Alocasia × amazonica

Common Name: elephant's ear 
Type: Bulb
Family: Araceae
Native Range: Garden origin
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Greenish white
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Plants in the genus Alocasia are best grown in part shade, filtered sun or bright indirect light in consistently moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in high humidity locations protected from strong winds. Air temperatures should not dip below 60 degrees F. If grown in direct sun, leaf burn and pale foliage may result. Soil-based potting mixes may be best because they tend to retain moisture better than soilless mixes. Rhizomes or tuberous roots may be started indoors in pots or containers. After last spring frost date, containers may be taken outside and set out on the patio or sunk to the rim in the garden. Water and fertilize regularly. Before first fall frost, containers should be brought inside for overwintering in a warm, humid location out of direct sun in temperatures that typically do not dip below 60-65 degrees F. Reduce watering in winter. Return to the garden in spring. May be grown indoors year round as a houseplant.

Rhizomatous varieties are best left in pots year round. Tuberous varieties may be planted directly in the garden in late spring. After first fall frost, dig and lift tubers, shake off loose soil, dry and store in cool, dry location for winter.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Alocasia is an Aroid family genus that contains about 70 species of large-leaved, rhizomatous and tuberous perennials which typically grow 2-6’ tall. Long-stalked, arrowhead-shaped to heart-shaped leaves, often dramatically decorated and colorfully adorned, range in size, depending upon species, from 8” to 36” long. Genus plants are often commonly called elephant ears in obvious reference to the resemblance of the large leaves to the ears of an elephant. Small, calla-like flowers (green spadix and white spathe) are somewhat insignificant, often obscured by the foliage and rare to flower when plants are grown in containers. Species plants are native to tropical rainforests, secondary vegetation sites, and along streams or marshy places from India, Southeast Asia, and southern China through the South Pacific Islands (in particular The Philippines, Caroline Islands and Indonesia) to Eastern Australia.

These plants are primarily grown in the U.S. as houseplants with containers sometimes set outside on patios in summer or planted directly in the garden, but, in either case, brought indoors in fall before first fall frost date for overwintering indoors.

Hybridization has created many beautiful plants. Unfortunately many of the hybrids have unknown parents which makes them difficult to identify.

Alocasia x amazonica is a hybrid whose parents are unknown. It features leathery, wavy-edged, arrowhead-shaped, dark bronze-green leaves (to 16” long) with conspicuous, contrasting, thick white to silvery-green main veins. In terms of nursery sales, this hybrid is commonly available as a houseplant. In terms of botanical origin and proper nomenclature, it remains somewhat of a mystery. Some experts today consider Alocasia x amazonica to be a manufactured horticultural name rather than a legitimate scientific name. Although amazonica seems to suggest that this plant is native to the Amazon River in Brazil, none of the species of Alocasia are native to South America.

Some authorities currently believe that Alocasia x amazonica is simply a name applied by Salvadore Mauro in the 1950s to a hybrid created by him at his Miami, Florida nursery known as Amazon Nursery. Mauro never published or registered this hybrid name, however.

Genus name comes from the Greek words a meaning without and Colocasia the name of a closely allied genus, from which it was separated.

Specific epithet is probably in reference to the Amazon Nursery in Miami, Florida.

Problems

Watch for spider mites.

Garden Uses

Showy-leaved tropical plant for beds, borders or containers. Houseplant.