Ears of elephant is the name by which it is commonly called alocasia, flashy tropical plant with characteristic leaves reminiscent of the ears of elephant, precisely.
Halocasia is an evergreen rhizomatous shrub belonging to the Araceae family, which comes from the rainforests of Southeast Asia.
The name alocasia comes from assonance from colocasia, which is the genus in which this plant was first classified.
Ears of Elephant: Characteristics
Halocarsia, also generally known as elephant ears, is a plant formed by an underground rhizome from which the leaves and flowers are directly born.
The leaves can be as long as one metre and have different colours depending on the variety. The most common are the green ones, but there are also species with purple, purple or bronze leaves.
Alocasia does not have a copious flowering, which is also very rare in specimens grown at home. More than flowers, it is precisely these large leaves in the shape of elephant ears that are the main ornamental feature of this plant.
During the flowering period, in summer, a characteristic inflorescence, called spathe, appears between the leaves, similar to the flower of the callae, which, in autumn, produces only one roundish fruit, which, in turn, contains only one seed, not always fertile.
Ears of Elephant: Cultivation
The elephant’s ears are much appreciated for their exotic appearance and can create a lush environment even in city homes.
But halocayasy, despite its robust appearance and large size, is particularly delicate and its cultivation requires in-depth care and knowledge.
Due to the living conditions that are difficult to reproduce in an apartment, this plant tends to have a short existence.
It should be cultivated indoors, in a veranda or greenhouse, in both cases heated and humidified. Cultivation in the open ground is not to be excluded, but it is particularly difficult.
The ideal substrate is composed of universal soil with the addition of leaves and peat and sand and perlite to increase its draining capacity.
It must also be soft and well dissolved, because the roots of the halocase are quite fragile.
Climate and Exposure
To have a healthy elephant’s ear, it is necessary to reproduce the natural habitat of the rainforests from which the plant originates.
This plant needs constant temperatures all year round between 20 and 25 degrees and a high level of humidity. It does not tolerate cold and temperature changes and wants a position sheltered from cold and bright currents, but not directly exposed to sunlight.
Grown indoors, it is suitable for use near a south-facing window or veranda, and can be moved outdoors during the summer, when the minimum temperatures do not drop below 15°, in a semi-shaded area.
To ensure the right level of humidity, the leaves can be vaporized with demineralized water or placed in subpots full of water and expanded clay. Another solution is to place it close to other plants.
Halokasia always tends to orient itself towards the light source and, therefore, to avoid unbalanced growth, it should be rotated from time to time.
During the warmer months, watering must be abundant, so as to keep the soil always moist.
In winter, during the period of vegetative rest, we can intervene only when the soil is dry.
From March to October, during the growing season, it is advisable to add liquid fertilizer for green plants to the watering water every 15 days.
With the arrival of cold, it can be thinned out to one administration per month.
Ears Of Elephant: Parasites And Diseases
If the elephant’s ears are infested with cochineal or aphids, wash the leaves with water and alcohol.
On the other hand, a low level of humidity can cause a red spider’s attack and, in this case, it is sufficient to spray the leaves regularly.
With excessive exposure to the sun, the leaves become dark and wither.
While, if the margins begin to become dark and the leaves turn yellow, it means that the plant is suffering from little fertilization or poor soil.
Elephant ears contain unsolved crystals of calcium oxalate, a poisonous substance for humans and animals and, if ingested, irritates the mouth and intestinal tract.