How to Care for an Alocasia Dragon Scale

Last Updated: May 22, 2023

Alocasia dragon scale plant in a grey pot

Alocasia Dragon Scale are growing in popularity and although they used to be tricky to get your hands on, they are now a little bit more available in plant shops around the world. The great thing about these plants is that they are quite adaptable to a range of environments so you shouldn’t have too much trouble keeping them healthy.

Native to the island of Borneo, this plant is part of the flowering Araceae plant family and can also be identified through the name Alocasia baginda. You can very easily identify the Alocasia Dragon Scale through its unique leaves. With deep veins that look like a reptile’s skin, these are very dramatic-looking houseplants which is why we’ve fallen in love with them!

How to care for an Alocasia Dragon Scale

Although they may look dramatic, the care requirements are actually quite simple. Avoid direct sunlight during summer as this can very quickly dry out and scorch the leaves. Bright but indirect light is ideal as you’ll see slower and smaller growth in lower light.

Then when it comes to watering, these plants are quite susceptible to overwatering and root rot so make sure the potting mix is never waterlogged.

Then when it comes to temperature and humidity, a boost to both will go a long way to encouraging new healthy growth and avoiding common problems.

Alocasia Dragon Scale Overview

Origin: Native to the island of Borneo

Plant Family: Araceae

Care Difficulty Level: Medium

Appearance: Dark strongly ridged leaves with a wrinkled texture

Height and Size: Indoors will reach a maximum height of 1 meter

Growth Rate: Medium

Flowering: Can produce spathe-like white flowers in summer

Pruning: Only when there is an issue

Cleaning: Regular dusting is crucial

Light Requirements: Bright but indirect light is ideal

Water Requirements: Avoid overwatering but keep an even moisture level

Best Soil: Well-draining soil including perlite

Ideal temperature: Average room temperature

Fertilizing Routine: Only in spring and summer

Ideal Humidity Level: 60-70% humidity is ideal

Propagation: Division of the mother plant

Repotting Frequency: Every 1-2 years

Toxicity: Highly toxic to pets and humans

Risk of Pests: Spider mites and mealybugs are the most common

Common Problems: Leaf burn, brown leaves and curling foliage

Origin of an Alocasia Dragon Scale

They are native to the tropical forests of Borneo which is why it thrives in moist, warm and humid environments.

Alocasia Dragon Scale Plant Family

They are part of the Araceae family, which is a group of plants that produce spadix flowers which are surrounded by a spathe.

Alocasia Dragon Scale Appearance

They are loved for their thick veined leaves which have a wrinkled texture. Their emerald-green leaves often shimmer slightly which can give off a silvery glow. There are other varieties that are very similar but are more silver or lighter in colour.

Alocasia Dragon Scale Height and Size

When grown indoors, they can reach up to 1 meter in height but in their natural environments, they can reach up to 3 meters.

Alocasia Dragon Scale Growth Rate

They have a moderate growth rate and will reward you with plenty of new leaves each season if the conditions and care are right. They will become dormant over autumn and winter but this is normal and nothing to worry about. They can often reach full maturity after 7-10 years.

Flowers on an Alocasia Dragon Scale

Occasionally you may see small purple and white spathe-like flowers growing on your Alocasia Dragon Scale but this is quite rare. If your Alocasia Dragon Scale isn’t flowering, don’t be concerned as this isn’t on its own a sign that anything is wrong.

Although you might be thrilled to see a flower on your Alocasia Dragon Scale, a lot of plant parents actually remove them and we also recommend this. The flowers aren’t anything spectacular and actually take a lot of energy to grow and maintain.

By removing the flowers, your plant is able to focus all of its energy on producing new leaves, which is the main attraction of the Dragon Scale plant!

Small Alocasia Dragon Scale plant being held in hand

Pruning your Alocasia Dragon Scale

You don’t need to regularly prune your plant to maintain its healthy and new foliage but we do recommend pruning any damaged or dying leaves. Leaves that are no longer green will not be able to aid the photosynthesizing process in the way that your plant needs them to so it’s best to remove them. Otherwise, your plant will be wasting valuable energy trying to keep them alive.

Cleaning your Alocasia Dragon Scale

As they have quite large flat leaves, it’s important to regularly clean the leaves of your Alocasia Dragon Scale. The best way to do this is by using a damp cloth but make sure not to apply too much pressure as you don’t want to break the leaves.

If the dust and dirt isn’t coming off with just a damp cloth, then we recommend adding a drop or two of dish soap. You don’t want to use any other chemicals or cleaning products as this can damage the leaves.

The reason that you want to clean the leaves of your Alocasia Dragon Scale is so that you can maximise the amount of sunlight that it is getting, aiding photosynthesis and therefore the growth of new, healthy foliage. Cleaning the leaves will also help them look fresher and less dull.

Alocasia Dragon Scale Light Requirements

Alocasia Dragon Scale plants need bright but indirect light to thrive so it’s important to find a nice spot where they aren’t getting any direct light but it’s not the darkest spot in the room.

You want to be very careful about direct sunlight during summer as it can be intense enough to scorch, burn and dry out the leaves, turning them yellow or brown.

In terms of lower light, Alocasia Dragon Scale plants can tolerate some low light areas but it’s worth noting that growth will be slower and new leaves will often be smaller.

Water Requirements for an Alocasia Dragon Scale

Alocasia Dragon Scale like to have some moisture in the soil but are sensitive to overwatering. This is why we recommend a little but often approach to watering to avoid waterlogged soil and root rot.

This is why it’s important to monitor the moisture levels in the soil throughout the seasons and adjust your watering accordingly. Using a moisture meter will really help you here as you’ll be able to see how quickly the soil is drying out and therefore, when it’s time to water.

Watering your Alocasia Dragon Scale is probably the hardest part of the overall care routine as you need to get a good balance between avoiding root rot but also avoiding the soil being dry for too long that the roots crisp up. It may take a little trial and error but you’ll get the hang of it!

Best Soil for an Alocasia Dragon Scale

To avoid waterlogged soil, make sure you pot your Alocasia Dragon Scale in a well-draining mix. Perlite and peat moss based mixes are ideal as they aid aeration and drainage but also have some moisture-retaining qualities so that the potting mix doesn’t fully dry out too quickly.

The Ideal Temperature for your Alocasia Dragon Scale

An average room temperature of between 55-80°F (13-27°C) is ideal for your Alocasia Dragon Scale. You want to avoid any hotspots and cold drafts that may impact your plant’s health.

Look out for cold drafts coming through windows and external doors in winter and make sure that your plant is placed away from air conditioners during summer. Although you may enjoy the cool break from the warm weather, the constant stream of cold air can be really damaging for your plant.

When it comes to spotting hotspots, you’ll commonly find these around windows during summer but as you will be avoiding direct sunlight, this won’t be such an issue. Other things to avoid are placing your plant too close to cookers, radiators and heating vents as this will dry out the soil, stems and leaves of your plant.

Apply a half-strength, well-balanced fertilizer once a month from spring to late summer to aid healthy new growth. You want to fertilize at half-strength to avoid fertilizer burn that can occur with over-fertilization of your Alocasia Dragon Scale

Hold off during the colder darker months because growth will be slow or stagnant and feeding during this time can be really harmful.

Ideal Humidity Level for your Alocasia Dragon Scale

It’s important that you keep a moderate to high level of humidity around your Alocasia Dragon. Between 60% and 70% humidity is ideal and they will struggle in rooms with dry air.

Misting or pebble trays are a great way to increase the humidity and avoid issues such as brown leaf tips and edges that are common when the humidity level is lower.

If your bathroom or kitchen gets a good amount of natural sunlight, then it can work well to move your plant in there as these rooms are naturally more humid thanks to showering and cooking!

Alocasia Dragon Scale in a white pot

Propagating your Alocasia Dragon Scale

The most successful way to propagate an Alocasia Dragon Scale plant is by diving the plant into several smaller plants. Make sure that each plant has an equal segment of the root system to ensure survival. You can use a root powder or gel to encourage new roots!

Repotting your Alocasia Dragon Scale

On average you want to repot your plant every 1-2 years when you see signs that it is becoming rootbound. You want to look out for a large amount of roots growing out from the drainage holes or popping out at the top of the soil. Another way to know your plant is rootbound is if you remove it from its pot and the roots are very tightly coiled without much soil in between.

Stagnant growth during summer is also a potential indicator that your Alocasia Dragon Scale has become rootbound and needs repotting.

When repotting, make sure to only go one or two sizes up with the new pot. If you choose a pot that is a lot larger than the old one it can make your plant quite unstable. It will also mean that the soil takes longer to dry out as there’s a lot more of it which increases the risk of root rot.

Alocasia Dragon Scale Toxicity to Humans and Pets

Unfortunately, Alocasia Dragon Scale plants are highly toxic to both pets and humans. They can cause mouth ulcers and stomach issues if ingested so it’s important to keep them out of reach of pets and children.

Treating and Preventing Common Pests

Although a pest infestation is rare if your plant grows indoors for the whole year, it can happen that your plant becomes infested with spider mites or mealybugs. The first thing you want to do is isolate your plant away from others and check them over for signs of pests too.

Then you want to remove the worst affected leaves. This will simply help to reduce the size of the infestation and make it slightly easier to treat. The next steps are to wash your plant down in the shower and start treatment with neem oil and an insecticide.

Alocasia Dragon Scale Common Problems

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