If you are into collecting rare plants, the Alocasia azlanii (also known as Jewel Alocasia or Red Mambo) is definitely a plant you want to consider buying. New leaves will slowly unfurl and are green with purple (or red) veins. After the leaves have grown bigger they will turn waxy, deep iridescent green with dark purple (or red) veins, bright green outlines, and a purple backside.
The Alocasia azlanii is a tropical plant that naturally grows in Sarawak on the island of Borneo and only recently has been cultivated, which is why it’s so rare.
The Alocasia azlanii prefers bright indirect sunlight, a well-draining soil mix, and only requires water when to top 2 inches of the soil are dry. This plant does best in temperatures between 65 and 75ºF (18 and 24ºC) and likes higher humidity (at least 60%).
To fully understand this plant, here’s a complete care guide, including how to water the plant, the best soil to use, what fertilizer to use, what environment it likes, and how to propagate it.
Images by Ashley Reichwein from FancyPlantsyLLC.
- Light: Bright indirect sunlight
- Water: Only water when the top 2 inches of the soil are dry
- Soil: Well-draining soil mix
- Fertilizer: Once a month (only in spring and summer)
- Size: Grows up to 2′ (60 cm) tall
- Size: Leaves grow up to 8″ (20 cm) long
- Temperature: Between 65 and 75ºF (18 and 24ºC)
- Humidity: At least 60%
- Cold hardy: Not cold hardy
- Propagation: By division, offsets, and seeds
- Toxicity: Toxic to humans and animals
General Care for Alocasia azlanii (Red Mambo)
Because the Alocasia azlanii is so rare and special, it will be an excellent addition to any indoor plant collection. It’s a strong plant that can even bounce back if all the leaves have fallen off. It just requires the right environmental conditions.
With the Alocasia azlanii, you want to make sure that the soil is always damp (NOT soaked). You can easily manage the amount of water the plant receives by checking the soil twice a week and if the top 2″ (5 cm) of the soil feels dry, it’s time to give the plant some water.
Always make sure you are using a pot with drainage holes, so that excess water will not pile up in the bottom of the planter and make the root rot.
If you underwater the plant, the leaves will droop and turn yellow. If you overwater the plant, the roots may start to rot. When there are black or brown spots developing on the leaves, you need to give the plant less water. Also, the “Red Mambo” requires a lot less water during winter times because of the plant’s dormancy.
An EASY method that I use to give my Alocasia plants exactly the amount of water that they need is by using a moisture probe. This probe will indicate how much moisture there is in the soil. For the Alocasia azlanii, when the moisture probe gets to about 2, it’s time to water the plant. Click here to check out the moisture probe on Etsy.
The Alocasia azlanii does best in bright indirect light but can also tolerate a couple of hours of the morning sun. However, you want to avoid too much direct sunlight because this will damage (burn) the leaves.
The “Red Mambo” also does very well under grow lights. If you want to grow them under artificial lights, you want to use a LED with a full daylight spectrum positioning about a foot (30 cm) away from the plant for 14 hours a day.
For soil, you want to use a well-draining, aerated potting soil that is also able to retain some water. You can make a potting soil with two parts perlite potting mix and one part coconut husk.
The roots of the plant require oxygen to stay healthy. Therefore, you don’t want to water the plant if the soil is still completely wet. Because the wet soil will not let a lot of oxygen through.
If the top of the soil that you are using doesn’t dry out in about a week, the soil-mix that you are using may be too heavy. In this case, you want to use a potting mix like explained above.
Fertilizing your plant will replenish the essential nutrients that used to be in the soil. The “Red Mambo” only likes to be feed once a month in the spring and summer as the plant will require a lot of nutrients in these seasons.
When using fertilizer be careful not to use too much of it, because this can burn the plant. To be sure the fertilizer won’t burn your plant, you want to use a 1/2 diluted balanced fertilizer. For example, when the instructions on the fertilizer tell you to use 1 tablespoon per gallon of water, use only 1/2 tablespoon of it, and only use it once every two weeks.
Because the Alocasia azlanii is used to grow in a higher humidity climate, it will grow best in humidities of 60% and higher. Keeping your Alocasia in low-humidity levels will probably stun the growth or cause stress on the plant.
Brown spots and brown leaf edges often indicate low levels of humidity. If the humidity is too low, you can increase the humidity by using an automatic mister or spray the leaves two-three times with a spray bottle filled with water.
The “Red Mambo” likes to be grown in temperatures between 65 and 75ºF (18 and 24ºC). These temperatures make this plant the perfect houseplant.
Keep the plant away from cold drafts and avoid sudden temperature changes as this might cause stress on the plant and make it vulnerable to diseases and pests.
Alocasia plants are known to have problems with different kinds of pests like spider mites, mealybugs, scales, and aphids.
The Alocasia azlanii likes to grow in a humid environment. Keeping the humidity higher can prevent pests on the plant. Make sure that the humidity around the plant is at least 60%, but higher is better. You can do this by misting or spraying the plant with water three times a week.
Another way to keep the plant healthy and protected from pests is to keep the leaves of the plant clean, by carefully washing the leaves of the plant every 1-2 weeks with a washcloth and warm water.
If a pest has already infected the plant, you can use a chemical or organic pesticide to get rid of the pest. Check out my shop where I have listed the perfect organic pesticide with neem oil.
If you like rare houseplants that are easy to care for, check out the Syngonium macrophyllum!
How to Propagate Alocasia azlanii (Red Mambo)
Since this Alocasia azlanii costs between 140 and 400 dollars, it’s great news that you can propagate it which can be done in three different ways: it can be done by division, offsets, and seeds.
For the best success rate of propagation, you want to propagate in the growing seasons (spring & summer) because the roots will grow quickly in these seasons.
The easiest and most successful way to propagate the “Red Mambo” is by division.
- First, you want to take the plant out of its pot and carefully remove the soil around the roots.
- Then, split the rhizome using a sharp knife. Be sure that there are plenty of roots on both parts.
- Next, use a well-draining soil mix and plant the divided plant in a pot with drainage holes.
Now care for the plant like you used to and enjoy your propagated beauty!
The Alocasia azlanii can also be propagated by offsets, which grow throughout the whole year and are actually baby versions of the plant.
If you use this method you only have to cut the roots that are connected to the mother plant. The best way to do this is by using a sharp knife or a pair of pruning shears.
Now you want to gently pull the baby away from the mother plant and you can repot the baby plant into a smaller pot.
Tip: Don’t start chopping away offsets (babies) as soon as they pop up. Wait till they’re at least 3″ (7.5 cm) tall before removing them from the mother plant. The bigger the baby, the more success you will have growing a new “Red Mambo”!
If propagating from seed, soak the seeds overnight in distilled water and sow in a well-draining potting soil (in the fall).
Sow the seeds 0.5″ (~1cm) in the soil. After that, water the seeds lightly and put a plastic bag over the containers to provide high humidity. Next, put the pot with the seeds (and plastic bag) in bright indirect sunlight and keep the soil moist.
In addition, you want to add a heat mat under the containers to keep the seedlings warm. The heat will improve the germination success rate.
After a couple of months, when the seedlings are 2″ (5cm) tall, carefully transplant them into bigger pots without damaging the roots.
Voila! You have now successfully propagated the Alocasia azlanii!
Why are the leaves of my Alocasia azlanii turning yellow?
If your Alocasia azlanii has yellow leaves, it’s probably an indication that the soil has been too wet or too dry. To prevent the leaves from turning yellow, only water the plant when the top 2 inches of the soil are dry. Or use a moisture probe and water when the probe indicates between 2 and 3.
Why are the leaves of my Alocasia azlanii turning brown?
Brown leaves on the Alocasia azlanii are caused by too low humidity and/or the potting soil is too dry. Some Alocasia plants can tolerate lower humidity levels, but the growth of these plants will be stunned because they thrive best in higher humidity (60%+).
Increasing humidity can be done by either using a mister or by spraying the leaves with water twice a week.
Why is my Alocasia azlanii drooping?
Drooping leaves are often the effect of underwatering the plant. If water is not provided for longer periods of time, the water balance within the plant can get thrown off. This will cause the cells in the stems to lose their strength and start drooping.
Water this plant often, but in small amounts. Only water when the top 2 inches of the soil are dry.
Why is my Alocasia azlanii dropping leaves?
The Alocasia azlanii is either dropping its leaves when you under or overwater it. By keeping a tight watering schedule, you can prevent the plant from dropping its leaves.
Is the Alocasia azlanii toxic?
All parts of this plant contain calcium oxalate crystals, which will irritate the mouth and esophagus if eaten. This makes the Alocasia azlanii toxic to cats and dogs.