How to Care for Alocasia Melo?
A thick-leafed Alocasia with prominent veins, the Alocasia Melo features greenish-blue or jade leaves that grow impressively large for a terrestrial plant.
Because of the rugged texture of the leaves, the plant is also known as the Alocasia Rugosa. It’s an eye-catching Alocasia variety that will add that bit of intrigue to your indoor space.
If you’ve grown Alocasias before, this variety does not present with any added difficulties. For those new to this plant, my Alocasia Melo care tips below will help you grow it successfully.
Size & Growth
The plant forms erect petioles on which the rubbery leaves are formed. With a shrub-like structure, the Alocasia Melo doesn’t grow taller than 1-2 feet. Its leaves can grow as long as 20 inches and 10 inches wide.
These plants are usually sold at around 4-6 inches, so you’ll need to pay attention to their care requirements if you want it to grow to its maximum size.
Light conditions, watering routine, soil and humidity levels are probably the most important elements to focus on when caring for the Alocasia Melo.
Although the Alocasia Melo features thick, rubbery leaves, it doesn’t mean that they withstand full sunlight as succulents and cacti do. On the contrary, the leaves of the Alocasia are sensitive to direct light.
The plant prefers partial shade or bright indirect light. Direct sun, especially when too strong will leech the color out of the leaves and cause burning.
Dark shade should also be avoided; the plant needs bright indirect light to sustain leaf growth and maintain the green-blue leaf coloration specific to this Alocasia variety.
Indoors, find a spot a few feet away from a north or east-facing window. While outdoors, plant or keep under a tree which filters sunlight, so it doesn’t shine down directly on the Alocasia Melo.
For an Alocasia Melo that’s kept indoors, rotating the plant periodically will result in an even development and growth.
Watering mistakes are common with Alocasia plants. Overwatering is the biggest threat to these plants, but excessive underwatering can also cause problems.
Water moderately whenever the top 2 inches of the soil becomes dry. Don’t aim to soak the soil in water, because the Alocasia Melo doesn’t enjoy its roots sitting in soggy soil.
The other extreme, making the Alocasia plant go without water for too long will put the plant under stress, so don’t allow the soil to completely dry out.
The type of soil that works best for the Melo Alocasia is an aerated loamy and fast-draining soil that will not get saturated with water.
The problem with using regular potting soil is that it retains too much water and tends to become compacted with time. The soil of the Alocasia Melo should be well-aerated.
You can amend regular potting soil with peat, perlite, compost or coconut fiber to increase drainage and aeration.
You can find several types of commercially available mixes that will fit the needs of your Alocasia Melo, reducing the risk of root rot issues.
Temperature & Humidity
Alocasia Melos are generally comfortable in the 60 F – 85 F temperature range. When temperatures drop below 60 F, it’s wisest to move the plant indoors, where it will be protected from the cold.
Alocasias are cold-sensitive and cannot be overwintered outdoors. Likewise, temperatures that are too high are also problematic, causing a decline in the health of the foliage.
As tropical plants, it’s no question that these plants enjoy high humidity levels. Because of their above average humidity requirements, investing in a humidifier will help you recreate the high humidity levels this plant needs.
Maintaining humidity levels at 75% will help your plant thrive.
Alocasia Melos aren’t hungry for nutrients, but they tend to do much better with monthly fertilizing during the growing season.
You can use a general-purpose houseplant fertilizer or a foliage plant fertilizer, but dilute it to half strength or ⅓ of the recommended dose to prevent overfertilizing.
Beyond fertilizer burn, using too much fertilizer or using it too frequently can cause mineral build-up in the potting mix.
Occasionally flushing the mix with water can help dilute and wash away some of the built-up minerals but repotting and changing the potting mix is also recommended after a couple of years.
Potting & Repotting
The Alocasia Melo doesn’t mind being a bit pot bound. But the rhizome getting noticeably big for the pot or roots poking out of the drain holes are a sign that your plant needs a bigger pot.
Don’t go overboard with the pot size, a size or two bigger is plenty. Otherwise, the potting mix may take too long to dry, causing root problems.
Schedule any repotting activities to spring and replace the potting mixture. If you’re thinking of propagating the Melo, this is a good time to create new plants that you can grow separately.
How to Propagate Alocasia Melo?
While you’re repotting, check for shoots or divide the rhizome to divide the Alocasia Melo. Plant the rhizomes in the same type of potting mix as the mother plant and keep in a warm, humid location, out of direct sunlight.
Maintain the potting mix slightly moist so that the rhizome can develop new shoots. By the end of the second month, new shoots should be developed, and you can start implementing all the other plant care tips I described for mature Alocasia Melos.
By the third month since the division, your propagated Alocasia plant should have grown healthy new leaves that you can admire.
While there are plenty of leaf color varieties in Alocasia plants, the Melo stands out with its interesting texture and color grades.
Like other Alocasia varieties, this too is sensitive to overwatering, cold and excess sun exposure. The plant is even sensitive to cold drafts or heating/cooling vents, so keep it away from those too.
Finding a good location for your Alocasia and developing a correct watering routine will ensure that your plant will develop and mature in a healthy way.