The Alocasia Sarawakensis ‘Yucatan Princess’ is a darker variety of Alocasia that grows quickly to its ultimate height, ~3 feet tall (91cm), when kept indoors. 🙂
The Princess is known for its large elephant-ear leaves that are glossy and dark green in color….though new leaves are light green.
Leaves are held atop eye-catching light pink stems, similar to a number of other Alocasias.
The best news? Though Alocasias get a bad rap for being difficult to grow, the Yucatan Princess, in our experience, is not fussy and grows well once you get the hang of it.
Care-wise, it needs to be watered and fertilized regularly with a gentle, urea-free fertilizer. Place away from windy spots and ensure it gets at least 6 hours of bright, indirect light.
When kept indoors, this Alocasia loves lots of sun! But do watch out for spider mites.
Let’s dive into the details.
How to care for your Alocasia Yucatan Princess
Like other Alocasia varieties, the Alocasia Yucatan Princess grows best when it has at least 6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight.
Ours is set near a South-facing window, and loves it. Our advice? Place it less than 3 feet (91cm) away from the brightest window you can find in your home.
During the winter, consider using grow lights.
Expect to water the Alocasia Yucatan Princess about once a week, but remember that this timeframe can vary depending on the size of the plant, environmental conditions, and time of year.
For example, the Alocasia Yucatan Princess typically requires more watering in the spring and summer when the plant is actively growing than it does in the winter when the plant isn’t growing as much.
Still, the best way to check if your Princess needs watering is to check if the top 2 inches (5cm) of soil is dry before watering.
Alocasia Yucatan Princess is a tropical plant native to Borneo, which means it needs humidity levels that are a bit higher than the average home’s humidity. Aim for humidity >50%!
The high humidity helps it grow lush large leaves. 🙂
The Alocasia Yucatan Princess needs warm temperatures throughout the entire year. A good temperature range is between 65-75 degrees F (18-24 degrees C). Avoid subjecting the Alocasia to temperatures colder than 65 degrees, as they are susceptible to cold injury.
Low temperatures over a long period can result in LEAF DROP and little to no growth.
Under optimal conditions, the Alocasia Yucatan Princess is a fast-growing plant that can reach heights of up to 6 to 8 feet (1.8-2.4 meters) in its native habitat. However, when the plant is grown indoors, expect it to be only about 3 feet (91cm) tall.
Because of its rare fast growth rate, the Alocasia Yucatan Princess can grow about 1 to 2 feet every year (30-60cm) when indoors.
Soil or Growing Medium
In terms of potting mix, it’s important to choose a coarse, free-draining soil that is slightly acidic.
Avoid heavy soils with lots of sphagnum or peat moss and coconut coir – these are too moisture-retentive for your Alocasia, which is sensitive to overwatering.
We like to use a mix of:
- 1 part indoor potting soil
- 2 parts perlite
- 1 part orchid bark
- 1 part horticultural charcoal
That’s right. Not much potting soil at all (~20% of the mix), and much more (80%) chunky amendments to give your plant space to breathe, and for water to drain.
FYI – the slightly acidic pH helps your plant to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from the soil. 🙂
Take it from us – giving your Yucatan Princess a monthly feeding during its active growing season DOES WONDERS.
Use a gentle liquid fertilizer (we like Dyna-Gro Foliage Pro) made for tropical houseplants. Ensure you choose one that is urea-free. We incorporate the liquid fertilizer into the plant’s normal watering routine, so that the water fertilizer is extra-dilute (no root burn!).
Remember to stop feeding the Alocasia Yucatan Princess in the fall and winter.
Alocasia Yucatan Princess will only need to be repotted when it starts to grow roots out of the bottom of the pot. This is a sign that the plant is coming root-bound.
For the best results, repot the plant in the spring and use a container that is no more than 2 inches (5cm) larger than the original.
Using a pot that is too big will result in the pot holding on to too much water (leading to all the problems associated with overwatering!).
All cultivars of Alocasia, including the Yucatan Princess, are HIGHLY toxic when ingested by humans, dogs, and cats. When any part of this plant is consumed, it will cause gastrointestinal distress, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort.
While not usually fatal for humans, the Alocasia Yucatan Princess can be deadly to your pets. If your dog or cat consumes even a small amount of an Alocasia plant, it could damage their internal organs.
If your pet has ingested or chewed on the Alocasia Yucatan Princess, immediately seek medical attention. At the very least, reach out to poison control for further instructions on how to proceed.
If you’re looking for pet-friendly alternatives, try Calatheas, Hoyas or Peperomias.
There are two main ways you can propagate your Alocasia Yucatan Princess.
The first involves cutting off a part of its rhizome that has developed some roots and stems, and allowing this to grow in a separate pot. The second involves separating the mother plant from its offsets. Offsets are small baby plants.
Both require healthy and established plants. If you’re recently bought a plant or relocated it, or it’s still fairly young, don’t propagate it just yet. Let it acclimatize and recover before stressing it out again!
For best results, propagate in the spring and summer months. Warmth, light, and humidity help your plant recover more quickly.
Propagation by Rhizome 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 Yucatan Princess. Use your fingers to gently tease out the soil to reveal the rhizomes (this looks like ginger). Try not to damage the roots.
- Using the sterilized blade, cut off a healthy portion of the tuber that has a few stems and some established roots.
- Repot the tuber in an evenly moist potting mix. Choose a pot that is suitable for the size of the tuber 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 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
- 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 clumps (corms) growing underneath, with their own roots. These clumps are also called offsets.
- Gently untangle the corms from the mother plant. Again, try not to damage the roots!
- Pot the corms into a separate pot with fresh soil. 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. 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 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 Yucatan Princess.
How about Propagation by seeds?
Seed propagation is not easy and takes a long time. Best to leave this to the professionals!
Alocasia Yucatan Princess can benefit from occasional pruning to help control its growth rate and keep it looking bushy. 🙂
Make sure to only prune in spring when the plant is actively growing, and use a pair of sharp pruning shears. Make your cuts just above a leaf node, which is where new growth will emerge.
Common Pests and Issues
those dreaded Spider mites!!
According to the University of North Carolina, spider mites can be a particular problem for Alocasia Yucatan Princesses. This is totally not surprising! These sap-suckers are known to be attracted to all types of Alocasias.
- Apply a dilute solution of neem oil directly into the soil as a preventative measure. Mix in 1 tablespoon of concentrated neem oil with 1/3 tablespoon of castile soap in 1 liter of lukewarm water.
- According to fellow Alocasia-lover Pauline, using dinotefuran and abamectin, which are other broad-based pesticides, helps her Alocasias stay pest-free.
- Examine your Alocasia’s leaves, looking for any signs of fine webbing, before introducing it to your home.
- Regularly inspect your plant’s leaves to catch any pests early.
- Have a bottle of Bonide Insecticide Soap Spray on hand. If you see signs of spider mites, apply liberally and quarantine your infected plant until the infestation passes.
Look out for pale, grey stipplings on leaves or fine webbing on leaf undersides and near the stems as signs of an infestation. As spider mites are about 1/50 inch (0.5mm) in size, it’s not easy to observe them directly without a microscope. (Find out more about spider mites here.)
Bacterial Leaf Spot
Bacterial leaf spot can also occur on Alocasia Yucatan Princess as a result of overwatering or being in too-cold temperatures. Spots are typically tan, brown or black, and can be due to a number of different bacteria.
Plants are most susceptible to bacterial and fungi spots when leaves are wet for several hours. This is why we recommend watering your plant near the soil line (not overhead), and using a humidifier instead of misting!
Pythium Root rot
Proper drainage is essential for the health of your Princess.
Stagnant water at the roots causes the air supply to be cut off. Roots start to go brown and decay, attracting the Pythium fungi. Fungi feed on decaying roots, leading to root rot, which prevents roots from functioning normally.
Altogether, a sorry state!
- To avoid root rot, use a well-draining potting mix. You can also add orchid bark or perlite to increase the drainage properties of any commercial potting mix.
- Watering ONLY when the topsoil is dry is one of the best defenses against overwatering.
- Also, ensure you are emptying out the saucer after watering.
Despite all this, if you find yourself with an overwatered plant, we’ll show you how to rescue your plant with our step-by-step guide here.
Why are my Alocasia Yucatan Princess leaves turning yellow?
The 2 main reasons for your Alocasia Yucatan Princess leaves turning yellow are overwatering or underwatering. (Although overwatering is more likely the culprit!!)
To confirm this, simply check the soil moisture level. If the soil is wet and soggy, then you have an overwatering problem. Soil that is dry and pulling away from the pot means the plant is underwatered.
Why are my Alocasia Yucatan Princess leaves turning brown?
In our experience, there are several reasons why your Alocasia Yucatan Princess leaves are turning brown.
Here are the most common reasons:
- Not providing enough water,
- Growing the Alocasia Yucatan Princess in too-dry (<50% humidity) conditions, and
- Subjecting the plant to several hours of direct sunlight.
Why does my Alocasia Yucatan Princess have brown spots on the leaves?
While brown spots can appear for a number of reasons, the most concerning causes are bacterial or fungal diseases, such as leaf spot or root rot. Both of these diseases are difficult to get rid of and can even kill your Alocasia Yucatan Princess.
Prevention is key to keeping these diseases from attacking your Alocasia Yucatan Princess. Refer to Common Issues above for details, but avoiding overwatering is a key way to prevent these problems.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I make my Alocasia Yucatan Princess Grow Bigger?
While you cannot force the Alocasia Yucatan Princess to grow much bigger than its natural growth rate, there are things you can do to encourage strong and healthy growth.
Ensuring your Princess gets at least 6 hours of bright, indirect light + consistently feeding with a gentle fertilizer are 2 main ways to support healthy growth.
Can I water Alocasia Yucatan Princess with tap water?
Alocasia Yucatan Princess can be sensitive to tap water, which often contains various mineral salts. If you can, use distilled water (or tap water left out overnight) whenever you water the Alocasia Yucatan Princess.
(Do note that how much mineral salt there is in the water depends on where you live. We personally haven’t had a problem using tap water, but we hear from gardening friends living in other parts of the world that this can be problematic.)
Should I mist my Alocasia Yucatan Princess?
No, they don’t need to be misted. And we don’t recommend it! If you want to increase humidity, use a humidifier.
Fungi and bacteria breed on wet foliage, which may lead to leaf spot diseases. Given that leaf spot is a common issue for sensitive Alocasias…we just don’t think it’s worth the risk!!
Similar Plants and Varieties
Alocasia Pink Dragon vs. Alocasia Yucatan Princess
Though both the Pink Dragon and Yucatan Princess have pink stems and large puckered leaves, they are different species.
The Pink Dragon has more prominent light green veins, while the Yucatan Princess’s veins are a similar color to the rest of the leaf blade.
Other Alocasias we love
- Alocasia Cuprea, the Mirror Plant, famous for its glossy copper-sheen
- Alocasia Tiny Dancer – winner of “Most Unusual” Aroid at the 2009 International Aroid Society show and sale
The Alocasia Yucatan Princess if surprisingly easier to grow than most other Alocasias. It also has beautiful dark glossy leaves. 🙂
To help it thrive,
- Choose a spot protected from winds and the cold between 65-75 degrees F (18-24 degrees C);
- Water only when the soil feels dry, and water close to the soil line;
- Do not mist!
- Place it in the brightest spot in your home, this plant loves sun!
- Give it humidity levels >50%;
- Fertilize once a month during the spring and summer (this is important);
- Repot in the spring when the plant becomes root bound;
- Prune to control growth and remove dead or damaged leaves.
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.