Sunday, January 31, 2010

Alocasias - an aroid that adds that architectural element to the tropical garden.

Now of course these aroids need to be placed carefully in a garden such as mine.  While they certainly love the humidity and heat, they would not survive out in the full sun in an outdoor garden bed during our summers - the searing rays of the full sun and the dry conditions would be less than ideal for these ornamental plants. 

The conditions in my greenhouse, however, are ideal for my Alocasia macrorrhiza - the Elephant Ear. This is such a great looking variety with its huge, glossy, green leaves with raised veins.

At the moment it's still quite young, but it is growing so well in the part shade and moist soil in the greenhouse garden bed.  I just love watching the large new leaves unfurling ...
My other alocasia ...

... is the striking hybrid Alocasia amazonica, commonly called the African Mask.  It has glossy, very dark green, leaves with silvery veins and undulating margins, making it look rather like a bat wing.

You will notice the spectacular foliage of this plant immediately in this grouping of potted plants out beside the pond in my courtyard garden.   In this location it receives only morning light and is in shade for the rest of the day.  It loves this rather bright humid spot nestled in amongst other plants right beside the pond.

This one is in bloom at the moment and showing it's inflorescence ...

I have another Alocasia x amazonica growing in an outdoor garden bed ... but certainly not in a position where it would get full sun.  It's in a bright spot where it only receives direct morning sun and remains in shade for the rest of the day and is growing a moist sheltered spot at the side of the garden bed.  

Overall, I find the amazonica needs bright light to survive ... I have tried growing it in the greenhouse, but it was not happy and very quickly showed signs of distress.  Outdoors, however, they have thrived given the right conditions.


  1. Hi Bernie, my friend planted an Elephant Ear into her compound ground. And it just grew so so big and look so majestic and beautiful :-D I agree, the plant really stands out.

    That group of tropical ferns you have... I finally get to see them! You have given them the best spot... morning sun and like you always suggest... next to a pond. I like the arrangement and foliage collection you have here... so cool! Btw, I spotted your Torenia there too ;-) What's the flower in scarlet and purplish besides it?

    Thanks for showing the way :-D

  2. This is one of my favorite plants! Very tough, leathery leaves make wonderful cut arrangements in water and make a great backdrop for flowers. In the garden the look great poking out of a mass of foliage, or as a standalone specimen. Are those macho ferns behind the macrorrhiza?

  3. G'day Stephanie ... luckily my Elephant Ear is contained a bit so it won't reach it's full potential - otherwise we'd have to cut a huge whole in the shadecloth covering the greenhouse!

    Yes the 4th photo does show the area where I keep potted plants that love a bit of shade and humidity ... it's one of my favourite corners of the garden.

    The two plants beside the torenia in this photo are regal pelargoniums ... but I'm afraid they've both given up on me. Not sure what the problem was ... but both of them died after their beautiful display of flowers!

  4. Hi Rainforest Gardener ... yes these two alocasias are my favourites too. They are magnificent plants.

    The huge fern you see behind the macrorrhize is indeed the Giant Sword Fern - Nephrolepis biserrata 'Macho'. I've always had this in all my gardens ... I love the enormous metre-long fronds on it ... and it covers such a lot of ground!

  5. Hi Bernie. What beautiful and lush looking plants. I particularly love the shot of the Elephants Ear unfurling, I can see why you would love to watch them grow!

  6. What lovely plants in your garden. It looks like a lush rain forest

  7. The Alocasias are certainly all time favourites. there are so many varieties. Your shade and moisture loving plants look superb. You have a great variety. It is a pleasure to see them thriving in the right conditions.

  8. Thanks for dropping by Mo ... I only have a couple of lush areas here and I have to work quite hard to keep them that way as this is a quite dry part of the world. But it's well worth the effort.

  9. G'day Titania ... I'm still developing the courtyard garden and I'm a big fan of the shade lovers, so the number of plants will definitely grow.


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