Alocasia Polly (also sold as African Mask Plant and Alocasia Amazonica) has become a popular addition to many people’s houseplant collections due to it’s stunning, unique foliage.
I consider Alocasia Polly care to be at more of an intermediate level. But if you follow this guide, you’ll find caring for your Alocasia Polly plant will be easy and rewarding.
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How to care for Alocasia Polly or Alocasia Amazonica houseplants
For Alocasia Polly care, the 3 most important factors are the following:
- Provide bright indirect light. Light is like food to plants and is very important for Alocasia Polly. You can provide bright light by placing your Alocasia Polly directly in front of an east- or west-facing window. A few hours of direct sunlight will be beneficial as well—just try to avoid prolonged/all-day direct sunlight.
- Water your Alocasia Polly thoroughly once the top 2-3 inches of soil becomes dry. You can stick your finger a few inches into the soil to feel for moisture, or you can use a moisture meter to check the moisture level and water once the meter reads 2-3. Be sure to let any excess water drain out of the drainage holes in your pot when you water.
- Plant your Alocasia Polly in a well-draining pot and soil mix. Choose a soil mix that can hold moisture but is well draining. I like to use a chunky aroid mix because it allows for excellent drainage and airflow throughout the soil and around the roots, which help prevent root rot.
Here’s the soil recipe I use:
Also, use a pot that has multiple drainage holes, as this again helps with drainage and airflow around the roots.
If you follow these 3 fundamental care requirements, your Alocasia Polly will thrive and look very healthy!
You may even see Alocasia Polly blooms in the spring! (Pictured below.)
The Alocasia Polly bloom will last about a week or two and then begin to die. Once the bloom dies, you can simply cut it off. The bloom won’t kill your Alocasia Polly, but you may lose one leaf when it blooms (which is normal).
After I cut the dead bloom off of my Alocaisa Polly, I had a new leaf grow in it’s place a couple months later (pictured below).
When the new leaf began to sprout, I did lose one mature leaf on my plant. This can be pretty typical so don’t worry if that happens. The plant uses a lot of energy to create blooms and new leaves and sometimes a mature leaf has to be sacrificed. But the plant is still healthy and beautiful overall!
Now, let’s walk through each of the above care tips in more detail and discuss other less important but still helpful care advice to maximize the health of your Alocasia Polly / Alocasia Amazonica / African mask plant.
IN THIS POST
1. Alocasia Polly dormancy
Alocasia Polly or Alocasia Amazonica sometimes go dormant in the winter. If this happens, many or all of it’s leaves will fall off.
But don’t give up on your plant! It’s bulb is still alive and will sprout new leaves in the spring once daylight and warmth increase.
Whether your Alocasia Polly goes dormant may depend on where you live and the conditions.
I live in southern California, where we have pretty mild winters, and my Alocasia Polly doesn’t go dormant in winter. I do keep it right by a large west-facing sliding glass door in the winter to help maximize it’s light during the short winter days.
In the winter, I don’t get much direct sunlight through this glass door, but I do get a good amount of bright indirect light (great for most houseplants).
Also, our winter temperatures don’t get too low, and we keep it above 65°F in the house, so that also helps the Alocasia Polly to avoid dormancy.
When I hear of Alocasia Polly plants going dormant, I feel like it’s usually people who live further north like the northern US or Canada. These places have pretty harsh winters with freezing temperatures and much shorter days than we do further south.
So, that could lead to a higher likelihood of Alocasia Polly plants going dormant, especially if temperatures in the room drop below 55 to 60°F.
However, if you’re able to keep your plant warm and give it enough light in the winter, you’ll have a better chance of preventing dormancy.
What to do if your Alocasia Polly goes dormant
If your Alocasia Polly or Alocasia Amazonica goes dormant, slow your watering way down. It’s roots are not going to take in much water while dormant, so you risk introducing root rot if you overwater.
Also, use your best judgement. If the soil is bone dry, then giving it a small amount of water is ok. But after you give it this water, don’t water it again unless the soil becomes mostly dry again.
Try to keep your Alocasia in a location that is warm and gets bright indirect sunlight, if possible. This will allow your Alocasia to start growing leaves again as soon as the conditions are right for it.
Once you start seeing new growth, you can begin watering it more regularly and following all the other care guidelines like normal.
2. How much light does Alocasia Polly or Alocasia Amazonica need?
Alocasia Polly or Alocasia Amazonica need bright, indirect sunlight. This light is very important for them to be able to thrive and produce new growth.
You can provide this kind of light by placing your Alocasia Polly (African mask plant) directly in front of an east- or west-facing window.
Your Alocasia Polly will enjoy a couple hours of direct sunlight through the window as well.
However, make sure your plant is not getting prolonged/all-day direct sunlight, which could burn the leaves.
Can Alocasia live in low light?
Alocasia Polly or Alocasia Amazonica is a houseplant that I would not put in low-light conditions. It may live for a short time, but eventually it will look worse and worse until it dies.
These plants really need a lot of bright light to thrive and look healthy.
3. Best Soil for Alocasia Polly & Potting Tips
The best soil mix for Alocasia Polly or Alocasia Amazonica is one that can retain moisture but is well draining.
If you’re a casual plant owner and don’t want to get too fancy with the soil, at the very least I recommend getting a peat- or coco coir-based potting mix, which is good for retaining moisture, and then add an equal amount of perlite or pumice to the mix to increase drainage and oxygen flow around the roots.
If you’d like to get more fancy with the potting mix, here’s the recipe I use for my Alocasia and other aroid plants (and they love it!):
Aroid potting mix recipe:
The image below shows how this potting mix looks once I’ve mixed all the ingredients together—nice and chunky!
I also like to keep my plants in nursery pots because they have a lot of nice drainage holes that prevent the soil from getting too soggy and causing root rot.
When it’s time to water, I remove the nursery pot from the cover pot, water it, let all excess water drain out, and then place it back in the cover pot.
How to repot Alocasia Polly plants
When it’s time to repot your Alocasia Polly, make sure to use a pot that is just the next size up (~2 inches larger in diameter than the original pot).
In my case, I repotted my Alocasia Polly from a 6 inch pot into an 8 inch pot.
If you repot your plant into a pot that is much larger than it’s current pot, water will likely sit in the soil because the roots aren’t extensive enough to properly absorb all the excess water. And this could lead to root rot.
You’ll know it’s time to repot your Alocasia Polly once the roots fill it’s current pot (shown below).
Gently loosen the roots at the bottom of the plant.
Then, cover the bottom of your new pot with your potting mix so that the top of the root ball will be at the same level as it was in the old pot.
Finally, place your Alocasia Polly in the new pot and fill in the sides with more of your potting mix.
Make sure to water your plant thoroughly after repotting, and allow any excess water to drain out through the drainage holes of your new pot.
4. How often should I water my Alocasia Polly or Alocasia Amazonica?
Alocasia Polly or Alocasia Amazonica should be watered once the top 2-3 inches of soil is dry.
Or if you’re using a moisture meter, water when the moisture is at a level of 2 or 3.
As you become more experienced with your houseplants, you’ll eventually be able to tell when it’s time to water based on the weight of the plant.
To do this, feel how heavy your plant is when the soil is completely dry (usually right after you’ve potted or repotted your Alocasia). Then, feel how heavy it is right after you’ve watered it. Once it’s weight feels like it’s about half way in between these two (or even closer to the dry weight), it’s probably a good time to water.
Don’t worry if the weight method seems a bit confusing right now. It will make more sense over time as you gain experience caring for houseplants.
Sticking your finger a few inches into the dirt or using a moisture meter are both good ways to determine the moisture level of your soil.
5. How do you fertilize Alocasia Polly or Amazonica?
I use dyna-gro 9-3-6 fertilizer because it has an optimal blend of both macro- and micronutrients. I add 1/4 tsp of this fertilizer to a gallon of filtered or distilled water and then water my plants. I will fertilize with this product about once per month during my Alocasia’s growing season.
Alternatively, you can use worm castings and fish emulsion (or water from your freshwater fish aquarium, if you have one) for a more natural, organic approach. These organic fertilizers are also gentler and don’t risk burning the plant.
Also, because organic fertilizers are gentler, you could fertilize with them every couple weeks.
Only fertilize your Alocasia Polly or Alocasia Amazonica during it’s growing season (i.e., while your plant is putting out new growth). The “growing season” can be different depending on where you live and the conditions in your home.
For example, my growing season is pretty much all year because I live in southern California. We have mild winters, and I make adjustments in the winter to ensure my houseplants still receive a good amount of light despite the shorter days and less intense sunlight. I also keep the temperature in my home above 65°F.
If you notice growth either slows or stops during the winter, don’t worry! That is also normal and can happen, especially if you live in a colder, northern climate.
However, make sure you stop fertilizing during this dormant time because the plant cannot take up the nutrients and you risk overfertilizing and harming your plant.
Once you notice new growth (likely starting in the spring and continuing through fall), then you can resume your fertilization routine.
6. What temperatures can Alocasia Polly or Amazonica tolerate?
Alocasia Polly or Alocasia Amazonica do best in temperature ranges of 65 to 80°F or 18 to 27°C.
If the temperature drops below 55 to 60°F, your Alocasia Polly could go into dormancy and loose all it’s leaves (as discussed previously).
Can Alocasia Polly go outside?
If you live in a tropical, humid climate, then yes your Alocasia Polly can thrive outdoors in a shady to dappled light location (receiving 3 hours or less of direct sunlight).
Even if the area you live in isn’t necessarily “tropical”, as long as its not dry or cold and you find a location that has shade or dappled sunlight, your Alocasia Polly can thrive outside. A good example is in the southeastern US, such as Florida or other nearby states.
However, if the temperature drops below 60°F, then you’ll want to bring your Alocasia inside to prevent dormancy (or even death if the temperature drops too low for an extended period).
7. How to propagate Alocasia Polly or Alocasia Amazonica
Propagating your Alocasia Polly or Alocasia Amazonica is easiest via offset division. This means dividing offshoots from the mother plant when you repot the plant.
To separate the offset from the mother plant, start by removing the entire plant from the pot. Gently remove any loose soil from the rootball by hand.
Then, gently pull the two plants apart (as shown below). Use your fingers to gently tease apart the roots from each plant. If the roots are tightly bound, you can use sharp sheers to cut them apart if necessary.
Once you’ve separated the two plants, you can pot each one in it’s own pot as previously described in the soil and potting section. And now you have two beautiful Alocasia Polly plants! (shown below)
Related Alocasia Polly Questions
Is Alocasia Polly poisonous to cats or dogs?
Yes, Alocasia plants are toxic to cats and dogs if chewed or ingested (according to the ASPCA).
Mouth irritation, swelling, drooling, and/or vomiting may occur, so be sure to keep this plant out of reach from pets!
Alocasia Amazonica vs Polly – What’s the difference?
Alocasia Polly (originally spelled Alocasia Poly but later changed by sellers) and Alocasia Amazonica are basically the same plant. They’re both hybrid plants, and Alocasia Polly was originally thought to be a smaller hybrid of Alocasia Amazonica.
However, in appears that’s probably not the case anymore after some DNA tests. (You can read a very in-depth history of both plants here if you like.)
Long story short, they’re basically the same plant and might differ slightly in size. But honestly, I doubt many nurseries or sellers are really differentiating between the two (if there ever even was a difference). In my experience, plants are often mislabeled or just labeled with a very generic name by many sellers.
If you see a plant labeled as Alocasia Polly, Alocasia Amazonica, or African mask plant, they are very likely all the same plant! And, they all have the same care requirements.
How big do Alocasia Polly and Alocasia Amazonica get?
As houseplants, Alocasia Polly or Alocasia Amazonica can grow up to 2 to 3 feet tall and wide with proper care.
Their arrowhead-shaped leaves can grow quite large, up to 10 inches in width and 20 inches in length!
How fast do Alocasia Polly and Alocasia Amazonica grow?
The growth rate of Alocasia Polly or Alocasia Amazonica will vary depending on the conditions and care they’re given.
I’ve found my Alocasia Polly will generally put out 1 to 2 new leaves per month in the summer. Don’t be alarmed if one leaf dies as a new one opens. That can happen sometimes and is just part of nature.