How to care for the Alocasia polly houseplant
The Alocasia polly plant, a compact houseplant from the elephant ear family, has become an increasingly popular choice for plant-lovers, with its uniquely shaped leaves and fascinating cream-coloured delineations. Also known as the African mask plant, it’s not a houseplant for beginners, however, and we’ve noted a lot of people with questions about the plant, as well as about the Alocasia polly’s yellow leaves on our Facebook groups.
Fret not, though, because we are here to reassure you — for the most part, you absolutely do not need to worry about your plant baby’s yellow leaf (or leaves), should you see any. This plant is a little unusual, called by some “the alien of houseplants” — it’s not like other plants.
Help! Why is my Alocasia polly turning yellow?
Take a deep breath and relax those shoulders, because we’re here to tell you something very reassuring. Leaf yellowing does not mean there’s something wrong with your plant.
Alocasia polly dormancy
Alocasia polly plants enter a dormant state during fall and winter. What does this mean? As temperatures cool and light levels reduce, your plant will slow its growth and become dormant — sort of like plant hibernation (it may even stop growing at all until spring returns).
During this period, water your plant less, and fertilize it less (if at all). Oh, and also, the dormancy period can be another reason your plant may have yellowing leaves.
Alocasia polly grows from rhizomes
This slightly-different-from-other houseplants is considered a rhizomatous evergreen perennial. Which means, in short, that it grows from a rhizome — also called a tuber. This is why it goes into a dormant state in colder, lower light seasons, as the plant stores energy and proteins in the rhizome during periods of unfavourable growing conditions (like winter).
Even when your Alocasia polly’s leaves turn yellow or your plant begins to become dormant, it will grow back in the following spring/summer. Brace yourself — it may even lose all of its leaves in the winter, and that is one hundred percent okay, we promise.
We’re going to tell you how to optimize your plant’s growth with the right soil, water, and light.
In spring, change your plant’s soil, using a mixture of peat-based soil, orchid bark, and perlite. Be sure to use a pot with goodly number of drainage holes as the Alocasia polly does not do well in soggy soil. This is also why the orchid bark and perlite are necessary, to prevent persistently wet conditions.
Do not allow your plant’s soil to become completely dry — water the soil often enough to keep it moist, and make sure its pot has good drainage. Watch out for standing water in its saucer, as this can lead to root rot. This may seem complicated, but over time you will figure out the balance for your plant’s water needs.
How much light does your Alocasia polly need?
To thrive, your plant will enjoy a moderately bright spot, without direct sunlight. Alocasia polly is susceptible to burnt leaves if allowed direct sun, so if it’s placed near a window, make sure it gets indirect sunlight or make sure light is filtered by a light curtain or other method.
Also, note that the more light your plant gets the more water it will need, so if you change its location, monitor moisture levels. And lastly, bear in mind that throughout the winter you can allow the soil to dry out a bit more than in the summer.
Tropical plant = loves humidity
Alocasia polly is a humidity-loving plant that originates from the rainforests of Asia. In other words, it absolutely enjoys a light misting to help it maintain a good humidity level. In particular, if you notice that the tips of your plant’s leaves are browning, this is a sign that it would benefit from more humidity. But, again, balance is key, as too much misting/moisture can cause fungus development.
Keeping all of these pointers in mind, give this plant the best spot you have in your home with bright, indirect light, some humidity and some calm understanding during its dormancy period (and time of yellow leaves).