Awarded the “Most Unusual” Aroid at the 2009 International Aroid Society show and sale, the Alocasia Tiny Dancer is unlike any other. 🙂
This new hybrid (scientific name: Alocasia brisbanensis×Alocasia odora), created in 2013 is known for its long green petioles with small cupped leaves in a unique teardrop shape. While the plant grows upright, its petioles tend to fan out, curving in different directions like they are dancing.
They are middle of the road when it comes to ease of care. They enjoy moister soil than most Alocasias, so don’t let this plant dry out completely (through its pot) between waterings. Choose a peat-based potting mix that is still well-draining.
Moderate to bright indirect light (East or North-facing windows) is ideal, as are mild indoor temperatures and high humidity (>50%).
This plant is a patented hybrid of Alocasia Brisbanensis (female parent) and Alocasia Odora (male parent). It was bred in Florida by LariAnn Garner in 2012 and introduced by Aroidia Research USA in 2014.
Caring for your Alocasia Tiny Dancer
The most important thing in terms of lighting is to avoid direct light. Needing less light than most other Alocasias, the Tiny Dancer is content with moderate to bright indirect light, for 4-8 hours a day.
For this reason, it can grow quite well in an East or North-facing window. We like placing ours near a bright East-facing bathroom window.
Your Alocasia Tiny Dancer enjoys moist soil, so it doesn’t like to dry out completely through its pot between waterings. At the same time, it hates being waterlogged, as this invites root rot.
To balance these two issues, water your plant deeply once you feel that the top 2 inches of soil is dry. The top layers of soil naturally dry out before the bottom layers.
Other watering tips are centered around preventing root or rhizome rot:
- Remember to empty its saucer, so that there aren’t stagnant pools of water at the bottom of the pot!
- The best time to water is in the morning, so that any excess water evaporates throughout the day.
Being a tropical plant, your Alocasia Tiny Dancer loves high humidity. Above >50% humidity is ideal.
High humidity levels keep your plant’s stomata (pores) open, allowing carbon dioxide, which is needed for photosynthesis, to be absorbed. A reason why plants close their stomata is that too much water is lost through evaporation from the stomata.
So, a high level of humidity directly reduces evaporation rates. 🙂
The most convenient and easy way to permanently boost humidity is to invest in a humidifier. This is the one we recommend – it’s quiet, energy-efficient, covers large areas, has easily configurable %humidity settings, and comes with remote control.
When it comes to temperature, keep your Alocasia Tiny Dancer in stable, indoor temperatures between 65-75 degrees F (18-24 degrees Celsius).
Drops below 60 degrees F (16 degrees C) may trigger your Alocasia to go into dormancy.
According to North Carolina State University, Alocasias are intolerant of winds, so place your Tiny Dancer in a spot away from drafts and vents.
Your Alocasia Tiny Dancer is non-blooming.
According to Miami Tropical Plants’s Suzanne Mulvehill, the Alocasia Tiny Dancer is “known for its extraordinary shape and can grow 8-18 inches (20-45 cm) in height and 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) wide”.
According to their patent, their growth rate is considered moderate, although ours has been growing quite quickly! Mulvehill further estimates “it takes about 2 to 4 weeks” to grow the see a height of 6 inches (15cm), and “5 to 7 weeks” to see it top out at 8 inches (20cm).
Soil or Growing Medium
When it comes to picking a potting mix, choose a peat-based potting soil with some drainage elements. But, be careful that it is not TOO porous; a ratio of ~30% drainage elements to 50% potting mix and 20% peat is ideal. It should also have a high nutrient content and a pH between 5.6 – 7.
We like using:
- 3 parts indoor potting mix
- 1 part peat moss
- 1 part orchid bark and horticultural charcoal mixed together
- 1 part pumice
You’ll notice that this mix has a lower percentage of drainage elements than most other Aroid mixes. This is because the Tiny Dancer is more intolerant of drying out completely through its pot between waterings than most other Alocasias.
Alternatively, you can also try to plant your Alocasia in LECA. In our experience, Alocasias take very well to being planted in LECA as it gives roots ultimate breathability. You can read more about the Pros and Cons of LECA here to see if it’s the right option for you. 🙂
When it comes to feeding, choose a gentle liquid houseplant fertilizer. Check that it is urea-free. We’ve been getting good results using Dyna-Gro Grow for most of our houseplants.
We also like it for its higher nitrogen content, which encourages healthy foliage growth.
Apply every 2 weeks at 1/3 strength during the active growing season, spring and summer. Hold off fertilizing in fall and winter.
Another fertilizing tip: as Alocasia roots tend to be sensitive, apply fertilizer after you have watered your plant. This protects against fertilizer burn.
Repotting your fast-growing plant is required only when you see signs of your Tiny Dancer becoming root-bound. Remember that Alocasias don’t take well to their roots being disturbed, so repot only when needed.
Spring is the best time for repotting, as this is the start of the growing season. Being in warmth and humidity helps it recover from the stresses of repotting.
- Water your Alocasia the day before repotting. This reduces transplant shock and helps the plant more easily wriggle free from its pot.
- Place your Alocasia Tiny Dancer on its side, coaxing your plant out for its pot.
- Use your fingers to gently work through any compacted soil.
- Choose a planter about 2 inches (5cm) larger than the original pot, and one with drainage holes.
- Add fresh soil to the new planter, and re-plant your Tiny Dancer in its new home.
- After repotting, your Alocasia may take a couple of weeks to recover, and may show signs of stress in the meanwhile. Be patient as it adapts.
Unfortunately, your plant is toxic when ingested by humans and animals. Like many others in the Aracaea family, they have oxalate crystals that pierce tissues, causing skin irritation, nausea, and gastrointestinal pains.
It’s best to place your plant away from children and pets. Being quite a compact plant, a high bookshelf or bar table that receives bright indirect light could work.
To propagate your Alocasia Tiny Dancer, you can use offsets division. Alocasias have a clumping growth habit, and each of these clumps has its own roots and petioles, which can form a new plant. But you’ll need to wait until the new clump, called a pup, is about 6 inches (15cm) tall before separating it from its mother.
Another way to propagate your Alocasia Tiny Dancer is to harvest the bulbs that grow spontaneously under the soil. Each bulb can grow its own plant. (If left alone it will grow into an offset).
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 Offset Division
- 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 Tiny Dancer. Use your fingers to gently tease out the soil to reveal the rhizomes, roots and petioles. Try not to damage the roots.
- Using the sterilized blade, separate the pup from the mother plant by slicing through the rhizome. Ensure the separated pup has established roots and petioles.
- Repot the pup in evenly moist potting mix. Choose a pot that is suitable for the size of the pup, its roots and rhizome, and one that has drainage holes.
- 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 at 80%.
- It will take about 3-4 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.
- New growth indicates your plants have recovered!
Propagation by Bulb Harvesting
Another way to propagate your Alocasia Tiny Dancer is through bulb harvesting. You can do this opportunistically when repotting your plant! Compared to offset division, it takes longer for a new plant to develop.
- Water your plant 24 hours before propagation. This reduces the risk of transplant shock.
- Remove your plant from its container, being careful not to damage its roots. Use your fingers to gently coax your plant out of its pot, untangling compacted soil particles from delicate roots.
- Remove excess soil so that you can examine your plant’s roots. Under the soil and tangled in the roots you can often find a few bulbs. Select bulbs that are hard, thick and round, and easily separated from the roots, signaling that they are mature. You should be able to find 5-10 mature bulbs in an established plant.
- Plant the bulbs, root side down, separately in a new pot with fresh soil.
- Repot your mother plant back into its original container.
- Water both plants.
- You should expect that your mother plant will show some signs of stress after being separated and repotted. Wait a few weeks and observe your mother plant as it recovers.
- New growth is a sign of successful propagation!
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
When it comes to pests and diseases, there are a few to look out for. Spider mites are notoriously attracted to Alocasias, so they are the #1 Pest you want to keep an eye out for.
Otherwise, root rot (or rhizome rot) and fungal diseases due to overwatering can commonly present problems. Alocasias have a sensitive root system, making them very intolerant of being overwatered…. (but alas, also hate drying out completely between waterings! 🤦♀️).
Spider mites are about 1/50 inch (0.5mm) in size, so it’s not easy to observe them directly without a microscope. Instead, look out for pale, grey stipplings on leaves or fine webbing on leaf undersides and near the stems as signs of an infestation.
These sap-sucking pests use sharp mouthparts to pierce plant tissue and feed on sugary sap. This deprives your plant of nutrients.
They also like to feed on chlorophyll, which accounts for the discoloration of leaves when they are present.
To kill off spider mites,
- Isolate your plant from other healthy plants to prevent contamination. These insects are highly mobile so can start to infect your other houseplants.
- Take a good look at your plant. Use a water jet to physically dislodge any visible spider mites.
- Spray a neem oil solution on your plant’s stem and foliage. Neem oil works as a broad-based pesticide to inhibit feeding and breathing, and kill off larvae. Check out our guide on how to make a neem oil solution and how to use and reapply this.
- Use sterilized garden shears to cut off damaged parts of the plant. Dispose of this securely; remember, you don’t want to contaminate other plants!
- Re-apply neem oil as necessary.
Root rot results in black or decayed roots and can produce a foul smell. If your plant is suffering from root rot, consult our step-by-step guide on saving your plant.
Here’s a quick summary of typical symptoms observable in an Alocasia Tiny Dancer and what may be causing them:
- Yellowing leaves. This is usually due to overwatering. Check the soil moisture to confirm.
- Brown leaf spots. Brown leaf spots could indicate a fungal infection from overwatering. Check the soil moisture to confirm. Repot in fresh soil, snipping off any damaged roots and leaves, and apply a broad-based fungicide. Ensure that you dial in your watering practices and are using a well-draining potting mix.
- A lack of new leaves and yellowing old leaves and petioles, one by one. This means your plant needs more sunlight.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Alocasia Tiny Dancer rare?
Yes! The Alocasia Tiny Dancer is still a relatively new patented hybrid and is rare.
Similar Plants and Varieties
Here’s the low-down on the Alocasia Tiny Dancer’s parent plants, as well as its look-alike, the Alocaisa cucullata ‘Hooded Dwarf’.
Alocasia Brisbanensis (female parent): nicknamed the Cunjevoi Lily, this large plant looks nothing like the Tiny Dancer! It grows up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) and has large, elephant ear leaves. Stunning in its own right, we love its thick veins running down its large leaves.
Like the Tiny Dancer, it enjoys moist soil, and tolerates low-light conditions.
Alocasia Odora (male parent): The Alocasia odora, also called the Night-Scented Lily, is another large and stunning plant. Leaves grow on strong stems and point skyward, with large arrow-shaped leaves. They grow up to 4-8 feet (120-240 cm) tall and 3 feet (90 cm) wide.
Alocasia cucullata ‘Hooded Dwarf’: Also known also as Buddha’s Palm, the Hooded Dwarf’s thin leaves wave with the slightest breeze. 🙂
Its small stature and teardrop leaves resemble that of the Alocasia Tiny Dancer. They are another dwarf cultivar and easier to care for than most in the Alocasia genus.
Other Alocasias we Love
- Alocasia Lauterbachiana
- Alocasia Jacklyn
- Alocasia Black Velvet (Alocasia Reginula)
- Alocasia Zebrina
- Alocasia Melo
- Alocasia Cuprea, the Mirror Plant, famous for its glossy copper-sheen
- Check out our Round-Up of our 19 favorite Alocasias (w/PHOTOS!)
The Alocasia Tiny Dancer is an unusual Aroid. This rare and compact plant adds vibrancy to small indoor spaces.
- East or North-facing windowsills are ideal.
- Water once the topsoil is dry, in the morning. Alocasias are intolerant of waterlogged soil.
- Humidity >50% is important.
- Select a rich and well-draining potting mix that still holds some moisture. Use a ratio of 30% drainage elements to 50% potting mix and 20% peat. pH 5.7 – 7 is ideal.
- Keep in mild indoor temperatures. They are not cold-hardy.
- Use a liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks during the growing season, at half strength. Water before fertilizing to protect against fertilizer burn.
- Protect from winds – Alocasias are especially sensitive to this.
- Repot only when root-bound.
- Be careful of spider mites. You can apply a dilute neem oil solution to ward them away.
Love the Alocasia Tiny Dancer? Check out the Alocasia Melo next!
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.