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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22 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.

  5. When do the blooms typically appear? I have an Alocasia spp. (I don’t know the specific type, etc) and I’ve had it for two years. I bring it inside during the winter and it hangs out by a window near a vent. I noticed maybe a week ago (mid-March) that it had this odd looking ‘shoot’ thing on it. I thought perhaps it was a flower but wasn’t sure. My plant, called GG (I named it after all four of my great-grandmothers), was gorgeous last summer and had diminished in scale and leaf size over the winter, but I am just happy it is still seemingly healthy. It is now end of March. Do they bloom whenever or is based on environmental factors the plant encounters? I need to replant this year but am waiting to I have a new apartment because the next size up is going to be heavy! I hope it eventually opens in the next few weeks!

    1. I’m sorry for the late response. Most probably you are not interested in my reply anymore, but I decided to answer because it may help others.
      Back then when I was writing this article I thought that environmental factors (light, temperature, etc.) should play major role in triggering Alocasia to bloom. And I was trying to notice a pattern. Didn’t find significant regularity after more than 3 years of caring for my Polly. It seems like it blooms whenever. I also asked experienced collector this question and she said that her plants bloom more often in spring and summer and don’t bloom in winter. We have very different conditions with her anyway and my Polly is in flower right now in the middle of the winter. Also, she mentioned that there are some varities which are just much more willing to flower than others. To conclude, I think environmental factors play a role, but not that significant as for Schlumbergera, for example.
      Hope you successfully repot your plant and GG enjoys your new apartment!

  6. Hello!!

    My regal shield has bloomed 3 flowers and has 2 more forming now. Do they always die so quickly? I’d love to have more than one flower blooming at the same time but it appears that they take turns. One has dries up and dies before the next opens up. Does the fact that I have so many mean something?

    1. Again, I’m sorry for the late reply. I’m going to answer now because it may be interesting for others.
      I had more than one flower blooming at the same time on my Polly but more often they appear in series (one dies and next opens). Usually one flower holds several days. I didn’t intentionally observe which factors prolong blooming of Alocasia but from my experience with other plants: low temperatures may help.
      Does the amount of flowers mean something? As I mentioned in the answer to the previous comment – to my knowledge environmental factors play a role, but not that crucial.
      And unsolicited advice: since blooming is energy-consuming process and you have so many flowers, for the overall health of the plant it is probably better to fertilize.

  7. Hello. Thank you for your informative article. I have two pots of Alocasia pink dragon with 3 inflorescence and am thinking to manually pollinate but not sure when/how to collect pollen.

  8. Thanks so much for this awesome information! It was really eye-opening. My mom’s alocasia just bloomed and we had no idea they had the ability to bloom!

    1. Chances to find real A. sandariana in a regular plant store in my country are small. And I guess that real A. sandariana should be capricious in apartment settings what I can not say about my plant. Also, I’m not systematics nerd, but, to my knowledge, A. sandariana has more narrow leaves and fewer lateral veins. Correct me if I’m wrong, please.

  9. I have an Alocia pink dragon, I’ve had it for probably 7 years, and the stem or I think the rhizome is like a foot long and leaning outside the pot. Is it normal for the plant to have such a long rhizome, it’s been sick and I’m nursing it back to health but be rhizome gets long and longer.I would say the rhizome is about a foot long and then the stem of the new healthy leaf starts. Thoughts on care?

    1. It is normal for such mature Alocasia to have a long stem aka rhizome. And it will grow longer with each new leaf. You can enjoy its natural habit or use hard pruning to get rid of leaning rhizome. The choice depends on your aesthetic preferences and health status of the plant (for example, if Alocasia had rot problems and you are not sure that you can handle it, you can be extra cautious and root top cutting). And in the second scenario ideally you will have more plants – from top cutting, from the bottom in the old pot and maybe even some more from stem pieces.

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