How to Fertilize Alocasia Plant?
Alocasia plants can definitely benefit from fertilizing, although you need to be careful when and how you’re fertilizing them.
In what follows, I discuss how often you should fertilize Alocasia plants, the types of fertilizers you can use, and how to fertilize these plants for best results.
Do You Fertilize Alocasia Plants?
Yes, I do fertilize Alocasia plants. Normally, Alocasia plants are heavy feeders. Especially when they grow in their natural habitat.
Indoors, Alocasia plants may not grow as tall as outdoors, but they can still benefit from regular fertilizing, especially specimens that grow large.
Even though you may have an Alocasia that doesn’t grow as tall, the plant is still known for its large leaves.
To sustain healthy leaf growth, an Alocasia plant needs not only light, adequate temperature, correct watering, and humidity, but also a good fertilizing schedule.
The risk of over fertilizing and Alocasia is always present regardless of whether you have a tall-growing or a small-growing specimen.
Learning which type of fertilizer is best for Alocasia plants and how you should approach fertilizing, so that you maximize the benefits and eliminate the risks.
How Often to Fertilize Alocasia Plants?
Generally, I recommend that you fertilize only once a month, although you can fertilize Alocasia plants even twice a month, depending on the type of fertilizer you use and how you dilute it.
My go-to is usually a balanced liquid fertilizer that I apply once a month.
For juvenile Alocasia plants, I recommend that you dilute the liquid fertilizer. Start with a weak solution once a month and then, as the plant matures, you can switch to twice a month, or you can slowly increase its strength.
I like taking this incremental approach to fertilizing out of fear that I might burn the plant.
If you don’t want to use a liquid fertilizer, I recommend using a slow-release fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season.
You’ll need to work them into the potting mix, but they usually last for a couple months (They have an efficiency of 3-6 months).
You can go overboard even with a granular fertilizer, so don’t dismiss dosage recommendations thinking that a slow-release fertilizer might not lead to over fertilizing.
I’ve found that the ‘less is more’ approach is the best way to manage the fertilizing needs of Alocasia plants.
As I will discuss later on in this article, it’s important to avoid over-fertilizing Alocasia plants because the consequences are far worse than any benefit you would derive from excessive fertilizing.
I will also discuss alternatives to synthetic fertilizers and how you can make use of several household items to fertilize your houseplants.
Types of Fertilizers for Alocasia Plants
Home-made fertilizers may not meet the complete nutritional needs of your houseplants, but they can be a beneficial addition that will meet some nutritional demands and improve the quality and microbiology of the soil.
If you’re not a fan of DIY fertilizing, don’t worry! There are plenty of commercially available houseplant fertilizers that are worth trying instead.
Some of the fertilizers below are available in your kitchen pantry. Common household waste or by-products can double as houseplant fertilizer. Here are the best ones for Alocasia plants:
- Banana Peels
Whether composted or turned into a powder after drying in the sun or your oven, banana peels are a good source for potassium, hence their beneficial effect as a houseplant fertilizer.
While technically you can use raw banana peels as well, I don’t recommend it. Rotting banana peels can smell bad and they can attract pests, so try your best to either compost them or dry them and put them in a food processor to turn them into a powder.
You probably have eggs in the fridge, so next time you whip up an omelet, don’t throw away the shells.
Dry them, grind them with a pestle in a mortar, then use the powder as plant fertilizer. Make sure to clean the eggshells before drying them, otherwise they might be smelly.
Eggshells are said to moderate the acidity of the soil, provide calcium and improve the structure of the soil.
Although I’ve seen some gardeners use crushed eggshells over the potting soil, I prefer to turn them into a powder. It just looks much better than having crushed eggshells on the soil. I also like to work the powder into the soil and not just sprinkle it over.
- Coffee Grounds
If you’re a coffee drinker, you’ll be happy to find out that you can use spent coffee grounds as fertilizer. So, don’t throw used coffee grounds away – throw them on your compost pile.
I’ve seen recommendations to throw spent coffee grounds directly in the pot of your houseplant. I don’t recommend doing that.
When not composed, coffee grounds can cause bad odors, they can attract unwanted pests, and even cause fungal growth.
When composted, coffee grounds can improve the structure of the soil, which leads to better drainage and optimal moisture retention.
- Aquarium Water
You can even use aquarium water as a natural fertilizer for houseplants. The waste product of fish releases ammonia, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium into the water, which coincidentally are all beneficial for houseplants.
You can use aquarium water to water your Alocasia plants. Since you periodically need to replace your aquarium water, you can simply repurpose that water, so that nothing goes to waste.
Alocasia plants will benefit from the organic fertilizer and reward you with better growth, more vibrant and larger foliage.
One of my favorite organic fertilizers, compost can be extremely beneficial to houseplants including Alocasia plants.
The organic matter present in compost will improve soil structure, improve the microbiology of the soil, and offer better drainage.
If you have a garden, you can easily create a compost pile and sustain it by adding organic waste from your household.
Banana peels, vegetable peels, coffee grounds, and other compostable materials will add up to create a compost that you can use to improve the soil of your houseplants or the soil in your garden.
Although organic fertilizers are all good options for Alocasia plants, it’s important to understand that these may not offer the complete nutrition your plant needs.
You also can’t fine-tune their efficiency as well as you can with liquid fertilizers that are formulated in a certain way. If you’re looking for a more fine-tuned nutrition for your houseplants, commercially available fertilizers are the way to go.
Synthetic fertilizers have the advantage of being created with different NPK concentrations to meet a variety of plant needs. Some plants need a balanced fertilizer, others may have a higher demand for nitrogen, for example.
Of all synthetic fertilizers, I find liquid ones the easiest to deal with. But slow-release fertilizers or granular ones also have their advantages.
Liquid fertilizers are possibly the easiest to use and are available in a variety of formulations, often specially designed for a given type of plants (e.g., foliage plants, aroid plants, tropical plants, roses, etc.).
I always recommend that you use them diluted in water, although some are available in a ready-to-use formulation.
Because they’re so easy to dose and they’re affordable, liquid fertilizers are preferred by many gardeners.
For those not fond of synthetic liquid fertilizers, here are plenty of organic liquid fertilizers available. These are usually formulated with seaweed, worm castings, or bone meal.
Slow-release fertilizers are much like granular fertilizers, except they have a hard resin coating that breaks down slowly when the soil is watered and releases small amounts of fertilizer.
Otherwise known as time-release fertilizers, these coated granules can last anywhere from 3 to 6 months, significantly reducing the number of applications needed during a growing season.
If you know that you won’t have time to fertilize your plants regularly, these fertilizer granules are an excellent alternative to liquid fertilizers.
They can be worked into the soil when potting or repotting the plant. As with any fertilizer, there is still a risk of over fertilizing if you add too much of it, so pay close attention to dosage.
Granular fertilizers can be sprinkled over the potting mix or worked into the potting mix. They work just like other fertilizers, it’s just that they come in a granular form.
Organic granular fertilizers are also available for those not keen on using synthetic ones. Organic alternatives usually contain compost, manure, bone meal and other organics.
Regardless of the type of fertilizer you use, make sure to follow the dosage instructions on the label to avoid causing fertilizer burn to your houseplants.
When to Fertilize Alocasia Plants?
Alocasia plants should be fertilized in spring and summer either once or twice a month, depending on the maturity level, type of fertilizer, and how your plant reacts to being fertilized.
In autumn, the metabolism of Alocasia plants slows down and in winter the plant enters a dormancy period when the plant will require less energy and resources including less water and fertilizing.
When spring comes around, you can resume your normal fertilizing schedule, helping the plant kick off its growth stage again.
If you haven’t been fertilizing Alocasia plants at all and notice the following symptoms, consider putting your plant on a feeding schedule:
- Slow growth or no growth
- Small leaves
- Leaves that lack vibrancy
- Pale leaves
Not every symptom points to a lack of nutrients, so it’s important to eliminate other possibilities before reaching for the fertilizer.
For example, pale leaves can also be a symptom of a lack of light. Likewise, small leaves and no growth can also be caused by inadequate light, but also because of a bad quality potting mix.
How to Fertilize Alocasia Plants?
Start your fertilizing schedule for Alocasia plants in spring and continue fertilizing until autumn. Don’t fertilize in winter, when the plant is dormant and would not benefit from fertilizing.
Depending on the type of fertilizer you use, there are some ground rules you must follow:
- Don’t use fertilizers on dry soil, the risk of root burn is higher (moisten the soil before adding the fertilizer).
- Don’t fertilize close to the base or next to the roots, distribute the fertilizer evenly.
- Dilute liquid fertilizers or follow the dosage recommendations on the label.
Remember that it is always better to underutilize the fertilizer than to apply too much of it. Alocasia plants can get by with monthly fertilizing or twice a month with a weaker solution.
Avoid Over Fertilizing Your Alocasia Plant
If you apply too much fertilizer or apply it too often, mineral salts can quickly build up in the soil and the plant’s roots and leaves can suffer fertilizer burn.
If you suspect you’ve over fertilized, flushing the soil with water or repotting the plant can help mitigate the damages.
Here are the signs of too much fertilizing:
- Foliage loss
- Browning of leaf tips and leaf margins
- Yellowing leaves or wilting leaves
- Fertilizer crust on the soil surface
- Limp, browning roots (root burn)
Because some of these damages are irreversible, it’s important to prevent over fertilizing in the first place.
Can You Use Epsom Salt on Alocasia Plant?
Epsom salt can help counter magnesium deficiency in houseplants. Magnesium deficiency causes a lack of chlorophyll in the leaves, which is why plants with a magnesium deficiency usually have pale or discolored leaves.
Adding one tablespoon of Epsom salt to one gallon of water and watering your Alocasia with the mixture once a month can help remedy the situation.
If your regular fertilizer already contains magnesium, it’s unlikely that your Alocasia is deficient in magnesium and the problem may lie elsewhere (e.g., excess sun exposure, overwatering, lack of light, etc.).
Alocasia plants can certainly benefit from regular fertilizing especially at the beginning of the growing season.
But it’s important to choose the right fertilizer and understand dosage and frequency recommendation, so that you don’t accidentally damage your plant.
Follow the adage less is more – it’s much easier to supplement nutrients for a plant than it is to fix an over fertilization issue.