Looking for tips on how to care for your new Alocasia Azlanii? Alocasia plants can be tricky, but the green, red, pink, and black foliage on this plant are worth the effort! Read on for more info.
How to care for the lovely Alocasia Azlanii plant
Today we’re bringing things back to the Alocasia genus, a plant I have written about a lot in the past. I have a very much love-hate relationship with Alocasia plants. I love looking at them. And I love caring for them outside in the Maryland summer humidity.
But inside they can be hit or miss for me. Sometimes they thrive, and sometimes they slowly and painfully die off. Some Alocasia varieties are more forgiving than others for sure. And Alocasia Azlanii may be one of those.
Where do you find an Alocasia Azlanii?
That’s because it is now being mass produced, and I don’t suspect any big business would put their money behind a super difficult plant. The Alocasia Azlanii has traditionally been a somewhat rare houseplant to own, but not anymore!
It’s much easier to find this plant, whether online or in a store. And the prices have definitely come down. Once you have your hands on Alocasia Azlanii, you will definitely want to take good care of it and propagate for more.
As you venture to shop around for this beauty, you might see it sold as the Jewel Alocasia or Red Mambo. The striking leaves are easily identified because they are dark—almost black—with wine-red veins that sometimes have pink or black on them. And they are outlined in bright green with a purple underside.
They are actually very dark plants, and it’s tough to capture any colors other than black and green in the picture. But the two shots below illustrate the coloring pretty well, I think.
Where is the Azlanii from?
Alocasia Azlanii has existed for a long time, of course. But it was only recently described to the Western plant hobbyist community in 2016. And it has caught the attention of plant lovers all over the world.
The Alocasia Azlanii hails from northwest Malaysia, specifically the state of Sarawak. This region has dense rainforests with equatorial climates, meaning it stays hot and humid year round.
This Alocasia species grows in forests and along river banks. There are only about 90 species in the Alocasia genus, Azlanii being one of the newest ones. Plants in the Alocasia genus often have short stalks and broad leaves that resemble elephant ears.
This is why they are often called “elephant ear plants.” And they have been used as sustenance throughout history—though it is never recommended to eat raw plants as irritants can cause trouble breathing and swallowing.
Alocasia Azlanii vs. Alocasia Cuprea
Alocasia Azlanii and Alocasia Cuprea can look quite similar. They both remain somewhat small, have similar coloring, and are both beautiful and shiny. In my experience, the ribbing on the Cuprea is deeper than the Azlanii, and it can be shinier (at least from the ones I’ve seen).
Below is a shot of an Alocasia Cuprea. It’s a stunning plant. You can see how deeply this one is rubbed. I saw this at a local nursery—I don’t personally own this variety.
How much light does an Alocasia Azlanii need?
Alocasia Azlanii’s lovely leaves cannot tolerate direct sun. Instead they prefer indirect light—and lots of it! I recommend placing this plant a few feet away from a sunny window that gets direct light most of the day.
You can shield the plant from harsh rays using a curtain or shade if your window is super sunny. I think a lot of people shy away from giving Azlanii enough sun because of its leaves, but I think you’ll find that they actually love more light!
The key is just for it to be indirect. I’ve found that some direct morning light is fine on most of my plants because the sun is much weaker in the morning, but that could also depend heavily on where you live.
I mentioned that I love keeping Alocasia plants outside for the summer. If you choose to put your Alocasia Azlanii outdoors for the summer, make sure it is in bright shade or gets only dappled sunlight.
Under a covered patio, a shade cloth, or a dense canopy of trees works very well. I also sometimes put my smaller plants under larger plants that can do direct sun, too. That works great.
Watering an Alocasia
You should try your best to keep the soil damp, but not soggy. Remember the Alocasia Azlanii comes from the wet, rainy forests and rivers of Malaysia, so it needs the moisture to survive. The soil should never feel dry or crumbly—rather it should appear dark and rich when watered.
You can plan on watering deeply once every 7-10 days, but this of course depends on the season and how much sunlight it receives. During the winter you can cut down watering to about twice a month.
The top two inches should feel mostly dry before you water again, otherwise the roots will sit in standing water and are susceptible to root rot. You don’t want root rot!
And part of nourishing and protecting your plant’s roots is using the right soil. The best soil for Alocasia Azlanii is well-draining, has good aeration, and contains some organic matter. Water prevents air from passing through and oxygenating the roots, so good drainage is what will keep your plant alive and well. Seriously, soggy soil is a houseplant’s worst enemy!
Feel free to use a store bought soil and mix in perlite or orchid or pine bark to bulk it up. This will allow water to pass through and provide nutrients without waterlogging the roots. For extra nutrients, you can add a tiny bit of leaf compost or some worm castings (both you can buy in bags at a store).
Pro Tip: As a rule of thumb, the top few inches of the soil mix you use should dry out about a week after watering.
Temperature & humidity
Alocasia Azlanii temperature needs are quite mild, and it will do great in average household temperature. This is one thing that makes it the perfect houseplant! If you’re looking for an exact range, it’ll thrive in the high 60s, 70s, and low 80s Fahrenheit.
It absolutely dislikes the cold, and drastic changes in temperature will stress out the plant. To avoid any of this happening, keep it consistent in one spot free from cold drafts or heater vents.
After you’ve spent all that time searching for this beauty, the last thing you want to do is damage it by not giving it enough humidity! Alocasia Azlanii needs plenty of humidity, at least 60%. This is where Azlanii care (and Alocasia care in general) becomes challenging for most houseplant hobbyists.
Because 60% humidity is high—and most of us don’t have a greenhouse where we can artificially control the humidity levels for our plants. It’s not always possible to keep the humidity that high in your household. Browning or curling leaves, especially along the edges, are signs you need to increase the humidity.
Definitely consider using a humidifier or misting the surrounding air in the mornings if you want to maintain your plant. However, know that misting is a temporary solution, so a humidifier is a better choice. Even better would be pouting the plant in an enclosed glass cabinet like an Ikea greenhouse cabinet.
This helps to keep ambient humidity levels higher than those in your home since the space is smaller and the humidity the plants generate is trapped inside. You can see my Ikea greenhouse cabinet post for more on this approach.
My usual goal for Alocasia plants is to get them through the winter without getting spider mites (Alocasia plants are basically catnip for spider mites). Then I move them to a shady spot outdoors where they can soak up all of the Maryland summer heat and humidity.
How to propagate an Alocasia Azlanii
If you’ve managed to find an Alocasia Azlanii, you might also want to propagate and make more of them! So how do you propagate the Azlanii? I wish I could say it was as easy as using stem cuttings, but there’s a little more to it.
If you’re not familiar with propagating an Alocasia plant, the best method is via rhizome division. You’ll have to uproot the entire plant, and that’s where you’ll find bulbs growing on the roots.
A brand new plant will emerge from each of these bulbs. They should easily come apart from the roots. If they don’t, you can gently snip them off. You should find multiple bulb-like structures on a healthy Alocasia Azlanii that is beyond its baby stage.
Plant the bulb upright in damp, chunky soil that gives the roots room to grow and receive oxygen. Water the bulb and cover the container to increase humidity and warmth, but keep out of direct sun. In 6-8 weeks you should expect to see roots and new growth from each one of the bulbs.
Alocasia plants & spider mites
Alocasia plants in general are incredibly vulnerable to the dreaded spider mites. They thrive in warm, dry conditions, so your plants are especially vulnerable to them in the winter.
If you notice very fine webbing on your plant—especially on the tips of the leaves or in the petiole area, which is the space where the leaves meet the stems—that’s a tell-tale sign of spider mites. Below is a picture of another type of Alocasia with spider mites.
If you notice webbing on your plant, you should immediately isolate it and treat it with an over-the-counter pesticide that has spider mites listed on the bottle. If the leaves are yellowing and beyond saving, you should trim them off.
One way to prevent spider mites from moving in is by keeping the humidity as high as possible. Spider mites thrive in warm, dry environments and don’t like the cold or wetness. So I always spray my Alocasia plants through the fall and winter with a cool mist.
Of course keeping the room’s humidity level as high as possible is another option to go with. As is putting your plant in a glass greenhouse cabinet, which can help with humidity levels. Read more about how to get rid of spider mites on Alocasia plants!