A feature plant that actually listens! Okay, technically it doesn’t have ears, but the leaves do resemble those of elephant ears; so much so the plant is aptly nicknamed. The stunning Alocasia Regal Shield is a cross between an Alocasia Black Velvet and an Alocasia Odora taking its velvety blackness from one and its size from the other.
This dramatic exotic plant is even picked by some to replace the Fiddle Leaf Fig as the “it” large houseplant. Just like the Fiddle Leaf Fig, this plant needs a little extra TLC, but is oh so worth it.
How to care for your Alocasia Regal Shield (Elephant Ear).
In a sentence, they prefer bright shade, high humidity, consistent moisture, soft porous soil and warm temperatures.
Soil & Potting
When it comes to soil, we’re looking for a loamy (combo of soil, silt & clay) rich organic mix. The soil needs to be well-drained, moisture-retentive and slightly acidic with a PH between 5.5 and 7.0. The roots of the Elephant Ear need oxygen or unfortunately they will rot and die. Any soil that’s too wet and mucky will stick to the roots and won’t let them breathe and any soil that is too dry or sandy won’t retain enough water.
Since the roots like to breath you may wish to use a large terracotta pot for this plant. This also adds a bit of stability to the base as the Regal Shield does get top heavy relatively quickly.
Alocasia Regal Shields grow best in dappled light conditions. For bright indirect light, place near a north facing window, but be sure to use sheer drapes or the like so that the rays don’t burn their leaves. The plant also tends to grow in the direction of light so its recommended you rotate the pot on a weekly basis for rounded growth.
The Elephant Ear benefits from consistently moist soil which means during the warmer months you can confidently water every other day. During the colder months, watering needs to be cut down drastically as the plant is highly susceptible to root rot. One care hack is to watch the leaves as they will droop and drip water from the tips when overwatered.
Temperature & Humidity
Elephant Ears like it warm, with preferable room temperatures between 20-30c during the day and no lower than 16c overnight. Prolonged exposure below this will slow growing and the leaves may even drop. Keep out of a direct line from your HVAC units too.
As a tropical plant, it also prefers high humidity and so feel free to use pebble trays, humidifiers and occasional misting to keep hydrated.
Like many large-leaved tropical plants, Elephant Ears are heavy feeders. Firstly, make sure the soil is rich in organic nutrients. From there, the plant will benefit from a diluted high-nitrogen liquid fertiliser every few weeks, particularly during the growing months of spring. A word of caution, too much plant fertiliser can cause salt build in the soil which can result in leaf burn and kill your plant.
Diagnosis Cheat Sheet
Leaves dropping suddenly – The plant may be exposed to cold drafts.
Wilting or drooping of leaves – Likely root rot caused by overwatering. If the roots are brown and slushy (rather than white and healthy), attempt a repot.
Leaves yellowing – Likely due to salt build-up from over fertilisation. Water deeply 3 or 4 times to wash the salts away.
Leaf edema – If you find damp waterlogged discolored blotches on the leaf this is the result of overwatering causing disease in the plant. Dry the soil or repot.
Wet brown spots on the leaves – It is important that you get rid of the affected leaves immediately as this may be bacteria build-up. Cut down the watering and mainly stop getting the leaves wet.
Of course, Willow can track all these things for you and alert you when an action is required to keep your plant, be it an Elephant Ear or any other, happy.