Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ is a tropical perennial evergreen with large, broad leaves that give them their nickname, ‘Elephant Ears’. Their beautiful deep green leaves have a distinctive green-purple hue on the underside. The Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ does well as an indoor houseplant and is great for someone with some experience in caring for tropical plants.
Don’t shy away from Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ care because it takes a bit of finesse. In this care guide I will share with you all of the important facts you need to know to provide the best care for your Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’.
Table of contents
Elephant Ear plants are a class of plants known for their large, dominating leaves, hence the name. The term encompasses multiple perennial species from Southeast Asia. One of the most popular varieties today is the Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ which is named after the breadth of its foliage. It’s considered an intermediate-level plant, requiring some daily care to reach its full visual potential.
- Common Name: Elephant Ear ‘Regal Shield’
- Scientific Name: Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’
- Mature Size: 4-5 feet tall indoors, 5-6 feet tall outdoors
- Sunlight: bright, dappled sunlight, morning full sun
- Water: when top 2 inches of soil are dry
- Soil: well-draining, loamy soil
- Temperature: 70°F-85°F
- Propagation: rhizome division and corms
- Hardiness Zone: 9-11
Growth Pattern and Habits
The Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ grows relatively quickly, growing to its mature size within two to three years. It reaches an average height and width of four to five feet at maturity. A healthy specimen will be a rich, dark green with light green veins. When backlit with bright light, you will be able to appreciate the stunning, delicate capillaries that resemble a tangled network of rivers from above. With proper care, the leaves can grow to an astonishing length of twenty inches, making the plant a popular statement piece for indoor decorating.
Like all Alocasia, the Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ grows in a clumping pattern, spreading outwards. Rhizomes, which are modified stems, grow horizontally through or just above the soil. New growth, or baby plants, grow from the rhizomes and sprout upwards.
Expert Tip – Due to the Alocasia’s huge leaves, it has a tendency to be top-heavy. To prevent unwanted falls, it’s important to select a heavy, deep pot as a sturdy foundation.
The Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ can be grown both indoors or outdoors. However, you should only keep an Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ outdoors if you live in a US Hardiness Zone 10 area that doesn’t get any colder than 40°F in the winter. Some examples of Zone 10 cities include Miami, San Diego, and Los Angeles. In any other climate, the plant does very well as a potted houseplant.
Because of the fast growth rate of the Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’, your plant will likely need to be repotted every two years. When it’s time for repotting, choose a container that’s about two inches greater in diameter compared to the original pot.
The Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ does flower, however it does so rarely indoors. Blooms are enclosed in white spathes and resemble those of a Peace Lily. An Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’s flowers only last a couple of days if they do appear.
Being from a tropical environment, the Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ requires daily sun exposure to grow the leaves it is so well known for. Exposure to full, direct sunlight can scorch its leaves. On the other hand, too much shade may result in poor color and growth. The right amount of light is somewhere in between. Dappled sunlight on a patio or a position near the brightest window in your house is best for raising this plant.
Early morning or late evening direct sunlight is well tolerated by the Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’. Positioning your plant in an area that receives direct light at these times will allow it to reach its full mature height.
This plant tends to lean towards its light source. The leaning is more obvious in the Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ due to its large leaves that grow atop long, trailing stems. If you choose to keep your Alocasia indoors, make sure to give it a quarter-turn every week so all sides of the plant can receive light. Doing this ensures the plant grows in a uniform, symmetrical manner with no undersized or oversized leaves.
Like most tropical perennials, the Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ has moderate watering needs. While it appreciates a moist environment, it also prefers to dry out somewhat between waterings. The best way to water this plant is to test the soil with your finger beforehand. When the top two inches of soil feels dry, it’s time to add water to your Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’.
To water correctly, add just enough to saturate the soil without making it soggy. The frequency of watering depends on the plant’s rate of consumption, which further depends on your local climate and season. If your area experiences cold winters with less sunlight, your plant will likely go dormant and require less water as a result. This is why it’s important to always test the soil before watering your plant.
A rich, well-draining loamy soil is required to preserve the roots of an Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’. A generic, all-purpose potting mix with additional coconut coir mixed in for aeration is recommended. I also suggest adding a couple handfuls of coarse soil.
While not necessary, this plant also likes a slightly acidic pH in the soil. You can achieve this by adding a small amount of compost to the soil, which raises acidity and provides extra nutrients. Alternatively, you can buy peat moss from your local gardening store and add that to the soil mix.
Temperature and Humidity
When it comes to growing an Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’, the environment should be similar to the tropical conditions of its native region. In other words, warmth and humidity are key. Temperatures should be above 55°F, but the sweet spot is right between 70 and 85°F. In general, the plant is more likely to survive higher temps than lower ones.
Along with warmth, the Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ also needs relatively high humidity between 50-70%. If you don’t live in a naturally humid environment, you can easily provide additional humidity with a humidifier near your plant. You may also choose to add a pebble tray beneath the pot.
Expert Tip – I don’t suggest misting an Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ to increase humidity. You can choose to mist the leaves once or twice a week if you gently wipe excess water off with a soft cloth. Doing so will allow you to keep the leaves clean without worrying about standing water on the plant tissue.
Because the Alocasia grows so quickly, it absorbs nutrients from the soil at a fast rate. As a result, monthly feedings are necessary for the plant to continue growing. You can simply use a high-quality houseplant fertilizer with a balanced ratio of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus diluted to half-strength.
Unless you continue to see active growth, avoid fertilizing in the late fall and winter. If your house is cold and drafty in the winter, growth will likely slow or even go dormant. If this happens, your Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ will stop absorbing nutrients and therefore, not need any additional fertilizer.
The Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ is a tuberous plant that grows in “clumps” above the soil. For this reason, this plant does not propagate well with cuttings. Instead, you will have more success propagating a Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ by harvesting and cutting its rhizomes or digging up its root bulbs, called “corms.”
For the best chances of success, save this task for the spring or summer when the plant is in its active growth phase.
Propagation by Rhizomes
Remember that an Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ grows from rhizomes. Rhizomes produce both roots and new shoots. This is the part of the plant we will focus on with this type of Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ propagation.
Eventually, a mature Alocasia will begin to produce offsets from the main rhizome. These can be separated from the mother plant when they reach a minimum height of six inches.
- Carefully remove your Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ and all connected root systems and offsets from the pot.
Expert Tip – Because of the Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ size, you should first tip the plant and pot onto its side and gently tap the pot with the heel of your hand to loosen the roots and soil.
- Gently remove any loose soil around the roots and rhizome and place it on a clean, dry surface. You should now see the mother plant and its offsets which are connected by the main rhizome. Roots from both the mother plant and the offsets will be highly intertwined in what appears to be the same network of roots.
- Use a sterile knife to cut the offset from the mother plant at the rhizome, making sure that the offset has several roots attached after cutting it.
- Plant the offset in its own container of well-draining soil, place it in a warm, well-lit spot, and the soil consistently moist until it begins to show signs of new growth or when you feel resistance when pulling on the plant’s stem.
Propagation by Corms
- Gently remove your Alocasia from its pot using the above method. Then, examine its roots for corms, which are hard, chickpea-sized kernels.
- Use a sterile knife to cut the corms from the main root system. If the corm has some healthy roots attached to it, you can plant it in its own container like an offset.
- Keep soil moist and position the plant in a warm, bright area of your home.
- After three or four weeks, your corm should produce a leaf. At this point, you can start to slowly lengthen the time between waterings. Keep in mind that corm propagation will take longer than propagation by rhizome division.
Expert Tip – Another way to propagate an Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ by its corms is to put it in a small container of water. A plastic bottle cap works very well for this. Make sure that the corm is only half submerged in water with a portion of it exposed to the air. Then, place it under a dome or jar to trap humidity and watch for roots and sprouts.
After three or four weeks, your corm should produce a leaf. At this point, you can transfer it to a container of moist soil. Keep in mind that corm propagation will take longer than propagation via root division.
Often, yellow leaves are a sign of overwatering and an early indication of potential root rot. If you notice your plant showing yellowing leaves, stop watering and wait for the top two inches of soil to dry out before you water again. If this doesn’t improve the plant’s condition, you may need to transfer it to a pot of fresh soil or switch to a soil formula with increased drainage.
Brown, Dry Leaves
Leaves that are dry, brittle, or browning around the edges are a sign of dehydration or scorching. In most cases, the dehydration happens because the humidity is too low. If your humidity and watering schedule are adequate, then try moving your plant further from the light source to shield its leaves from scorching.
Spider mites are tiny, pinhead-sized insects that feed on plant sap. They often reside in protected areas of a plant, such as the underside of a leaf or in crevices between two stems. Often, spider mites are too small to see with the naked eye. You can tell you have an infestation if you see white or silvery webbing on your plant.
If your Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ is infested with spider mites, you must first quarantine it from any other houseplants. Then, remove any visible webs and insects from the plant and wipe the plant’s surfaces with a cotton ball dipped in alcohol. Repeat this daily until the infestation clears. As a preventative measure, treat your houseplants once a month with a solution of organic neem oil.
All parts of the Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ are highly toxic to humans and animals. This is due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals in the plant. Calcium oxalate is a salt-like mineral with irregular and sharp edges that can cut the inside of your mouth or gastrointestinal tract. Skin exposure from the plant’s sap can result in rashes and irritation, as well.
To enjoy your Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ safely, keep it out of reach of young children and pets and always wear gloves before handling the plant. In the case of accidental ingestion, clear the mouth of any plant residue as much as possible and rinse with water. A cold drink of water or milk can soothe any mouth irritation. If any parts of the plant have been swallowed, a small snack can help absorb any calcium oxalate crystals and protect the digestive tract from abrasions.
In most cases, calcium oxalate exposure will resolve on its own with some supportive care. However, ingesting large amounts can result in severe symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and swelling. If you or your loved one have been exposed to calcium oxalate and experience symptoms, regardless of the severity, contact your local poison control center.
The Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ can be enjoyed inside or out, if you live in the optimal climate. You will love its large arrow shaped leaves that grow so large that it is no wonder it is grouped into the Elephant Ear plant category.
Understanding what an Alocasia ‘Regal Shield’ needs in terms of its light requirements and watering needs is crucial to maintaining a healthy plant!