Alocasia baginda, otherwise known as Alocasia Dragonscale are making the rounds in South Africa at the moment, and although they’re absolutely stunning to look at, you should try and equip yourself with as much knowledge as possible on how to properly care for this plant because they can be a bit tricky at times (I only say that because I’ve killed one before when I was trying really hard not to).
These plants are from tropical rainforests in Southern Asia and Eastern Australis. They are often submitted to warm temperatures, high levels of humidity and a great deal of rain.
Lighting: These guys like bright indirect light. So if you think of a room, you’d want your plant to get as close to a window as possible without having sunlight shine directly on the leaves as this will burn the leaves. However, a bit of weak morning sun is ok.
Temperature: Coming from a tropical region, Alocasia Dragonscale are used to warm weather. They will be very happy between 18-27 degrees Celsius. If it gets below 18 degrees, your plant will start to show signs of stress and the first thing they will do is to pull nutrients from the oldest leaves to the bulb to act as a reserve to carry them through until better conditions. If Winter is upon you, then make sure to move your plant is indoors and keep it in a warm area where there aren’t too many cold drafts.
Humidity: Coming from a rainforest region, these guys would appreciate humidity. It’s often recommended that they be at 60%-80% humidity. If you don’t have a humidifier some people suggest putting a tray of pebbles submerged in water near the plant to help. Other places you could put your plant is in a bathroom due to the steam from running hot water, or in the vicinity of a kettle.
Watering: Alocasia do like water but they don’t like having consistently wet feet. So make sure the top soil of your Alocasia dries out between watering. Something that will help you to monitor the water allocation is by using a clear pot and having chunky and well draining soil.
Repotting: These guys like to be a bit root bound so you don’t have to repot regularly.
Toxicity: Alocasia in general have a high toxicity level and ingestion can cause swelling and ulceration in the throat.
Propagation: Your plant will produce smaller plants or ‘pups’ along side it that you can divide and plant out. A plant can also be divided if it has more than one clump in the pot.
SA- specific: If you bought your plant from a chain grocery store in June/August 2021 then here are some specifics regarding your plant. It has a relatively good mix of potting soil and perlite. It has also probably been given a high quantity of fertiliser recently so it won’t need feeding or repotting any time soon. Being Winter at the moment, it would do the plant more harm than good to repot it now.
I asked followers on Instagram to send me pictures of any issues they were experiencing with their plants. I followed up with some of the Saffron’s Garden advisors and here are some possible explanations for the issues.
Issue: Yellowing leaves
Firstly, it is Winter. Your plant is a tropical plant and anything below 18 degrees will already make it stress. Secondly, it has been moved from grower -> distributor -> shop -> your house. It is currently under severe stress from all the varying environmental changes. Thirdly, your plant has come from a shop that has relatively dim lighting, zero air movement and has been watered- chances are that it might have had too much water and is now indicating that. Your plant will inevitably look worse in your home than it would when you purchased it for the next few months until it has settled, temperatures have increased and you’ve worked out a good watering schedule.
Issue: Elongated leaves
Someone messaged saying that they thought the leaves looked different from some of the Alocasia Dragonscale leaves that they were seeing on social media. I hadn’t thought of it and just chalked it up to being the fact that leaves aren’t always perfectly uniform with one another. But upon more research it turns out that Jewel Alocasia such as the Dragonscale, Silver Dragon etc do have slightly more elongated leaves in their juvenile form and then as the plant matures it gets broader leaves.
Issue: Water dripping from leaves
This is a common phenomenon called guttation and should not be something to worry about. Guttation is in essence the adaption of some plants to get rid of extra moisture. This could generally happen at high levels of humidity or when there is lots of rain. Overwatering in essence could cause this so if this is accompanied by other signs of overwatering then you could perhaps try adjusting your watering schedule.
Issue: Discolouration on the backs of leaves
This is caused by guttation. The leaf will usually return to normal in a day or two.
Issue: Tears and bent leaves
Remember your plant has been manhandled and has traveled around the country during the last couple of weeks. A lot of plants had to unfurl their leaves cramped up against other plants or hard surfaces and so as a result are stuck in unnatural form. This doesn’t mean the leaf isn’t healthy, it’s still contributing to the well being of the overall plant. Tears in new leaves can also happen due to a lack of humidity.
If there’s something you feel I haven’t covered or if you think you could contribute some information that would be useful, please drop a comment. A HUGE thank you to everyone who sent through their photos and questions.