Plant parent chronicles: My Alocasia Black Stem from then to now

Plant parent chronicles: My Alocasia Black Stem from then to now

I've been raising an Alocasia macrorrhiza 'Black Stem' over the past year. While it has grown up quite a bit, it still has a lot of growing to do. I want to share my personal experience caring for my Black Stem so far while I look ahead to its future. I hope my planting experience will offer some tips and insights if you're considering adding this stunning plant to your collection.

Why I Chose a Black Stem Alocasia

When I first came across a mature Black Stem in my previous apartment community, I was immediately drawn to its dramatic upright appearance. The contrast between the dark stems and the vibrant green leaves was simply mesmerizing. I knew I had to have one in my collection.

Black Stem Alocasia macrorrhiza planted in the landscape

Planning Ahead

I live in USDA hardiness zone 10a where temperatures don't usually dip below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, so I knew I was safe to grow my Black Stem outdoors without needing winter protection. I initially started it in my greenhouse anyway, but my ultimate plan was to keep it outdoors and to plant it in my landscape to help it reach its full, impressive height potential (12-15 feet). Black Stems thrive in full to part shade, so my ultimate spot will be in the landscape in the vicinity of a shade tree, but not too close so that it receives some sun. 

Getting Started

I was a little underwhelmed when I first got my Black Stem because it was small and had a dead leaf. Was the whole plant on its way to the grave? I know that elephant ears are often sold as corms, so not having leaves or only having one leaf shouldn't be worrisome in the long run, but it still made me nervous initially. I ended up cutting off the dead leaf, and then, with bated breath, I watched my plant continue to thrive. To my relief, the dying off foliage was just part Mother Nature's cycle. I was still in the Black Stem game. 

Black Stem Alocasia plant in a pot

First Repotting

A couple weeks later, the roots started to emerge from the bottom of the pot, so I decided it was time to repot to give this beauty some more growing room. I chose a quarter gallon size pot and left it outside in part sun to grow for several months. I got busy and pretty much ignored it besides watering every 2-3 days. This wasn’t a problem for my fairly self-sufficient Black Stem though. I love how easy-to-care-for it is!      

Roots protruding out of a plant's pot signaling time to repot
Black Stem Alocasia repotted into a larger pot

Second Repotting 

The bottom of the pot started to feel full and my Black Stem kept shedding leaves now and then, so I decided to stop neglecting it. I probably could have skipped straight to planting it in the ground from here, but I still haven’t chosen the exact spot I want it in yet. (My garden needs a little maintenance.) I potted it in a half-gallon pot. This is what my beauty looks like now. A second little Black Stem even sprouted in the pot.


My Care Routine

One of the things I love most about the Black Stem Alocasia is that it is relatively low-maintenance. However, there are a few key care tips that I've learned along the way:

1. Watering:

Black Stem Alocasias prefer to be kept evenly moist, but not soggy. I water mine two to three times a week, allowing the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings. It's important to avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot.

2. Humidity:

These plants thrive in high humidity environments. I live in Central Florida, so humidity is a given. If you don't live in a humid location, you can mist the leaves regularly. If growing indoors, using a humidifier can also help maintain the ideal humidity level.

3. Fertilizing:

I have been lazy about fertilizing my Black Stem Alocasia and know it could have grown much more if I had in a year’s worth of time. Once I get it in the ground this spring, I plan to fertilize with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer twice a month to help promote healthy growth and vibrant foliage.

The Rewards

Caring for a Black Stem Alocasia has been a truly rewarding experience. Watching the new leaves unfurl and the plant thrive under my care has been incredibly fulfilling. I can't wait to get it in the ground so I can watch it reach its full potential.

If you're considering adding a Black Stem Alocasia to your plant family, I highly recommend it. With a little love and attention, this stunning plant will reward you with its beauty and grace. Happy planting!

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