My African Mask Plant sits on a long table in my dining room along with 8 or 9 other plants. I must say, with its magnificent foliage, that it steals the show. It’s a stunning indoor plant. However, many gardeners struggle to grow it. These African Mask Plant care tips will help you out!
It’s tricky to grow indoors and if it’s not happy, it’ll go downhill fast. The 3 key points of keeping this plant looking good are exposure, watering, and an above humidity requirement. I live in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona which is very dry (average of 29%). Despite a few brown tips, mine is doing just fine.
This plant shares the same family (Araceae) as many other popular houseplants: anthuriums, pothos, monsteras, philodendrons, agalonemas, peace lilies, arrowhead plants, and zz plants. I always find this interesting as plants in the same family share similar characteristics. I guess that’s the plant geek in me!
Some of the plants related to the African Mask Plant. I’ve linked to all of them above in case you’re interested in any of these beauties.
I bought this plant labeled as African Mask Plant. The genus is most likely Alocasia x amazonica and the cultivar “Polly”. This is a smaller growing plant which was developed for the houseplant trade as most of the other Alocasias get large.
You may also see it called “Kris Plant”. Confusing, I know. Regardless of which one I actually have, the care is the same whether it’s been labeled African Mask Plant or Alocasia Polly.
Some Of Our General Houseplant Guides For Your Reference:
- Guide To Watering Indoor Plants
- Beginner’s Guide To Repotting Plants
- 3 Ways To Successfully Fertilize Indoor Plants
- How to Clean Houseplants
- Winter Houseplant Care Guide
- Plant Humidity: How I Increase Humidity For Houseplants
- Buying Houseplants: 14 Tips For Indoor Gardening Newbies
- 11 Pet-Friendly Houseplants
They’re sold as tabletop plants in 6″ pots. As they grow, they not only get taller but spread too. The foliage gets large so it may become a low, wide floor plant (unless you have a lot of room on a table!).
Alocasia Polly will max out around 2′. The African Mask Plant & other Alocasias can reach 4-6′.
Moderate if all conditions are to its liking. This plant not only loves humidity but warm temps too. Mine puts out a big growth spurt in spring & summer.
This is easy to see – Alocasia Polly has standout foliage!
No doubt about it; the foliage is gorgeous.
African Mask Plant Care
One thing to note about this plant: It goes through a period of dormancy, usually in fall or winter. The foliage completely (or almost completely) dies back & then comes back in spring. It grows from underground stems called rhizomes that spread & produce roots, like iris.
Like many other houseplants, the African Mask Plant needs bright, natural light. This would be medium or moderate light. It doesn’t do well in low light (the leaves will get smaller & the plant won’t grow) but on the other hand, keep it out of direct sun.
My African Mask Plant sits 10′ away from an east-facing bay window. You can see this in the video below. I live in Tucson where the sun shines a lot so this works fine for my houseplants.
In the winter, you may have to move yours to a brighter location. More on houseplant care in winter.
I never let mine completely dry out. As a general rule, I let the soil mix dry out 3/4 of the way before watering again.
In the warmer months, I water My African Mask Plant every 6-7 days & every 10-12 days in winter. Adjust the frequency to your environment & how the plant is drying out. Here’s a guide to watering indoor plants in case you’re interested.
As much as this plant doesn’t like to dry out, it doesn’t like to stay constantly wet.
If your African Mask Plant has yellow leaves, it’s most likely due to overwatering or underwatering. You can cut those leaves off.
Lack of humidity makes this beauty tricky to grow. Other plants native to the sub-tropics/tropics do fine in our drier home environments. A moderate to high level of humidity is key to African Mask Plant care.
Sometimes the humidity levels in Tucson are 12%. The average houseplant enjoys a level of around 60%. Here’s what I do to increase the humidity factor:
- The grow pot sits on a saucer filled with rock. I keep the saucer 3/4 full of water. Just make sure the roots don’t sit in the water because that’ll bring on root rot.
- I take the plant out of its decorative container & take the plant to my deep kitchen sink. Then, I give it a spraying & let it sit there for an hour or so.
- I have a tall diffuser (filled with water only; no oils) in the back of that long, narrow table where my African Mask Plant sits. I run it 4-5 times a week for 6-8 hours depending on the humidity level.
If you’ve got a mister bottle, it would appreciate a spray 2 times a week. It’s best not to spray a plant at night because that’s when they rest.
How much, if at all, you need to increase the humidity factor depends on how dry your home is.
My African Mask Plant has small brown tips. You have to look close to see them. This is in response to the dry air.
Some of the plants growing in my dining room. And yes, that Anthurium still has a few blooms on it 9 months later!
This plant loves to be warm. It’ll tolerate cooler temps but won’t grow as much & be as happy. I know it’s corny, but I love my houseplants to be happy!
Besides my worm compost/compost routine in the spring, I feed this plant 5-6 times a year in spring, summer & early fall.
The food I use is Eleanor’s VF-11. It’s a non-burning (most fertilizers contain salts which can burn the roots over time) which promotes overall health & steady growth. It can also be used as a foliar feed which I’ll give a try this year. You can read about Eleanor’s here.
The mix needs to be aerated & fast draining. I use a combo of: 1/3 coco chips, 1/3 pumice (perlite is fine too) & 1/3 potting soil. I also throw in a few handfuls of charcoal because I have it on hand. The charcoal isn’t necessary but it sweetens the soil & aids in drainage.
I add in a handful or 2 of organic compost when planting because this plant likes a rich mix. I top dress with a 1/4″ layer of worm compost with a 1″ layer of compost over that.
More African Mask Plants waiting to be purchased at The Plant Stand in Phoenix.
This is best done in spring or summer; early fall is fine if you’re in a warm climate. Avoid repotting any houseplant in the winter if you can because it’s their time to rest. The faster your plant is growing, the sooner it’ll need repotting.
Repotting your African Mask Plant every 2-4 years will be fine because it prefers to grow a bit tight in its pot. Unlike my Rubber Plants, I go up 1 pot size – from 6″ to 8″ for example.
The best way to propagate this plant is by division. It’s best done in the warmer months: spring, summer & into early fall (if you’re in a climate with warmer winters like me).
The process is similar to dividing a ZZ Plant. You can see how I did that here.
Not much is needed. The main reasons to prune your African Mask Plant is to take off the occasional yellow leaf.
Just make sure your pruners are clean & sharp before you do any pruning.
Mine hasn’t gotten any. I know they can be susceptible to mealybugs, especially deep inside the new growth. These white, cotton-like pests like to hang out in the nodes & under the leaves. I simply blast them off (lightly!) in the kitchen sink with the spray & that does the trick.
Also, keep your eye out for scale, spider mites & aphids. It’s best to take action as soon as you see any pest because they multiply like crazy. Pests can travel from houseplant to houseplant in no time fast so make you get them under control pronto.
African Mask Plants, like all in the Araceae family, are considered to be toxic. I consult the ASPCA website for my info on this subject & see in what way the plant is toxic. Here’s more info on this for you.
Most houseplants are toxic to pets in some way & I want to share my thoughts with you regarding this topic.
It has a green spathe-like flower. As an indoor plant, it doesn’t happen on a regular basis if at all. The foliage is what makes this plant desirable.
African Mask Plant care (or Alocasia Polly care) can be tricky, but it’s well worth a try. The main things you need to do are: up the humidity factor, make sure it’s receiving bright, natural light and don’t let it go completely dry or keep it sopping wet.
This plant is enjoying a surge in popularity right now. It’s not as hard to find as it used to be. A 6″ plant isn’t too expensive and here are some sources on Etsy where you can buy 1. Why not give 1 a try!
If you enjoyed learning more about the Alocasia plant, I think you’ll enjoy learning about more houseplants below: