The Alocasia genus is really one of my favorites. Plants in this genus come in a variety of sizes and colors and are known for their distinctive foliage. The Alocasia azlanii is a unique plant within an already special genus. It has deep purple, almost black, leaves that have a leathery look and texture!
This is an extraordinary plant that adapts well to indoor, house plant life, once all of its needs are met. My Alocasia azlanii care guide will detail everything you need to keep this plant vibrant and healthy.
Table of contents
Alocasias are a category of plants that are beloved for their strikingly broad leaves. With nearly a hundred individual species, they can be found in a variety of colors, such as yellow, green, and even purple. Thanks to their charming, tropical looks, they are highly collectible and make excellent houseplants. One of the newest species to hit the commercial market is the Alocasia azlanii.
The Alocasia azlanii is native to the island of Borneo in the Malay Archipelago where it has evolved to thrive in hot, humid conditions. While this plant has no doubt been growing in nature for a long time, it didn’t come on the official botany radar until about ten years ago.
Appearance-wise, it has the oversized leaves typical of the genus. The Alocasia ‘Red Mambo’ is known for its impressively deep purple leaves that are so dark that they can appear black. When in the light, the leaves have a glossy sheen. If you look closely, you will notice that the veining is a deep maroon. Each leaf has an almost imperceptible light green margin that runs around the entire outer rim.
- Common Name: Red Mambo, Alocasia ‘Red Mambo’, Red Mambo Alocasia
- Scientific Name: Alocasia azlanii
- Mature Size: two feet tall
- Sunlight: bright, indirect light
- Water: when top 2 inches are dry
- Soil: well-draining, loose
- Temperature: 55°F-90°F
- Propagation: offset division and corms
- Hardiness Zone: 9-11
- Toxicity: toxic to humans and pets
Growth Pattern and Habits
Also known as the Red Mambo plant, the Alocasia azlanii’s size at maturity is relatively small, with potential to reach a maximum height of two feet. However, what it lacks in height, it makes up for in leaf size. Mature leaves can measure up to eight inches in length, which may have a wavy or wrinkled appearance.
Like all other Alocasia, the Alocasia azlanii’s leaves are somewhat arrow-shaped, however they lack the pointy, sharp lines of many of the other species. Instead, an Alocasia azlanii’s leaves have a shallower notch at the apex, giving it a rounder, softer appearance.
The Alocasia azlanii is a tuberous plant that grows from a central rhizome. A rhizome is a modified, underground stem from which roots and stems grow. The rhizome spreads horizontally under the soil, rather than vertically. Because of this, the Alocasia azlanii grows in a clumping pattern. This growth characteristic is important to consider when talking about Alocasia azlanii propagation, which I will go into later in this care guide.
Pro Tip – It is important to rotate your plant weekly so it doesn’t lean too much in one direction as it stretches towards a light source. At this time I also suggest dusting the leaves and checking for pests!
Under the right water, light, and soil conditions, the plant may produce a new leaf every week during the active growth periods of spring and summer. As we take a closer look at each of these aspects of Alocasia azlanii care, it’s important to remember from where this plant originates.
The compact Alocasia azlanii is used to life in the jungle. It grows in the shade of much larger plants. Therefore, light should be plentiful but indirect. Indoors, it will do best when placed directly in an east-facing window or a couple feet back from a south-facing window (or north-facing for all of you living in the southern hemisphere). Outside, the ideal location is any area of your yard that stays shaded during the afternoon.
Pro Tip – To meet an Alocasia azlanii’s light requirements when placed directly in a south facing window, try adding a sheer curtain to protect the plant from the sun’s harsh afternoon light.
Adequate lighting is extremely important for this plant to reach its full, visual potential. Without enough sunlight to power its photosynthesis, an Alocasia ‘Red Mambo’ will exhibit extremely slow growth and produce undersized leaves.
On the other hand, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will scorch the leaves and cause them to dry out until crispy. If you’re unsure of how much light to provide, it’s easiest to start with a conservative amount of light to see how your plant grows.
Hailing from the tropics, the Alocasia azlanii prefers a slightly moist environment. However, it does not appreciate constant sogginess or wet feet. To meet this plant’s water needs, allow the soil to dry out a little bit between watering sessions. Indoor plants will likely need to be watered once a week, while outdoor plants may have to be watered more often.
To find out if it’s time to water your plant, use your finger to test the soil for dryness. When the top two inches of the soil feels mostly dry, add just enough water to rehydrate the soil, but not so much that it ends up waterlogged. When in doubt, underwatering is safer than overwatering.
You may notice that as the soil gets drier and drier, the Alocasia azlanii’s leaves will begin to droop on their petioles. Given that all other Alocasia azlanii care conditions are met, you may be underwatering your plant. Good news is that this plant bounces back quickly. Like I said, underwatering is always safer than overwatering.
The Alocasia azlanii’s soil needs to be rich and well-draining, or as similar to its natural environment as possible. Look for a commercial houseplant mix that’s labeled as “well-draining,” such as formulas designed for tropical or citrus plants.
Alternatively, mix your own with one part potting soil and two parts non-absorbent additives, such as orchid bark, coconut coir, perlite, or peat moss. This mixture provides an abundance of nutrients while providing the roots with an airy environment.
Temperature and Humidity
Like most tropical plants, the Alocasia azlanii needs consistent warmth for adequate growth. The recommended range is 55-90°F, so the average indoor temperature of your house is perfect if you intend to keep it as a houseplant. Outside, be sure to bring the plant indoors when the temperature drops below 55°F. Cold weather causes the plant to go dormant, but prolonged exposure to extreme cold will cause the plant to go into shock and potentially die.
The Red Mambo Alocasia also requires some humidity to grow at a normal rate. The recommended relative humidity is 40-60%, but most people do just fine with their average household humidity. If you live in a particularly arid climate or wish to provide more humidity, you can place your plant near a humidifier, pebble tray, or water feature if outdoors.
The Alocasia azlanii is a fast grower, so it should be fertilized during the spring and summer. Use any organic, balanced fertilizer, making sure to follow the dosage instructions on the label. If you’re using a liquid fertilizer, dilute it to half-strength before adding it to your plant.
For best results, fertilize monthly during the active growing period with liquid fertilizer and once per season if you’re using slow-release pellets. Remember to always check the manufacturer’s instructions.
The Alocasia azlanii is relatively expensive for a houseplant. For this reason, many owners choose to propagate their plant for their own use, to sell to others, or to give as gifts.
The best time to propagate an Alocasia azlanii is in the spring or summer, when the plant is experiencing active growth and more likely to recover from the process. First, you will need some gardening gloves, sterilized shears, and some containers prepared with well-draining soil. The two ways of Alocasia azlanii propagation are through offshoot division and corms.
Propagation via Offshoot Division
Most healthy, well established Alocasia azlanii will have baby plants growing up from around its base. These small, baby versions of the mother plant, also called offshoots, grow up from the soil very close to the central stems of the mother plant. When the sprouts grow to at least three inches in height, it’s time to propagate.
- Gently remove your plant from its container and remove just enough soil to visualize the new offset bulb.
- Using a sterile knife or shears, separate the offshoot from the main plant. This will mean cutting existing roots as the two plants will have become quite entangled. To ensure the offshoots survive propagation, try to keep as many of the original plant’s roots as possible attached to the offshoots when you cut them off the mother plant.
- Place each offshoot in a container of moist, well-draining soil and put the container in a warm area, away from direct sunlight.
- It’s important to keep the soil damp to encourage rooting. If you’d like, you can lightly cover the container with a plastic bag to trap humidity and warmth, which can help speed up the process. If you’ve done everything right, you should see new growth in 2-3 weeks.
Propagation via Corms
Corms are modified bulbs that grow under the surface of the soil (but sometimes make their way up and are visible on top) and are usually found tangled within the root ball. Corms are small dime to nickel sized round growths that can look like pointed rocks. They may or may not already have sprouted small roots.
You can propagate Alocasia azlanii’s corms to create new plants!
- Gently remove the mother plant from its container. Some corms are obvious to see but others may require that you shake away excess soil and search within the root tangle to find them. Using sterile scissors, cut the corm away from the main plant’s roots.
- Remove the outermost protective layer of the corm to make it easier for new roots to push through.
- Fill a VERY small or shallow container with water. Corms are small so don’t need anything large. Place the corms right side up. The water should just cover the bottom half of the corm.
- Place the corms in an area of your house that receives bright indirect light. To increase humidity, you can cover the container with a plastic bag or plastic container with holes.
- Keep a close eye on the water level and refill as needed to keep the water level consistent.
- Within three to four weeks, you will note new roots and a sprout growing from the corm! Transplant into a clean container with fresh soil when you have one fully formed leaf. Once transplanted, begin Alocasia azlanii care as you would for an adult plant.
The Alocasia azlanii is highly susceptible to spider mites and aphids. Both species subsist on plant sap, and an infestation will quickly drain your plant of the nutrients it needs to survive. Spider mites are usually invisible to the naked eye but leave behind a sticky webbing on your plant, which is how most people identify an infestation. Aphids, on the other hand, are extremely visible because they usually show up in tightly-packed groups, making them easier to spot.
You can address both types of infestations by cleaning the plant daily with plant-safe alcohol and applying a solution of neem oil, a natural pest repellent. Try to keep chemical pesticides as a last resort for severe infestations. Don’t forget to quarantine any plants that have obvious pests or look generally unwell to keep the bugs from spreading to your other household plants.
A Red Mambo Alocasia that begins to lose its leaves is probably being overwatered or underwatered. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to see for yourself if your plant is too dry or too wet. If you see this symptom, check your soil’s moisture levels and adjust your watering schedule until the condition improves.
Root rot occurs when the Alocasia azlanii is watered too often or is rooted in poorly draining soil. When the soil has too much water, there’s less space for oxygen around the roots. These conditions can make the roots turn brown and rotten. To prevent this disease from happening, always test the soil for dryness before watering your plant.
Also, ensure you are using the right soil and a pot with drainage holes. If your soil seems slow to dry out after being watered, try poking some holes in it with a wooden dowel or chopstick to encourage aeration around the roots. In cases of advanced root rot, you may have to remove your plant entirely, cut away the rotten roots and replant it in a new pot with fresh, dry soil.
The Alocasia azlanii is known to be toxic to humans and animals due to the presence of calcium oxalate. Calcium oxalate is a plant-based mineral with a salt-like, crystal structure. These crystals have sharp edges and are not soluble in water. They are found in all areas of the Alocasia azlanii including the leaves, stems, and roots.
Skin contact can result in rash or inflammation. Ingestion can cause mouth soreness, swelling, burning, and upset stomach. If you or a family member have accidentally ingested any part of the Alocasia ‘Red Mambo’, remove all traces of the plant from the mouth. Swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, and troubled breathing are signs of acute poisoning, and you should seek medical help if these symptoms don’t resolve on their own. Contact emergency services if symptoms worsen!
To keep yourself and your family safe from calcium oxalate toxicity, always use protective gloves when handling the plant and keep it well out of reach of children and pets. If you get any sap on your skin, wash the area immediately with soap and water.
I truly think Alocasia azlanii care is easy for any plant enthusiast to master. Making sure you correctly meet all its requirements will allow you to enjoy its deep, rich foliage for a number of years. Use the above steps to propagate your Alocasia azlanii to create more for yourself or to share with others!
I hope this Alocasia azlanii care guide has inspired you to bring home a new plant that is extremely unique and fascinating!