Alocasia or elephant ear is a highly sought after plant for both interior and exterior decoration. Without a doubt, its most remarkable feature is the beauty of its large, intense green leaves. With its origins in Tropical Asia, this exotic plant does not usually have great complications to be cultivated. Anyway, in this article we will talk about how to use the fertilizer for elephant ears, in addition to dedicating a brief section to its most important care.
1. How to care your elephant ears
Although we have just said that this plant does not require very meticulous care, it will be necessary for you to know some key tips. Since this post is focused on the fertilization of the elephant ear plant, this section of the care will be quite brief, but I will leave a link at the end of the post where you can delve into the subject.
- Soil: it does not require excessively rich soils, it will be enough if it has some organic matter and has a good drainage capacity.
- Irrigation and humidity: you will need abundant waterings during spring and summer. Then in autumn and winter, the regularity of watering should be kept to a minimum. They like humid environments, so it’s good to spray their leaves with water or do something to increase the humidity.
- Temperature: With origins in the tropical part of the Asian continent, you can imagine that it does not like the cold very much. The ideal temperature range is 20-24 ° C.
- Pruning: You will only need your scissors to cut leaves that are starting to turn yellow or show signs of poor health. This means that the pruning needed is for cleaning only.
- Multiplication: the way to multiply or reproduce this plant is by dividing rhizomes. The procedure for dividing, selecting, and planting rhizomes is in early spring.
- Pests and diseases: in general all problems, be they pests, diseases or some other type of deficiency, can be seen in the leaves. For example, very dark and withered leaves can be a sign of too much sun.
- Fertilization: an important factor, especially in the months of full development. In the next sections we will analyze this point in depth.
2. NPK values: simple explanation
We fertilize to add nutrients to the soil, so that later our plant can take advantage of them. But how can we easily know what nutrients the fertilizers we are going to buy contain? That is exactly what the NPK values have been created for.
The NPK values represent the concentration that the fertilizer has of the three most important nutrients for any plant. Each of the three letters represents one of them.
- Nitrogen (N): favors the growth of the aerial part of the vegetables (leaves, stems). It is, in part, responsible for the green color of plants and confers resistance to pests.
- Phosphorus (P): it is very important in the ripening of flowers, seeds and fruits. It participates in the formation and development of roots and has an important role in resistance to drought.
- Potassium (K): it is decisive in the development of the whole plant, it allows the roots and stems to be strong and the seeds, fruits and leaves, large. It provides resistance to pests and diseases, helps the circulation of other nutrients around the plant, and regulates the functions of the plant.
Specifically, each number indicates the percentage by weight of the nutrient in question with respect to the total weight. For example, in a 10-10-10 fertilizer you will have 10% of the total weight of nitrogen, another 10% of phosphorus and another 10% of potassium. If the package is 1 kg, these three main nutrients will occupy 300 g.
If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.
3. Best fertilizer for elephant ears
In its ideal conditions this plant grows quickly, a factor that can be helped if we also apply a fertilizer. Although generally the results obtained are better applying commercial liquid fertilizers, organic fertilizers can also be applied.
We’ve listed the best fertilizers for elephant ear plants below, divided between commercial and other homemade organic. Then it will be up to you to decide what type of fertilizer you prefer to use.
3.1 Homemade fertilizer for Alocasia
Although in general the results obtained with homemade fertilizers are below commercial fertilizers, the truth is that using the former has certain advantages. Among them we can mention that it is very difficult to burn a plant using homemade ones, it also has no harmful effects on the microbial community of the soil, its cost is much lower.
For these reasons, we cannot stop recommending you some homemade fertilizers to fertilize your plants. In the case of elephant ears, they respond very well to the application of the following:
- Fish emulsion: to prepare this fertilizer, a fish should be placed in a large container with a lid along with three parts of sawdust, a bottle of sulfur-free molasses and a little water. Once this is done, you should stir and flip the fish every day. After approximately 15 days you will see that the fish will have already been discarded. Once decomposed, you can use the fish emulsion diluted with water. The usual ratio is one tablespoon of emulsion to one gallon of water.
- Fishbowl water: if you have a fishbowl at home you can take advantage of it to make a good homemade compost. You just have to save the water you get every time you wash the fish tank. Then use it as part of watering your plants.
- Compost tea: as its name suggests, it is a “tea” that is made from compost. To do this, put a good amount of compost in a burlap bag and let it sit in water for about 20 days. By then, the water will have turned yellow and can be used for fertilization. If the yellow is very dark (almost brown), dilute it in water until it is light yellow.
- Compost: there is no doubt that it is one of the most complete and economical organic fertilizers to make. At the same time, we use all the organic matter that we dispose of at home. It should be used when the decomposition is 100%.
In case you are growing your elephant ear plants as a houseplant, it may not be advisable to use a fertilizer such as a heavyweight emulsion as it tends to smell quite a bit. But if you can stand its smell, a fertilizer like that is ideal for this plant.
In general, if you only use homemade fertilizers, it is recommended that you accompany this fertilization plan with Epsom salts. You can make an application of these salts every 30 days, which not only provides nutrients but also helps keep possible pests in your elephant ears at bay.
3.2 Best liquid fertilizer for Alocasia
Without a doubt, if you want to see quick results in your Alocasias, it is best to apply specially balanced formulas for this type of plants. That is, mixtures with NPK values that adapt to the needs of these plants.
You should know that unlike homemade fertilizers, if you exceed a little in the dose with these fertilizers you can burn your plant. That is why you must be very careful when applying. And when in doubt, it is better to apply a lower dose than a higher one, since the problems can be irreversible.
In the first place among the recommendations we can mention the commercial fertilizers specially created for elephant ears. Generally good in a water soluble format with a 20-10-20 slow release mix. It is also very common for its formula to contain magnesium salts, so if you opt for one like this you should not apply Epsom salts.
Another fertilizer that works very well is balanced 20-20-20. Its use is very common in many types of plants. So if you buy it, you can take advantage of it not only for your elephant ears. If possible, look for a water soluble format with slow release of nutrients.
Finally, and especially if you grow it as an indoor plant, you can ask your nursery for some fertilizer for indoor plants. Generally, its formula includes a wide range of various indoor plants, including elephant ears.
4. How and when to fertilize elephant ears
Fertilizing elephant ear plants should begin in spring and finish in the early days of fall. In the autumn and winter months it is better to let the plant rest since it is not the development period.
Although we recommend commercial fertilizers and homemade organic fertilizers separately, the truth is that it can be beneficial to make a coordinated plan with both types of fertilizers. Below we will detail a coordinated fertilization plan that works very well in Alocasias.
In spring, start applying a balanced 20-20-20 slow release fertilizer. Consult the dosage and regularity of application in the instructions for use of the fertilizer. In general, with this type of fertilizer, one application every 30 days will suffice.
Along with this, you can add nutrients by applying organic matter to the soil (leaves, bark, peat). Not only will this provide nutrients as it breaks down, it will also work as mulch. Helping to maintain humidity and regulate the temperature of the soil.
Every two fertilizations of the 20-20-20 mix, you can supplant it by applying an organic fertilizer. It can be fish emulsion, compost or one of those that we recommend in the previous section. This combination will help improve the bacterial community in the soil, since the chemicals in commercial fertilizers are often harmful to the soil.
Finally, and especially if you see that the new leaves of your elephant ear look somewhat yellowish, you can help her with the application of Epsom salts. The dose to use is 1/8 cup of salts for every gallon of water. Accompany this application of salts with abundant irrigation.
5. Video – Fertilizing Alocasia black velvet
To finish the post we recommend that you watch the following video (from the Préstamo Vườn Hồng Vân channel), it deals with the care and fertilization of a small indoor Alocasia.
Before leaving, take advantage of and read about the fertilization of some of the following plants:
We are already at the end, I hope you have no doubts about how to use a fertilizer for elephant ears, otherwise you can return to this post as many times as you want or contact us.