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How to Care for Alocasia Imperial Red

Alocasia Imperial Red via Imgur

Bring the rainforest indoors with an Alocasia Imperial Red plant! This plant is native to tropical and subtropical Asia and Eastern Australia and is a family member of the lush elephant ear plant. The Alocasia Imperial Red is captivating with its shiny, large leaves on a bright red stalk.

Alocasia Imperial Red Origin

The Alocasia Imperial Red is a part of the genus Alocasia from the family Araceae. Plants from this lineage share deep green elephant ear shapes and stalks with rhizomatous roots. The Alocasia Imperial Red is a cross between an Alocasia odora and an unknown Alocasia macrorrhizos hybrid, thus giving it the name Alocasia Imperial Red based on its bright red stem.

via Reddit

Alocasia Imperial Red Size and Identification

Although it grows much larger in its natural rainforest environment, it typically grows to be around 4 feet tall in an indoor environment. A healthy, mature leaf of the Alocasia Imperial Red plant will grow up to about a foot long. The leaves of this plant are shiny green arrowhead shapes. A large central vein on the surface that runs down the meridian of the leaf branches out into smaller veins across the leaf.  

The Alocasia Imperial Red can be challenging to care for, but your Alocasia Imperial Red will thrive with the right information. Together we will explore the ideal lighting, humidity, temperature, soil, potting, and other factors to keep your beloved Alocasia Imperial Red healthy and happy.  

Light

    Alocasia Imperial Red thrives in bright, indirect light. Since this plant is native to tropical and subtropical environments, we can assume from the dark and wide-shaped leaves (as well as the height of this plant) that you could find the Alocasia Imperial Red towards the lower layers of the dense tropical canopy. The wide leaves most likely evolved to compete for more light. Since you would find the Alocasia Imperial Red at the lower layer of the forest, it would naturally receive light that the rest of the forest canopy has filtered.

    Since the plant is naturally accustomed to receiving this filtered light, the intense sun will burn its delicate leaves if placed in direct light. They love the early morning or late evening sun, but the middle of the day sun is just too intense. 

Make sure that your Alocasia Imperial Red is in an area where it is not receiving too much direct sunlight. If you notice your Alocasia Imperial Red with dark scorch marks on its leaves, it could be a sign that it is receiving too much direct light. 

Another sign that your Alocasia Imperial Red is getting too much sun is if the leaves start to dull from their intense green color into something more yellow or brown.

Since this plant is native to an area below the equator where the sun shines strongly almost yearly, you may need to supplement light for this plant using fluorescent lights during cloudy, sunless days. You should still take care not to expose the leaves directly to the light.

Humidity

Since this plant is native to a tropical climate, it loves a humid environment. This plant thrives in an environment of 70% humidity and above but will tolerate down to at least 50%. If you are not using a controlled greenhouse environment, it is recommended to mist the leaves frequently to keep your Alocasia Imperial Red happy.

The Alocasia Imperial Red does not like to be drowning in water either. It is important to consider the balance between too humid and just humid enough for this tropical companion.

Since this plant loves humidity, it is the perfect plant for more humid rooms in your home, such as the kitchen or bathroom. Aside from keeping the environment humid, which can be done through a variety of methods such as misting, adding a humidifier, or placing the plant on a tray of water and pebbles, it is also important that the area be well ventilated to avoid a fungus or pests living on your plant.

Temperature

These plants prefer a warm environment that mimics their home environment of the warm tropics. They prefer temperatures ranging from 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Since this is about the normal temperature range of a room where a human would feel comfortable, you could assume that if you feel comfortable in a warm room, your plant will also feel comfortable. 

Care should be particularly taken in the colder months of autumn and winter, so your plant does not get too cold. Naturally, your plant will go dormant these months and send more energy into the roots than it would the rest of the months. If you live in an environment where this might be a concern, perhaps purchase a space heater or move the plant into a room where it would receive more warmth. A cold environment for this plant risks death.

Soil

Since you would find these plants at the bottom of a dense rainforest, they thrive on the nutrient-dense organic material that would fall to the bottom of the forest floor. Therefore, growing this plant indoors requires a nutrient-dense soil mixture. 

Any typical house plant soil mix will achieve this desired result. To increase the nutrient content of the soil to mimic its rainforest-rich environment, you can add other elements such as compost, manure, peat moss, or anything else with this nutrient-dense element. 

This will also aid in root aeration, which is very important for the health and success of your Alocasia Imperial Red. However, ensure that when adding things like this to your soil mix, they are completely decomposed to avoid putting any diseases that may harm your plant into the potting mix.

Since the roots need aeration, they prefer soil that is well-draining and not packed tightly. You can use any regular house potting mix and add elements such as bark, coarse sand, or perlite to increase the aeration in the root system.

Fertilizer

If you keep your soil loaded with those nutrient-rich components such as manure or compost, it is likely that you will not even need to fertilize your plant. Signs that your Alocasia Imperial Red might need fertilizer are if the leaves begin to wilt and lose color. If you want to fertilize your plant or find that it becomes necessary, the Alocasia Imperial Red only needs fertilizer once a month. This plant will only need fertilization during the spring and summer months when it is experiencing peak growth and feels the most comfortable. It is not recommended to fertilize the plant in autumn or winter since it will be dormant during this time and does not need the added nutrients to grow.

You must take care as not to over-fertilize this delicate plant. The plant shows signs of over-fertilization when its leaves begin to appear burnt or browning. If you notice that the leaves appear scorched, it would be best to limit the amount of fertilizer you are using on the plant or stop fertilizing it together.

Potting/Repotting

The Alocasia Imperial Red does not need consistent repotting since it tends to enjoy growing root bound. It only needs to be repotted about every two to three years. 

A sign to look for to tell if your Alocasia Imperial Red is ready to be repotted is roots protruding out of the pot’s drainage holes. The roots coming out of the drainage holes signify that the root system is too big for the given pot, and the plant is asking for a larger space to grow. 

Another sign that your Alocasia Imperial Red needs to be repotted is if the leaves start to wilt between waterings. Once there are more roots than soil in the pot, it is a clear sign that your plant is asking to be repotted.

It is recommended to only repot your plant during the warmer months it is in a growing period so as not to disturb the dormant plant during the fall and winter.

To successfully repot your Alocasia Imperial Red, choose a pot slightly larger than its previous pot. Carefully loosen the soil and remove the entire plant with the roots being very careful not to break them. You can untangle them a bit to break up the soil to provide more aeration when it goes into its bigger home. Once in its new home, cover and fill with soil and place in a well-lit area.

Alocasia Imperial Red Propagation

It cannot be easy to propagate an Alocasia Imperial Red if you do not use the proper technique. This is not to say that it cannot be done. It just must be done carefully and, in a way, slightly different than what you may be used to. 

Unlike other node plants, Alocasia Imperial Red propagation is not as simple as cutting and replanting. Typically, a method called propagation by division is used to create new plants and give the original plant room to grow.

What is propagation by division? 

Quite literally, propagation by division divides up the growing plant to give them room to grow. This should typically occur during the warmer months when the plant is experiencing significant growth and is the most comfortable. If you decide to propagate the plant during the winter months while the plant is dormant, you risk losing your plant altogether. 

Before propagating, ensure that the humidity and warmth of the environment are to the plant’s liking so as not to add additional stress to the plant during an already stressful event.

You can start to consider propagating your Alocasia Imperial Red when you notice small plants growing around the base of the plant.

After the smaller plant grows a few leaves, choose the one with the most aerial roots to propagate. Aerial roots are roots that are suspended in the air and should be visible to the naked eye.

Loosen the soil around the base of the smaller plant and cut the root connecting it to the larger one with sterilized scissors. It is important to use sterilized scissors to ensure that no diseases are passed to the plant.  

Take the smaller newly cut plant and transplant it to your new pot with aerated and nutrient-rich soil. Please place it in a warm and sunny place.

Allow the soil to dry out before watering it to avoid overwatering, and follow the general care guidelines recommended here for Alocasia Imperial Red Care.

Alocasia Imperial Red Toxicity

Alocasia Imperial Red plants are toxic to humans and animals. Therefore, gloves are often recommended when handling this particular plant. Plants in the Alocasia family contain insoluble crystals that can get stuck in humans and animals’ skin or intestinal tract. 

Contact with this plant can cause skin irritations. Ingestion of the plant can also lead to inflammation of the sinus system, including the eyes, nose, and throat.

Keep your Alocasia Imperial Red plants away from children and pets. Signs of having ingested an Alocasia Imperial Red are pain, pawing at the face or the mouth, vomiting, decreased appetite or drooling. Contact a medical professional if any of these symptoms occur.

Alocasia Pink Dragon vs. Alocasia Imperial Red

Alocasia Pink Dragon (left) vs. Alocasia Imperial Red (right)

The Alocasia Imperial Red is often compared and confused with the Alocasia Pink Dragon due to its similar characteristics. Despite looking rather similar with a colorful stem and wide-brimmed leaves, the two plants are quite unique from one another. 

While the care practices, such as soil content and light preferences, are similar for these two plants, their subtle differences remind us that they are not the same plant. The most noteworthy difference is that the Alocasia Pink Dragon has slightly more defined ridge lines on the leaves that are a deeper shade of white than the Alocasia Imperial Red. Below is a generalized outline of their similarities and differences.

Similarities

Water, Light, Soil, Temperature Care

Reddish bright colored Stem

Wide Brimmed leaves

Arrowhead pointed shaped leaf

Grows to an indoor height of about 4 feet

Length of mature leaf about 1 foot

Differences

Alocasia Pink Dragon has whiter leaf veins.

Alocasia Pink Dragon appears to have a waxier leaf.

Alocasia Pink Dragon has a pinker stem, while Alocasia Imperial Red has a slightly redder stem.

Summary

Alocasia Imperial Red is a hybrid plant originating from tropical and subtropical rainforests. These large elephant ear leafed plants that grow on reddish stems thrive in humid, well-lit, and nutrient-dense environments. Alocasia Imperial Red should be frequently watered but enjoyed at a distance due to its toxic characteristics.

Where to Buy the Alocasia Imperial Red

If you are interested in owning your own Alocasia Imperial Red or want to check the price, the Alocasia Imperial Red is available for sale from different sellers on Amazon or Etsy.

Click Here to Check Price on Amazon

Click Here to Check Price on Etsy

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