Dragon Scale or Alocasia Baginda of the Araceae family is an all-time favorite among most houseplant enthusiasts due to its gorgeous foliage. Often confused with Alocasia Amazonica or the African Mask plant, it is easy to grow and easy to care for.
Its common names include Alocasia Baginda and Alocasia Dragon, there are some hybrid varieties available such as Alocasia Pink Dragon, Alocasia Silver Dragon, and Black Dragon.
Learn all about this Alocasia genus plant care tips from our comprehensive care guide prepared by expert gardeners themselves.
JUMP TO TOPIC
- What Is a Dragon Scale Plant?
- Dragon Scale Care
- Light Requirements
- Water Requirements
- Soil Requirements
- Temperature Requirements
- Humidity Requirements
- Fertilizer Requirements
- Pruning Requirements
- Common Problems
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Dragon Scale Plant?
Dragon Scale is a perennial, rhizomatous plant native to the tropical forests of Borneo. It belongs to the Araceae family, known for its distinct flower on a spadix and surrounded by a spathe. In this plant’s case, the tiny purple flowers are insignificant in comparison to the green leaves.
Dragon Scale Care
Except for a few specific growth requirements, Alocasia Dragon is a low-maintenance plant that can grow quite well with minimal care. Its care is quite similar to the Elephant Ear plant which is often considered the common name for most Alocasias. Read on to find out more about the exact plant care needs.
This Alocasia needs bright, indirect light to grow well. Partial shade with exposure to light morning and evening sunlight is fine. Nonetheless, you must remember to keep it in direct sunlight is a big no as harsh sunlight can cause leaf burns.
A north or east-facing window works well for this plant’s growth. If you keep your plant outdoors, make sure that it is protected during the hottest hours of the day. Mist your plant often in summers to keep the foliage vibrant.
If there is no proper light source in your home, this plant might suffer a bit and its leaves start to become soft and mushy due to overwatering. The plant becomes leggy and turns towards one side in search of more light. Grow it under artificial lights in this case.
This Alocasia cannot tolerate drought-like conditions for longer periods. It prefers moist soil most of the time. Water it when the top two to three inches of the soil feel dry. Keeping it evenly moist most of the time helps keep this tropical plant healthy.
Do not let the soil dry out significantly in between waterings as it can cause browning of leaves and long-term damage to the plant’s root system. At the same time, avoid overwatering the plant as it can cause root rot and other diseases.
To determine whether your Alocasia needs water or not, check the soil by inserting a finger in the soil. If the soil sticks and feels moist, do not water it and check again after a day or two. Water only when it feels dry to touch. You can also use moisture meters for more accurate results.
The correct watering technique is to thoroughly water the plant every time. Saturate the soil completely such that the excess water drains out of the bottom drainage holes. This method also helps drain out the residue fertilizer avoiding the problem of root burn due to salt accumulation.
Prepare a loose, well-draining soil mix using equal parts of perlite, orchid bark chips and coco coir. This chunky potting mix will be a balance of drainage and moisture retention due to perlite and coco coir. The right soil mix would not hold excessive water for too long.
If you notice how the soil is too heavy or compact for growing the Alocasia, add some perlite or sand for additional drainage. You can also add organic compost to make it fertile. The plant prefers slightly acidic soil as it helps it better to absorb the soil nutrients. An aroid soil mix with a slow-release fertilizer works well for the plant’s growth.
If you are a beginner and often tend to overwater your plants, grow your plants in terracotta or clay pots instead of using plastic ones. Clay pots work better in absorbing the excess moisture from the soil and prevent overwatering-related problems.
Alocasia Dragon grows well in temperatures between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not a cold and frost-hardy plant and like its tropical counterparts, prefers warm temperatures. Move your plant indoors if the temperature outdoors falls below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Avoid placing your plant near cold and hot drafty windows and balconies. Avoid keeping it near air conditioner vents and heaters as the dry air can cause this plant’s leaf edges to turn brown and crisp up. You can grow the plant in a greenhouse if temperatures get extreme in your region.
After fall, as the temperatures fall and it gets cold and frosty, the plant stops growing altogether. It becomes dormant and does not show much growth in winters. Do not prune and propagate the plant as it can disturb its growing pattern and might even kill it.
Alocasia Dragon Scale is a humidity-loving plant. It thrives in humidity levels above 60 percent most of the year. Humidity levels between 69 and 80 percent are perfect for its growth. Mist the plant regularly in dry summers to keep it healthy.
If average humidity levels are low in your home, you can shift the plant to humid spaces such as the bathroom where it will get the appropriate warmth and humidity. Keep an indoor humidifier or humidity trays near the plant to improve the humidity levels.
To prepare a humidity tray for your plant, fill a shallow tray with some small stones and water. Keep your plant above the tray. As the water evaporates, the plant will absorb the required moisture.
With high humidity, make sure that there is good air movement around the plant. Lack of ventilation can cause rot and fungus growth which leads to other diseases.
Alocasia Dragon Scale does not have high fertilizer needs. Feed it every four to six weeks during the active growing seasons of spring and summer with a well-balanced, liquid fertilizer for best growth results. Using slow-release fertilizers helps in keeping the plant healthy.
Do not fertilize your Alocasia in winters as it becomes dormant and does not grow much. Wait until spring before feeding it again. Overfertilizing and feeding in winters can cause root burn due to excessive salts in the soil.
Since both overfeeding and underfeeding the plant have long-term consequences. Follow a regular feeding schedule during the active growing seasons and you will have a healthy plant with lush, green leaves. Use a fertilizer that has equal amounts of nitrogen, potassium, and calcium.
Alocasia Dragon does not have very high pruning requirements. Prune the dead and damaged leaves and stems regularly to keep the plant trimmed and proper. The plant can hold only a few leaves at a time. Nonetheless, you do not have to worry about pruning too much.
Removing the dead and damaged plant material helps reduce the risk of pests and diseases. Repot the plant if you suspect any pests or diseases. The plant does not like to be disturbed unnecessarily.
However, the reason why it is important to prune it, is that the plant, when healthy, will shoot new sprouts, when these sprouts are shooting they cannot grow easily and peacefully when dead leaves are blocking the way. Hence, remember to take off the dead leaves that are left.
You can propagate Alocasia Baginda through plant division. The ideal time to propagate it is in summer and spring when the plant is growing actively and needs little care in adjusting to the new environment.
– Root Division Propagation
You can propagate the plant while repotting it to a larger pot. Use clean and sharp-cutting equipment that is sterilized to prevent any diseases and other problems. Remove the mother plant from the soil and look for a baby plant that can be separated. You will notice multiple clumps alongside the main rhizome. Using a sharp knife, cut off the rhizome.
Place a clump in water for a day before planting it in the soil. After a day, place this baby plant in another pot in a freshly prepared soil mix. Repot the mother plant in the same or bigger pot and keep both the plants in a bright, warm spot away from direct sunlight.
Make sure that you keep the soil evenly moist for the first few weeks until the plants fully acclimatize to the new soil conditions. You will notice the shoot leaves emerge from the baby plant after about 60 days. You can root Alocasia Baginda in water too. Just make sure you change the water every few days to prevent rot and algae.
– Yellowing of Leaves
The yellowing and drying of leaves in winter is not a bad sign but a normal process. But if you suddenly notice the plant’s leaves turning yellow and falling off, especially during the active growth period, it could be due to too much sunlight or due to overwatering.
Pests such as aphids and mealybugs also cause yellowing in the foliage. Watch out for such pests and keep the plant healthy by spraying it with a steady flow of water or neem oil. If the plant is infected, spray an insecticidal soap solution on affected parts and prune the damaged leaves.
– Leaves Crisping
One of the most common reasons behind curling, browning, and crisping of Alocasia leaf edges is low humidity and underwatering. The leaf tips initially turn yellow and then become brown and crispy when the air around the plant is too dry.
It is a tropical plant, so make sure that you keep the soil evenly moist at most times. Letting more than half the soil dry in between waterings causes the leaves to crisp up. Maintain the humidity levels above 60 percent by keeping a humidifier or a humidity tray around the plant.
Water the plant thoroughly each time by soaking it in water for 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure that all the excess water drains out of the bottom drainage holes.
– Dry and Droopy Leaves
If you water your Alocasia less frequently, its leaves will become dry and droopy. Lack of humidity is another reason why leaves become dry and droop. Yellow leaves and wilting are caused due to infrequent watering schedules.
Keep a check on your watering schedule and adjust it according to the problem. Use moisture meters to assess exact water needs. Always check the soil before watering. If the top two to three inches feel dry, only then water it. Otherwise, check again after a day or two.
Check the pot’s drainage holes and add perlite or sand to the soil to make it more draining. Water-logged soil can cause root rot and other fungal diseases. Water the plant according to seasons. Water more in summers and reduce in winters when the plant becomes dormant.
If your plant is near a window, make it a practice to rotate the plant 90 degrees each time you water it. This ensures that all parts of the plant receive equal amounts of light. This practice will also prevent the drooping of the plant on one side.
– Root Rot
Root rot is a common problem faced by almost all gardeners. Thinking of the plant as a tropical plant with high watering needs, we often tend to overwater it. Keep in mind that overwatering is as bad as underwatering and can cause a major issue if ignored for long. When you overwater the roots will experience some severe root rot when the process is prolonged.
Keep a check on your watering schedule and make sure that you are watering the plant only when about the top two to three inches dry out. Waterlogged soil makes the plant roots mushy and decayed, which further leads to fungal growth.
– Leaf Spot Disease
Leaf spot disease is quite common in this Alocasia due to waterlogged soil and overly humid conditions. It happens when there are excessive salts and calcium minerals in the soil. Avoid unnecessary misting to prevent leaf spots.
Use well-balanced fertilizers and low-chlorine water to prevent the disease. Using distilled water helps avoid leaf spot disease. Prune the affected foliage immediately to prevent the disease from spreading and water only when the top few inches of the soil dry out.
– Fungal Disease
If you notice an abnormal and distorted appearance on the foliage of your Alocasia, it might be due to a fungal infection. Brown spots on leaves are also an indication that your plant might have gotten a fungal disease.
Cut the diseased leaves to prevent the fungus from spreading to other parts of the plant. Wipe off the rest of the leaves with water. Use a fungicide for more severe infestations.
Alocasia is a rhizomatous plant, it means that even if the plant loses all its leaves, the tuber is probably still there below the soil. Have some patience and under the right growing conditions in warm temperatures, the plant will produce more new leaves.
Sometimes, the plant sheds the leaves after repotting. Relocation can cause discoloration in the leaves and this can continue until the plant fully acclimatizes to the new soil and growing conditions.
If your Alocasia’s leaves look wet and have dark areas on the undersides of the leaves, it could be Edema. It is not a disease but this condition happens due to clogged water in the leaves.
To prevent the condition, make the soil chunkier and improve the drainage to improve circulation. Let the soil dry out more in between waterings.
Common pests such as aphids, spider mites, mealybugs and scale can affect your Alocasia if you do not provide it with the right growing conditions. Good air movement with proper watering and soil conditions can solve most pest-related problems.
Spider mites can become persistent once they infect the plant. Apply warm soapy water on the affected parts to get rid of the mites. Clean the plant’s foliage regularly with water to prevent and control minor infestations. Spray insecticidal soap solutions or use neem oil spray to the affected parts of the plant to control the pest spread.
Alocasia Baginda Dragon Scale is a poisonous plant and the oxalate crystals present in it can cause irritation, swelling and ulceration in the throat upon ingestion. It can also cause dermatitis if it comes in contact with the skin. We suggest you keep it away from pets and children as it can be quite toxic and consult a doctor immediately if it is ingested.
Frequently Asked Questions
– How Fast Does the Alocasia Baginda Grow?
This Alocasia plant can grow up to three feet tall and 1.5 feet wide in containers. Each plant has a different growth pattern. So if your Alocasia plant does not grow up to become tall, do not worry.
Dragon Scale leaves are emerald-green with veins all over. These metallic veins are so prominent that they resemble Dragon scales, hence the name Dragon Scale. The silver-green leaves turn darker towards the middle and the lower sides of the leaves are pale with maroon veins appearing faintly.
The plant has rhizomes that grow horizontally and produce roots and shoots. It grows from the water-containing, thick tubers below the soil. The shimmering, textured leaves give it a striking appearance in all sizes.
– Why Is Alocasia Dragon Scale So Expensive?
Since it is considered a rare plant in comparison to fellow Alocasias, Dragon Scale Alocasia’s price is higher than others. Due to high demand and low supply in the market, it can be expensive. If you see Dragon Scale Alocasia for sale, do not think twice. Go for it as it is rare for the plant to go on sale.
– Does Alocasia Baginda Produce Flowers?
Alocasia Baginda is one of the Alocasia species that does not produce noticeable blooms. Even when the plant is flowering, the blooms are pretty insignificant in comparison to the magnificent foliage.
To conserve your plant’s energy, you can snip off the flowers so that it can focus and redirect its energy more on producing foliage than flowers. Snipping off the purple flowers does not hurt the plant.
– Does Alocasia Baginda Go Dormant In Winters?
This Alocasia like most other Alocasias and tropical plants becomes dormant in winters. Dormancy is a response to low temperatures and reduced light exposure. In winters, the plant almost stops growing with some of the old leaves falling off and dying. It resumes with natural growth once spring arrives.
Dragon Scale plants can grow large, green and beautiful leaves if provided with the right care needs.
Let us summarize all the important points you need to keep in mind before growing this beauty.
- Alocasia Baginda is a tropical, perennial plant with emerald green, veined leaves. It is native to the rainforests of Borneo.
- The tropical plant thrives in bright, warm and humid growing conditions. It cannot tolerate cold and frosty climates.
- Keep the humidity levels between 60 and 80 percent with good air movement to prevent fungal infections.
- The plant is a light feeder and does not need frequent fertilization to be healthy. Feed it every four to six weeks from spring to summer when it is growing actively.
- Common issues such as yellowing, crisping, curling of leaves, leaf spot disease and pests are common. Provide the plant with proper growing conditions to prevent such problems.
We hope our complete guide helped you learn all about the Dragon Scale Alocasia care. Now that you have seen how to grow and care for this pretty, tropical plant, it is time you bring one of these to your home garden!