I’m excited to learn about this month’s plant from the Joy of Plants. The striking leaves of the Alocasia – or Elephant’s Ear – are their key feature and hard to take your eyes off.
Although the Joy of Plants says the Alocasia ‘conquered living rooms in the 1950s’, I think we might just now might be seeing the height of their popularity.
In fact, I struggled to find any reference to them in my old books, including in The Rochford Book of House Plants by Tom Rochford, of the leading nursery family. Published in 1961 he claims to include ‘all houseplants grown at the present time’. Maybe it was known under a different name?
I finally had success with AJ Huxley in 1957 who featured this Alocasia indica which he said was ‘sometimes obtainable’:
Turning to my trusty House Plant Expert, it says:
‘The Alocasias are distinctly uncommon – you will find them in a few textbooks and even fewer shops.’
This might have something to do with their temperamental attitude to being indoors in Britain. It’s a rainforest plant after all and likes to be warm and damp. The good news is that Alocasias tell you when they have had enough to drink:
If it’s overwatered, Alocasia ‘sweats out’ excess moisture, and a drop can appear on the tip of the leaf. This is called ‘guttation’ and will disappear if you reduce the amount of water you give. (credit Joy of Plants)
And a great bit of trivia is that it’s said to be the plant in Jack and the Beanstalk…