Quick African Mask Plant Facts:
- Botanical name - Alocasia amazonica
- Height - 1 to 2 feet (0.3 to 0.6 m)
- Spread - 1 to 2 feet (0.3 to 0.6 m)
- Sun exposure - Bright indirect, or filtered light
- Soil requirements - Rich, moist, well-drained
- Hardiness zones - 10 to 12
- When to plant - Anytime indoors, spring or early summer outdoors
African mask plant is Alocasia amazonica, one of many species in the genus of plants often commonly called elephant ear or elephant’s ear. Often used as a houseplant, African mask Alocasia is a tropical plant that survives outdoors only in summer in much of North America. Be aware that this plant and other varieties are highly toxic to humans and animals.
African Mask Plant Care
Alocasia amazonica care requires specific conditions. Because it comes from tropical regions of the globe, it is necessary to recreate important aspects of its natural environment in U.S. homes and gardens.
If you live in a zone that is warm enough, you can grow Alocasia outdoors in beds. If not, use it as an annual, bring it indoors for winter, or grow it as a houseplant.
Alocasias grow under taller plants in tropical conditions, so they do best in bright, indirect light or filtered partial shade. Direct sunlight can burn the foliage or fade leaf colors. A warm spot sheltered from wind and under a tree or other plants is ideal.
African mask has medium water needs. It prefers soil that stays evenly moist but not soggy. It will not tolerate conditions that are too dry. It will also not tolerate standing water, so the soil and bed or container should drain well. Reduce watering in winter.
Temperature & Humidity
Do not leave African mask plants outside when the temperatures dip below 60 or 65 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 18 Celsius). If growing the plant indoors as a houseplant, find a warm spot without cold drafts for this plant. Humid conditions are best, so use a pebble tray or spritz regularly with water.
Provide quality soil that is rich in organic material. If growing in a bed, dig compost or other material into the ground to enrich it. For potted plants, use a rich, soil-based mix. Non-soil mixes do not hold moisture. In terms of soil type, African mask is not particular and will tolerate different mixes as long as it drains well.
Good Alocasia amazonica plant care does require regular fertilization. This is a heavy feeder, and rich organic soil isn’t enough. Use a well-balanced fertilizer every month or a slow-release product every two months. You can stop fertilizing during winter.
African mask does not require a lot of pruning. Remove any faded or brown leaves by cutting them close to the soil or top of the corm.
You can propagate African mask plants by cuttings of stems in spring or by division in spring or summer. Some varieties have corms. When you pull them up, you will see small corms growing on the main structure. You can remove these to plant in another area. Rhizomatous varieties can simply be divided when pulled up in spring.
Problems, Pests & Diseases
Alocasia has few major issues, but it might suffer root rot from too much water. Look out for signs of spider mites, but otherwise, these plants are largely disease and pest free.
Varieties of Alocasia Amazonica
Alocasia amazonica is a hybrid elephant ear with unknown parentage. Like other varieties, it has large, showy leaves and small, unspectacular flowers. The leaves are leathery, with wavy edges and an arrowhead shape. The coloring is dark bronze to green with white or silvery veins. It is a striking variety, and there are many other Alocasia to choose from for interesting foliage:
- Calidora. Calidora is an elephant ear that grows as tall as nine feet (2.7 m) with very large, bright green leaves.
- Fontanesii. This is another tall variety. It has darker green leaves and purple stems.
- Pink China. Pink China has pink stems and green leaves. It is the hardiest type and can survive outdoors as far north as zone 6.
- Frydek. Frydek has dark, velvety-soft leaves.
- Jack’s Giant. This tall variety has blue-green leaves edged with chartreuse.
Alocasia amazonica is just one hybrid variety of this attractive group of tropical plants. With the right conditions, they can be long-lasting houseplants and indoor-outdoor specimens. Just be aware of toxicity and keep them away from pets and children.
Gardening tips, videos, info and more delivered right to your inbox!
Sign up for the Gardening Know How newsletter today and receive a free download of our most popular eBook "How to Grow Delicious Tomatoes."
Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.
Which Types Of Wood To Use For Growing Fungi
Wondering about the best logs for mushroom plugs? Match the mushroom type to the tree variety for a great crop of delicious mushrooms.
By Bonnie L. Grant
Woodland Stumpery Garden Design – Working Wonders With Woodland Stumperies
Grow a beautiful woodland stumpery garden with woodland plants interspersed in, on and near tree stumps of all kinds and sizes.
By Teo Spengler
How To Propagate Alocasia – Tips On Alocasia Plant Propagation
Alocasia can grow to impressive size. How do you go about propagating alocasia plants? Learn more about alocasia propagation methods and how to propagate alocasia in this article. Click here to get more information.
By Liz Baessler
Feeding Alocasias: Tips On Fertilizing Alocasia Plants
Regardless of how you grow them, fertilizing alocasia plants is essential to their healthy growth. You can learn about alocasia plant feeding and when to fertilize alocasia in the article that follows. Simply click here for more information.
By Liz Baessler
Seed Pods On Elephant Ear Plants: Do Alocasia Elephant Ears Have Seeds
Do Alocasia elephant ears have seeds? They do, but elephant ear flower seeds are only viable a short time, so if you want to plant them, harvest the pods and use them as soon as possible. This article will help with what to do.
By Bonnie L. Grant