With its metallic, shimmering leaves and unique appearance, Alocasia cuprea has undoubtedly earned its nickname, “mirror plant.”
Why is it called a jewel alocasia? It’s all about that luscious purple that only comes with age. *Yes, we’re still talking about plants here, not wine).
We’re here to guide you through everything you need to know about Alocasia cuprea care, from light and watering requirements and common issues to propagation techniques — so you can share the jewels, of course!
Alocasia Cuprea Plant Care Guide
History, Habitat, and Characteristics
Alocasia cuprea, native to the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, stands out from its Alocasia relatives with its distinctive metallic, coppery sheen. In fact, the name “cuprea” means copper in Latin.
(It’s no wonder it’s also known as the mirror plant!)
In its native habitat, the Alocasia cuprea is an understory plant. It uses its metallic sheen to capture any light filtering through the dense canopy above (cratfy, eh?). This adaptation, coupled with its thick, rubbery leaves, allows the plant to thrive in low-light conditions.
As the plant matures and its leaves grow larger, they develop distinct purple ripples that further enhance their visual appeal. It’s these purple ripples that make Alocasia cuprea a “jewel alocasia,” a category that comprises many other Alocasia species.
For similar mirror plant varieties, consider Alocasia cuprea ‘Red Secret.’ The most striking difference is the vibrant red hue found on the underside of the Red Secret’s leaves.
In Borneo’s tropical rainforests, Alocasia cuprea grows under the canopy of taller plants, so bright indirect light is key. Position your Alocasia cuprea plant about 4 feet away from a west- or east-facing window, using neighboring plants to create dappled bright light if necessary.
If your Alocasia cuprea plant isn’t receiving enough light, it may exhibit slow growth, small or misshapen leaves, and an overall lack of vitality. To address this, try moving the plant to a brighter location or adding supplemental artificial lighting, such as a full-spectrum LED grow light.
However, too much direct sunlight can also cause issues, leading to leaf discoloration, scorching, or sunburn spots. If this occurs, protect your plant by moving it further from the window or using a sheer curtain to diffuse intense sunlight.
Our lighting tips:
- Bright light will help your mirror plant thrive, but avoid too much direct sun.
- An east- or west-facing window should provide ample sunlight.
- If you see signs of insufficient light, use a grow lamp to supplement.
- In a window with direct sun, use a sheer curtain to diffuse the harsh rays and protect your plant.
To keep Alocasia cuprea consistently moist but never wet, water when only the top inch of soil is dry. One popular method is to employ bottom-watering, or sub-irrigation. This can prevent the soil from becoming too soggy. A drip tray filled with pebbles is the easiest way to bottom-water.
Just add water to the tray until it’s a bit above the level of the stones, then place your pot on top of it. Your plant will take up water into the soil for the next 10 minutes. Then it’s time to level off the water in the tray until it reaches just under the stones, turning into a source of humidity for your plant but not oversaturating it.
This sub-irrigation method is crucial for your Alocasia cuprea plant for several reasons:
- Consistent moisture levels: Alocasia cuprea requires consistently moist soil to thrive. Sub-irrigation provides water directly to the roots, ensuring that the plant gets the exact amount of moisture it needs. This method reduces the risk of overwatering or underwatering, which can lead to root rot or dehydration.
- Encourages strong root growth: Watering from the bottom up encourages roots to grow deeper into the soil in search of moisture. This results in a stronger, more robust root system, which in turn leads to a healthier, more resilient plant.
- Reduces leaf rot and fungal issues: Watering Alocasia cuprea from the top can cause water to collect in the crevices of its large, textured leaves, potentially leading to leaf rot or fungal issues. Sub-irrigation eliminates this problem, as water is absorbed by the soil and not left on the leaves.
We should note that not all plant parents are as enthusiastic about bottom-watering as others. If you do water from the top, just keep an eye (and a finger) on the soil and make sure your pot has drainage holes.
When your Alocasia cuprea plant isn’tgetting enough water, you may observe drooping or limp leaves, possibly with curled edges. Increase your watering frequency slightly, while still being mindful not to overwater the plant.
Conversely, if the plant is getting too much water, symptoms could include yellowing leaves, mushy stems, and a consistently wet medium. Overwatering can lead to root rot, a serious issue for your plant’s health. To resolve this, cut back on your watering schedule and allow the medium to dry out more before you water again.
Temperature and Humidity
As a tropical plant native to warm regions, Alocasia cuprea thrives in an environment that’s neither too hot nor too cold, with a preferred range of 65-80°F (18-26°C). Keep in mind that Alocasia cuprea is sensitive to cold temperatures, so be mindful of placing it near windows or drafty areas, particularly when temperatures drop during winter months.
Drooping or wilted leaves can be a sign that your plant is experiencing temperature extremes. Placing the pot on a heat mat can help maintain warmth around its roots and encourage growth.
Alocasia cuprea tolerates natural humidity levels and doesn’t need excessively high humidity. However, maintaining a moderate humidity level around 40%-60% can benefit the plant’s overall health and appearance.
Leaves with curled or crispy tips or edges may be a sign that you should increase the humidity around your plant.
To raise humidity for your Alocasia cuprea plant, consider these tips:
- Create a microclimate by placing a tray of water and pebbles beneath the plant.
- Group your Alocasia cuprea with other plants so they can share moisture through a process called transpiration.
- Use a humidifier near your plant to maintain a consistent humidity level, especially in dry environments with heating systems.
Just be sure not to overdo it. Plants in humidity that’s too high will exhibit signs similar to overwatering. These include yellow, drooping leaves, soft stems, leaf drop, and even fungus or mold.
Soil and Planting
A terracotta pot paired with a sub-irrigation system provides excellent drainage and air circulation for Alocasia cuprea plants. Use a well-draining soil that has some moisture-retention properties.
Try making your own aroid mix. An ideal Alocasia cuprea soil mix combines essential components, such as coconut coir (an eco-friendly alternative to sphagnum peat moss), perlite, and orchid bark, with a commercial potting mix.
Don’t expect to repot your mirror plant sooner than 2 years. When the roots do outgrow the pot, repot in spring into a container only slightly larger than the last one. You want to give the roots room to spread, but not overdo it, because too much soil will retain water your plant doesn’t need.
Repotting a mother plant is a good opportunity to divide and propagate new Alocasia cuprea plants — we’ll cover that in our “Propagation” section below.
During spring and summer, apply an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer to your Alocasia cuprea. Limit feeding to every 4-6 weeks to avoid over-fertilizing.
Beware of the signs of over-fertilizing, such as burned leaf tips and a buildup of fertilizer salt deposits on the soil surface, a precursor to fertilizer burn. If you observe these signs, simply reduce the quantity of fertilizer or leach the excess salts from the soil by thoroughly watering the plant and allowing the excess water to drain out.
Propagating Alocasia cuprea allows you to multiply your houseplants and share them with your loved ones. The best time to propagate these tropical plants is during repotting when they’re showing new growth, typically in late spring.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to propagating Alocasia cuprea by root division:
- Gather the necessary materials: Get a clean, sharp pair of pruning shears or a knife, fresh well-draining potting mix, and a pot with proper drainage. You’ll also need a tray or plastic sheet to keep your work area clean.
- Carefully remove the plant from its pot: Gently tip your Alocasia cuprea plant out of its container, supporting the plant to avoid damaging its delicate roots. Place it on the tray or plastic sheet to examine its root system.
- Find the perfect division points: Take a close look at the plant’s root system and identify natural divisions with healthy bulbs and roots. These points will be your target for separating the plant into multiple sections.
- Divide the plant with precision: With your sterilized pruning shears or knife, carefully separate the alocasia into divisions, making sure each section has a healthy bulb, roots, and at least one or two leaves.
- Pot up your new divisions: Fill the new pots with fresh soil mix and plant each division at the same depth as it was in the original pot. Gently press the soil around the roots for support.
- Pay attention to water and care: Thoroughly water each new division and place them in a warm spot with bright, indirect light, such as an east-facing window. Keep the soil slightly moist but not soggy, and keep an eye on the plants to spot any signs of stress or disease.
Our propagation tips:
- Handle your Alocasia cuprea plant with care during root division. The delicate roots can be easily damaged.
- The best time to propagate is when the plant is actively growing, so try to divide your Alocasia cuprea in spring or early summer.
- Keep a close watch on your newly potted divisions, ensuring they receive the right amount of water and light to minimize stress and encourage healthy growth.
Jewel alocasia may occasionally face a few common issues, but with the right guidance and care, you can easily overcome these problems.
Not Producing Leaves
Sometimes, Alocasia cuprea plants focus on producing flowers, or green spathe, rather than their stunning dark green, arrow-shaped leaves. This might be disappointing for those who admire its foliage. To encourage the plant to prioritize leaf growth, simply snip off any emerging flowers as they appear.
Although leaves on Alocasia plants can occasionally seem deformed or discolored, this doesn’t necessarily mean the plant is unhealthy. It’s important to note that natural leaf aging can cause older leaves to wither and die. But don’t worry — this usually indicates that fresh leaves are on their way.
Leaf drop in Alocasia cuprea varieties often signals an underlying issue. If you notice leaves falling off your plant, first examine your plant’s watering schedule. Both overwatering and underwatering can lead to leaf drop, so it’s crucial to adjust your routine to maintain consistently moist, but not waterlogged, soil.
Make sure you’re not using cold water and that the top inch of soil is dry before you water.
Next, take a look at the plant’s location to ensure it’s receiving the appropriate amount of indirect sunlight, preferably in an east-facing window. Insufficient or excessive light can also contribute to leaf drop.
Lastly, make sure your Alocasia cuprea plant isn’t exposed to drastic temperature changes or drafts, since these factors can stress the plant, causing its leaves to fall.
Pests and Diseases
Alocasia cuprea is a hardy houseplant that occasionally faces issues like aphids, spider mites, or root rot. But don’t fret! We’re here to help you identify and solve these problems to keep your Alocasia cuprea plant healthy and happy.
Aphids and Spider Mites
Alocasia plants might attract aphids, spider mites, and other plant pests when stressed. These tiny insects can be green, yellow, or black, and they love to gather on the undersides of leaves and at the base of stems.
They feed on the plant’s sap, which can cause the leaves to yellow, curl, and stunt the plant’s growth. Plus, their sticky waste, or honeydew, can lead to mold growth.
To fix the issue, first, remove the affected leaves and stems. Then, spray the plant with water to dislodge any lingering plant pests, preferably outside.
For more severe infestations, use a gentle insecticidal soap or neem oil. Treat both sides of the leaves, and make sure to reapply every week until the pests are gone for good.
Root rot can happen to Alocasia cuprea when it’s overwatered or left sitting in soggy soil, especially during its dormant phase. This fungal disease can turn the roots soft, mushy, and discolored, leading to wilted, yellowing leaves and slow growth.
To combat root rot, carefully remove the plant from its pot and trim away any infected roots using sterilized pruning shears. Then, repot the plant in fresh, well-draining soil with added perlite, pumice, or LECA for aeration and drainage.
Ensure the pot has proper drainage holes, and water the plant only when the top 1-2 inches of soil have dried. Keep a close eye on your Alocasia cuprea’s watering needs to prevent root rot from sneaking back in.
That’s it for our Alocasia cuprea care guide!
Alocasia cuprea is an exquisite houseplant with metallic, shimmering leaves that really catch the eye. With proper care and attention, this “mirror plant” will thrive, and friends will be asking how they can get their own!
Alocasia cuprea care summary:
- Provide bright, indirect light and avoid direct sunlight to prevent sunburn and discoloration.
- Maintain a consistent temperature between 65-80°F (18-26°C) and ensure proper levels of humidity, around 40%-60%.
- Use well-draining potting soil and a container with drainage holes to prevent root rot.
- Fertilize every 4-6 weeks during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer or a weak dilution of liquid nutrients.
If you have any questions that we haven’t addressed in this guide, please feel free to reach out. We’re here to help!
Take care, and happy planting!
Is Alocasia cuprea fast-growing?
Alocasia cuprea is a moderately fast-growing plant that thrives under the right conditions. With warmth, moderate humidity, and adequate light, this plant can quickly establish itself and produce new leaves.
However, it’s crucial to provide the right balance of water, light, and nutrients to ensure your Alocasia cuprea reaches its full growth potential. Remember, patience is key when it comes to nurturing houseplants, and Alocasia cuprea is no exception.
Why are my Alocasia cuprea leaves facing down?
If your Alocasia cuprea leaves are facing down or drooping, it could indicate temperature issues. Alocasia cuprea is sensitive to cold temperatures, and drooping leaves may signal distress from chilly conditions. Ensure your plant is not in a drafty area or situated close to a window where cold air could be affecting it.
Another potential cause of drooping leaves is over- or underwatering. Make sure you’re watering your Alocasia cuprea when the top inch of soil begins to dry out, avoiding consistently wet soil.
Lastly, inspect the plant for any pest issues, which can also lead to stressed and drooping leaves.
Does Alocasia cuprea go dormant?
Yes, Alocasia cuprea can go dormant during the winter months when there’s less available light. Dormancy is a natural process for plants to conserve energy and rest in preparation for the upcoming growing season. During dormancy, you may notice a reduction in leaf production, and older leaves might die back.
To care for your Alocasia cuprea during dormancy, reduce watering frequency, but ensure the soil doesn’t completely dry out. Keep the plant in a warmer area of your home (above 65°F) and away from drafts. Once you notice new growth appearing in the spring, you can return to your regular Alocasia cuprea care routine.
Is Alocasia cuprea rare?
Alocasia cuprea is considered a relatively rare houseplant compared with other Alocasia varieties. Its metallic leaves and rippled texture make it particularly sought after by plant lovers. Although it may not be as readily available in some plant shops, you might find it through specialty nurseries, online sellers, or fellow plant collectors.
Is Alocasia cuprea toxic?
Unfortunately, Alocasia cuprea is not pet-friendly, according to the ASPCA. Like many members of the Alocasia genus, it contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause irritation and swelling of the mouth, tongue, and throat if ingested by pets. To keep your furry friends safe, place your Alocasia cuprea in an out-of-reach area.