Alocasia Macrorrhiza (Giant Taro) – Ultimate Guides To Growing

Elephant - Ear Plant - Alocasia

Alocasia macrorrhiza (Giant Taro): Growing and Care Guide for the Elephant Ears Plant

Summary

  • Common names: Elephant ear, African mask…
  • Gender: Alocasia
  • Familia: Araceae
  • Irrigation: Always keep the substrate moist.
  • Lightning: Indirect bright, semi-shade.
  • Temperature: 18 – 25ºC.
  • Humidity: Elevated. 60% approx.
  • Substratum: Light, with excellent drainage.
  • Toxicity: Toxic for pets.

Are you a gardener looking for a plant with enormous, gleaming green leaves that can bring a lush look to your yard or house? If you’re interested in seeing such a unique plant, consider looking at the Alocasia macrorrhiza, also known as Giant Taro or Elephant Ear Plant. The evergreen leaves on this plant, which can reach 3-6 ft long and 2-4 ft broad and resemble the shape of elephant ears, are lovely.

It comes from Queensland, New Guinea, and Southeast Asia rainforests. Still, humans have long grown it in other warm regions as a food source and a decorative item. This article will explain how to care for Alocasia macrorrhiza and cultivate and maintain this beautiful plant.

Alocasia Macrorrhiza

Overview and History of the Alocasia Macrorrhiza (Giant Taro)

Alocasia macrorrhizos is a plant from the Araceae family with a rich history that has fascinated people for centuries. Its name Arum macrorrhizum, which means “big root” in Latin, was given by the renowned botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753. Later, it was moved to the Alocasia Macrorrhiza genus, which has Greek roots meaning “like” and “Colocasia,” a type of taro plant.

The Alocasia macrorrhizos is also edible and has been cultivated by humans for a long time, especially in the Philippines, where it was one of the first plants to be domesticated by the ancient Austronesians. It spread to other parts of Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and the Pacific islands, where it became a staple food and a symbol of cultural identity.

The plant is known by many names worldwide, including Giant Taro, ape, biga, Pia, and cunjevoi. It has massive, glossy, green leaves resembling an elephant’s ear, which breeds the common name referred to, the Upright Elephant Ear.

Alocasia Rhizomes

Due to its irresistible beauty, the Alocasia is one of the most demanded plants for interior decoration. Perhaps the exoticism of its leaves captivates, or perhaps, it arouses passion due to its characteristic intense green. For whatever reason, the plant is a perfect option to have indoors as your houseplant. Also, if you live in a warm climate, you can grow it outdoors since it is suitable for spring and summer.

It is an ideal choice to create a set with tropical overtones, even playing with different types of palm trees for the garden. The Alocasia Macrorrhiza leaves size characterizes it and will grow according to available space.

Therefore, you must find a good-sized container for the plant to see it grow properly. But beware: the elephant ear plant does not only grow when it comes to its leaves. It also does so in height, reaching a wingspan of up to five meters.

Shade, Heat, and Good Humidity: A Vital Trio for the Elephant’s Ear Plant

Even though Alocasia Macrorrhiza is a beautiful plant with exotic origins, it only requires a little care to grow well. However, it needs regular watering and humidity, so it’s not for those who neglect their plants.

Alocasia appreciates moisture in the air and the soil. It would help if you watered it often, especially in the summer months, but let the top layer of the soil dry out slightly between waterings. You can check this by touching the soil with your hand. You should also mist the leaves or use a humidifier to keep them cozy, especially in dry climates.

Alocasia Macrorrhiza (Giant Taro) Wild

Another vital factor for Alocasia’s growth is the plant’s location. If you plant it outdoors, it should be in a shady or partly shady spot, away from direct sunlight that can scorch and fade its leaves. It also needs a warm and sheltered environment, so if you live in a cold area, you should keep it in a pot and bring it indoors when the temperature drops below 4 to 7 degrees.

However, if you grow it indoors, the ideal is for the plant to be located in a very bright space, away from direct sun. In addition, if you want to ensure its growth, at most every two years, you must allow it to live in a somewhat larger pot. Giving it space to spread its roots will be synonymous with seeing its spectacular leaves grow in size.

Alocasia Macrorrhiza is a beautiful and easy plant to care for as long as you meet its basic needs. It will reward you with its spectacular foliage and tropical flair. Let’s discuss the specifics and ways of growing and maintaining it now that you know the conditions that suit it.

How to Grow Alocasia Macrorrhiza (Giant Taro)

Growing this tropical plant involves careful and easy techniques that allow it to develop in biologically favorable conditions. Unlike many other plants in the Arum family, this plant is one of the easiest to grow, care for, and propagate. However, keeping the plant in good growing conditions is vital to avoid stunted growth, unhealthy leaf production, or even plant death.

This Taro is also known to prefer to grow in areas with bright light, warm temperatures, and adequate humidity. Thus, you must make provisions to provide the pant with these three crucial requirements. With that in mind, let us explore the steps involved in growing the plant successfully:

Alocasia Macrorrhiza - Rainforest

Gather Required Materials

Regardless of your propagating method, you must provide materials to grow it. You must acquire quality Alocasia Macrorrhiza seeds (if you want to grow by seeds), get enough seed trays or pots with drainage holes, a watering can, and plastic bags for humidity control. Also, consider getting a grow light for proper illumination on the plant or cultivate in an area exposed to indirect sunlight.

Seed Preparation

If you are growing the plant by seed, you must prepare the seeds before planting. Do this by soaking the seeds in warm water for up to 24 hours to soften the seed’s coat and aid germination.

Preparing the Seed Pots and Planting

Fill the seed pots with potting mix or fertile soil. Also, ensure the pots are filled to an extent where the seeds would receive light when planted. Then you can move on to plant the seeds inside the mix. Do this by inserting the seeds at about 1 inch into the mix using your fingers or a small stick. Ensure there is enough space between each planted seed to prevent one plant from contesting for another’s nutrients.

Conditioning and Care

This step represents one of the most crucial plant cultivation stages. As described below, you must ensure the plant is placed under the right conditions.

Firstly, you must moisten the mix contained in the seed pots. This can be done by watering the plants regularly to make the soil soft enough for germination and to foster plant growth and development. 

Then, you must retain this humidity by covering each seed pot with a plastic bag and placing them under indirect sunlight. Also, ensure that the plants are cultivated under warm temperatures between 24℃-29℃.

Germination and Transplant

The plant takes about one week or slightly more to sprout. Therefore, you must be patient and carefully monitor its growth. Once the plant has germinated, gradually expose it to direct sunlight, maintain humidity, and remove plastic wraps periodically.

Maintaining this routine for weeks would aid the healthy growth of the plant, and it would become a seedling, ready for transplant, in no time. To transplant:

  1. Choose a favorable location in the garden and dig holes in the soil.
  2. Ensure that the holes are slightly larger than the root balls of the seedlings, and gently remove the seedlings from the seed pots.
  3. Place them in the prepared holes and gently backfill them.

Following the steps in this article closely, you can easily grow your Alocasia plant.

How to Care For Alocasia Macrorrhiza (Giant Taro)

Do you want your Alocasia Macrorrhiza plant to bloom intermittently throughout the year and produce lovely, fragrant blossoms that can develop into juicy, vibrant fruits? If so, you’re lucky! This section will demonstrate how to maintain your plant’s happiness and health so that it will produce stunning inflorescences as a reward for your care.

An inflorescence is a fancy word for a cluster of flowers that form a single structure. In Alocasia, the inflorescence consists of the spathe and spadix. The spathe is a large, green, leaf-like bract that wraps around and protects the spadix, a cylindrical stalk that bears many tiny flowers

The spadix is white at first but turns pale yellow over time. Since the blooms have a pleasant scent, they may draw pollinators like bees and butterflies. If the blooms are fertilized, they can grow into red fruits with seeds. Sounds awesome, right? But wait, there’s a catch. 

Flower

Alocasia Macrorrhiza is not a very prolific bloomer. The plant must mature for years before it can yield these inflorescences. Even then, only specific circumstances and elements for it to bloom. The cases are all based on how you care for it so that your plant produces fruit for a more extended period and blooms more frequently.

Caring for this plant involves carefully fostering healthy growth and development. This includes providing favorable conditions, watering, pruning, weed control, and fertilization.

This process starts from the onset, just after selecting your Alocasia Macrorrhiza seeds. You need to soften the seed coat by soaking them in warm water for about one day before planting. This helps the seeds to sprout leaves and start growing easily.

You should also place the plant in favorable conditions relating to temperature, access to sunlight, watering, humidity, and soil fertility. The plant grows better in temperatures between 24℃ and 29℃. Also, as stated earlier, the young plant should be exposed to indirect sunlight, but gradually, you can expose it to full sun for photosynthesis.

Watering the plant is also very important to keep the soil moist and aid the plant’s growth. However, watering the plant must be done moderately to prevent overwatering or underwatering, which can be detrimental to the development of the plant.

Fruits

Underwatering can lead to stunted growth, brown leaves, or leave the soil too thick for the plant to grow properly. On the other hand, overwatering can also make the soil too soft and soggy. The plant needs about ⅘ cups of water every nine days if planted in a 5.0-inch container.

Pruning and weed control should also help the plant develop well. Carefully use pruning tools to trim unwanted parts of the plant and take care of weeds that may grow around it.

How to Propagate Alocosia Macrorrhiza

There are three ways to propagate the plant: seeds, stem cuttings, and root division. The process and stages of propagating the plant from seeds are explained in the section above.

Root Division

Propagating the plant by root division involves carefully uprooting healthy roots (or corms) and transplanting them elsewhere. You can do this by following the process below:

● Select a mature Alocasia Macrorrhiza plant with healthy corms;

● Dig up the plant and separate the corms (root) with a sharp knife. While digging up the plant, ensure you do not damage the corms. Also, each divided corm should have at least one bud or growing point;

● Dry the divided corms for a few hours;

● Plant the corms with each bud facing upwards;

● Water the planted corms and provide them with partial shade and protection from strong wind;

● The corms would develop into plants, producing new leaves and roots.

Stem Cutting

As the name implies, this propagation method involves taking stems of mature giant taro plants and transplanting them to yield new plants.

● Select a mature plant with strong, healthy stems and nodes where new leaves can develop;

● Cut the stem just below the nodes and remove all lower leaves with a sharp knife, leaving just a few at the top;

● Create a rooting mix in a container and plant each cutting. Ensure that at least one node is buried in the rooting medium;

● Water the plant thoroughly and place it at a warm temperature;

● Repeat the care routine, including lighting, watering, weeding, and so on;

● The stems would develop roots, and the nodes would produce elegant leaves in no time.

Benefits and Uses of the Giant Elephant Ear

This plant has many benefits and uses for you and your environment; here are some of them:

●     Ornamental value: It is a beautiful plant with decorative leaves that may beautify and pique the attention of your indoors as a houseplant or outdoor environment. Its glossy and gigantic leaves, striking inflorescences, and colorful fruits can create a tropical vibe in any setting. You can grow it in containers, beds, borders, or as a specimen plant of regular pot size.

●     Propagation material: It is a simple plant to grow from stem cuttings, flowers, fruits, seeds, or rhizomes. These techniques might help you increase the number of plants in your collection or spread it among your loved ones.

● Food source: It is an edible plant that can provide you with food and nutrition. This plant’s parts (such as the leaves, stems, rhizomes, flowers, fruits, and seeds) are edible when properly cooked. They include nutrients that are good for your health, including proteins, carbs, vitamins, and minerals. Yet, be careful, as they also contain calcium oxalate crystals that can irritate if eaten raw or undercooked.

●     Medicinal value: Alocasia is a plant with therapeutic properties and may be used to cure various disorders and illnesses. Its fruits, seeds, blossoms, rhizomes, stems, and flowers contain anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, analgesic, diuretic, antidiabetic, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, and antimalarial qualities that can aid in the healing of wounds.

●     Environmental value: It is an environmental plant that can benefit your surroundings. Its large and broad leaves can provide shade and shelter for other plants and animals. Its roots and rhizomes can help stabilize the soil and prevent erosion. Its flowers and fruits can attract pollinators and seed dispersers that can enhance the biodiversity of your area.

Common Alocasia Problems

Pests

It’s important to keep an eye out for pests when caring for Alocasias, as these plants can be vulnerable to spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids. These pests love to drain the vitality out of your plant when it’s dry and dusty

To keep them away, you can give your Alocasia a nice spray every now and then, which will hydrate the plant and wash off the dirt. If you spot any signs of infestation, don’t panic; lather the leaves and stems with soapy water and rinse them well. Then, spray some Neem oil on them to eliminate the bugs.

Advi

Alocasia That Isn’t Growing

Alocasias are fussy plants that need just the right amount of water, light, temperature, and humidity to grow well. If you mess up any of these factors, your plant will let you know by dropping leaves, turning yellow, or getting spots.

It’s important to use the recommended type of soil and be attentive to the signs it gives you to ensure your Alocasia thrives. Regular care and consideration of environmental factors will also contribute to its growth. You can ensure your Alocasia thrives by addressing any issues as soon as they arise.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that alocasias, like other indoor plants, go through vigorous development in the summer and do nothing at all in the winter.

Yellow Leaves on Alocasia Plant

Don’t worry if you see some yellow leaves at the bottom of your Alocasia Macrorrhiza; they imply that your plant is old and aiming toward the end of its life cycle. You can do your plant a favor by cutting them off and letting it focus on the new and green ones. 

Alocasias hate being too wet or soggy, and when they do, they can become ill with a horrible fungus that gives their leaves a charred appearance with black or brown blotches and yellow borders.

Avoid overwatering your Alocasia, and select soil that drains well and breathes freely to keep it happy and healthy. Alocasias dislike spending a lot of time submerged in water. If your Alocasia does become infected with a fungus, act quickly to remove all the unhealthy leaves, relocate it away from your other plants, and apply a potent fungicide.

Giant

Alocasia Plant With Fallen Leaves

Alocasias may be a little dramatic and lose their leaves for several causes, including inadequate or excessive watering, pests, low light levels, and bad soil. 

Examine how you’ve been caring for your plant to determine what’s wrong and whether anything needs to be changed. When the earth in Alocasia feels dry to the touch, but not too often, it loves to drink. It can be thirsty and need additional water if you notice brown stains or holes in the leaves.

Check the amount of light where you are keeping your plant as well. If it’s too gloomy, your Alocasia Macrorrhiza can benefit from extra sunlight. If that isn’t the problem, your plant may require additional space since it has gotten too big for its container. Consider relocating Alocasias to a larger pot because they spread out and get gigantic in the summer.

Final Thought

As you can see, Alocasia Macrorrhiza is a fantastic perennial foliage plant with much more to give than simply beauty. You can grow your plant and encourage it to bloom and fruit more frequently and for a more extended period by using the advice and strategies in this article. By doing so, you may take advantage of its applications and benefits for yourself and the environment. Happy gardening!

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