Looking for Alocasia regal shield care info? I’m sharing everything I’ve learned researching how to care for this elephant ear variety—and actually caring for it in my home!
Alocasia regal shield care
Hey all! Today I am sharing a care guide for a plant I totally impulse-purchased off of Etsy. I’d seen an Alocasia regal shield in a local nursery, but it didn’t look too healthy, and it was really pricey. So when I searched on Etsy and found one for about $40 with great reviews…immediate order!
It was a bit of a gamble coming from Florida up to Maryland in a period of extreme heat in Maryland and the surrounding areas. Also, Florida was dealing with bad storms at the time so they delayed shipping.
When it finally came I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was in a BIG box that was really beaten up. But—as a testament to how Bijan Tropicals packages the plant—the Alocasia regal shield itself looked stunning. Only one smaller leaf needed chopping off. Here’s a look:
Where does the regal shield come from?
So you can see why I wanted one. The finish on the leaves is stunning. That’s because the Alocasia regal shield is a product of mixing two plants: black velvet Alocasia (which I really want!) and odora Alocasia. And it grows several feel tall and wide, so give regal shield some space!
It’s hard to understate how breathtaking the finish on the leaves is. Honestly. I’m a sucker for darker plants, but the leaves on these are not only dark but shimmery. They are a deep, deep green with a bit of a ripple.
Alocasia is a type of elephant ear plant, nick-named for the shape and size of the leaves. (See my general elephant ear care guide for more.) Huge and in the shape of an elephant’s eats. Native to Africa, Alocasia regal shields are grown around the world now as both ornamental plants outdoors and as houseplants.
What is the best light for an Alocasia regal shield?
Let’s talk outdoor light first because that’s where I have my regal shield right now. Outdoors, it enjoys bright shade and can withstand a bit of sun. I have mine on my covered patio where it is largely in the shade but receives dappled light from between the deck slats above it.
It is doing wonderful in these conditions. It even gets a good amount of direct morning sun, which isn’t as strong as afternoon and early evening sun around here. Too much strong direct sun will absolutely scorch your plant’s leaves, which isn’t something you can reverse.
Indoors, put your Alocasia regal shield in the brightest indirect light you can find. By the sunniest window in your home. Make sure to rotate the plant every week or so, though, since it will grow toward the light and eventually become lopsided (as other elephant ear plants do).
Alocasia regal shield care: How often does it need water?
My regal shield has been quite happy outdoors largely being watered by rain water. Since it gets quite hot here, I give it a thorough drink if it’s been 48 hours with no rain. It’s still in the growers pot with drainage holes in the bottom.
The best way to see if any plant is ready for water is to check how moist the soil is. As with most aroids (plants in the Araceae family), the regal shield is fine if you let it dry out between waterings. However…this isn’t a succulent!
The best time to water the regal shield is when the top few inches of soil are dry. Again, I let mother nature usually just do her thing outside. Inside I usually check the soil on my aroids for a few weeks until I can determine a good watering schedule.
If your regal shield’s leaves are turning yellow, drooping but not getting crispy, and “sweating” from the tips after watering—you’re overwatering the plant. Ease off before you kill it! Like a lot of houseplants, overwatering will lead to root rot, and the plant will die.
Soil is a big part of Alocasia regal shield care because it helps ensure the health of the roots. It also affects watering. Here’s how: if your soil is too dense, it will retain too much moisture and choke out the roots. If it is light and drains well, it will help facilitate drainage and encourage healthy roots.
I like to look at what type of soil any plant comes in for a hint at what it likes. In a nutshell, the regal shield Alocasia enjoys a well-draining soil that retains moisture but isn’t too heavy. Here’s what I recommend.
Grab a soil labeled as a well-draining soil for houseplants. Then throw in a few extra handfuls of peat moss or coco coir to help encourage moisture retention and aeration. A handful of perlite can help as well but isn’t entirely necessary—the well-draining soil will have some.
This year I’ve also started mixing in a handful or two of organic earthworm castings (worm poop) to add nutrients to soil. I don’t really fertilize my plants, instead relying on the fertilizer that comes already in fresh potting soil and the nutrients from the yummy worm poop.
With a well-draining soil, you ensure that when you water your Alocasia regal shield, the water passes freely down through the soil. It reaches the roots, which suck up everything they want. Then the excess drains out the drainage holes. Hooray!
Regal shield elephant ear temperature and humidity needs
Regal shield—and other elephant ear plants—do best in tropical conditions. That means hot and humid! While Maryland isn’t like that all year long, it definitely is June through September.
Outdoors, shoot for 70s and 80s (Fahrenheit). Speaking from personal experience, the plant is also fine in the 90s. The soil just might dry out faster when it’s much hotter, so keep an eye on watering needs.
The regal shield does well in a variety of household temperatures. Indoors or outdoors, don’t expose the plant to temperatures under 65 degrees Fahrenheit. It won’t be happy with you. When the temperature drops indoors in the winter, the plant will go dormant (and you’ll need to water less).
As far as humidity…elephant ear plants LOVE humidity. That’s why they do super well outdoors for the spring in summer in areas that have good humidity levels. We’re talking over 70% humidity, which is pretty normal for Maryland humidity outdoors in the summer.
I hate that kind of humidity because you just feel wet outside 100% of the time, but the plants love it! Indoors, you’ll likely want to add a humidifier near your plant. Speaking from personal experience with a variety of elephant ears, I don’t think misting or a pebble tray would be enough.
Pest issues with elephant ear plants
Elephant ear plants are extremely susceptible to spider mites, which thrive in hot, dry conditions. Indoors without a humidifier, you’re probably just inviting spider mites into your house. And they can spread pretty quickly throughout a plant collection.
Check out my post about the signs of a spider mite infestation and how to treat it. But—in a nutshell—it’s the webbing on the leaves you’re looking for. You must treat it with an insecticide or a neem oil spray. Cold water helps, too!
Potting and repotting a regal shield Alocasia
I learned the hard way that this top-heavy plant needs something to anchor it on the bottom. I put my regal shield outside in its plastic nursery pot, and it below over with the first storm we had. These big heavy leaves are no joke.
Your regal shield will likely need its pot sized up every few years. Look for signs of distress—like lots of older leaves dying off—as a hint that the plant needs more space. Or just slower growth.
When you do size the plant up, choose a pot that’s 1–2 inches bigger than the plant it’s in. Use fresh soil to ensure you’re introducing more nutrients. You can also separate the babies in the pot to help create more room for the main plant. Bonus—more regal shields!
How to propagate an Alocasia regal shield
Alocasia plants grow from rhizomes under the surface of the soil (like snake plants do—learn 5 ways to propagate snake plants for more). They grow tuberous structures under the soil that then sprout new plants. These tubers are also how you can harvest and store elephant ears for the winter.
These tuberous structures and the plants that sprout from them can be easily split from the mother plant (the big one) to root new plants. You can also leave them on the plant—but removing them encourages the plant to focus its efforts on the big leaves!
I will update this post when I actually separate this baby off of my mother regal shield plant. But right now, this is what it looks like. You simply take the whole plant out of the soil and sever the baby using a clean knife. Make sure you take some of the roots with it.
Plant the baby in a well-draining soil—the kind described above in the soil section. Water the plant and it will soon begin to establish itself and sprout new leaves. 🙂
Why are my regal shield plant’s leaves dropping and yellowing?
If you find that the leaves on your plant are dropping and yellowing, it’s likely a sign of overwatering or a pest infestation. (See above for tips on soil aeration, watering schedule, and signs of a spider mite infestation.)
If you’re watering your plant as you should and the soil is appropriate, it may be that your picky Alocasia wants cleaner water. Tap water has chemicals in it that we need as humans—but plants don’t always love them. This is another reason why the regal shield is so happy outdoors for the spring and summer with rain water!
You can use a water purifier to treat the water you use to water your regal shield. Look up the water you’d use to treat water for fish tanks. If you don’t treat it, at least let it sit out for a few days in a bowl before watering your plant with it.
However, one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned as a plant parent is that sometimes plant leaves just yellow and die. If it’s only one or two leaves and they are older leaves, it’s possible that the plant is just killing them off to focus on new growth. Don’t sweat it.
Are Alocasia regal shield plants toxic to pets?
Yes. All elephant ear plants are toxic to cats, dogs, other pets, and kids. And humans in general. They are pretty, but they aren’t meant for eating. Keep these plants away from nibblers.
A good place to hide plants away from pets and kids, if not up on shelves, is in some sort of greenhouse cabinet. Check out my Ikea greenhouse cabinet post for more on this topic.