Indoor

Alocasia bloomed

There are many houseplants grown for their foliage rather for their flowers. Most aroids (Araceae family) arouse this kind of interest, including Alocasia. I have a plant named Alocasia x amazonica ‘Polly’ (despite of the fact that none of the alocasia spices are native to South America :D). 

I bought it 5 months ago in a discount corner of the plant store. It had 1.5 damaged leaves. I hadn’t determined the reason of its unhealthiness in the shop, but decided to try to rehabilitate the plant. During repotting the mystery was solved: initially this elephant ear was growing in bad-quality peat pellet that roots could not break through. Realizing roots seemed to help: after some delay (probably, root growth) it started to develop new leaves. But pretty soon the pot became too small for the plant (it drank all water from the soil in one day) and I decided to repot it in bigger pot. Curiosity forced me to remove the soil to look closely at the root system. I found 3 baby rhizomes and planted it separately. Not sure about this decision – maybe they were to young for disconnection, but we’ll see. 

Alocasia root system with baby rhizomes
Alocasia root system with baby rhizomes

Shortly after repotting mother plant showed new growth that turned out to be a flower. I’m questioning myself if the cause is bad or good. Stress or finally satisfactory conditions? Or may be loss of rhizomes: “Vegetative propagation failed, need sexual reproduction!”? Don’t know :)​

Blooming is definitely energy-consuming process. This is the main reason why many people hold an opinion that in case of ornamental-foliage houseplants it is better to remove flowers. For example, my elephant ear is loosing leaves because of the flower. However, I’m not going to get rid of the bloom. Firstly, because for now it looks safe for the plant in general – only initial 1.5 damaged leaves are withering. Secondly, I feel like it is so natural for the plant to flower that I do not want to break this process. It may sound weird but sometimes I feel that it would be too brutal. And thirdly, I’m just curious to see the flower :D​

Alocasia withering leaves during bloom
Alocasia withering leaves during bloom

Aroid’s “flower” is actually an inflorescence surrounded by a leafy structure called spathe. Inflorescence is similar to a spike but with fleshy stem and is called spadix. Some members of Araceae family have bisexual flowers. Others have unisexual flowers located in different zones of the spadix. Alocasia species belong to the second group. Alocasia‘s female flowers are hidden in the floral chamber (spherical bottom part), while male flowers are located in the upper part of the spadix. There is a sterile zone in between and appendix above male flowers.  Pistillate and staminate flowers on the same spadix are not “blooming” at the same time. The cycle starts with female flowers, then pause, then male flowers. It means that when there is pollen on the male flowers, female flowers are already not receptive. It forces cross-pollination. Pollination process of aroids has so many details! For example, interaction with pollinators (rewards and traps) has many expressions – temperature, pheromones, spathe movement and others. I wish to learn about it more.

Alocasia "flower" consists of spathe, spadix and floral chamber
Alocasia’s “flower” structure
Alocasia bloom progress

At last, I want to share the link on a nice short film about other aroid’s bloom – Amorphophallus titanum (corpse flower).

UPD:

Alocasia bloom progress
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8 thoughts on “Alocasia bloomed

  1. My alocasia send out two blooms and the white tips have dried and died. Do I leave the stems as they are or do I cut them. Also I noticed there is another leaf and a shoot at the base starting to grow. I love this plant and never thought I would.

    1. Congratulations on new growth! I had been overlooking alocasia for a long time too. I shouldn’t – wonderful plant.
      All green parts of a plant carry out photosynthesis. In this context theoretically your alocasia benefits from green chamber, for example. But I guess that practically it makes very small contribution to overall process. So, assuming that polination didn’t occur, leaving or cutting – it’s a matter of your taste.

  2. Very helpful. I bought and repotted an Alocasia two months ago, just for shade on my patio. It has two blooms which are startling and sculptural. Now I know more—thank you.
    Trying to figure out where it will winter inside my townhouse.

  3. Love your descriptions and explanations! Like you, I purchased mine with a couple of damaged leaves at a large discount home store. Somehow it “called out” to me. It has turned out to be an amazing plant, and my biggest challenge has been to continue to accommodate the space required for its increase in size. It has been about 6 months since I brought it home and have re-potted it once, so we will see how it continues to grow. Keep up the good work!

    1. Happy to hear about one more successful plant rescue 🙂
      Thank you for the kind words. And good luck with your plant!

  4. I got a bloom out of my alocasia regal shields which is great! But now the flower is dying, do I cut the dead bloom off?

    1. I love Alocasia ‘Regal Shields’, it is a gorgeous plant 💚
      As I mention earlier in the comments: assuming that polination didn’t occur, leaving or cutting the bloom – it’s a matter of your taste. The flower will gradually dry up and eventually will fall off as old leaves do.

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