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Alocasia care

Latin name: Alocasia

A perennial, flowering plant, from the family of arum species (Araceae). Its beautiful leaves and interesting flower make it unique among our domestic flowers. Since it is a tuberous plant, if its leaves dry out for some reason, do not worry, they will sprout again. Originating in The Philippines, its metal green leaves are white around the edges. The veining of leaves sitting on the long petiole is dazzling white, their back is red and purple. During the vegetation period, this attractive potted plant requiers high heat. It also flowers, but its flowers are insignificant.

It is one of the most beautiful exotic ornamental plants. Quite a lot of its versions can be found on its original habitats. Usually they can be found under the name Alocasia amazonica or Alocasia sanderiana. From spring to autumn, it grows bigger and bigger leaves (the leaves can reach the 40 cm as well) then it flourishes a nice flower of stalk and an upper leaf, what is typical of the family Araceae. (Similar to the flower of Kala, but the shell leaf is green).

At the end of growth, the leaves and the flower also become withered, do not panic, because that is absolutely normal. Alocasia retracts from winter into the rhizomes (creeping rootstalks), then we can take it from the pot to leave the rootstalks (similar to Kala) on a dry, warm place for the winter, but keeping it drier, it also can stay in the soil till spring comes. The plant is toxic, therefore if possible, keep it away from children.

Requirements and care:

Light requirements:

On its original habitat, it belongs to the undergrowth, it gets almost only filtered light. Therefore it feels the best in the half shade in our home as well. Keep it on a bright place, but protect from too strong sunshine, if needed, put it to a window where it gets just a little direct sunlight.

Heat requirements:

As alocasia is a tropical plant, it loves the heat. It needs at least 15-18 °C, but 20-25 °C is the ideal for it. In winter be careful with opening the door, because our experiences say it is quite sensitive to sudden temperature decrease. In summer, excessive heat can cause problems if air has low humidity.

Watering requirements:

Check the soil regularly, if the upper 1-1,5 cm dries out, water it. The planting medium should always be slightly wet, but be very careful, the pot should not stay in water, because roots are sensitive to excessive water so they can rot quickly.

It needs high level of humidity, what is solved if the pot stands on a wider tray with water, but it is even better to put it on a tray which is full of absorbent balls of clay. Home in winter, if the air is very dry it is recommended to spray regularly, in this case we have to provide adequate ventilation!

Further care:

In spring, transpose the rhizomes before the beginning of growth. Planting medium can be set up by ourselves, as follows: two parts of peat, one part potting soil, one part sand or perlite.

Usually it is not necessary to use fertilizer, because we transpose the plants into new soil once a year anyway, but in summer it worths putting some liquid fertilizer (once in two-three weeks, liquid fertilizer for normal ornamental plants).

If the leaves of alocasia become withered in the growth period, there is too much water, transpose it carefully and remove the rotten roots. If the leaves dry out or become curved, increase the humidity. Spray against the pests with pesticide, but only if needed.

Propagation:

It can be propagated in spring, by the division of rhizomes or by cuttings. After division, plant it into its mixed soil. During transplantation, we can find small tubers, with which we can propagate our plant.

Most common diseases, pests of the Alocasia, main reasons of their destruction:

It can be damaged by red spider mite and scale insects. In the case of overwatering, the roots may rot.
Always check new plants before bringing them in the house or greenhouse.

Precaution:

The plant sap of alocasia is very toxic. The sap of its stem and leaf contains sharp-pointed calcium crystals and a proteolytic enzyme. Skin contact can cause irritation or worse, dermatitis which means the inflammation of the skin. Itching, strong feeling of pain come with it. If it contacts your skin, rinse thoroughly with water, as soon as possible. Consuming that, it may irritate the mucous membranes, which can cause the swelling of throat, and can lead to respiratory paralysis. In such cases, seek medical advice immediately.

Sources:
http://www.edenkert.hu/
http://www.viragvarazslat.gportal.hu/
http://www.husevonoveny.hu/
http://www.novenykatalogus.hu/