Alocasia - Shiny Shamrock
Alocasia is attributed to the most beautiful decorative foliage plants for the exotic beauty of unusually colored leaves. In folk medicine, alocasia is called a “shamrock”. Only a few types of alocasia are cultivated in the culture from 70 species known in nature that are common in the humid tropical regions of Southeast Asia, where they are used as ornamental and medicinal plants.
Description of Alocasia
Alocasia (lat.Alocásia) - a genus of perennial herbaceous plants of the Aroid family. About 70 species are known that grow in the tropics of Asia, Oceania and South America.
The genus Alocasia (Alocasia (Schott) G Don.) Owns about 70 species of evergreen tropical plants of the aroid family. The height of different species varies from 40 cm to 2 meters or more, some species have a developed aboveground stem. At the top of the stem are located, on long succulent petioles (from 20 cm to 1 m), several large, often oval-arrow-shaped leaves, the length of the leaves can reach from 35-40 cm to 1 meter.
The leaves are dense, almost leathery, with prominent veins. The leaves have aquatic stomata-hydatodes through which droplets of water are released in wet weather or with excessive irrigation.
Flowering in culture is rare. Many believe that the decorativeness of alocasia in their leaves, and inflorescences do not represent a special decorative effect. But it should also be borne in mind that if the plant bloomed, and even in such an unusual form (graceful long flower stalk with a height of 10-15 to 30 cm or more, the inflorescence is an ear of white-pink color, fully or partially covered with a covering sheet - a bedspread), then it can not be called "not representing special decorativeness." The bedspread of the flower is painted in a whitish-greenish, pink-white color.
Alocasia, distinguished by magnificence and exotic beauty, is deservedly recognized as one of the most outstanding decorative foliage plants. Powerful specimens reaching several meters in height are a good decoration of interiors: bright halls, foyers, winter gardens, artificial ponds and fountains.
Features of growing alocasia
Temperature: Thermophilic. In summer, at least 20 ° C, in winter at least 18 ° C.
Lighting: Photophilous, in summer you need a shade from direct sunlight. Alocasia copper-red, Amazonian and large-root in winter need additional lighting.
Watering: Abundant in the summer, the land should never dry out. In winter, watering alocasia is moderate and very cautious. For most species, waterlogging of the soil is fatal.
Fertilizer: In spring and summer, alocasia is fed every 2-3 weeks. A complex mineral fertilizer for indoor plants is used.
Air humidity: Frequent spraying and gentle washing of leaves.
Transfer: The soil for alocasia must be nutritious. Transplanted annually in the spring, adult plants - after two years. Do not use heavy clay soil - it can adversely affect the plant. Soil - 1 part of leafy land, 1 part of coniferous, 1 part of peat and 0.5 parts of sand. For alocasia of copper-red and Amazonian, bark of coniferous species (pine, spruce, etc.) is added to the soil.
Reproduction: By division during transplantation, as well as by offspring, eyes cut with pulp from a grassy trunk.
Alocasia is a rather unpretentious and fast-growing plant, it is not difficult to grow it even for beginners who love indoor floriculture. She feels best in a bright or slightly shaded place. It can be grown on the windows of the eastern or western exposure, the light should be scattered. On the windows of the southern exposure will require gravity. You can create diffused light for a plant, for example, with gauze or a tulle curtain.
Shapes with solid leaves can also be grown with a lack of light, while brightly scattered light is desirable for variegated forms. For young plants, a lot of light is needed during the growth period, but the plant should be shaded from direct sunlight.
Alocasia is thermophilic, in the spring-summer period the optimum temperature is in the range of 22-26 ° C, in the autumn-winter period is 18-20 ° C. Alocasia should be protected from drafts.
From the beginning of spring to autumn they water abundantly. Watering is carried out in several stages, half an hour after watering, the excess water from the pan should be poured. The next watering is done when the top layer of the substrate is dry.
In winter, watered sparingly, watered a day after the top layer of the substrate dries. Drying a clod of earth, as well as waterlogging (especially in winter), can harm the plant!
Alocasia loves high humidity, however, in cold and cloudy weather, water and spray carefully. To create additional air humidity, you can put a pot with a plant on a pallet with wet expanded clay or pebbles. In this case, the bottom of the pot should not touch the water. It is necessary to regularly wipe the leaves with a damp cloth, cleaning them from dust.
From spring to autumn, every two weeks they are fed with mineral and organic fertilizers for indoor plants.
Alocasia for good growth requires a well-permeable to moisture and air substrate with a slightly acidic reaction (pH about 5.5), consisting of leaf, coniferous earth, peat and sand (1: 1: 1: 0.5) or of humus, leaf, turf land, peat and sand (2: 2: 2: 1: 1). You can use the composition of the soil mixture, consisting of leaf, peat, sand, sphagnum moss and charcoal (1: 2: 6: 6: 3: 2). Good drainage is needed, plants are planted in high pots.
Alocasia is transplanted in the month of March, young plants - as needed, adults - every two to three years, plant transplantation can be replaced by transshipment. The plant is transshipped without destroying the earthen coma into a larger pot (2-3 cm larger than the previous one).
Reproduction of alocasia
Alocasia is propagated in spring: by seeds, offspring or daughter tubers, division of rhizomes and stem cuttings.
Variegated forms are not propagated by seeds, since variegated characters do not indulge. Sow the seeds immediately after harvest, in a light substrate (leaf or peat land + sand), close the seeds shallow. Constantly sprayed, maintain a temperature of 22-24 ° C, and periodically ventilate. Seedlings dive twice, then transplanted into 7-centimeter pots. Young plants are transplanted or transplanted after the roots braid the entire lump of earth. Young plants form large leaves after about a year.
When plants propagate by offspring or daughter tubers, division of rhizomes and stem cuttings, the places of cuts are sprinkled with charcoal. Rooting takes place well in a light substrate (a mixture of peat land and sand) with lower heating. It is necessary to maintain the temperature not lower than 20-23 ° C, constantly spray, water the substrate and periodically ventilate.
Precautions for growing alocasia
The plant is poisonous and can irritate the mucous membranes, the rhizomes of some types of alocasia are also poisonous. Alocasia leaves contain a toxic substance - hydrocyanic acid. It is recommended to work with gloves, and after finishing work, wash your hands with soap. Alocasia should be placed so that they are inaccessible to small children and animals.
Possible difficulties in growing alocasia
Slow plant growth
The reason may be a lack of nitrogen in the soil. It is necessary to feed the plant with a solution of urea (1 g / l).
The cause may be overdrying or overmoistening of an earthen coma. Adjust the watering. Another reason may be too heavy substrate. Replace the substrate with a more suitable one.
The leaves lose their color, the leaves turn pale
The reason may be a lack of light. Adjust the light. If the plant has been in shade for a long period, then it is necessary to accustom gradually to greater lighting. In winter, backlighting with fluorescent lamps is desirable.
Dry brown leaf tips
The cause may be too dry air in the room or lack of watering.
The most common alocasia disease is leaf rot as a result of root rot infection. This can occur as a result of waterlogging of the soil or when a houseplant is transplanted into heavy soil. In this case, the treatment with a solution of fundozole is carried out, the decayed leaves are removed, and it is also desirable to transplant alocasia into looser soil.
Another common mistake of gardeners is transfusion in the winter. If spots of an ulcer-like appearance appear on the leaves of your alocasia, similar to ulcers, then watering for some time should be excluded.
Brown spots on the leaves indicate mildew infection. You can get rid of it with the help of copper-containing fungicides such as oxychoma, polycarbacin, cuproxate. Topsin, foundationazole and colloidal sulfur are also effective. Popular methods help well - spraying and washing off the plaque from the leaves with a soap solution.
Types of Alocasia
Root Alocasia - Alocasia macrorrhizos
Homeland - India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia. The plant is quite large. Stems reach 2 m or more in height, petioles more than 1 m long. The leaf blade is ovoid-heart-shaped with well-defined diverging lobes at the base of the blade, with a length of 50 to 90 cm and 40-80 cm wide. Peduncle up to 30 cm long, with a yellow-green veil, 18-24 cm long, cob equal to the length of the veil. The berries are bright red, shiny up to 1 cm in diameter.
As an edible and medicinal plant (tubers - the so-called giant taro) is common in the tropics. The juice in the leaves is toxic (contains hydrocyanic acid), however, the plant is used in Chinese medicine. Stem preparations are used for pain in the stomach, intestines, toothache, and cholera. The crushed tuber is applied to various tumors. Preparations from leaves and the whole plant are recommended in the treatment of pneumonia and tuberculosis.
Alocasia macrorrhizos photophilous, not afraid of sunburn, put up with shading. Undemanding in culture, can grow in rooms with central heating. A. macrorhizos, due to its large size, is more suitable for offices and conservatories.
The form of variegata (Alocasia macrorrhizos var. Variegate) - differs from the original species with variegated leaves with large white spots and smaller sizes.
Aromatic alocasia - Alocasia odora
It grows in the Himalayas, in the south of the Indochina Peninsula, in Taiwan, in the Philippines. A herbaceous plant with a thick, strong, short, almost tuberoid rhizome. Shoots are thick up to 1 m tall. The leaves are beautiful, on long stalks, leathery, fleshy. The length of the leaves can reach 1 meter and a width of 60-80 cm.
Young leaves are thyroid, old ones are narrow ovoid, almost linear, with an arrow-shaped base. The lower protruding parts of the plate fused with the petiole. Inflorescence is an ear of corn. Sedentary flowers with a specific odor. The bedspread is about 20 cm long; it covers the ear, bluish-green in color. Blooms in the room rarely.
Copper red alocasia - Alocasia cuprea
Homeland - about. Kalimantan. One of the most decorative and medium-sized alocasias. Stem up to 10 cm long. (often underground). Petioles are 20-30 cm long, the lamina is heart-ovate, vertically directed, up to 25-35 cm long, 14-17 cm wide, half-skinned, copper-green above with a metallic sheen, intense purple below; the petiole is attached to the thyroid plate (not to the edge of the plate, but at a certain distance from it); in the place of attachment on the upper side of the plate - characteristic swelling.
Peduncles collected 2-3 to 10-15 cm long, dark purple. Coverlet up to 15 cm long with a width of 8 cm; the ear is always shorter than the covers. In the culture does not bear fruit. The plant contains poisonous juice, which causes skin irritation, so you need to work with rubber gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after work.
Alocasia Black Velvet (Alocasia reginula A. Hay ‘Black Velvet’)
Homeland - Borneo. Stem up to 10 cm long. Petiole up to 15-25 cm in length, leaf blade heart-ovate, velvety, black-burgundy on top, veins form a white pattern, bottom green plate up to 25-35 cm long and 20-25 cm wide. Peduncle up to 10 cm long, the coverlet is white-pink, 7-9 cm long. with a pink ear. It often blooms in room conditions.
Alocasia reginula (Alocasia reginula) - differs from ‘Black Velvet’ in that its leaves are glossy and dark green with an elongated tip. reginula and ‘Black Velvet’ are photophilous, tolerate direct sunlight, but should be shaded during the day. Make up with shading.