Alocasia Black Velvet

Alocasia reginula

Black Velvet Elephant Ear is a compact bushy alocasia with stunning dark, soft leaves.  This beauty originates in Bornea, a large island in the South China Sea. This elephant ear reaches about 2 feet in height at maturity. In the wild the leaves can span 2 feet too. As with all alocasia lower and smaller leaves are expected to yellow and die off as the plant grows and matures.  Simply trim these off so that the plant can focus all of its energy on new and healthy leaves.  When this one blooms it is an insignificant off white spathe flower.

Light-bright indirect light is best, but lower light levels are tolerated-No direct sun as this will burn the leaves

Soil-to mimic their natural habitat a mix that retains moisture without being soggy and drains well is required. A good mix is 3 parts orchid bark, 1 part perlite, and 2 parts peat moss or coco coir. Peat moss or coco coir is a great substrate because it holds it's own weight in moisture, allows the excess to drain, and then releases that moisture to the roots slowly over time. Repot only once every 1-2 years and go up only 1-2" in pot size.

Water-these guys appreciate moisture without sitting soggy.  Allow the top 1/2 inch of soil to dry between watering.  It will not tolerate overwatering so when unsure wait another day or two.  Water thoroughly so that all of the roots get a drink allowing the excess water to drain from the drainage holes

Humidity-given it's natural habitat this plant needs increased humidity 50% at least.  DO NOT MIST since the velvety leaves can retain water which could promote fungus, mold, and rot.  Use a pebble tray or ultrasonic humidifier nearby if the humidity needs a boost.  Signs of too little humidity are crispy/brown tips or edges on the leaves. 

Toxicity-considered toxic due to oxalate crystals which cause burning and irritation.

Pests-Freaking spider mites LOVE all alocasia and colocasia.  It's important to inspect for them regularly.  You'll often see webbing in the crook at where the leaf meets the stem.  Once damage has begun you'll see leaves looking mottled and yellowing.  Spider mites are easily killed with Neem.  If you find them first clean off webbing using a cotton swab soaked in alcohol.  When using Neem spray AVOID SPRAYING TOPS OF LEAVES.  Spray stems and soil and use a paper towel soaked in the neem spray to wipe the underside of the leaves. 

Fertilizer-once monthly spring through summer using a balanced fertilizer diluted by half.  Over-fertilizing will cause damage.  Do not fertilize fall and winter.  The plant is semi-dormant at this time.