11 September 2017

Houseplant of the Month September: Alocasia

Houseplant of the Month September: Alocasia

Alocasia, also known as elephant's ear, has large, beautifully marked leaves. Despite the fact that it's a sizeable plant, it still look airy and stylised thanks to the tall, smooth stems that grow out of a corm. The flowering (in the form of a spike) is not particularly impressive with this houseplant. The decorative value lies particularly in the magnificent foliage.

Alocasia is a member of the Arum family, and grows in the tropical rainforests of South-East Asia. There are 79 known species. The plant has been cultivated around the Equator as a foodstuff for thousands of years. Decorative plants have been bred from the original versions. These aren't edible, but they are very beautiful. Alocasia conquered living rooms in the 1950s, and has a great vintage vibe.

Alocasia is best known in the form of the skeleton plant with distinctive leaf veins, Alocasia x amazonia. There are a number of cultivars of this species: the compact 'Polly' and the smaller 'Bambino Arrow'. The leaves of these plants resemble an African mask. Large-leaved species are: A. 'Calidora' which has a large green shiny leaves with very thick leaf stems. A. 'Portadora' has large green shiny leaves and distinctive rusty 'spots' on the stems. A. Lauterbachiana has elongated, wavy leaves of which the stems and the underside of the leaf are coloured red. A. Cucullata has arrow-shaped leaves and a compact green shape. A. 'California' has very large leaves and can also cope with somewhat lower temperatures, which makes it suitable for use as a conservatory or container plant. Particularly distinctive displays are offered by A. 'Black Velvet' (a silvery white vein in almost black leaves which appear slightly velvety) and A. zebrina with arrow-shaped leaves and a distinctive striped stem.

Alocasia brings a tropical mood to the interior, purifies the air and can be used all year round in the home, office, school or public spaces. The plant is also very suitable for use in hydroculture.