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Alocasia Polly with sprayed leaves

How to care for an Alocasia Polly

The Alocasia Polly, also known as the Alocasia x Amazonica and African Mask Plant is a very recognizable plant that you'll probably have seen before on social media or in gardening stores. Its large and odd-shaped leaves with bright nerves will jump out at you from a distance. Like other Alocasias, the Alocasia Polly is a tropical plant that has very particular wishes and might not be the best plant for beginners. However, when you learn to take care of an Alocasia Polly, you'll be able to take care of other, more advanced plants as well.

In this guide, we'll go over all the things that are easy to get wrong when taking care of an Alocasia Polly. While doing so, we'll look at some simple tips and tricks you can use to successfully take care of this plant.

These are the topics we're going to cover in this guide:

  1. Watering
  2. Light requirements
  3. Soil
  4. Fertilizing
  5. Toxicity
  6. Propagation
  7. Dormancy
  8. Yellow leaves

If you've already looked at "How to care for an Alocasia Zebrina", you'll see that these two plants are similar in plant care, but there are a few minor differences that this plant has compared to the Alocasia Zebrina.

Let's find out you we can take care of your Alocacia Polly!

Watering your Alocasia Polly

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Baby Alocasia Polly leaves

Alocasias are tropical plants, which means they need quite a bit of moisture. However, most Alocasias, including the Alocasia Polly, have thick stems which they use to store moisture. Alocasias use the moisture stored in their stems to feed themselves, so they don't have to rely on moisture in the soil. What this means when it comes to watering your Alocasia Polly is this: You should only water your Alocasia Polly when the soil is dry.

If you use soil to grow your Alocasia Polly, there is actually a great trick you can use to determine if your house plant needs to be watered. After you water it for the first time, lift up your plant and feel its weight. Now you know how heavy your plant is when you've watered it. After 2 weeks, lift up your plant again and feel the difference in weight. Your plant should be really light at this point. Now you know how light your plant is when it needs to be watered. You can use this trick throughout the whole year and only water your plant once it's light again. This trick will help you to avoid overwatering your plant in the winter and it'll help you to figure out when your plant still has enough moisture to last a few more days.

Sensitive to overwatering

The Alocasia Polly is quite sensitive to overwatering. We've already seen that it stores a lot of moisture in its thick stems and that it likes it's soil to dry out. Your Alocasia Polly wants its soil to dry out for 2 reasons:

  1. You don't want to overwater your Alocasia Polly
  2. You need to give oxygen a chance to get to its roots

The Alocasia Polly has quite thick roots, but they're also quite soft. Tough roots, like the once from a Spider plant can take a lot and are difficult to destroy. Your Alocasia Polly has soft roots, so they won't survive as easily. Letting the soil dry out is the best way to prevent any problems and won't put your plant at risk of root rot.

Light requirements for your Alocasia Polly

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Unlike it's big sibling the Alocasia Zebrina, the Alocasia Polly doesn't like the sun as much. The Alocasia Polly should be kept in a bright area, but shouldn't be exposed to direct sunlight. Adult leaves can tolerate this harsh light for a little while, but this bright sunlight will burn new leaves and dry them out. It's best to avoid this situation altogether and put your Alocasia Polly in a space where it won't be exposed to direct sunlight.

As the Alocasia Polly still wants to be in a bright environment, it will like many other plants, grow towards the light. To make sure your Alocasia Polly grows straight, you should rotate your house plant by 90 degrees every week. By doing this, you expose all sides of your Alocasia Polly to the same amount of sunlight exposure and it'll grow straight up.

Brown edges on the leaves

If you notice brown edges on the leaves of your Alocasia Polly, you might have put it in a spot that's getting too much sunlight. If the sunlight is too warm for your Polly leaves, it will burn them and dry them out. When this happens, you'll see the brown edges on the leaves. You should move your Alocasia to a slightly darker place when you notice the brown edges.

Soil for your Alocasia Polly

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Alocasia Polly in pot

As we've found out in the section about watering your plant, the Alocasia Polly does not heavily rely on the soil to provide it with moisture, as it stores a lot of it inside its stems. As a result of this, you need to find a soil that drains water well. Water should not stay in the soil for more than a few days. If your Alocasia stays in moist soil for more than a few days, it could suffer from root rot as it's no longer able to absorb any more moisture. You should find a soil that has plenty of perlite mixed into it to provide this excellent drainage to your soil.

Another solution is to plant your Alocasia Polly in Leca. This helps to water your house plant properly while also allowing plenty of oxygen to reach the Polly's roots. If you want to know more about this, you can have a look at how to do this for the Alocasia Zebrina, as this process is very similar to the Alocasia Polly in "How to grow an Alocasia Zebrina in Leca".

Drainage

Your Alocasia Polly needs well-draining soil to make sure its roots aren't in moist soil for too long. Along with this well-draining soil, you should use a pot that has drainage holes. When you use a pot that has drainage holes, excess water, water that your soil can't absorb, won't stay in the pot. When you use a pot that doesn't have a drainage hole, you risk keeping the excess water at the bottom of the pot. This could lead to root rot. A drainage hole is the easiest solution to avoid root rot.

Fertilizing your Alocasia Polly

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Alocasias are large plants that grow quite quickly. The Alocasia Polly even blooms throughout the year. These plants use a lot of energy to grow quickly like this. If you want to help your plant keep up this growth, you should make sure to fertilize it once per month in the growing period (spring and summer) and once per quarter in the autumn (fall) and winter.

You can fertilize your Alocasia Polly using liquid fertilizer or fertilizing sticks. When you use fertilizing sticks, make sure to stick to the instructions on the package. These sticks usually last about 100 days. When you use these, you won't have to fertilize your plants once per month or once per quarter. In this case you can stick to 3-4 times per year.

If you want to know more about fertilizing your plants, you can read more in "What is the best type of fertilizer for houseplants?"

Toxicity

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The Alocasia Polly is a beautiful tropical plant, which unfortunately means it's toxic to pets (both cats and dogs) and people. It's toxic when consumed, so make sure to keep this plant out of reach of pets and small children. If your pets happen to consume this plant, make sure to give your veterinarian a call to ask for advice.

Propagating your Alocasia Polly

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Alocasia Polly bulbs

You can propagate an Alocasia Polly in two ways, which are very similar to how it works for an Alocasia Zebrina in "How to propagate an Alocasia Zebrina". You can:

  1. Harvest Alocasia Polly bulbs
  2. Separate small plans from the parent plant

Taking the Alocasia Polly bulbs from the parent plant is quite easy, but depending on your plant, this could be a challenge. To get to these bulbs, you'll need to pull the plant out of the pot and clean the roots. You'll see the bulbs growing on the bottom of the parent plant. This method is quite a lot of work and there is an easier way.

It's easier to wait for these bulbs to start growing plants and separating those baby plants from the parent plant. You'll know where the bulbs of the baby plants are, but you also already have a plant which you can see grow. It can take a while before the bulbs start growing plants on their own and this can discourage you. If you're in this situation, be patient, your bulbs will grow eventually.

An Alocasia Polly during dormancy

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When the winter gets closer and it's getting colder outside, your Alocasia Polly will start its dormancy period. This means different things for different plants, but for the Alocasia Polly it means that it will slow down it's growth and it might even stop growing altogether until the spring. During this dormancy period, you should water your plant less and also fertilize your plant less. Your Polly won't need as much energy as it's not growing any more.

During this dormancy period, your Alocasia Polly might start to drop leaves. It might even drop all of its leaves. This doesn't mean your plant is dying, so you should throw it away. Your Polly will start to grow leaves again in the early spring and should continue growing like nothing happened. This is just the natural lifecycle of this plant.

Yellow leaves on your Alocasia Polly

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An Alocasia Polly can only sustain a certain amount of leaves before getting rid of old leaves. When your plant is getting rid of old leaves, they will start to turn yellow before they die. When you see your leaves turn yellow it simply means that your plant is killing the off to preserve energy to stay alive or to grow new leaves.

Conclusion

The Alocasia Polly is very similar in care to other Alocasias, but it does have a few different tricks to help it thrive. Your houseplant absorbs a lot of moisture and stores it in its stems, so you shouldn't water too much. This plant doesn't rely too much on the soil to provide it with moisture. As it's a fast-growing plant, provide it with fertilizer once per month in the growing period (spring and summer) and slow down in the dormancy period (autumn/fall and winter). Your Alocasia Polly loves a bright spot, but doesn't like direct sunlight.

Thank you for reading this post! I hope it helps you to keep your plants healthy and beautiful! If you're looking for more guides on specific plants, you can always request a plant guide or donate a plant in order to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.

Tags: alocasia

Posted on: Nov 14, 2020 Last updated on: Apr 9, 2021

Other common names for this plant

  • Alocasia Bambino
  • Alocasia x Amazonica
  • African Mask Plant

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