How to Grow and Care for a Red Secret Alocasia

Last Updated: October 16, 2023

Red Secret Alocasia

Red Secret Alocasia

With their metallic-like dark red leaves, the Red Secret Alocasia is quite a rare find! They tend to be a little bit more compact than other Alocasia plants so can be a nice fit for smaller homes and spaces.

Native to South East Asia, specifically Borneo, the Red Secret Alocasia likes warm humid environments so can struggle in cold homes with dry air. Take this into account when figuring out the best place to grow your plant and we have some tips below to ensure it’s getting the optimal care.

Red Secret Alocasia plants are also known as Mirror Plants or Jewel Alocasia or by their Latin name of Alocasia cuprea.

In terms of ease of care, they fall somewhere in the mid-range. We wouldn’t recommend them to complete beginners but they also are fairly adaptable and don’t require constant attention to thrive.

How to care for a Red Secret Alocasia

There are a few primary care and environmental requirements that your Alocasia cuprea will need to thrive and the first of which is bright but indirect light. Be careful to avoid all direct sunlight during the height of summer as the hot intense rays can actually scorch and dry out their beautiful metallic leaves.

The other environmental factors that you need to be aware of are temperature and humidity and the Red Secret Alocasia need a lot of both. Boost the humidity through misting and avoid areas with cold drafts and this will avoid a lot of the common problems that tend to creep up with these plants.

Below you will find our complete Red Secret Alocasia care guide with all the information you need to keep your plant healthy and happy.

Red Secret Alocasia Overview

Origin: Borneo, South East Asia

Latin Name: Alocasia cuprea

Common Name(s): Red Secret Alocasia, Mirror Plants or Jewel Alocasia

Plant Family: Araceae (Aroids)

Difficulty Level: Medium

Appearance: Red metallic shield-shaped leaves.

Height and Size: Indoors can reach a maximum of 1 meter in height.

Growth Rate: Slow

Flowering: Can produce white spathe and spadix flowers but these are rare and insignificant.

Pruning: Only to remove dead or dying leaves.

Cleaning: Use a damp cloth to remove dust every few weeks.

Light Requirements: Bright but indirect.

Water Requirements: Moderate watering to avoid fully dry soil for extended periods.

Best Soil: Well-draining, nutrient-rich houseplant potting soil.

Ideal temperature: Prefers warm temperatures between 65-85°F (18-29°C)

Fertilizing Routine: Apply a well-balanced fertilizer once a month during spring and summer.

Ideal humidity Level: Prefer a humidity level of 60% and above.

Propagation: Through division of the mother plant.

Repotting Frequency: Every 1-2 years.

Toxicity: Toxic to pets and humans.

Risk of Pests: Can suffer from aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, thrips and gnats.

Common Problems: Curling, drooping and discoloured leaves (brown or yellow)

Origin of a Red Secret Alocasia

Alocasia cuprea are native to Borneo in South East Asia which means they prefer a warm and humid environment.

Red Secret Alocasia Family

They are part of the Araceae (Aroids) family which is a group of over 3,000 species which produce spadix flowers.

Red Secret Alocasia Appearance

Loved for their red, shield-shaped leaves, the Alocasia cuprea really is a unique houseplant! As the leaves age, they become a dark red and have a glimmering metallic shine but the newer leaves will often be a brighter shade of green.

Alocasia cuprea Height and Size

They can grow to around 1 meter (3.2 feet) in height and spread to around 50 centimeters (1.5 feet). Note that this variety is more compact than some other Alocasia plants.

Growth Rate of a Red Secret Alocasia

These plants are slow growing so don’t expect there to be numerous new leaves popping out each week but with the right care, you will be rewarded with incredible red metallic leaves each year.

Flowers on a Alocasia cuprea

Although uncommon, it can happen that your Red Secret Alocasia produces white spathe and spadix flowers during spring and summer. They are often quite insignificant and will wilt after only a few days. Their incredible leaves are the real show-stopper so don’t get too excited about the potential flowers.

It’s also worth noting that only mature plants will develop any flowers, and even then it can be rare. So just because your plant isn’t developing any, it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong.

Alocasia Cuprea pruning frequency

Regular pruning is not required with Red Secret Alocasia plants and instead, only prune dead or dying leaves. Removing them before they naturally fall off your plant can help divert some energy from trying to revive them into growing new healthy leaves.

Once a leaf has started to die (ie. turned brown or yellow), there is no reversing this so pruning it from your plant is the best option.

Cleaning your Red Secret Alocasia

As they have large flat leaves, it’s important to regularly clean them to prevent dust and dirt from building up. Not only can a thin layer of dust reduce the amount of light that is getting to your plant, but it can also clog up the small pores in the leaves.

To clean your Alocasia cuprea, use a damp cloth to wipe over the leaves every few weeks. If this isn’t enough to remove the dust, use a drop or two of dish soap but avoid using any harsh chemicals as this can damage the leaf very quickly.

You’ll notice that cleaning the leaves helps them look fresher and shinier.

Red Secret Alocasia (right)

Red Secret Alocasia and other plants on wooden floor

Light Requirements for a Red Secret Alocasia

Alocasia cuprea need bright but indirect light but keep them away from direct sunlight in summer as this can scorch their beautiful leaves.

You may want to move your plant around a bit depending on the seasons as they can be closer to the window and receive direct sunlight in winter as the sun is a lot weaker. You just need to remember to relocate your plant in spring so that it only receives indirect bright light.

Water Requirements for a Red Secret Alocasia

It’s important that the potting mix is kept moist but not soggy as Red Secret Alocasia don’t like to be sitting in puddles of water. Use a little but often approach to watering to prevent dry spells and waterlogged soil.

Make sure to remove any excess water from the planter or saucer 15 minutes after watering. This allows enough time for the plant to take up what it needs and prevents the roots from sitting in a puddle of water.

We highly recommend if you haven’t already to invest in a moisture meter as this will help you to figure out when your plant needs water, and how much time to leave before watering again.

Best Soil for a Red Secret Alocasia

Like all Alocasia plants, the Alocasia cuprea thrives in a well-draining, nutrient-rich potting mix that still has some moisture retention qualities. It may seem counterintuitive to have a well-draining, moisture-retaining soil but your plant needs one that won’t hold onto every drop of moisture, but also a potting mix that doesn’t let the water simply flow right through and out of the drainage holes.

A standard high-quality houseplant mix will suffice but try to choose one that contains perlite as this helps with drainage and aeration of the soil.

Note that you can also buy perlite separately and add it to the potting mix yourself which is always a good option.

The ideal temperature for your Red Secret Alocasia

They prefer warm temperatures of 65-85°F (18-29°C) so make sure to keep them away from cold drafts. These can happen close to windows and external doors and are often unnoticeable unless you get up close. Another thing to be wary of is placing your plant too close to air conditioning vents in summer as the cold air might be refreshing for you, but it can cause havoc with your plant and the drying rate of the soil.

Invest in a digital thermometer if you haven’t already as these will help you to notice any dramatic fluctuations quickly and address them before your plant starts to suffer.

Red Secret Alocasia Fertilizer Requirements

Apply a well-balanced, water-soluble fertilizer at half-strength once a month during the growth period of spring and summer. We like to use a water-soluble fertilizer as it allows for more control over the quantity and regularity of the feed.

Diluting the fertilizer to half the recommended strength will prevent over-fertilization. There are so many factors that impact how much and when your plant needs to be fertilized (age, plant type, sunlight level, temperature) so it’s impossible for there to be a one-fits-all amount so it’s better to be on the safe side.

Another thing to remember is to cut back on all feeding throughout autumn and winter. This is a dormant phase for your Red Secret Alocasia, which means there won’t be any new leaves and fertilizing during this time will actually cause more harm than good.

Remember that fertilizing is optional and you can still see plenty of healthy new growth without it.

Ideal Humidity Level for your Red Secret Alocasia

As they are native to the tropical rainforest of Borneo in South East Asia, Alocasia cuprea plants thrive in a slightly higher humidity level of 60% and above. They can struggle in areas with dry air (below 40% humidity) and you may start to see brown leaf tips and edges develop.

This can especially be a problem over winter due to heating and less ventilation.

The best way to Increase the humidity is by misting. Use a spray bottle to mist the leaves a few times per week or invest in a humidifier which will do wonders by keeping a nice steady humidity level.

How to propagate a Red Secret Alocasia

If you’re looking to propagate your Red Secret Alocasia then the best method to choose would be by division of a larger, more mature plant. By choosing to divide/ propagate when the plant is more mature you’re significantly more likely to have success and will also run less of a risk of damaging the existing parent plant.

The process for propagating your Alocasia cuprea is really quite straightforward. Start by removing any pots and excess soil, a chopstick will often make this much easier and also allow you to be more careful with the root system.

You should be able to see separate rhizomes of the plant at this point. Gently separate these as best as possible, if you need to cut them make sure to use a sharp clean blade or pair of shears. From that point, the cuttings will simply need potting into some good quality potting mix, care for the cuttings just as you would for the more mature plants!

Repotting your Red Secret Alocasia

As they are very slow-growing plants, you only need to repot your Red Secret Alocasia every 1-2 years, on average.

There are a few signs to look out for though to suggest that your plant needs to be repot into something larger. Firstly, roots growing out of the bottom of the drainage holes or becoming visible out of the top of the pot. Secondly, the roots are tightly coiled (the only way to see this is by removing your plant from its pot).

And lastly, there being no new growth in spring and summer can indicate your plant is rootbound. Be careful diagnosing just on this basis though as there are several other reasons why your plant may not have produced new leave, such as a lack of sunlight. Be sure to check over your plant, its root system and its environment before diagnosing the problem.

Red Secret Alocasia Toxicity to Humans and Pets

Red Secret Alocasia plants are toxic to both pets and humans when ingested. If your pet or child has ingested any part of the plant, seek medical advice immediately. Signs of toxicity from Alocasia cuprea include stomach and mouth irritation and vomiting.

Treating and Preventing Pests

Although rare if your plant spends the entire year indoors, it can happen that your Red Secret Alocasia begins to suffer from a pest infestation. Aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, thrips and gnats can all infest your plant, dehydrating it and eventually killing it if not caught in time.

Look out for signs of pests that include brown and yellow spots, holes in the leaves, white webbing or powder across the leaves and stems and white mildew. If you do spot pests or signs of them, isolate your plant from all other houseplants to stop the infestation from spreading and treat it with a rigorous routine of neem oil and an insecticide.

Red Secret Alocasia Common Problems

Although they aren’t the fussiest houseplant around, they do have their own set of requirements and can start to display a range of problems if things aren’t right. It’s important to catch and treat the issue early so make sure to regularly check your plant for any warning signs.

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