What to Do When Your Alocasia Gets Too Big

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This is a nice problem to have, because it proves that you’re looking after your Alocasia well, but it also sucks, because you can’t cut back Alocasia like you can vining plants.

Can you cut back Alocasia?


I know, I know, I just said that you can’t but let me explain.

You can’t cut back like you can vining plants, because Alocasia don’t vine. They produce each leaf directly from the corm, so if you have a plant that’s too tall, you might have to chop to back to the ground.

You can cut back only the tallest leaves, but it’s still a pretty drastic haircut.

What you can’t do (and what people really wish you could do) is chop back the petiole to the height that you want and then convince another leaf to grow from that same petiole.

You have to chop it right back to the corm and wait for a new leaf to grow and have exactly the same problem because the new leaf will be equally tall.

I have this issue with my Calathea Velvet touch. I grow it in my terrarium because it just gets spider mites if i put it anywhere else, but it grows SO BIG SO QUICKLY. I have to cut it right back to the ground every few months and then every time it comes back it’s even bigger.

I need to remove it, but it’s become one with one of the layers of substrate so I’d need to take the whole terrarium apart and….no

How to keep Alocasia upright

One of the main issue with huge Alocasia is that the petioles can buckle under the weight of leaf (especially if you’re a little late with the water) and they can look very sad and saggy pretty quickly.

They can also get pretty top heavy and end up toppling over, which can further cause damage to the leaves and make it look even sadder. Alocasia are NOT known for their easygoing nature.

I always assume that I’ll be late with watering at some point (I know myself well) so I usually advise people prepare for Alocasia to need support in some form before they actually need it.

There are a few options for keeping Alocasia upright, depending on the actual issue.

Tie the petioles together

I like this one because it guards against buckling petioles and makes the Alocasia look fuller and more structural wth barely any effort.

Just…tie the petioles together. You need to use something that won’t cut into the petiole, because that could result in leaf drop.

Ribbon is a good option, or even a big zip tie, but gardeners’ velcro or ties is probably best. Plus it’s green so will blend in well.

You just need to loosely loop around the petioles – the closer to the top, the more compact it’ll be – and tighten until you get the desired effect.

Put rocks in the pot

If you’re happy with the way your Alocasia looks, but it keeps falling over because it’s top-heavy, putting rocks in the pot is a great way to combat this. If you want to keep the same pot, then you can put decorative rocks in top of the soil – this will also stop the soil from drying out as quickly and make the soil less hospitable for fungus gnats.

If you don’t like the look of rocks on top of the soil and are happy to repot, you can repot into a bigger pot and put rocks on the bottom of the pot. Note: you will still need drainage holes. Rocks in the bottom of plants pots don’t do anything other than weigh it down and displace soil.

A lazier option would be to buy a heavy, ceramic pot and put the whole plant, pot and all, in the heavy pot. Fill it with rocks if you so desire, and really stop it from shifting.

Rotate the plant so it doesn’t lean towards the light

An easy way to stop your Alocasia from leaning too far to one side is to rotate it. Leaves tend to grow towards the sun, so rotating the plant whenever it grows a new leaf can be a great way to keep it upright.

However, if your Alocasia is leaning very heavily to one side, then it’s telling you that it’s not getting enough light and you need to move it to brighter light to avoid future problems.

Etiolated Alocasia are more likely to end up with snapped petioles because as they stretch towards the sun, the petioles get thinner and more delicate. The leaves can end up being too heavy and snapping or bending the petioles.

Long, thin, leggy Alocasia petioles will also reduce the turgor pressure in the plant, so it will seem literally deflated. You can increase turgor pressure in some plants by putting their aerial roots in water, but obvs Alocasia don’t have aerial roots so that’s a no-go.

How to get Alocasia to grow smaller

You basically can’t without subjecting it to worse conditions. Alocasia are notoriously finicky, so you could definitely try reducing the light but you never know what will stop it producing massive leaves and what will stop it producing leaves full stop.

All you can really do is try it in a few different spots and see what makes a difference. I definitely recommend experimenting with light conditions, mainly because that seems to have the biggest bearing on leaf size, but also because in my experience Alocasia are far chiller about light than they are about humidity, watering and temperature, so try to keep all factors other than light the same, as far as is possible.

Plants want to grow big, and will grow big when they’re happy. Alocasia grow MASSIVE in the wild. You can only get them to grow smaller by being mean to them.

Final thoughts

This is one of those unfortunate problems about which there isn’t really much you can do. You’ve done everything right and ended up with a massive plant that no longer fits in your house.

Alocasia are the goldfish of the house plant world – most people don’t care for them well enough to attain their true size, but those that do are rewarded with a massive specimen that really needs to go and live in a pond.

colocasia on river edge

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

2 thoughts on “What to Do When Your Alocasia Gets Too Big”

  1. Yeah, it’s really common in Alocasia to lose a leaf every time you get a new one. Sometimes they just go through phases of being like this, but check the roots to make sure they’re healthy, and perhaps feed it if you haven’t in a wild.

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