Alocasia wentii, aka the New Guinea Shield alocasia, is a gorgeous elephant ear variety you can add to your houseplant collection. And alocasia wentii care isn’t too much of a headache. Learn all about it here.
How do you care for alocasia wentii?
Hey all! It’s time for another elephant ear variety care guide—and it’s also another alocasia. I’ve written about a few popular alocasia varieties over the past year, and I’ve seen this one popping up left and right in local nurseries. So it’s time!
The variety is alocasia wentii. You might also see this plant labeled as “New Guinea shield,” as it was in my local nursery. For a while I wasn’t sure if New Guinea shield was the same as alocasia wentii or if they just looked similar—like a lot of alocasias.
However, they are the same plant! And they have lovely large leaves with a gorgeous glossy finish. The leaves can get quite large and remind me a lot of the alocasia regal shield leaves.
Where is the alocasia wentii from?
Alocasia itself is a genus of plants in the aroid (araceae) family. Wentii is one of about 90 accepted species in the genus, which is native to tropical and subtropical Asia and parts of Australia.
The gorgeous alocasia wentii specifically hails from the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. They grow under dense canopies of trees, soaking up the bright, indirect light and the insane humidity levels.
Wentii’s leaves can grow quite large—up to a foot, in fact—and they have a lovely medium- to deep-green glossy sheen on the top of the leaves. The bottom has more of a purple hue.
Is alocasia wentii rare?
I would not say that the alocasia wentii is rare. I see it often in my local independent nurseries for very reasonable prices. However, you probably won’t find this one in a big box nursery…at least for now!
Make sure to remember that it may be labeled as “New Guinea shield” instead of alocasia wentii. If you can’t find it locally, you can always order one online! Nurseries tend to have smaller sizes, so if you want a bigger one, online might be the way to go.
How much light does an alocasia wentii need?
As with many other alocasia varieties, wentii enjoys bright, indirect light. Think about what it is used to in nature—a dense canopy of foliage that blocks direct rays from the sun.
That generally means that you’ll want to put your alocasia wentii in a sunny spot. While it enjoys shade in nature, your home is a totally different story. Even a very sunny window could be appropriate for the wentii depending on how large it is and which direction it faces.
You can add a grow light if you need assistance with lighting in your home. I have LED strip grow lights installed in my Ikea glass cabinet I use as a greenhouse, and that’s a great option for the wentii. At least until it gets too big!
If you have your alocasia wentii outdoors for the spring and summer, it’s probably best to put it under a tree or on a covered patio. I’ll be trying to test sun exposure on my wentii next year, though.
I’ve found that many alocasia varieties can withstand more direct light than popular wisdom decrees. So hopefully I remember to test that out and update this post in a year!
What is the best soil?
I want to cover soil needs before watering needs because soil is such a critical part of the watering equation for alocasia plants. You’ll want to plant your alocasia wentii in a lightweight, well-draining soil that also retains moisture.
I recommend using any high-quality indoor or houseplant potting soil. These mixtures come pre-mixed with things to enhance aeration and improve drainage. However, I like adding in some coco coir for plants that like lightweight moisture retention.
It’s likely the mix has a bit of peat moss or coco coir in it already for this purpose, too. And adding in some organic worm castings is never a bad idea to help jumpstart the soil with nutrients.
How often should I water my alocasia wentii?
Now that you have an understanding of the proper soil, watering will make more sense. Alocasia wentii likes being moist but not soaking wet. The light, well-draining soil helps with this.
Ingredients like coco coir help retain moisture in a lightweight way. So when you water the plant, you can let all of the excess water drain out of the pot’s drainage holes and know that the substrate is retaining an appropriate amount of moisture.
You’ll still want to let the top few inches of soil dry out before watering the plant again. If you water too much, it will likely lead to root rot.
While you’re getting into a care routine with your alocasia wentii, you may overwater. You plant will likely respond with yellowing, droopy leaves. Trim these off of the plant.
You’ll also want to immediately back off of the watering and let the soil dry out a bit more than you usually would. If the problem is especially bad, you’ll need to remove the plant from its pot and cut away any rotted, mushy roots.
After fixing overwatering issues, your plant will rebound. Even if the foliage dies back all the way to the soil line, if the root system rebounds, the plant will resprout. I have experienced this personally with an alocasia polly.
Temperature & humidity needs
Alocasia wentii tolerates all normal household temperatures just fine. It can even tolerate temperatures into the 50s Fahrenheit. Once you get into the 90s, though, you’ll want to monitor the plant to make sure it doesn’t need more water.
While alocasia wentii can tolerate some lower temps, it definitely isn’t frost hardy. So it can only live outside in certain areas of the United States.
However, if you live in a part of the world that gets warm and humid in the spring and summer, putting your wentii outdoors for a little vacation is a GREAT idea. That’s because this plant absolutely loves humidity.
It really needs humidity levels that are higher than what you’ll find in most average homes. That means using something like a sealed glass greenhouse cabinet or adding a humidifier.
If you notice signs of stress on the leaves, check your humidity levels. Warm, dry air is the ideal climate for spider mites to move into, and that’s exactly the environment most homes have in the winter with central heating turned on.
How tall does an alocasia wentii grow?
Alocasia wentii isn’t a fast grower, but it can get fairly large. The leaves themselves can get over a foot long, but that is on a happy, mature plant. If you have a smaller plant, it will eventually develop larger leaves.
As a houseplant, wentii can reach upwards of 5 feet tall. However, this can take a long time. As with other large alocasias, it can have quite a large spread, too. Without any pruning, wentii will have a wingspan of about as wide as it is tall.
Outside in its natural habitat, the plant can reach heights of well over 5 feet. But, you know…nature is the best medicine. We won’t see that glory indoors.
Fertilizing this plant
You may choose to fertilize your alocasia wentii to help encourage faster growth. I don’t personally use chemical fertilizers on my plants because of the risk of burning them.
Remember that more fertilizer does not mean faster growth! It can really damage a plant. So dilute any chemical fertilizers according to the instructions on the packaging. Or choose an organic, nutrient-rich fertilizer like Liqui-Dirt, which is what I use for my plants monthly.
How do you prune an alocasia wentii?
I’ve found that yellowing older leaves is generally a fact of life with my alocasia plants. As the plant expends more energy to push out new leaves, the older, smaller leaves may suffer.
If it’s a regular occurrence, you may want to do a care audit to make sure you’re meeting all of the marks. However, if it’s just the occasional older leave dropping, this is totally normal.
Simply wait for the leaf to nearly die off and then use clean shears to cut it off near the base of the plant. This pruning will help the plant redirect its energy to new growth.
Because this plant can grow nearly as wide as it can tall, you may also want to prune to maintain its size. To do so, you can just trim off older leaves that are beginning to sag and widen the plant’s overall shape. This will not hurt the plant at all.
Repotting this plant
Because this is a slow grower, frequent repotting is not necessary and may even be harmful. I recommend waiting until you see roots growing out of the pot’s drainage holes before repotting it.
You can also keep a look out for offsets. Alocasia plants reproduce by sprouting baby versions of themselves. If you see some babies, it might be time to perform some surgery to remove the babies and repot mom.
When you do repot this plant, make sure to use fresh, well-draining soil and size the pot up only an inch or so. If you make your pot size too big, it can drown the plant’s roots in wet soil.
How do you propagate Alocasia wentii?
Alocasia propagation is super easy if you’re doing it through division. I mentioned that alocasia plants reporudce by sprouting babies in their pot. You can easily cut these babies off of mom and pot them up individually!
This is generally the best approach because the babies will have likely grown a decent root system by the time you sever the plant from mom. Below is a look at a severed colocasia baby. The process is the exact same for the alocasia wentii.
You can do this while you are repotting your wentii, or you can dig a bit down into the pot to cut a baby off if mom doesn’t need repotted.
Once you’ve cut the baby off, pot it in a small pot with fresh well-draining soil that you keep reliatvely moist for a few weeks. It may experience a bit of transplant shock but should rebound.
Alocasia wentii pest issues
I obviously have to bring up the dreaded spider mite problem in any alocasia care post. I have dealt with spider mites on indoor alocasia plants more times than I can count! Those little buggers LOVE alocasias.
Spider mites love warm, dry conditions. So your home in the winter when central heating is on is really just creating the perfect climate for them to move in.
I generally like to mist my alocasia plants with a continuous mist spray bottle. This provides a super fine mist of water that doesn’t tend to pool on the leaves. It can be a helpful preventative measure because the mites don’t like cold, wet leaves.
If you do have spider mites move in, you’ll see very fine webbing around the areas where the leaves meet the stems and on the leaf tips. Immediately isolate the plant and spray it down with a storebought insecticide spray for houseplants.
Make sure to get all areas of the plant: tops and bottoms of leaves, the stems, and the areas where the leaves meet the stems. Spider mites literally suck the life out of leaves, so depending on how advanced your issue was, you may need to prune off affected growth.
When I water my mite-prone plants, I also like to do so in the sink with cold water. I rinse off all of the leaves, top and bottom, to help with routine pest management.
You can also wipe the leaves down with a damp microfiber cloth, which also has the added bonus of keeping the leaves nice and shiny! Dust can accumulate on them quickly indoors.
Is alocasia wentii toxic?
Yes, alocasia plants are toxic to animals and humans, and they shouldn’t be ingested. According to the ASPCA’s website, alocasia plants contain calcium oxalate crystals.
If any part of the plant is ingested, it can lead to oral irritation, pain and swelling of mouth, tongue and lips, drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing. Always make sure to keep this plant away from kids and animals if they are nibblers.