If you’re looking for a stunning houseplant that will add an exotic flare to your indoor space, look no further than Alocasia Polly.
This plant is famous for its striking foliage, characterized by glossy, dark green leaves with prominent white veining.With its unique and eye-catching appearance, Alocasia Polly will surely be a conversation starter and a favorite among plant enthusiasts.
But beyond its striking looks, this plant is also relatively easy to care for, making it an excellent choice for experienced and novice plant parents. So, Alocasia Polly is a plant to consider whether you’re an avid collector or just looking for a statement piece to liven up your living space.
Read on to learn more about this small plant that makes a big statement.
Botanical Name: Alocasia × amazonica ‘Polly’
Common Name: Alocasia Polly, African mask plant
Plant Type: Bulb
Hardiness Zones: 10 – 12 USDA
Sun Exposure: Partly shade and indirect sunlight
Soil Type: Moist and well drained
Soil pH: Acidic
Height: 1 to 3 ft.
Bloom Time: Summer
Flower Color: Cream, pale green
Native Area: Southern Asia
What’s an Alocasia Polly?
This unique elephant ear plant was developed as a smaller version of its parent, Alocasia x amazonica ‘Polly’ (assumed scientific name). Alocasia x amazonica is a hybrid produced by cross-breeding two other Alocasia species: Alocasia watsoniana and Alocasia sanderiana.
Alocasias are members of the Aroid family and native to different parts of Asia but can also be found in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Australia.
Although its name suggests otherwise, neither Alocasia variety originates from the Amazon rainforest. Alocasia Polly was artificially created, although its ‘ancestors’ can be naturally found in Asian rainforests.
Two common names for the Alocasia Polly are African Mask Plant and Amazonian Elephant’s Ear, and ironically, its roots are in another continent. Alocasia Polly’s ‘parents’ are native to China, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia.
This unique cultivar was created in the 1950s by Salvadore Mauro, a Florida developer and greenhouse grower who owned the former Amazon Nursery.
The boldly patterned and dark green leaves of the Alocasia Polly plants make it stand out from a regular alocasia or other regular houseplants.
But, at the same time, its small size means that even in limited spaces, you can find room to grow your own Alocasia Polly.
This elephant ear plant also helps clear the air from harmful chemicals like formaldehyde.
Alocasia Polly Care
The care guidelines for Alocasia Polly plants are a little more critical than others. Alocasia Polly is a pretty fussy plant and will go into hibernation mode or die off if its care is lacking anywhere.
Adequate care of this plant entails supplying this tropical plant with rainforest-like conditions. This plant care essentially involves bright indirect light, warm and humid environment, and consistently moist soil.
Imitating rainforest conditions for Alocasia varieties is crucial. Finding the right location, light, temperature, and humidity can be challenging.
The ideal location for this plant is in a greenhouse where temperature and humidity can be controlled. But luckily, this plant can also thrive inside your home with extra care.
One of the most important factors to keep your Alocasia plant happy is humidity; luckily, there are other ways to ensure the moisture in the air is enough for your plant, like placing it in the bathroom or the kitchen or keeping it near a humidifier.
When found in the rainforest, Alocasia plants grow under canopy trees. While the tropical sun is bright and hot, the trees filter it out for the plants. When you have an Alocasia Polly at home, the light requirements are bright, indirect sunlight. These lighting needs can be met by placing your plant directly in a north or east facing window where it will receive the soft morning light instead of harsh direct light.
If all you have is west or south exposure, find a place out of the full sun because direct sunlight can burn or bleach the plant’s leaves. A sheer curtain can help block the harshest rays if needed. If you move your plant to a higher-light location, be sure to acclimate it carefully.
Wipe your plant’s leaves occasionally with a soft cloth to remove dust and help your Alocasia Polly soak as much light as possible.
This plant is slightly demanding with its water needs. Alocasia Polly enjoys consistently moist soil (but not soaking wet). Alocasia Polly plants thrive in the rainforest’s damp soil, which is never saturated. Your Alocasia watering routine needs to maintain the same moist consistency.
Water your tropical plant whenever the top inch of the soil is dry by gently moistening the top layer. Never let your Alocasia sit in water; it cause the roots to need air, and overwatering your plant can cause root rot.
As tropical plants, they need to have their soil consistently damp but not soaking wet. The best way to know when to water your plant again is to put your finger into the top inch of the soil, and if it feels dry, water thoroughly until you see excess water coming out of the pot’s drainage hole.
Alocasia plants can be sensitive to chlorine found in tap water. So you may wanna use distilled water instead or let the tap water sit for several hours before using it.
As mentioned before, the air around this tropical plant should stay quite humid.
Like all tropical houseplants, Alocasia Polly plants can struggle, especially during Winter.
To combat this, you can spray your plants regularly or use a humidity pebble tray and a layer of water, but a humid setting is the best way to keep your plant happy and healthy.
One of the best options is to run a humidifier or group plants together to create a mini rainforest setting using an old aquarium, a greenhouse cabinet, or a humidity box and keep it on a high humidity setting.
Alocasia Polly plants should always be kept moist, but as with almost all plant species, the soil should not be soaking wet as root rot and other problems can become an issue.
Plant roots especially need well-draining soil and plenty of air pockets.
You can always buy Aroid soil mix for your Alocasia ‘Polly’, but it’s also easy to make yourself (many houseplants appreciate these airy and potting soil-free mixes).
Combine 1 part of perlite, five parts of orchid bark, and 1 part of sphagnum moss for a basic Aroid mix.
If you have a lot of greenery, DIY-ing can cut costs. Also, an easy draining soil with lots of coco coir will help keep the plant’s balance.
The Alocasia Polly plant blooms all year round as it uses a lot of energy to grow quickly.
If you want to keep up with your plant’s growth, you need to fertilize it once per month during its growing period in spring and summer; and once per quarter in fall and Winter, except when the plant goes into dormancy.
The best way to fertilize Alocasia Polly plants is by using liquid fertilizer or fertilizing sticks (stick to the package instructions). When you use these types of fertilizers, you won’t have to fertilize your plants as often as stated before, and you can stick to 3-4 times per year.
Fertilizing your Alocasia Polly will encourage the strong and healthy growth of its arrowhead-shaped leaves.
If your plant has problems like pests or root rot, DO NOT fertilize it. Fertilizing a damaged plant will put it in a more stressful situation.
Once your plant recovers, you can continue with your normal care routine.
Alocasia Polly Propagation
This plant’s propagation is usually done by root division, as stem cuttings won’t work –unlike other plants. However, it’s really easy to propagate this tropical plant when you repot it every two years or so.
First, pull the root ball out of the pot, and shake off most of the soil (or as much as possible). After this, you should be able to see a tangle of corms twisted together; gently tug them apart – you can cut them if necessary.
Alocasia Polly’s common problems
As mentioned before, Alocasia Polly can be difficult to grow, but most of this plant’s problems can be avoided with proper care. Use your plant’s leaves to indicate potential issues.
Leaves curling up
If you notice your Alocasia Polly’s leaves are curling up, it’s more likely that your plant is getting too much direct light and/or too little humidity. Change one variable at a time to spot the source of the issue.
Brown spots or droopy stems
Mushy brown spots and legginess can be a sign of root rot. If not controlled, the brown spots will spread until the whole leaf dies. You can stop root rot by backing away from watering and repotting your plant into more suitable soil.
There are not a lot of Alocasia Polly pests. The only pest you will likely encounter on your plant is spider mites.
These bugs suck the sap out of the Alocasia Polly’s leaves, leaving small yellow or white dots that eventually turn brown.
It’s hard to spot spider mites, but you can find their sticky webs in more advanced infestations. If your plant is suffering from spider mite pests, take your plant into the shower and spray down all surfaces.
Yellow leaves and droopy stems
If your plant’s leaves are slowly yellowing and drooping, you’re probably overwatering the plant. You can trim the yellow off, and the plant may return to life.
Root Rot is the most common disease that affects this plant.
If your leaves start to droop, turn yellow, and the stems turn soft, pull the root ball out of the plant’s pot, cut away any black roots, affected stems, and leaves, then repot into fresh soil.
Orange/brown spots on the leaves may be a sign of fungal disease, usually caused by wet conditions on the foliage. Cut out all affected leaves, and do not mist your plant in the future.
Alocasia Polly Toxicity
Alocasia genus, in general, is toxic to both pets and humans.
Like most houseplants, Alocasia plants contain insoluble calcium oxalates, which cause an intense burning sensation in the mouth and surrounding areas.
Keep your Alocasia Polly out of reach of children and pets. You might also want to wear gloves when handling this plant for propagation or repotting.
Other Houseplant Guides from Planet Natural:
How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Alocasia (Elephant’s Ear)
How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Alocasia Black Velvet – Full Guide
11 Best Indoor Plants of 2023 (Easy, Low-Maintenance Plants)
Melissa Askari is a biologist and master gardener who is known for her contributions to the field of sustainable living. She is a regular contributor to Planet Natural, a website that provides information and resources for gardening, composting and pest control. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices and helping people create beautiful, healthy gardens using natural methods. With her expertise in both biology and gardening, Melissa is able to provide valuable insights and advice to gardeners of all levels. Her passion for the natural world is evident in her writing and her dedication to promoting sustainable practices that benefit both people and the planet.