Elephant Ear Plant, Kris Plant or African Mask Plant are all common names that refer to the beautiful Alocasia species. They’ve been made a very popular house plant due to their unusual, large, heart-shaped leaves and on occasion, they're even known to bloom, however, this is more common when grown as outdoor plants in warmer regions.
Want to know more about indoor elephant ear plant care? Keep reading our guide for all the top tips and tricks.
How to Care for Indoor Elephant Ear Plants
Alocasia is a stunning air purifying plant species that makes a fantastic addition to the home, however, they can be little temperamental when it comes to care. They’re an extremely rewarding plant to grow once you get the care right but might not be the best option for a complete plant newbie.
Elephant Ear Plant Light and Location
When it comes to light, alocasia plants are bright to medium light plants and are their happiest when kept in bright, indirect light. Full sun in the morning or evening is perfectly fine but choose an area that only gets filtered light throughout most of the day.
Areas with sheer net curtains, frosted glass or just slightly back from an east facing window are perfect locations.
If placed in direct sunlight you may notice the foliage becomes bleached or even scorched from the rays.
Elephant Ear Plant Soil
Elephant ear plants need good drainage in their soil so that the soil doesn’t stay soggy. You can use regular potting soil mix when planting, however, if you think that it might still be too heavy you add more organic materials such as perlite or wood chips to help aerate the soil.
Always ensure that the pot you plant into has adequate drainage holes, if it doesn’t you can look at adding some more to the base of the pot.
Another way to increase drainage is to add a layer of pebbles into the base before planting, this allows excess water to drain away from the soil with ease.
Repotting your Elephant Ear Plant
Elephant ear plants don’t need to be repotted that often and actually do better when they are slightly pot bound. Plants that become too large for their pots have been known to crack the plastic so you know it's time for a new one!
Spring is the best time of year for repotting, your plant is just coming out of dormancy and is just about to start putting out lots of new growth.
Repot using a standard house plant potting mix, add extra organic materials if you think you need to increase drainage.
How to repot elephant ear plants:
- Choose a bigger pot, go no larger than around 3-5 inches than its current pot.
- If you want great drainage, add a layer of pebbles to the base of the pot, if not you can skip this step and go straight in with a layer of the soil.
- Remove your plant from its current pot by pulling on the base of the plant lightly.
- Loosen the roots gently with your hand and then plant rootball into the new pot. Always make sure that the soil level is the same in the new pot, avoid planting too shallow or too deep for the smoothest transition.
- Fill in the rest of the gaps with fresh compost and water well allowing your plant to become accustomed to its new home.
Elephant Ear Plant Watering
During the active growing season, elephant ear plants like to be consistently moist but never wet, overly moist soil can lead to dreaded root rot! They also don’t like being left to dry out at the roots so only let the surface soil dry out before adding some more water.
We find the phrase “little but often” goes hand in hand with the watering schedule of alocasia plants. Small top ups every now and again are better than leaving to dry followed by a deep watering.
Temperature and Humidity
The two main issues that may arise when caring for your alocasia plants are; dry air and cool temperatures.
Elephant ears are tropical plants so are used to very warm, humid conditions. These things can be hard to replicate inside our homes so we’ve come up with some top tips to help you out:
Your plant will appreciate medium-high humidity, to help increase humidity daily you can do the following:
- Place a tray of pebbles with water underneath your plant to evaporate
- Mist your plant daily
- Place near a humidifier
Next is the temperature, elephant ear plants like it warm and temperate. To be more specific, they do not like anything below 16 °C (61°F) year round, even in the winter. If the temperature drops below this for an extended period of time it can encourage your plant to go into dormancy.
Feeding and Fertilising
As soon as your plant starts putting out new growth for spring, you can apply the first batch of liquid fertiliser. Opt for a half strength indoor plant feed once a month to sustain healthy growth over the coming season.
Apply the last feed a couple of weeks before the start of autumn, this will allow your elephant ear plant time to wind down ready for winter.
You can also at a slow release fertiliser at the beginning of the season to provide your plant with consistent, slow nutrients throughout the year.
Extra Elephant Ear Plant Care Tips
Indoor plants with large leaves are prone to getting dusty and just our skin, their “pores” or “stomata” can become clogged. If the foliage isn’t dusted frequently your plant may become weak and unhealthy which opens up susceptibility to some illnesses and pests. To combat this you can wipe the leaves over with a damp cloth once a week, keeping the leaves dust free and healthy.
The growth expected from elephant ear plants is moderate. During the active growing season you can expect around 1 leaf every month or slightly less than this. If you notice that your plant hasn’t produced any new growth in the past 6 months then it might not be very happy. If you haven't already, try repotting your plant or adding fertiliser, this is a great way to give an extra boost and help with new growth.
During dormancy, alocasia plants can sometimes experience something known as “die back”. This term refers to a natural process where the summer growth withers and dies to get the plant ready for winter. If this happens, don’t be too alarmed. Continue caring for the plant as you would normally, just water less and don’t add any feed to the compost at this time. The leaves will grow back healthy in spring ready for another season of growing.
Dieback is something that can be prevented when growing alocasia plants indoors. Ensure over winter that your plant is placed in a slightly warmer area of your home that still receives a good amount of light throughout the day. Windowsill locations are usually quite drafty and cold so opt for somewhere away from the window.
Elephant Ear Plant Toxicity
Elephant ear plants produce something in their sap known as calcium oxalate crystals. If ingested, this compound can produce some very unpleasant side effects in both humans and animals. While the effects are very rarely fatal, if you have children or pets in your home ensure that your plant is out of reach to avoid any injury. You can check out our full list of pet friendly plants over on our website.