larger gravel over the drainage hole, which will prevent the accumulation of excess water at the bottom of the pot.
Pruning Alocasia tiny dancer comes down to regularly removing withered, damaged, or possibly disease-infected leaves. It is not only a cosmetic procedure whose purpose is to maintain the beautiful and healthy appearance of the plant but also a measure that stimulates the growth of new leaves and prevents infections and problems.
Alocasia tiny dancer can be propagated in only one way: by dividing an already existing adult plant. Namely, the leaves of this plant grow on stems that appear directly from the tuberous root forming clumps.
If you look closely at the root ball, you will notice that tooth-like growths on its surface. These are new plants that grow into new clumps with separate roots. If your alocasia already has several clumps formed, you can separate them and grow them as individual plants. The procedure looks like this:
- Prepare a smaller pot with a drainage hole and fill it halfway with the mixture as similar as possible to the one in which the plant grows.
- Water the plant just before the division process to make it easier to remove from the pot.
- Once you have removed the plant, clean the root from the ground under running water. It is also a convenient opportunity to inspect the rootball and possibly remove any parts that look suspicious, rotten, or diseased.
- Dry the root with a paper towel. Carefully split the clumps with the parts of the root ball from which they grow.
- Place the plant in a pot on the substrate and cover it with soil, lightly pressing it with your fingers to keep the plant upright.
- Water the plant, and when the soil settles, add a little more substrate as needed.
If you have successfully carried out the process, new leaves will begin to appear in the next three or four weeks since the plant needs a little time to get used to the new conditions.
Problems and Pests
Under optimal conditions, Alocasia tiny dancer is a hardy plant that is not prone to diseases and pests. However, if some of the factors of its cultivation are not satisfactory, you can expect the plant to react to unfavorable conditions. It will react most dramatically to inadequate watering and inappropriate lighting.
Yellow, flabby leaves that wither are the first sign of excessive watering. In addition, the extra moisture in the substrate is transferred to the air, creating a humid atmosphere suitable for the development of fungal and bacterial diseases recognizable by black spots on the leaves.
Ultimately, such conditions lead to root rot, which is usually a condition that is difficult to rehabilitate. Therefore, water the plant carefully and monitor its reaction until you establish an optimal watering regime.
– Spider mites
If the Alocasia tiny dancer grows in an environment with low air humidity, it might be attacked by spider mites. These are tiny insects, difficult to spot with the naked eye, but you will detect their presence on a white web that they create between the leaves. They feed on the sap of the plant, causing unhealthy yellowing or twisting of the leaves.
Mealybugs are placed on the back of the leaves and also feed on the sap of the plant. In the process of feeding, they inject toxins into the plant that cause leaf deformation, discoloration, wilting, and white cotton-like deposits on the leaves. They have accelerated reproduction and spread fast from one plant to another.
– Pest Control
No matter what pest it is, as soon as you notice their presence, take appropriate measures to protect the plant. Try to remove them under running water, and if that doesn’t work, use an insecticide or neem oil solution. And, of course, isolate the infested plant to prevent the spread of pests to other plants.
If you want to create an atmosphere in which this sophisticated, dancing tropical beauty will feel at home, let us recap the basics:
- Place it in a pleasant warm place (65 – 75 F) with lots of filtered light, protected from low temperatures and drafts.
- Provide it with nutritious and well-drained soil, water once a week, and fertilize twice a month during the growing season. In winter, stop fertilizing and reduce watering.
- Since it likes moisture in the air, spray the leaves regularly or place your tiny dancer in a group with other plants.
- Regularly remove old and damaged leaves and repot your plant in the spring only every other year when the roots fill the pot.
- Inspect the plant periodically, and in case of pest attacks, treat it with insecticide or neem oil.
Growing an Alocasia tiny dancer is not a complicated botanical endeavor! Just provide it with the stated conditions and LET IT DANCE!
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