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Classification, origin and description
Common name: Elephant ears.
Etymology: the name of this genus was given by assonance to that of a very similar genus (Colocasia) that once included it.
Origin: Eastern India and Malaysia.
Genre description: includes 50-70 species of evergreen perennials, mostly suitable for cultivation in a hot greenhouse. They have large oblong-ovate leaves, peltate (with the petiole inserted in the lamina, rather than on the margin), often speckled with bronze or dark purple and with very evident veins. In cultivation it is not easy to see the typical spatas of the Araceae family appear.
Alocasia (website photo)
Species and varieties
Alocasia cuprea: native to Borneo and Malaysia, this species has large ovate-oblong leaves (up to 60 cm.), carried by petioles up to 60-70 cm long. The color of the leaf blade is green on the upper page (with verdigris ribs), purple on the lower one.
Alocasia indica: species originating in Malaysia, the variety "Metallica" is marketed in particular. Of small and attractive appearance, it has sagittate leaves, which develop in rosette from the rhizome buds, dark green in color, with metallic reflections, on the upper page and purplish red, on the lower one, with very prominent veins (from the insertion point of the petiole, two veins go to the apices of the lower lobes). The plant tends to lose the basal leaves with the consequent formation of a short stem. The petioles are long and sheathing at the base.
Alocasia macrorrhiza: large species (in nature it also reaches 4-5 m in height), it has leaves, carried by petioles even 2 m high, with a broad blade, ovate, shiny and bright green in color, with pale veins .
Alocasia sanderiana: native to the Philippines, this species has sagittate dark green leaves with metallic ribs and silver, wavy or lobed margins.
Alocasia cucullata (website photo)
Environmental requirements, substrate, fertilizations and special precautions
Temperature: the ideal temperature is around 20-24 ° C; it bears a minimum winter temperature of about 16 ° C.
Light: very good, without direct sun. To prevent it from "orienting" towards the light source it must be turned from time to time.
Watering and environmental humidity: frequent in summer, reduced in winter. It must be taken care that the rhizomes in the winter semi-rest period do not rot. Ambient humidity must be kept high. During the winter, the leaves will have to be washed and sponged to avoid the attack of the cotton mealy bugs.
Substrate: composed of soil of leaves and peat with the addition of sand or perlite, to increase its porosity.
Special fertilizations and tricks: fertilize in spring-summer, every three to four weeks. The yellowed leaves must be eliminated gradually, to allow the plant to produce others.
It can be done in the spring for division of rhizomes, making sure that each part has at least one gem. We must maintain the temperature around 21 ° C and water in moderation until the appearance of the roots is certain.
Diseases, pests and adversities
- Cochineal cochineal: eliminate the parasites and treat the plant with an anti-coccidic product or rub the part with a cotton ball soaked in water and alcohol.