The Alocasia Sarian is a new hybrid Alocasia. It is known for its elephant-ear shaped leaves with defined veins.
In terms of care, we place this Alocasia Sarian as a middle-of-the-road plant. Once established, it doesn’t need much maintenance, but it can be too fussy for beginners.
- A warm climate for this frost-tender perennial is non-negotiable.
- Find a location protected from winds and cold drafts.
- Overhead lighting (as opposed to lateral lighting) helps your plant grow evenly.
- When kept indoors, bright indirect light is key.
- Keep the soil lightly moist, but use a well-draining potting mix.
- Spider mites are attracted to the large leaves of this plant. Use neem oil to ward them away!
- High humidity (>70%) and moderate fertilization are essential to support healthy growth.
In this article, we’ll let you in on everything you need to know to help your Alocasia Sarian thrive!
Table of Contents
What is the Alocasia Sarian?
Leaf edges are jagged like its parent plant, the Alocasia Frydek. Speaking of traits from its parents, the Alocasia Sarian also inherited zebra-striped, cylindrical stems of the Zebrina.
Caring for your Alocasia Sarian
When it comes to light requirements for your Alocasia Sarian, choose an East or West-facing windowsill.
This plant benefits from bright, indirect light when kept indoors, plus a few hours of direct morning or evening light thrown in for an added boost.
Don’t go overboard, though, as prolonged direct light burns its delicate foliage, causing leaves to turn pale or develop brown patches.
Other lighting tips:
- With thick leathery leaves, dust particles quickly settle and clog your plant’s pores, reducing its ability to capture light. Occasionally wipe down leaves with a dilute neem oil solution, then wipe dry again. This serves a dual purpose, cleaning the pores and warding off pests like spider mites.
- Your plant is best grown with an overhead light source. Light that comes through sideways can cause lopsided growth.
- As this plant likes to reach for the light, rotate your plant occasionally for even growth.
- Keep your cold-sensitive Alocasia Sarian away from chilly windows.
This plant is a rapid grower, especially during the spring and summer months. As a result, it can get quite thirsty during this time.
Always check the soil moisture with your fingers, ensuring that the top 2 inches (5cm) of soil are dry before watering. Water using room temperature distilled water or rainwater, as mineral salts in tap water can damage its leaves.
Though this plant has high water requirements in the growing season, it is also susceptible to root rot, so you need to be careful not to overdo the watering.
Using this method, you’ll see that watering frequency naturally reduces in the colder months. Your plant may go dormant in winter.
Signs that your plant is not getting the right amount of water
This plant doesn’t tolerate dry spells and, at the same time, is susceptible to overwatering, so you’ll need to find the right balance between the two.
We know, it takes a bit of practice and patience.
- A droopy stem and yellowing leaves around the base of the plant indicate your plant is overwatered.
- On the other hand, crispy yellow or brown leaves and slow growth indicate underwatering.
Here are more watering tips for those of you new to houseplants.
Your Alocasia Sarian doesn’t tolerate dry air. You’ll know that humidity is too low when leaf tips start to brown and leaves curl.
Ideally, aim for humidity levels >70%, although your plant can tolerate 60-70%. This may still be a big ask as the average room humidity is lower than 50%!
The best way to bridge the gap is to use a humidifier. Choose one that allows you to adjust the exact % humidity settings; you’d be surprised how many humidifiers do not have this function!
Increasing humidity has an added benefit – warding away spider mites, enemy #1 of Alocasias, who love dry air environments. Win-win 🙂
Temperature is SO critical to your Alocasia Sarian.
As a general rule, Alocasias as a genus are are sensitive to the cold. For your Sarian, keep temperatures within 65 – 85 degrees F (18-30 degrees C) for healthy growth, with the higher end of this range being optimal.
At the lower end of this range, you’ll find that your plant growth starts to slow.
Temperatures below 60 degrees F (15 degrees C) can damage your plant and ultimately result in plant death.
For this reason, refrain from keeping your plant outside when it’s cold unless you live in a location that has temperatures falling within that ideal range year-round.
Your plant can grow outdoors only if you live in a location that has temperatures falling within that ideal range year-round.
For those living in the USA, this coincides with USDA Hardiness Zone 12.
If you choose to grow your Alocasia outdoors,
- Grow in a spot that is away from winds.
- Find a bright but shaded spot. While your Alocasia Sarian benefits from a few hours of morning or evening direct light when kept indoors, if planting outdoors, avoid direct sunlight altogether. Light intensity is much higher outdoors!
Like many Aroids, your plant does not produce showy flowers akin to those you buy from a florist. Instead, they are grown for their foliage.
Nevertheless, your Alocasia Sarian produces inflorescence when mature, which consists of a modified leaf bract called a spathe. This boat-shaped spathe protects the central spike, called the spadix. Along the spadix, numerous tiny flowers grow.
These flowers can last up to 5 days over late Spring or early summer.
When grown indoors, your Sarian tops out at 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall, with leaves spanning 1 foot (30cm) long. They have quite long stems that fan out, so you can expect their width to span up to 3 feet (91cm) as well.
When kept outdoors, however, this plant can grow up to 12 feet (3.7 meters)!
Young leaves start thin and pliable before unfurling. As they grow, leaves become stiffer, thicker and glossier.
Stems, like the Alocasia Zebrina parent, have distinctive zebra stripes. Interestingly, each new leaf splits out of the stem from the last leaf.
When given the right growing conditions, they are a relatively fast grower, towering over indoor spaces in no time.
Soil or Growing Medium
In nature, your plant lives in humus-rich soil on a rocky substrate.
Getting the potting mix right is important to ensure your plant’s roots can breathe but also retains enough moisture and nutrients for a healthy, well-nourished Alocasia.
We like using LECA for Alocasias. LECA provides maximum root breathability, and when coupled with a hydroponics fertilizer, also provides a nutrient-rich substrate.
Check out our guide on the pros and cons of LECA to see if it’s a good fit for you.
If you prefer a traditional potting mix, mix together:
African Violet mix is specially formulated to be well-draining, while perlite is added to lighten and add air to the soil.
Being a fast-growing foliage plant, your Alocasia Sarian is a moderate feeder and benefits from more frequent fertilization than some other aroids like Philodendrons.
For this Alocasia, we like using Osmocote in early Spring, a slow-release fertilizer. For us lazy gardeners its the ultimate low-effort solution: you just leave it there, as it slowly dissolves as you water your plant.
Plus, slow release means you also reduce the risk of fertilizer burn, which is especially important for Alocasias as they have sensitive roots.
Alternatively, you can use a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer at half-strength or a fish and seaweed emulsion fertilizer.
Hold off fertilizing in fall or winter. Fertilizing your plant when it is dormant is damaging!
Alocasia Sarians don’t mind being a little root-bound, so don’t rush to repot.
As a rule of thumb, every 18-24 months is sufficient.
Here are some repotting tips:
- Don’t repot when you first bring the plant home, as it needs to be acclimatized.
- Repot only when you see its roots start peeking out from the drainage hole.
- Spring is the best time for repotting.
- Water the day before repotting to reduce the risk of transplant shock.
- When repotting, be careful not to damage the roots.
Unfortunately, like many Aroids, your plant contains insoluble calcium oxalates in its stems and leaves. These crystals are toxic when ingested by pets and humans.
This causes skin burns and irritation, nausea and vomitting.
Being a tuberous plant, your Alocasia Sarian grows in clumps. Once you have an established and healthy plant with a few leaves, you can propagate your Alocasia Sarian by:
- separating closely-growing plants, or
- dividing basal offsets and corms that grow along the base of the stem.
- 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. Alocasias have sensitive roots.
- Examine the roots of the mother plant. You should see some clumps (corms) growing underneath, with their own roots.
- Gently untangle the corms from the mother plant.
- You can also choose to separate the mother plant into two if you are able to untangle a section of stems and roots. Each part should have their own root systems.
- Pot the corms and divided sections into separate pots with fresh soil.
- For the next eight 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 and no direct sunlight.
- After eight weeks, your new plant should be established in its pot. Now, you can treat your plant like any other Alocasia Sarian.
Note that your plants suffer some stress and shock from propagation, so be patient as they recover. Once they put out new leaves, you know that your plants have fully recovered.
- Use sterilized shears; dipping your gardening tools in 70% isopropyl solution will sterilize them.
- Also, sharp shears are important to reduce trauma.
- Remove wilted or damaged leaves. This encourages your plant to focus on new growth.
- BUT wait until your Alocasia Sarian’s leaves are fully yellowed and dead before trimming these off. Partially yellow leaves still provide energy to your plants, so wait till it is fully yellow.
- Cut downwards to ensure any water runs off the wound site, reducing the risk of infection.
- With Alocasia Sarians, you may want to also cut back unwieldy leaves if they overwhelm your indoor space. Cut leaves back to, but not flush with, the main stem.
Common Pests and Diseases
Keep a lookout for spider mites as these pests love the large green foliage of your Alocasia Sarian.
Besdies spider mites, Sarians are also prone to fungal diseases that arise from overwatered plants. These are root rot, botrytis, and leaf-spot.
In both cases, prevention is the best method of control:
- Wipe down leaves: Apply a dilute neem oil solution to the leaves and stems, and wipe dry (as fungi like to breed on wet foliage!). Neem oil wards away spider mites.
- Proper watering is key: Use an airy potting mix and water only when the topsoil is dry.
- Provide some air circulation.
- Keep your plant healthy.
While prevention is better than cure, if you already have an infected plant on your hands, read on for steps to save your plant.
Troubleshooting: Why is my plant dying?
Spider mites are very small, 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 a spider mite infestation.
These sap-sucking aphids (not technically insects) 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.
Spider mites are the major pest issue for Alocasias.
To kill them off,
- Thoroughly inspect all your houseplants, as these pests go from plant to plant.
- Quarantine all infected plants away from healthy ones.
- Using sterilized shears (super important, you don’t want to cross-contaminate), trim off any leaves that are yellow or discolored.
- Dispose of the foliage securely (not in the compost)!
- Wipe down leaves with a mild soap solution. You can use normal dish soap.
- Then, it’s time to apply neem oil. Neem oil works to disrupt the breathing, growth and feeding of spider mites. You can apply neem oil to infected plants and also to healthy plants as a preventative measure.
- If things are really out of control, you can up your game by using Bonide Insecticide Soap spray. For mild cases of spider mite, we find that neem oil does the trick. But for more severe cases, bring in that bottle of Bonide.
Check out our guide on applying neem oil as a pesticide for more information.
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.
Yellow leaves commonly indicate improper watering – either too much or too little! Check the soil moisture to confirm.
In the case of overwatering, you may also spot mold growing on the soil.
Drooping stems are also another sign of either an overwatered or underwatered plant.
Again, check the soil moisture to confirm.
It’s really important to only water your plant when the topsoil is dry. If it is dry, water slowly and deeply.
Brown Spots or Patches on Leaves
There are a number of scenarios in which your plant develops brown spots. Here are the top reasons:
- Too-cold temperatures or cold chills (like a drafty door). Remember that your plant is not cold-hardy and needs 65 – 85 degrees F (18 – 30 degrees C) for healthy growth.
- Too much direct sunlight causes plants to go pale and develop brown patches. East or West facing windowsills are okay when kept indoors. If your plant is kept outdoors, bright shade is appropriate, as light intensity outdoors is significantly higher.
- Low humidity, which causes crispy brown tips. Aim for humidity >70%.
Check which reason makes the most sense for your plant.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Alocasia Sarian an easy-going plant?
They generally require a bit of love and care.
We won’t exactly say they are easy going, but when grown in warm, tropical climates, your plant’s growing conditions naturally match its requirements. So, care for this plant a lot easier.
If you prefer a plant that is less picky, try a Pothos.
Spot the difference – Similar Plants and Varieties
Sometimes we get questions on how to tell the difference between Alocasia Sarian and its parents, the Alocasia Zebrina and Alocasia Micholitziana ‘Frydek‘. Here’s how.
Alocasia Sarian vs. Alocasia Zebrina
These two plants share arrow-shaped foliage and zebra-striped stems.
To tell the difference between the Sarian and the Zebrina, look at the leaves.
- The Alocasia Zebrina lacks characteristic veins running through its leaves; rather has uniformly green leaves.
- The Alocasia Sarian has jagged (serrated) leaf edges, while the Alocasia Zebrina does not.
- The Zebrina also has thinner foliage when compared to the Sarian.
Alocasia Sarian vs. Alocasia Frydek (Green Velvet Alocasia)
- While the Frydek has wavy leaf edges, the Alocasia Sarian has more jagged and pointy edges than the Frydek.
- The Sarian has a thicker, glossy texture to its leaves, while the Frydek’s leaves are thinner and less glossy.
Alocasia Sarian vs. Alocasia Sanderiana
The Alocasia Sanderiana is on the IUNC’s Red list of Threatened Species.
A good way to distinguish between the Sanderiana and the Sarian is to look at the leaf edges. The Sanderiana has a whitish or lime green margins along the edge, while the Sarian lacks any margin definition.
The Sanderiana is also a smaller plant than the Alocasia Sarian and has thinner stems.
Alocasia Sarian vs. Alocasia Polly
An easy way to tell the difference between the Alocasia Sarian and the Alocasia Polly is to look at its stems. Alocasia Polly do not have the distinctive zebra-striped stems that your Sarian boasts.
An Alocasia Stringray shares the same zebra-striped, cylindrical stems of the Alocasia Sarian but swaps out arrow-shaped foliage for rounded leaves that look like stingray tails!
This plant’s leaves are so unique that it is instantly recognizable!
Other Alocasias we love
- Alocasia Lauterbachiana
- Alocasia Frydek
- Alocasia Silver Dragon
- Alocasia Cuprea – the Mirror Plant, a famous dwarf Alocasia well-loved for its highly-glossy leaves that have a copper shimmer
- Alocasia Regal Shield
- Alocasia Tiny Dancer – winner of “Most Unusual” Aroid at the 2009 International Aroid Society show and sale
- Alocasia Melo
- Alocasia Black Velvet (Alocasia Reginula)
- Check out our Alocasia Round-Up (w/PHOTOS!)
The Alocasia Sarian is a stunning plant with glossy and stiff elephant-ear leaves and thick zebra-striped stems. A hybrid between two favorites, this plant can take a bit of getting used to but will thrive in warm and tropical environments.
- Keep temperatures high, and protect your plant from cold weather.
- Wipe down foliage occasionally with dilute neem oil.
- LECA is a good option for this plant. Otherwise use an airy but nutritious mix.
- Use distilled water as they are sensitive to mineral salts.
- Aim for Humidity >70%.
- Regular fertilization is important to encourage foliage growth for this nutrient-hungry plant.
- Propagate through offset division or by separating the mother plant.
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.