Alocasia Silver Dragon (Caring for the Rare Alocasia Baginda #1 Growing Guide)

potted alocasia silver dragon with silvery-green leaves that resemble dragon scales

The Alocasia Silver Dragon (scientific name: Alocasia Baginda ‘Silver Dragon’) has silvery-green, textured leaves that resemble dragon scales.

New leaves emerge small and green, but as they enlarge, start to take on the silvery hue that makes its foliage so stunning. 🙂

Despite its dramatic effect, the Alocasia Silver Dragon is small in stature. Expect your low-growing plant to reach just 19 inches (50cm) at maturity.

Care-wise, the Alocasia Silver Dragon is easier to grow than many other Alocasias. It loves mild indoor temperatures and high humidity (50-80%, the higher the better). This climate mimics its native habitat in tropical Borneo. Choose a light and airy potting mix, and don’t let this completely dry out between waterings.

Your Alocasia Silver Dragon is fairly pest-resistant, but if there is an infestation, spider mites are a prime suspect.

Is the Alocasia Silver Dragon rare?

The Alocasia Silver Dragon was much rarer in the past. And if you could get your hands on one, they would cost in the low hundreds for a small pot!

Nowadays, we can find them more readily on Etsy (~US$15 for a starter pot), which is our favorite spot to look for rare and exotic houseplants. They remain fairly uncommon at local nurseries.

What’s the Difference between Alocasia Silver Dragon and Alocasia Dragon Scale?

A common question we get is the difference between the Silver Dragon and the Dragon Scale. Both are cultivars of the Alocasia Baginda (hybrid variants), a relatively new species from Borneo, and require similar care.

Both varieties have the same characteristic “dragon scale” leaves with intricate grooves.

The difference between the Alocasia Silver Dragon and Dragon Scale is in their leaf color.

  • the Dragon Scale has deep forest-green leaves,
  • while the Silver Dragon is, well, silvery-green.
comparison of the alocasia dragon scale green leaf (left) and the alocasia silver dragon (right)
The Dragon Scale (left) looks similar to the Alocasia Silver Dragon (right), except for the color of its leaves!

Caring for your Alocasia Silver Dragon

Light

When it comes to light, bright but indirect light is best for your Alocasia Silver Dragon. Choose an East-facing window if this is accessible to you. West and South-facing windows work well too, when placed 3-5 feet (91-152cm) away from the window pane.

Leaves tend to turn to face the sunlight, so occasionally rotate your plant for even growth.

The key here is for your Silver Dragon to get lots of bright indirect light, but no more than 2-3 hours of direct light. Direct light will scorch its leaves pretty quickly.

If you want to get scientific, use a light meter and measure 1,000-2,000 foot candles. If kept outdoors, place your Silver Dragon in bright shade.

potted alocasia silver dragon with silvery-green leaves that resemble dragon scales
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Water

While you don’t want to let your Alocasia Silver Dragon dry out completely (through its pot), you also don’t want to overwater your plant. Any Alocasia-lover knows: plants from this genus can be finicky about watering.

When and How to Water

  1. Water only when you feel, using your fingers, that the top 2 inches of soil is dry.
  2. Water slowly and deeply, allowing water to escape from the drainage holes.
  3. Empty the saucer.

Importantly, check the soil moisture every few days, so you can catch when your plant is starting to get dry again.

If the topsoil is still a little moist – resist the temptation to water and check back in a day or two. Only when the topsoil is dry should you water your plant.

Water Quality

Water quality matters to your Alocasia Silver Dragon, which has fragile roots. Ideally, use purified water, or rainwater. Otherwise, use tapwater that has been left out overnight, allowing harsh chlorine and fluoride salts to dissipate.

In all cases, use room-temperature water. Too-cold water is like taking a too-cold bath: unpleasant!

potted alocasia silver dragon with large silver, succulent-like leaves being held up
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Humidity

While it is possible to grow your plant in ~50% humidity, we find that higher humidity levels really help the Alocasia Silver Dragon’s leaves grow lush and large. Shoot for the moon: 80% is the absolute best-case scenario, but anything upwards of 60% helps your plant thrive.

Their love for humidity makes them excellent candidates for a terranium.

Another benefit? High humidity wards away spider mites. Those mites prefer dry conditions, and multiply prolifically in arid climates. So if you need another reason to invest in a humidifier, this may be it.

You can check out other ways to increase humidity here.

Temperature

Mild indoor temperatures are perfect for your Alocasia Silver Dragon. Optimal growth conditions are between 55-80 degrees F (13 – 27 degrees C). Cold temperatures can trigger dormancy.

Like most houseplants, your Alocasia appreciates a spot well away from air vents or drafts. They will lose their leaves if they are too cold, or are subject to wild temperature fluctuations.

Flowering

You’ll know you’re an amazing plant parent if you see your Alocasia Silver Dragon flowering. This is a rare occurrence, and happens only when the plant is mature and thriving. It’s basically a sign that its so happy that it wants to reproduce!

Truth be told though, the Alocasia Silver Dragon’s infloresences are not everyone’s cup of tea. The spathe and spadix combination of most aroids fall short of what one might think of when it comes to showy or ornamental flowers.

You can cut these off if you wish – but it’s up to you!

a group of alocasia silver dragon plants
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Soil or Growing Medium

Native to limestone-rich areas, your Alocasia Silver Dragon is used to soil which, when mixing with rainwater, turns alkaline. So you’ll need to be careful that you choose a soil that has a slightly higher pH (7 – 7.5), which is uncommon.

It’s also important that the soil is light and airy, so that water can drain quickly though the pot and not suffocate your Alocasia’s roots. Alocasia roots are notoriously fragile, so this is one part of care that needs a bit of attention.

Our favorite potting mix is a simple mixture of:

A high-quality indoor potting mix provides a nutritious base, while perlite lightens the soil. Oyster shells contain calcium carbonate, which increases the soil’s pH.

Another good option for growing Alocasias in general is LECA, which are clay balls grown in a semi-hydroponics medium. Check out our article on the Pros and Cons of LECA to see if its a good fit for you.

Fertilizer

We find that this plant is not a heavy-feeder, but likes to feed constantly. Fertilize once every 2 weeks using a gentle (urea-free, remember those fragile roots!) liquid fertilizer at 1/3 strength.

Fertilize only in active growing months (spring and summer). Don’t fertilizer in fall and winter.

Choose a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen (but still nutritionally complete), as nitrogen promotes healthy foliage growth.

Our favorite is Dyna-Gro Grow, which we use for most of our houseplants.

If you prefer a truly organic option – we’ve also had success working worm castings into the potting mix.

Repotting

Given that your Alocasia Silver Dragon stays small, it doesn’t need to be repotted often. Only when you see roots peeking out of the drainage hole should you start thinking about repotting.

As always, try to repot in the spring or summer months. This helps your plant rebound from the stress of repotting under ideal growing conditions – warmth, humidity and sunshine for a speedy recovery.

  • Water the day before repotting, so that your plant more easily wriggles out of its pot. Watering also reduces transplant shock.
  • Choose a pot just 2 inches (5cm) larger than the original.
  • Choose a planter that has drainage holes. ALWAYS!
  • Terracotta pots are a good option, as porous material allow for quick evaporation and airflow.
  • Use fresh soil when repotting, as nutrients deplete over time.
alocasia silver dragon in a green pot
Copyright © 2022 hmflowers (Hallmark Flowers & Gifts). All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.

Toxicity

According to ASPCA, all Alocasias, including your Alocasia Silver Dragon, are toxic to animals and humans when ingested.

This is no thanks to calcium oxalate crystals in your plant’s stems and leaves. These insoluble crystals pierce tissues, causing skin irritation, severe nausea, vomiting as well as gastrointestinal pains.

Propagation

Alocasias are a tuberous plant that have underground rhizomes that can be propagated. If you’ve never seen a rhizome before, they are modified stems that grow underground and look like ginger. They store food and grow offshoots, which are new baby plants.

To propagate your Alocasia Silver Dragon, we use rhizome division, which is literally slicing off a part of the tuber to make a new baby plant.

A few reminders before we get into propagation steps:

  • The best time to propagate is early spring, early in the growing season.
  • As with repotting, propagating stresses your plant out. So, only attempt propagation when you have a healthy and mature plant.
  • Don’t propagate if you have a new plant or recently relocated it.

Propagation through Rhizome Division

  1. The day before propagation, water your plant and sterilize a knife blade with 70% isopropyl solution.
  2. Place your plant on its side and unpot your Alocasia Silver Dragon. Use your fingers to gently tease out the soil to reveal the rhizomes. Try not to damage the roots.
  3. Using the sterilized blade, cut off a portion of the tuber that has a few stems and some established roots.
  4. Repot the tuber in evenly moist potting mix. Choose a pot that is suitable for the size of the tuber, and one that has drainage holes.
  5. Place the mother plant back in its pot.
  6. Keep both plants in a warm, humid location with plenty of indirect light. If you have a humidifier, place it next to the plants and set at 80%.
  7. It will take about 2-4 weeks for roots to establish in the baby plant, and for your mother plant to recover. Your plants may show signs of stress in the meantime.
  8. New growth indicates your plants have recovered!

Pruning

Being a small plant, there’s not much pruning that needs to be done.

But if you spot a damaged or diseased leaf, cut this off with sterilized shears. This helps your plant focus its energy on new, healthy growth.

Common Pests and Diseases

Spider mites

Super macro photo of group of Red Spider Mite infestation on vegetable. Insect concept.
A macro photo of a red spider mite infestation on a vegetable plant.

Spider mites are attracted to underwatered and overfertilized plants. They also like low humidity. Most commonly however, they infect your plant through cross-contamination from another infected houseplant.

So its a good idea to inspect your plants before introducing them to your home, and to regularly sterilize your gardening tools to prevent cross-contamination. (We like using 70% isopropyl solution to sterilize).

Fine webbing on the undersides of leaves and stems is a tell-tale sign that spider mites are present. They use this webbing to lay eggs.

There are two main ways you can kill these pests: either by using a neem oil spray or, if the infestation is severe, going straight for the Bonide Insecticidal Soap Spray.

Check out our step-by-step guide on identifying and killing spider mites.

Root Rot

Alocasias are susceptible to root rot, and especially so since they have underground rhizomes! Overwatering drowns out your plant’s roots and rhizomes, causing them to suffocate from a lack of air. This causes roots to decay, and attracts moisture-loving fungi to feed on decaying plant parts.

Prevention is the best way to avoid this mess. Making sure you water only when the topsoil is dry is honestly one of the best things you can do for your Alocasia Silver Dragon. Also ensure you use a well-draining potting mix, and choose a pot with drainage holes.

Never allow your plant to sit in a stagnant pool of water!

If you already have an overwatered plant on your hand, don’t fret. If your plant is only mildly overwatered, there’s a good chance it will recover without drastic action. Check out our guide on saving your overwatered plant.

Troubleshooting

Yellow Leaves

Yellowing leaves in an Alocasia Silver Dragon is usually due to overwatering. Check the soil moisture to confirm.

Another reason could be overfertilization. Ensure you are only fertilizing during the spring and summer months, once every 2 weeks, using a liquid fertilizer at 1/3 strength. Don’t fertilize in fall and winter.

Also use a fertilizer that is gentle and urea-free – Alocasias tend to be sensitive to fertilizer salts.

If the problem is overfertilizing, flush the plant with room temperature purified water, allowing the build up of fertilizer salts to wash away.

Leaf Drop

Leaf drop is usually due to cold temperatures or temperature fluctuations. Ensure your plant is kept indoors, in a spot away from air vents and chilly drafts.

Curling leaves

Underwatering and low humidity may cause curling leaves. Another reason for curling leaves is a pest infestation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Alocasia Silver Dragon rare?

They used to be much rarer and command prices in the low hundreds. Today, the Alocasia Silver Dragon is still uncommon at local garden centers, but can be easily found online.

Is the Alocasia Silver Dragon a hybrid?

Yes, the Alocasia Silver Dragon is a hybrid variant of the Alocasia Baginda.

Is the Alocasia Silver Dragon related to the Alocasia Pink Dragon?

The Alocasia Pink Dragon’s scientific name is the Alocasia Calidora ‘Pink Dragon’. It is not a cultivar of the Alocasia Baginda, unlike the Alocasia Baginda ‘Silver Dragon’ and the Alocasia Baginda ‘Dragon Scale’.

While not the same species, the Pink Dragon and Silver Dragon are close cousins, being from the same Alocasia genus. As you can see, the Pink Dragon is easily distinguished from the Silver Dragon and Dragon Scale!

a potted alocasia pink dragon
Alocasia Pink Dragon, scientific name Alocasia Calidora ‘Pink Dragon’.

Other Alocasia Baginda Varieties

  • Alocasia Silver Dragon
  • Alocasia Green Dragon

Other Alocasias we Love

Wrapping Up

The Alocasia Silver Dragon is a beautiful compact plant well-suited to indoor climates. Keep its silvery, dragon-scale leaves large and lush by:

  • Providing it bright, indirect light. East-facing windows are ideal.
  • Giving it as much humidity as possible (>50%, ideally higher at 80%)
  • Placing your Alocasia Silver Dragon in a warm spot away from winds and drafts.
  • Choosing an airy and light potting mix, and one that is slightly alkaline.
  • Checking the soil moisture frequently, and water only when topsoil is dry.
  • Water using purified room-temperature water.
  • Choose a gentle liquid fertilizer, applying once every 2 weeks at 1/3 strength during growing season.

Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.