Dwarf elephant ear, or alocasia gagaena, might sound strange for a plant so large, but you should see how big this one gets in the wild. In its natural habitat in South-East Asia, it can grow several metres tall. It’s obviously much smaller than that in a domestic setting, but it still commands a lot of space. You should give it a spot at least a metre wide to let its big leaves spread.
Alocasias typically grow in rainforests in southeast Asia. There are around 80 different types, with leaves of all different shapes and sizes. Despite their highly exotic looks, they grow happily indoors and have been a popular large houseplant since the 1950s.
To keep it healthy, keep its soil consistently moist (but not soggy), give it lots of light and try not to let it get too cold. It will also benefit from a feed with liquid fertiliser once per month in spring and summer.
If alocasia portodora gets a bit cold in winter, it may lose some leaves. Don’t worry. This is just its way of preserving energy and it will grow back with new vigour in spring.
Did you know?
The largest wild alocasia can grow leaves as large as 90cm. You’d need a big living room for those.