Ask a Question forum: What's going on with my African Mask (Alocasia 'Polly') ?

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North Central TX (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
Mar 24, 2018 7:28 PM CST
I'm tempted to say that this leaf has sunburn because that would be an easy answer. But I thought I should ask the experts in case it's something more serious.
Thumb of 2018-03-25/tx_flower_child/7a1ef1

There's also something white on the leaf. I could scrape a little off with my fingernail but not all.


Thumb of 2018-03-25/tx_flower_child/4d5b99

Other than those 2 things, the plant seems healthy.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 25, 2018 9:05 AM CST
Those are generic symptoms that may be caused by too much direct sun or improper watering or root disturbance. Or it could be nothing at all. If the discoloration stays limited, then don't worry about it. If it expands, then it could be a root, water or light problem. Without more information, it is hard to tell if any of those apply.

If you want more assistance, post a photo that shows the entire plant, including its pot. Also, detail where it is relative to the nearest window and your watering routine.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 25, 2018 12:09 PM CST
Thanks. Will get pictures later. Some answers to your questions: it has not spread. The plant has been moved around some but is on the floor in front of south facing French doors. By moving around, I mean closer or a little farther back. (This is a busy spot as it's where many outdoor plants come in and out during the course of our strange Texas weather. Thus some rearranging.)

One thing that strikes me as odd is how little water it needs. I use a moisture meter to confirm my 'stick your finger in the soil test'. Also, the soil is unusual. It's soft and fluffy as if this were a fake plant. Maybe it's some potting soil that florists use? Or maybe it is a fake plant. It's in a 6" azalea pot.

The plant was in a gift basket which also had a fern. And as it turned out, there were 2 separate Alocasias in the basket. Didn't realize that until I removed it all from the basket. The other Alocasia sits on the opposite end of the area and seems happy. It has the same potting soil and also doesn't need much water. The fern is in a totally different area and it is doing well.

Another thought. Some of the nearby plants like to be misted. Would misting Alocasia cause a problem if I might have done so?

So I'll post some pictures in a little bit. Thought I'd give a little info, helpful or not, first.
Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
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kniphofia
Mar 25, 2018 12:25 PM CST
I think it's pretty normal for these to occasionally shed an old leaf. The one I used to have certainly did this.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 25, 2018 12:37 PM CST
Thanks, Sue. When yours lost a leaf, did the leaf show any particular signs of imminent death or just did a leaf drop?

Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 25, 2018 1:06 PM CST
Hard to be specific without a photo. A couple of thoughts:

1. Plants do not like to get moved around. In nature, they put down roots and stay there for their lives. Moving plants cause some stress as they try to adapt. The greater the change in light, the greater the stress. Best to find a suitable location and leave them there.

2. The soft, fluffy potting mix may be coir or ground coconut husk. It is a good potting medium but should have some perlite mixed in.

3. Moisture meters are notoriously inaccurate. If anything you should use your finger to confirm the meter, not the other way around. The meters do not work well with coir.

4. Misting does nothing for your plants. It is not effective at raising humidity as is commonly believed.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 25, 2018 2:41 PM CST
Glad you confirmed my opinion of moisture meters. I only use them at times to compare with sticking my finger in the soil.

Thanks for telling me about the potting soil. I'm not used to house plants, plus this was a gift.

As for misting, it's only if it gets hit when I'm misting a nearby plant.

Ok. Now for pictures. Again, the French doors face south. Today is cloudy but there's usually a lot of light. I keep the alocasia on the end so it doesn't get much of the bright light.

Thumb of 2018-03-25/tx_flower_child/e794ab
Thumb of 2018-03-25/tx_flower_child/f9857b

And more of a close up of the leaf in question.

Thumb of 2018-03-25/tx_flower_child/47b117

Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 25, 2018 6:36 PM CST
Thanks for the photos. The pot is a bit larger than necessary and you said that it doesn't seem to use much water. That may be because the root system is relatively small in proportion to the volume of soil. That means you have to be careful not to over water. The top half inch of soil should dry between watering and that should occur about once per week. If it takes longer, add less water.

Otherwise, I think you are on the right track. Look for healthy new growth as a sign that everything is okay. As Sue suggested, it is not uncommon for some older leaves to discolor and die.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
tx_flower_child
Mar 25, 2018 7:46 PM CST
The pot is what it came in. The gift basket had 2 alocasias (same size, separate pots) and a bird's nest fern.

Thanks for your advice!

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