The Alocasia Cucullata ‘Hooded Dwarf’ is a compact Alocasia known for being smaller and easier to care for than most others in the genus.
Its unique leaves, held atop fleshy stalks, are formed in the shape of a teardrop, or, according to some, open palms. Known sometimes as Buddha’s Palm, this plant’s thin leaves wave with the slightest breeze. 🙂
Care-wise, this little Alocasia requires high humidity (>70% ideally); bright indirect sunlight for at least 8 hours a day, and stable indoor temperatures. Choose a well-draining soil or LECA, and water only when the topsoil is dry.
Let’s get into the details!
Variegated vs. Non-variegated Alocasia Cucullata
A quick note on variegated Alocasia Cucullatas. These have lovely splashes of light yellow or light green. Patterns vary from leaf to leaf… so you won’t quite know how it’ll look until new leaves unfurl 🙂
Compare this to darker, uniformly green leaves of the non-variegated plant, and decide which you prefer!
How to care for your Alocasia Cucullata
When grown indoors, the Alocasia Cucullata grows best in a well-lit room where it will receive bright, indirect sunlight for at least 8 hours a day.
Without sufficient sunlight, the Alocasia Cucullata leaves will become duller, appearing lacklustre. Its growth will also slow down. Sadly, the variegated version may lose its variegation.
A good location for this plant is near a sunny East or West-facing window.
Alocasia Cucullata will generally need to be watered once a week, but this can vary based on time of year, age of the plant, and how hot or dry the room is.
During the winter, when the plant isn’t actively growing, watering frequency generally halves.
Though rules of thumb like these are useful, the best way to tell if your plant needs watering is to check the moisture level of the top 2 inches of the soil. 🙂 Water only if it is dry, and check often! 🙂
Do you need to use distilled water?
While harsh salts in water MAY damage Alocasais (which tend to be quite sensitive about water quality), this really depends on the water quality where you live.
In our experience, we haven’t had to use distilled water for our Cucullata. But if you live in an area known for harsh water salts, then either use distilled water… or leave tap water out overnight before watering.
For this tropical plant, try to maintain a humidity level of at least 60%… but >70% would be ideal.
Check out 4 ways to increase humidity levels here.
No surprises here – Alocasia Cucullata are not cold or frost tolerant, and require warm temperatures.
Their ideal temperature is between 65-85 degrees F (18-29 degrees C), which fortunately is a fairly decent range for homes, meaning it should be easy to grow indoors! 🙂
These plants should never be exposed to temperatures lower than 60 degrees (16 degrees C) – Alocasias are REALLY sensitive to the cold.
Importantly, Alocasias are sensitive to drastic temperature changes, such as what you would experience underneath a heating and cooling vent. Because of this, be mindful of where you place the plant!!
With sufficient light (at least 8 hours / day) and high humidity (aim for >70%), the Alocasia Cucullata grows surprisingly quickly. Grown indoors, this Alocasia grows up to 18-35 inches (45-90cm) tall, with long leaf petioles fanning out from a central stem.
You’ll notice the stem getting thicker and woodier as the plant matures. This makes it look super sturdy!
Little budda palms have grow to become large leaves spanning 15 inches (38cm) long and 11 inches (28cm) wide. Most of the growth of this plant will occur during the spring and summer months.
Alocasias may go dormant during the winter. Triggered by a combination of low light and cold temperatures, your plant naturally senses that conditions are not ideal for growth. It then automatically de-prioritizes new growth and “hibernates” while waiting for warmer weather and sunlight to return.
During dormancy it is common to observe dropping leaves – this is nothing to be worried about. Even though your plant may look bare, it has rhizomes (a modified stem, like a ginger) under the soil that store energy and have the ability to produce new stems and leaves when growing conditions are better!
During this time,
- Stop fertilizing;
- Use your finger to check the moisture level of its topsoil before watering. You’ll notice its soil dries out less quickly, so watering frequency will slow down dramatically.
Can you prevent dormancy?
Yes. You can prevent your Alocasia from going dormant by providing warm temperatures and sufficient sunlight so that growing conditions remain optimal year-round.
Of course, whether this is possible or not depends on your climate and ability to control those variables!
Soil or Growing Medium
The best soil for the Alocasia Cucullata is one that is light, airy, drains well, but can retain some moisture. It also thrives in slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5.
For this little plant we like using a mix of:
- 1 part Miracle Gro potting mix
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part worm compost
- a handful of horticultural charcoal
Alternatively, you can use LECA! LECA is a great semi-hydroponics option that, in our experience, is REALLY SUITED to Alocasias. Our article on the Pros and Cons of LECA can help you decide.
A balanced fertilizer, in liquid form, works well for the Alocasia Cucullata.
Look for one with an NPK ratio of 9-3-6 and then dilute the fertilizer by ½ its strength. Water the plant thoroughly, incorporating the liquid fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer only.
Incorporating the liquid fertilizer into its watering routine will help dilute the mixture, reducing the risk of fertilizer burn.
While fertilizer is an important aspect of houseplant care, giving the plant too much or not the right kind can lead to over-fertilization, which can severely harm and even kill the plant. So in this aspect, less is more 🙂
The most obvious sign that your plant needs repotting is when roots peek out from the drainage hole or swirl above the soil’s surface. This typically happens once every 2 years for the fast-growing Alocasia Cucullata. 🙂
Spring is the best time to repot.
- Water your plant the day before repotting; this reduces transport shock.
- Gently place your plant on its side.
- Use your fingers to tease away compacted soil.
- Remove your plant from its pot, being careful not to damage its roots.
- Use a new pot that is 2 inches larger than the original (any larger, and there is too much unused soil that holds moisture, leading to overwatering).
- Use fresh soil as nutrients deplete over time.
- Don’t water your plant until a week after repotting.
Unfortunately, your Hooded Dwarf is toxic when ingested by animals and humans.
This is due to the presence of insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in your plant’s stems and leaves. Calcium oxalate causes skin burns and irritation, nausea, and vomiting.
Propagation can be done through rhizome division or through offsets. But before you consider propagating your plant, be sure to wait until you have a healthy and established Alocasia Cucullata.
Propagating is stressful – and especially so for Alocasias. Spring is the best time to propagate!
Propagation by Rhizome Division
Propagation through rhizome division follows generally the same steps for most Alocasias.
- The day before propagation, water your plant and sterilize a knife blade with 70% isopropyl solution.
- Place your plant on its side and unpot your Alocasia Cucullata. Once dislodged, use your fingers to gently tease out the soil to reveal the rhizomes. Rhizomes look like ginger.
- Using the sterilized blade, cut off a healthy portion of the rhizome that has a few stems and some established roots.
- Repot the separated rhizome in an evenly moist potting mix. Choose a pot that is suitable for its size.
- Place the mother plant back in its pot.
- 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 it at 80%.
- It will take about 6 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.
- New growth indicates your plants have recovered!
Propagation by Offsets (“bulbs” but technically corms)
A healthy and established Alocasia Cucullata spontaneously grows corms (sometimes called clumps or offsets), which are baby plants, under its soil. They are sometimes called bulbs, though technically they are corms.
- Prepare by watering your plant the day before propagation, which reduces the risk of transplant shock.
- Carefully wriggle your plant out of its pot, using your fingers to free compacted soil to dislodge the rootball. Be careful not to damage the roots.
- Examine the roots of the mother plant. You should see some corms growing near the roots.
- Gently untangle the corms from the mother plant.
- Make sure the corm is still hard by pressing gently against it. (hard corms = still viable.)
- Pot the corms into a separate pot with fresh soil, with the roots facing downwards. Return the mother plant back to its own pot.
- For the next 6 weeks, ensure your new plant’s soil remains evenly moist but not waterlogged. Never let it dry out completely. If you have a humidifier, place it next to the pot and set it at 80%. Ensure your new plant is in a warm location with PLENTY of indirect light.
- Note that the mother plant may show signs of stress (eg, drooping leaves) but this is normal as it recovers.
- After 6 weeks, your new plant should be established in its pot, and your mother plant has fully recovered.
- Treat both plants as you would any other Alocasia Cucullata.
Being a compact non-vining plant, there’s really not much pruning to be done on your Alocasia Cucullata – other than keeping it looking neat and bushy.
If you see any dead, wilted or damaged leaves, snip these off with sterilized garden shears. You can do this year-round.
When cutting, snip off the leaf as close to the main stem as possible to prevent die-back.
Common Pests and Issues
One of the benefits of growing a Alocasia Cucullata is that it isn’t susceptible to many problems. However, if a problem were to occur, these are the 2 most common suspects!!
- Overwatering, leading to root rot or fungal infections. Always make sure the topsoil is dry before watering, and choose a free-draining potting mix. If you’re dealing with a chronically overwatered plant, then follow our guide on how to save it.
- Infestations from spider mites, mealybugs or scale. As these pests reproduce rapidly, it’s important to regularly inspect your plants to catch these bugs early on. We always keep a bottle of Bonide Insecticidal Soap Spray handy to deal with these common pests; luckily, this insecticidal soap is pretty effective.
What would cause my Alocasia Cucullata’s leaves to turn yellow?
Leaves turning yellow is a sign that your Alocasia Cucullata has been overwatered. You may also notice the leaves are droopy or wilted, and have a soft and limp feeling.
The stems of the Alocasia Cucullata may also start to turn brown or black, and the plant’s entire growth rate will suffer.
To confirm that overwatering is the cause of the yellowing leaves, check the soil’s moisture.
Why is there salt forming on the top of my Alocasia Cucullata’s soil?
If you notice salt building up on the top of the soil, you have overfertilized the Alocasia Cucullata. Overfertilizing any plant can cause serious damage to the plant’s roots. If the overfertilizing continues, the overall health of the Alocasia Cucullata will suffer and, in extreme situations, the plant could die.
Thankfully, you can flush the soil by holding the Alocasia Cucullata under running water for several minutes to remove the excess minerals and salts from the soil.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Alocasia Cucullata rare?
While Alocasia Cucullata is rarer than some other Alocasia varieties, it is not the rarest cultivar.
That title goes to either Alocasia odora ‘Variegata’ or Alocasia maharani ‘Grey Dragon’, both of which are considered extremely rare Alocasia varieties.
Should I mist my Alocasia Cucullata every day?
No, please don’t. Though some articles suggest misting your Alocasia’s leaves, we don’t recommend misting.
According to PennState University, misting makes a negligible difference in humidity levels and is listed as one of the top gardening myths!
Plus, it can encourage moisture-loving fungi and bacteria to breed on the surface of the leaves, causing more problems.
Other Alocasias we Love
- Alocasia Pink Dragon
- Alocasia Regal Shield
- Alocasia Cuprea, the Mirror Plant, famous for its glossy copper-sheen
- Alocasia Frydek
The Alocasia Cucullata is an easy plant to take care of, as long as you know a few tricks. The most important parts of care are:
- Several hours of indirect light when kept indoors (we like East or West-facing windows for this Alocasia)
- A well-draining potting mix (we like using perlite + orchid bark to improve drainage)
- Letting your plant’s topsoil dry out between waterings
- Average room temperatures, a spot protected from wind
- Humidity >70% is optimal
- Light fertilizing, once a month at half strength using a high-quality houseplant fertilizer
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.