The Alocasia Frydek (Alocasia micholitziana “Frydek”), also known as Alocasia Green Velvet or occasionally African Mask, has become a popular choice for many home gardeners.
Frydeks are bulbous plants, technically known as rhizomatous perennials. They sprout bulbs with or without roots, which helps in propagating the plants.
Their beautiful white lateral veins stand in stark contrast to the dark green to black foliage, making them stand out even among the 50+ species among the showy Alocasia group of plants.
Taking care of Alocasia Frydeks requires more skill and perseverance from the amateur gardener than some other indoor varieties – not only to keep them alive but to have them thrive with the right colors. But the end results are worth it.
The Alocasia Green Velvet needs to be placed in bright and indirect sunlight, kept in well-draining, lightly moist soil and offered high humidity.
Mature plants should be sparingly fertilized during the growing season and repotted every two years.
Frydeks originated in the hot, muggy and monsoon climates of the Philippines. They need heat that would be uncomfortably warm for an area inhabited by the average person and also need high humidity. Another issue is how to control watering to an optimum amount.
Where to Plant Them? Indoor and Outdoor
Alocasia Frydeks can be grown outdoors in US Hardiness Zones 9b through 11. This includes the southern parts of states such as Florida, Louisiana, Texas and California, among others.
The weather for growing Alocasia Frydeks must be warm and humid given that its natural habitat includes tropical forest climates, such as the hot and rainy Philippines.
The Alocasia Frydek prefers a temperature ranging from 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (above room temperature, in other words).
They are finicky. Prolonged exposure to temperatures outside this comfortable range, with hot or cold drafts, can harm the plants.
Interestingly, the usual reaction of the Frydek, when exposed to low temperatures, is not immediate wilting and death, as is the case with some hothouse plants.
Instead, it tends to go into dormancy and starts a slow process of dying off, but can come back if properly cared for.
Best Location in the Garden
Given their requirements, Alocasia Frydeks can be kept outside continuously only in warm, tropical climates, such as Zones 9b and above. They need to be situated in an area where they do not have direct exposure to sunlight for more than an hour or two a day.
Alocasia Frydeks will grow outside all year if the temperature stays above 60 degrees. Prolonged exposure to temperatures below that will cause the plants to go into dormancy – which can be spotted by yellowing or dropping leaves with little sign of new growth.
The soil where Frydeks grow should be porous and self-draining. Over watering and soggy soil need to be avoided. Also, they need to be fed light amounts of granular fertilizers once every 3-4 months if they stay exposed to the elements outside.
Where to Place Alocasia Frydeks inside the House
Alocasia Frydek plants should receive diffused or indirect sunlight throughout the day. However, direct sunlight for more than a couple of hours may cause their leaves to get scorched and/or develop brown edges or tips.
Since the main allure of the plants is for the leaves to be in full color and bloom, the ideal solution would be to keep them away from direct sunlight.
Placing them in front of an east- or north-facing window with a few hours of direct sunlight in the morning and diffused sunlight in the afternoon may work.
If placed near a south-facing window, a thin curtain may be necessary to save the plant from direct sunlight for long hours.
Frydeks require warmth and humidity to survive, which makes them great candidates for the kitchen or bathroom.
They can be finicky and do not enjoy temperature fluctuations, either below or above its cozy temperature range.
As such, they should be kept away from direct blasts from air-conditioning, heating vents, unsealed windows or areas with drafts.
Moving Plants In and Out
Most people will not be able to grow Frydeks outside beyond the summer. If outdoor temperatures drop below 60 degrees, you may consider bringing the plants inside to avoid dormancy.
Luckily, they can handle transplantation into pots without too much difficulty.
Ideal Soil for Alocasia Frydek
Alocasia Frydeks prefer porous, nutrient-rich and well-draining soil that can stay moist for an extended period of time without getting soggy. Soil rich in humus or peat is preferred.
If the soil is compacted prior to when you buy the plant, loosen it up. Adding chunky bits such as perlite, sand pumice or orchid bark will help ensure that the soil drains well.
Care should be taken, however, to ensure that fungus gnats do not grow due to an abundance of bark matter.
Type of Pot to Choose and How to Plant Alocasia Frydeks
When indoors, Alocasia Frydek plants can be placed in clay, ceramic or plastic pots – however, it is recommended to use non-porous pots, so the moisture content of the soil stays at a decent level.
It is preferable to employ pots with drainage holes, so they can be watered properly without sitting in soggy soil for too long. Setting the pot on a drainage tray is a good option.
The size of the pot is also important, as over-potting may lead to sogginess. As described below, Frydeks are finicky about needing just the right amount of moisture.
Use of Fertilizers
Modest fertilizer use is recommended during the spring and summer for Alocasia Frydek plants. In the case of mature plants, feeding every 6-8 weeks may suffice to provide adequate nutrition.
All-purpose, foliage preserving fertilizer, with evenly balanced Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium will work well.
Diluting the fertilizer to roughly ¼ its normal strength is usually recommended – unless the directions specify otherwise – to avoid overfertilization.
Fertilization should be slowed down or stopped during the winter, since Frydeks often tend to slow down, or go into hibernation, themselves.
Care must be taken not to overfertilize, which could cause excess mineral build-up in the soil and harm the plant – they could become leggy, develop root burn and/or ultimately die.
If there are clear signs of overfertilization, the soil and roots may need to flushed out with running water and placed back in the pot.
Watering Alocasia Frydek Plants
Proper watering may be the trickiest part of maintaining an Alocasia Green Velvet. They tend to get finicky and react badly to either under- or overwatering.
The general rule of thumb is that Frydeks must be watered regularly without completely soaking the soil. Prolonged exposure to soggy soil can cause root rot or other problems.
However, the standard of care extends beyond those basics. Considerable judgement must be exercised as to how often the Calathea must be watered, and to what extent, since it depends on the environment (warmth, humidity) where the plants are kept, and the type of pot used.
The right-sized pot will not leave too much room for excess water to sit and collect within. If the soil dries out on a predictable, regularized schedule, you can control the frequency and amount of water needed by the plant. Drainage holes are important for the same reason.
One of the most important guidelines for Frydeks is that they should not be watered on a regular schedule like other houseplants, but as needed. The soil surface needs to be tested to the depth of an inch or two to check if it has dried out.
When watering, small amounts should be added rather than copious applications. Keep an eye out for persistently soggy soil.
Soil sitting in ceramic or terracotta containers tends to dry out faster than soil placed in glazed clay or plastic containers.
Also, plant growth will slow during the winter, which means it needs less moisture. Watering needs to be tempered or stepped up based on these factors.
Finally, every individual plant may need to be watered differently. Check the appearance of the leaves, where it is situated, the atmosphere around and the soil conditions before watering.
How to Maintain Humidity for Alocasia Frydeks
As explained above, Alocasia Frydeks prefer to be in warm and humid conditions. Dry conditions affect the plants greatly, causing brown tips and edges. Besides regular watering, there are a number of other measures that can be taken, including:
- Misting at least once a week is a great way to care for these plants.
- Use a humidifier may be the way to go – it should set to 50% humidity.
- Use a pebble lined humidity tray filled with water, it will help maintain the moisture, help air flow and prevent root rot.
Placing inside the bathroom or kitchen area may prove to be an ideal habitat for Frydeks. Another possibility is to group houseplants together, the perspiration from each plant will help the other members of the group.
Alocasia Frydeks may need to be repotted every six months when they are young.
Mature plants tend to settle down and can grow in slightly cramped conditions, so they should be repotted every couple of years unless there are clear signs that such a step is necessary.
The need to repot may be evident if the plant shows a marked slowdown of new growth, or if the roots are sticking out of the soil or from drainage holes at the underside of the pot, or if salt crystals are visible on the soil surface.
Frydeks are easy to repot. The best time is just before the growing season. The process involves a few steps if using a new pot:
- Choose a new container that is at least 2” bigger in diameter than the existing pot and fill it with potting soil up to a third of its volume. A 36-inch pot is recommended for large plants to allow it room to spread out.
- The best pots are non-porous, with drainage holes, that are washed out with a 10% bleach solution before potting.
- Take the whole plant out, gently.
- Wash its roots out thoroughly to remove all soil. Check for signs of diseases (e.g., root rot) and decay – trim out parts if necessary.
- It is also important to inspect the roots and untangle them as needed, including cutting or snipping sections to separate them.
- Hydrate the plant under running water for an hour before repotting.
- Place the plant in the new pot, at the same level as in the original pot, then fill in more loose, porous potting mixture. A coffee filter can be placed over the drainage holes.
Water the new plant thoroughly and place in a bright spot that receives indirect light. Warmth (above 65 degrees) is an added bonus, along with regular watering whenever the soil feels dry. Continue watching for a few days to make sure the plant remains healthy.
Tips for Propagation
Alocasia Frydeks grown indoors can be propagated either by dividing or using a bulb.
To propagate by dividing:
- Choose a fully grown plant in good health.
- Turn the pot over and take out both the mother plant and the rhizome or the root system.
- Gently unscramble the individual stems and roots.
- Isolate a section with multiple corms and bulbs. Cut it out with a sharp, sterilized knife.
- Replant the newly cut out portion in a fresh planter. Use a similar mixture to the one in the original pot.
- Plant the original plant back into its pot.
- Soak the soil thoroughly, then make sure to drain out the water.
- Keep an eye on the new plant to ensure that it grows out properly.
To propagate using bulbs:
- Frydeks produce bulbs below the surface all the time. However, when you pick bulbs to propagate, make sure that they are separated out from the roots of the mother plant.
- Pick healthy bulbs – mushy ones are often accompanied by root rot.
- Cut the bulbs out carefully – some will have roots attached and others not.
- Place the bulbs in a new pot with a sandy (porous) potting mixture.
- Water the bulbs regularly, but carefully – understanding that the new sections may not have a fully developed root section and could get drowned with excess water.
- One way to ensure humidity without overwatering the soil may be to encase the newly planted section in plastic, leaving the top open for airflow.
Within 2-4 weeks, there should be new stems and roots growing in either case, followed by sprouting leaves. Bulbs will take longer to sprout and there is a chance that the experiment will fail. Try again with a fresh set of bulbs.
Toxicity – Keep your Frydeks Away from Pets and Children
Alocasia Frydeks are toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. They cause oral irritation, vomiting, pain in swallowing, and other discomforts.
They should not be touched or ingested by small children either. Though they are not as toxic to humans, some discomfort may be experienced.
Signs of Trouble and What to Watch Out for
There are some natural signs that your Alocasia Frydek may be experiencing some problems. These could include:
- Brown tips or edges – These are caused by lack of humidity.
- Drooping – This condition is caused by the plant drying out from inadequate moisture, but it could also be caused from overwatering.
- Leaves turning yellow – This is often an early indication that the Frydek is stressed and could be about to go into dormancy. The condition could be caused by either over- or underwatering but may also be the result of a pest infestation or overfertilization.
- Yellow or Black Spots on Leaves – This is caused by over- or underwatering. Spots with a yellow halo around them is usually associated with root rot.
- Leaves dropping off – This could happen normally with newer plants as they stretch out and grow. However, if leaves are consistently dropping from mature plants, this could indicate that you are overwatering your plant.
- Dormancy – This happens naturally during winter. Watering should be cut down drastically. However, if dormancy occurs during the growing season, the plant is dried out.
The remedies for many of the symptoms above are discussed under the FAQs section below.
Pest and Plant Disease Management
Alocasia Frydeks are highly prone to attacks by a number of natural pests, such as aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, thrips, whiteflies and scale insects, so much so that it is recommended that newly procured plants be kept away from other house plants for up to a week and inspected from pests being carried in.
Spider mites are a particularly common problem with Frydeks.
Telltale signs of spider mite infestations are small webs, yellow streaks or yellow spots on leaves as the tiny pests drink the sap from the succulent leaves.
Fungus gnats could also be a source of problems if they are present below the surface of the soil in which the plant is potted.
If such a manifestation occurs, stop watering the plant till the top 1 to 2 inches of soil dry out.
While home remedies such as alcohol or dishwashing soap may be effective on the pests, they can occasionally cause leaf burns.
Choose among natural remedies such as horticultural oils, pyrethrins, neem oil, organic and low-toxic insecticidal oils and sprays. Using these in the right proportions per directions from manufacturers is key to maintain plant health.
With spider mite, an effective remedy may simply be regular misting. Spider mite thrive in dry conditions, regular hydration can control them. Washing or sponging the leaves daily can also help contain a spider mite infestation.
Given the propensity for pest attacks, you should check the undersides of leaves and stems regularly to ensure that they are free of such infestations, using a magnifying glass if needed.
With brightly colored bugs such as orange and red spider mites, you could shake the leaves over a sheet of paper.
Some other natural remedies may be available for outdoor Alocasia Frydeks. For example, infestations outdoors can be effectively controlled by introducing ladybugs.
Other Maintenance Tips
A number of other cares should be exercised while growing the Alocasia Frydek plant indoors, including the following:
- Never let the temperature drop below 60 degrees for a significant length of time. The plant will go dormant and eventually start dying off.
- Do not leave the plant standing in an area with hot or cold drafts.
- While the plant needs sufficiently bright light – direct sunlight must be avoided.
- Check the underside of leaves and stems for pest infestations from time to time.
- Check for yellow or brown spots, edges or circles on leaves. Frydeks are good about issuing early warning signals about being in discomfort before they begin to shut down.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Owners of Alocasia Frydeks often ask variations of the following questions. Answers and solutions are provided below.
Why are my Frydek leaves turning yellow?
This can be caused by either over- or underwatering, a pest infestation or problems with fertilization.
A check of the soil will reveal if there is a watering problem, which you can either correct or, if necessary, repot the plant if there is root rot. Pest infestations can be spotted with a thorough examination of the plant.
My plant shows brown edges or tips. What do I do?
This condition is often caused by the plant drying out. Step up the watering as required, but a better first step may be to employ steps to increase the humidity in the area around the plant.
My Frydek plant shows yellow and black spots. What should I do?
Yellow and black spots can be caused by either over- or under-watering. Check the soil in the pot and take corrective action.
In extreme cases, there could be root rot (a fungal or bacterial infection) – especially if there are spots with a yellow halo around them. It should be easy to check if the soil is overly soggy or too dry.
Take out the plant and check the roots for rot. Cut away any infected parts. Repotting may be necessary in extreme cases.
How often should I fertilize?
Fertilization is not necessary more frequently than 6-8 weeks during the growing season in the spring and summer months. Fertilization should either be stopped or slowed down during the winter months.
My Frydek plant is losing leaves. What should I do?
As mentioned above, losing leaves is not a cause for concern for a young Frydek, but with a mature plant, it usually points to overwatering. Take corrective actions if that is the case.
My Frydek plant just went dormant. Will it recover?
Frydeks can get stressed under a multitude of conditions. If your plant begins to exhibit signs of shutting down, try and correct issues that may arise with the positioning of the plant, watering, humidity, pest infestations etc.
The good news is that if you can discover and address the adverse conditions, Alocasia Green Velvets can frequently come back without dying off.
The Final Verdict
Alocasia Frydeks require careful attention. They tend to be finicky and do not always operate on a set schedule – for example, the simple act of watering cannot be done by rote. However, a little bit of attention will go a long way towards preserving the succulent and brilliant leaf colors, which are sure to brighten up any home or garden.