Alocasia is a family of foliage plants with huge appeal for both indoor and outdoor gardeners. These leafy plants wow gardeners with their large, often velvety leaves. Some are easy to find and grow while others are collector’s plants. They are plants to use for impact and drama as they form a dramatic, leafy clump. The plants have the common name of elephant’s ears which describes the large, heart-shaped leaves. They are also known as giant taro, which describes the plant’s large, taro-like rhizome.


Surrounding a vintage timber sideboard is a grouping of Alocasia plants in a variety of decorative planters. Each plant features unique statement foliage held aloft on long stems.

Alocasias come in a variety of sizes, colours and leaf shapes.


Ideal growing conditions for alocasia

Alocasias are rainforest plants so indoors, they need a brightly lit position out of direct sun. Outdoors they prefer a shaded, sheltered spot. These plants are not frost or cold tolerant, so can only be grown outdoors in a garden situation in very warm to tropical locations.

Alocasias need moisture-retentive soil or potting mix, but don’t like to sit in water. They combine well with ferns, philodendrons and other foliage plants. They also make spectacular gift plants. Although not grown for their flowers, alocasias do flower but flowers are unlikely to be seen on plants grown purely indoors. The flowers are white, green or occasional spathes.


Ongoing care for alocasia

To keep alocasias looking good, keep them well-watered (water when the mix begins to feel dry to the touch but allow water to drain from the container), liquid feed monthly through spring and summer and remove any damaged leaves at the base of the plant. Indoor plants need their leaves kept clean and free of dust and may need to be misted in hot, dry situations.

As these are large plants with big leaves, they need a pot that’s big enough for the root system and heavy enough so the plant doesn’t topple over. Glazed or plastic pots are good choices as they don’t allow the potting mix to dry out too rapidly.

Indoors these plants may be attacked by pests such as two-spotted mite or mealy bug if the plants are not in their ideal growing conditions. Drying out of leaves, especially leaf edges , may indicate the atmosphere is too dry. Mist foliage and keep plants away from heaters or air conditioning vents. Note: alocasias are considered toxic to pets.


Six images of individual Alocasia plants in a collage.

Some popular alocasia varieties, clockwise from top left" Alocasia x amazonica 'Polly', Alocasia cuprea 'Red Secret', Alocasia zebrina, Alocasia macrorrhiza'Stingray', Alocasia reginula 'Black Velvet', Alocasia lauterbachiana.


Alocasia species and varieties

There are many alocasias to choose from making this genus highly appealing to plant collectors and those wanting a varied indoor garden or a special feature plant. All can be grown indoors or outside (in a warm zone) but some are more difficult to grow than others. Large plants can be divided to propagate more plants to increase your collection or give away to friends and family.

Alocasia x amazonica

This hybrid has handsome dark green to almost black leaves that are shiny and heart-shaped with distinctive white patterning over the leaf veins. Varieties include ‘Bambino’, ‘Dwarf’ and ‘Polly’. Click to shop.

Alocasia baginda

Grown for its variegated dark and light green to silver patterned leaves, this is another eye-catching species. There are many cultivars including ‘Dragon Scale’, ‘Platinum Dragon’, ‘Silver Dragon’ and ‘Pink Dragon’, which has pink stems. Click to shop.

Alocasia cuprea

The large leaves of this species have a puckered look and can be green to dark coppery red. The leaves have an appealing metallic sheen. ‘Red Secret’ is a variety with long stems that show off the red colours on the back of each leaf. Click to shop.

Alocasia lauterbachiana

This species has long narrow leaves that make it distinct from other alocacias which have more heart-shaped leaves. The leaf margins are wavy and the leaf has strong venation. Leaves range from green to black in colour and the underside may be a contrasting colour. The stems can have a mottled colouring. Click to shop.

Alocasia macrorrhiza

Also known as ‘giant taro’, this is one of the most commonly available species of alocasia. It's also one of the easiest to grow. Plants form a large, impressive clump 90-180cm high and 60-120cm wide. The large, lush, glossy green leaves are held on stout stems. ‘Stingray’ is a variety with patterned stems and leaves that have an elongated tip giving it a dramatic stingray-like look. Click to shop.

Alocasia reginula

Also known as ‘Black Velvet’, this is a compact species. Its leaves are velvety black with strongly contrasting colour on the leaf veins. The reverse side of the leaf is bronze toned. Click to shop.

Alocasia wentii

This species has large, dark green glossy leaves with a contrasting underside with purple tonings. It is a large grower with long leaf stalks that make it a very handsome plant for indoors or outside. Click to shop.

Alocasia zebrina

This species has zebra striped stems and dark green, heart-shaped leaves with distinctively pointed tips. Click to shop.