Alocasia Dragon Scale, also known as Philodendron Pertusum ‘Dragon Scales’, is a beautiful houseplant with large round green leaves with bright red veins. Its thick and heavy foliage makes it excellent at a screen or as an accent piece in your home or office.
Alocasia Dragon Scale Care Guide Overview
- How To Plant (when & where)
- How To Grow (staking, watering, fertilizing, humidity, mulching)
- How To Trim And Prune
- How To Pot And Repot
- How To Propagate (when & how)
- And Pests and Diseases, Plant Species, Companions, Toxicity
Alocasia Dragon Scale is a rare Philodendron hybrid. Its scientific name is Alocasia ‘Pertusa’.It’s scientific name ‘Pertusa’ means “rough.” The Lamiaceae plant family has many common names such as African Mask, Elephant Ear, and Taro. Its scientific name, Alocasia ‘Pertusa’, also known as Alocasia Pertusa, is somewhat more accurate since it’s not an Alocasia species at all.
Alocasia Dragon Scale originates from Southeast Asia and is a member of the Araceae family. It has thick, dark green leaves with red veins that run through them. The veins can grow up to 2″ long, sometimes bigger than that on some specimens! It is often confused with Alocasia Macrorrhiza, also known as Elephant Ear Plant, which grows in those regions.
Alocasia Dragon Scale is usually grown indoors, although, with proper care, it may be cultivated outside in USDA Hardiness Zones 10-11. It prefers partial shade but will tolerate full sun very well. This is a low-maintenance plant that thrives on neglect!
Height and Structure
The average height for the plant is 10-12,” but I have seen them as tall as 3 feet! The leaves grow from a central crown and can be as big as 16 inches wide. There is no tail on the end of the leaf, only a thick vein. The plant grows new leaves that appear in a cup shape and then open up to form a fan.
The plant thrives in areas with temperatures ranging from 55 to 90 degrees and loses most of its leaves when the temps get below 40 degrees. However, the plant has been witnessed to grow in areas where temperatures can get as low as 15F. If the area has high temperatures, it is recommended that you grow it under a shade cloth.
Its flowers are small, white, and bell-shaped. They normally blossom twice a year during spring and fall. There are distinct male flowers and female flowers, the females being bushy in shape.
Its flowering period is around 5 to 6 weeks long, with just a few blossoms each day. Hummingbirds and bees are the main pollinators of the plant. Additionally, wind, rain, and gravity also play a role in seed dispersal. The plant is almost 100 percent self-fertile.
How to Plant The Alocasia Dragon Scale
The most convenient time to plant is during the spring and summer months. This will allow you to take advantage of outdoor planting and outdoor growing seasons. Nevertheless, you can also grow it in fall. This will, however, require you to bring the plant indoors so that it can survive cooler outdoor temperatures.
When planting, you should ensure a minimum spacing of 15 inches between the plants. This ensures there’s enough room for the roots to grow. In case of limited space indoors, you can plant it alongside other houseplants.
The optimum lighting conditions for the plant are bright shade during summer and bright indirect sunlight in winter. Proper lighting will ensure that the plant grows to its full potential. When exposed to too much light or direct sunlight, it can become chlorotic or pale in color. On the other hand, when the lighting is too little, the plant will have very small leaves which often droop.
Alocasia Dragon Scale does best in soils with a pH of 5.6 to 7. It loses its leaves when the ph is lower than 5.5 or higher than 7.8. Additionally, the soil has to be well-draining to prevent root rot. For the Potted plants, the soil should be a combination of peat moss, perlite, or organic material. If the soil has a high water retention capacity, it is recommended that you mix the potting soil with equal amounts of sand.
How to Grow The Alocasia Dragon Scale
Alocasia Dragon Scale mainly tends to grow in areas close to running water. It is thus recommended that you plant it in wet soil. The plant’s leaves tend to grow downward, making them suitable for outdoor planting in ponds.
Alocasia Dragon Scale rarely needs to be stalked; however, when the plant is kept in a pot, its growth tends to be restricted. To encourage growth, you can stoke the roots regularly or add fertilizer to the soil.
If one of the branches is weak and needs to be stalked, remember to cut just above a leaf joint. This will encourage the plant to produce a new branch from that point. When training a branch, make sure you leave enough space between the stalks so that sunlight can reach all of them. The most recommended material to use for training the stems is twine.
The best way to water the plant is by simply pouring water over the leaves. This allows for even distribution of water throughout the plant. It is important not to overwater the plant or keep it in moist soil for a long time. Alternatively, you could water the plant by placing the pot in a tray of water and allowing the roots to soak up water from there. Additionally, you can also place it in a tray of pebbles and add water to the tray.
During the summer, water levels should be increased, whereas, during the winter, they should be lowered. You can check the need to water by feeling the soil. If it feels dry, then it’s time to water. If the soil feels moist, then you don’t need to water. The plant will lose its leaves during the winter months, thus making it difficult for it to absorb water. During this time, you should ensure that the soil isn’t kept moist.
The most recommended fertilizer for Alocasia Dragon Scale is a slow-release fertilizer that should be applied in spring and summer. This will ensure that the plant receives enough nutrients to maintain healthy growth. A good example of a slow-release fertilizer is Blood meal.
Alternatively, inorganic fertilizers can be used as well. While using inorganic fertilizers, ensure that their nutrients do not exceed the amount required by the plant. This can be determined by consulting a fertilizer analysis chart and matching it with your plant’s fertilizer requirements.
Alocasia Dragon Scale requires humidity levels of at least 60% to 90%. In case the humidity levels are too low, the leaves of the plant may start sagging. On the other hand, if an area is too humid, the plant’s leaves may start to look glossy. To rectify this, you should ensure that there is some way for air to circulate throughout the area.
Sufficient mulching is required for the plant. Mulching is important since it regulates the soil’s temperature, prevents water evaporation, controls weed growth, and produces fertilizer through the decomposition of mulch. Some of the materials approved for its mulching include bark, coconut coir, sawdust, and leaves.
Trimming and Pruning
Trimming and pruning are not that necessary however, general pruning will promote healthy growth. You should thin out the leaves to allow for proper sunlight penetration and air circulation. In addition, it allows the plant to be more compact. You should remove the dead leaves when pruning so that the plant does not have to deal with decaying organic matter. The best tool to use is a pair of sharp scissors.
Pot and Repotting
While potting the plant, you must use a pot with good drainage holes at the bottom, thus allowing excess water to drain out of the soil. It is recommended that the pot should have a diameter of at least 12 inches. A larger diameter allows for more open soil, which in turn encourages better growth of the plant, however, on the other hand, a larger pot may require more watering.
In addition to this, when re-potting the plant, the old soil should be removed and replaced with new soil. The old soil should be replaced with a potting soil mix. Alternatively, plan potting soils can be used as well.
The ideal time to Propagate the plant is in the spring. The best way to propagate it is by taking a cutting from an existing branch. You can use a sharp knife or a pair of sharp scissors. However, make sure not to damage the stem while doing this. Afterward, you should put the cutting into some moist soil for the roots to develop. After some time, a root system will start developing and allow you to put the plant in a separate pot.
Divide and Transplant
Like most garden plants Alocasia Dragon Scale can also be divided. This will require you to dig out the plant from its existing container and separate it into two smaller plants. The best time to divide it is right after the plant has flowered. This will allow for growth before winter sets in.
To make the re-potting easier, you should use a sharp knife to cut through the root ball before transplanting. When transplanting, the plant must be well hydrated. This prevents damage to the existing roots.
Pests and Diseases
Pests And Diseases are one the most common problems facing the plant. Some of the pests include root-knot nematodes, scale insects, thrips, spider mites, and whiteflies. The best way to deal with these infestations is by using insecticidal soap or neem oil.
However, if the infestation is too severe, you can always take steps to completely rid of them, depending on how serious it is.
Diseases, on the other hand, include fungal leaf spots, root rot, and anthracnose. The best way to deal with these diseases is also using fungicidal soap and neem oil.
The species of Alocasia Dragon Scale are native to Asia, mainly Indonesia. However, there are 19 sub-species of the plant. Some of the examples include Alocasia Macrorrhiza, Alocasia Polly, and Alocasia Calidora.
Alocasia Dragon Scale can be grown alongside other plants like bromeliads. However, do not plant it near orchids as they can be easily infested with scale insects. Other compatible garden plants include Tree Ferns, Cordyline, and Achyranthes. Some of the benefits of growing it alongside these plants include increased humidity and nutrient uptake.
Apart from these companion plants, it can also be grown alongside decorative grasses such as Fountaingrass and Pennisetum. In fact, this is a great way to fill up any garden as its green foliage creates a nice contrast with the light green color of other ornamental grasses.
The plant’s toxic levels are relatively low. However, if consumed in large quantities, it can be poisonous to animals. It has been known to cause damage to the central nervous system and stomach issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.