Northern & Central Midwest
Favorite or New Plant
African mask (Alocasia x amazonica) has dark green, almost black, velvety leaves with silvery veins and edges. It needs bright to medium light in winter and indirect, medium light in summer, and should not receive direct sun at any time. Keep the soil moist at all times during the active growing season but allow it to dry somewhat in winter. These forgiving tubers tend to drop their leaves and go dormant if they get chilled or dry out too much, but they will simply send out new leaves when the conditions are right again. There are hundreds of alocasia species and cultivars available, in many colors and variegations.
Clever Gardening Technique
Use Moss to Prevent Damping Off
Milled sphagnum moss is an inexpensive way to prevent the scourge of seedlings: damping off. Purchase this finely milled moss at any garden center and then sprinkle it on top of your seedling flats when planting seeds. It contains a natural fungicide that stops damping off in its tracks.