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Alocasia Sumo Care and Growing Tips

If you are a fan of alocasia hybrids and you’re looking for a large-leaved variety, then we would recommend the alocasia sumo to you.

Popularly called the Elephant Ear because of its huge leaves, the alocasia sumo has a dark leaf stem that is reddish-black. The plant is well-known for its strong and commanding presence in any home or office.

However, the alocasia sumo does best in bright indirect sunlight and a well-draining soil mix. Ensure the top 2 inches of the soil are dry before watering.

It thrives under temperatures of 65-75ºF (18-24ºC) and prefers a higher humidity level of not less than 70%.

In this article, we’d look at the best alocasia sumo care and growing tips, so you know how to grow this beautiful plant.

Alocasia Sumo Origin: What is Alocasia Sumo?

Common NameElephant Ear
Botanical NameAlocasia Sumo
Plant TypePerennial, herbaceous rhizome
FamilyAraceae or Aroid
Sun ExposureBright indirect light indoors; part shade outdoors
Mature Size2–15 ft. tall, 2–8 ft. spread (depends on species and variety)
Soil TypeLoose, well-draining potting mix or crumbly loam
Leaf ColorDark Green with Purple Foliage
Native AreaTropical and subtropical regions of Asia, eastern Australia
TemperatureBetween 65 and 75ºF (18 and 24ºC)
ToxicityToxic to humans & animals
Cool HardinessNot cold hardy

Commonly known as the Elephant Ear (because of its large leaves), the alocasia sumos is a tropical plant in the genus family of Araceae or aroid featuring striking foliage that is the central ornament of any garden or room.

The plant is a hybrid between the alocasia portora and alocasia princess ‘purple cloak.’

It is a rapid grower, and even in a stunted growing period in northern climates, it still grows fast. Given the ideal environs, especially around the gulf coast of the United States, some of the species under the alocasia sumo are invasive plants.

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Therefore, you’ll need to be certain of your local district before growing this plant outdoors.

The sumo features huge rhizomes or tubers that grow massive heart-shaped or arrow-shaped ears, which is why it’s referred to as Elephant Ear.

The plant is most commonly grown as an indoor plant but is always brought outside in the warm season and is sometimes buried in the ground to help develop a natural look.

The plant features the size of the portora variety and the thinner, colorful, and pointed leaves of the purple cloak variety.

It has a dark leaf stem that is reddish black, and its thick green leaves remain attractive throughout the summer. Sumo develops a new leaf every week, and each new leaf can be twice bigger than the former.

Is Alocasia Sumo Easy To Care For?

Every plant, including the alocasia varieties, has its growing conditions and steps that will enable them to grow into the perfect houseplant you desire.

Therefore, with the right conditions and care tips, the alocasia sumo is quite easy to care for and an exciting prospect for a beginner.

Alocasia Sumo Care and Growing Tips

Alocasia Sumo Care

Here’s a detailed guide on how to grow and care for alocasia sumo plant to ensure a beautiful and healthy plant.

Let’s get started!

Natural Habitat & Light Requirements

Alocasia sumo is native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and eastern Australia, where it grows under shady trees that filter the sunlight that gets to it. However, its light requirements vary from sheltered to full sunlight, depending on the variety.

Leaf color tends to be better among plants that thrive under more light. Like other alocasia species, the sumo will tolerate shady areas but always prefers brighter filtered sunlight.

The wider varieties can be trained to tolerate the full tropical sun. However, it is best to be on the safer side and keep it under bright indirect light indoors and part-shade outdoors.

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Alocasia Sumo Watering Requirements

The water requirements of the alocasia sumo are most often dependent on the temperature of its environs and the level of sunlight it gets.

Higher temperatures and sun will cause it to be thirsty. For instance, it will require more water in the hot summer seasons than in the cold winter season.

Also, since the sumo prefers damp soil (but not soggy), it will like to dry out between watering periods slightly. Like several other alocasia varieties, if the soil is soaked, it can lead to root rot and damage the plant.

Watering is one of the trickiest parts of alocasia sumo care, as the plant will hardly tell you when it needs water.

So, to prevent your plant from experiencing problems, you have to follow the recommended tips by feeling the soil at least twice a week to see if the top few inches are dry; if it is, then you can water.

Again, you must ensure that the pot has drainage holes that quickly drain excess water to avoid root rot and water it until water begins to drip out of the drainage holes.

You can also know when to water your alocasia sumo using a moisture probe, which shows how much moisture the soil contains. If the moisture reaches about 2, then you can re-water.

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Humidity & Temperature

Since the Elephant Ear plant is used to growing in a high humidity climate in its natural habitat, it will thrive in the humidity of 70% and higher.

Keeping the plant at a low-humidity level can be disastrous, as it might result in its stunted growth or stress the plant. 

Whenever you notice brown spots and brown leaf edges, it is always a sign of low humidity levels. So, if you suspect low humidity in the area, you can increase it with an automatic mister or spray the leaves two-three times with a spray bottle filled with water.

On the other hand, growing the alocasia sumo ‘Elephant ear’ below temperatures of 60 degrees Fahrenheit will make it suffer damage.

Several hybrids will die back during colder weather and shoot out from the rhizome. Therefore, it’s between 65 to 75ºF (18 to 24ºC). Ensure you do not keep in cold drafts, making it prone to diseases and pests.

Alocasia Sumo Soil Requirements

Nothing much in the way of soil requirements. The best soil for the alocasia sumo is the loose, well-drained potting mix or crumbly loamy soil.

Anything other than that is considered unfavorable for it. It must be slightly acidic to neutral ph. You can make one by mixing one part soil, one part perlite or coarse potting sand, and one part orchid bark.

Alocasia Sumo Fertilizing Needs

The best time to fertilize your elephant ear plant is every two weeks with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer. And do not fertilize during the winter, as it will allow your plant to rest.

Planting (Potting & Repotting)

Alocasia sumo grows from tubers; hence, growing it outdoors in several areas of the United States requires digging up every fall, as it won’t survive the cold.

If you’re planting it indoors, grow the tuber in a large pot (14-20 inches), and provide an extra-large one if you want your plant to become monstrous. 

Fill the pot about three-quarters of the way with potting soil, and then nestle the tuber in the middle of it while placing the root side down. After filling the pot with the soil, the tuber should be about eight inches deep.

How to Prune Alocasia Sumo

Pruning your alocasia sumo is not a necessity. However, you are free to prune it if it has grown too large and bushy for your liking or if you want it to become fuller and compact.

Don’t worry; pruning won’t damage the plant but will keep it fresh. Ensure you use clean and sterilized shears or knives to cut the stem near the base of the plant.

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How to Propagate Alocasia Sumo

You can propagate the alocasia sumo using two basic methods, namely, division and offsets methods.

For the best propagation possible, you do it during the growing seasons of spring or summer, when its roots will grow quickly and established.

Propagation by Division Method

The division method is the easiest and most successful method of propagating the alocasia sumo. Below are the steps required;

  • 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 or ratchet pruner. 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

Propagation by Offsets Method

To propagate the alocasia sumo by offsets method, which grows all through the year and are notably baby versions of the plant, the following steps are required;

  1. Using clean pruning shears or sharp knives, cut the roots that are linked to the parent plant.
  2. Gently pull the young plant away from the mother plant. And then repot the tiny plant into a smaller container.

Note: Do not chop out the offsets once they begin to shoot out. Remove the offsets from the mother plant when they get to a height of 7.5 cm. If the baby is bigger, then propagating the Alocasia sumo will be a lot successful.

Alocasia Sumo Varieties

There’re many varieties or hybrids under the alocasia variety, but as long as the alocasia sumo is concerned, the following types of alocasia come closest to it in terms of similar hybrids or varieties;

1. Alocasia ‘Kris’

The Kris alocasia variety features deep green foliage and possesses long pointed leaves with white veins and white edges or borders marked with semicircles.

2. Alocasia ‘Zebrina’

The alocasia zebrina varieties have foliage that is shield or arrow-shaped. However, it doesn’t have white veins. It features stilt-like stalks with zebra print stylized in black and yellow color.

3. Alocasia ‘Giant Taro’

The alocasia sumo variety, known as the Giant Taro, is a houseplant with a growth level of almost 15 feet in height and 8 feet in width. Its leaves can grow up to 3 to 4 feet in length and 4 feet in width.

4. Alocasia ‘Silver Dragon’

Then, there’s the alocasia sumo variety known as the Silver Dragon, featuring silvery-green leaves and thick green veins.

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Why Do the Leaves of My Alocasia Sumo Turn Brown?

Like other alocasia varieties, whenever the alocasia sumo leaves turn brown, the obvious explanation is that the plant is experiencing low humidity. It could also be that the potting soil is excessively dry.

You can prevent your plant’s leaves from turning brown by fixing the roots of the problem. You do it by increasing its humidity levels, getting rid of too many minerals by flushing the soil, placing the plant in an area it will gain bright indirect sunlight, and/or getting rid of any infested pests. 

Even though some alocasias survive lower humidity levels, their growth will be stunted, as they surely grow best under higher humidity levels (60% and above).

You can increase the plant’s humidity level using a mister or occasionally spraying the leaves with water at least twice a week.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do the Leaves of My Alocasia Sumo Turn Yellow?

Whenever you notice that your alocasia sumo is turning yellow leaves, it shows that the soil has been excessively wet or very dry. Yellowing of leaves can be prevented by watering the plant when the top 2 inches of the soil are dry. Or using a moisture probe, water if you notice the probe shows between 2 and 3.

Why Is My Alocasia Sumo Drooping?

The best explanation for the drooping leaves of your alocasia sumo is if you either over-water or under-water the plant. In other words, if it lacks water for an extended period, the water balance within the plant can get thrown off, thereby causing the cells inside the stem to lose their strength, and afterwards, start drooping.

Note: Drooping of plant refers to a situation whereby the plant gradually becomes limp or bend, which doesn’t spell good for any plant. The drooping problem can be prevented by watering the plant regularly but moderately. Make sure you water when the top 2 inches of the soil are dry.

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Why Is My Alocasia Sumo Dripping Water?

The reason your Alocasia ‘Sumo’ is dripping water from its leaves is that it is slightly overwatered, and in a bid to get rid of the excess water, it starts dripping water. Meanwhile, it will “sweat” from the tiny pores that are on its leaves.

Whenever you notice your sumo plant dripping water from its leaves, make sure that you stop watering, and beware of overwatering the plant when you’re watering it. Make sure you water the plant only when you feel the dryness of the top 2 inches of the soil.

Can I Grow My Alocasia Sumo in Sphagnum Peat Moss?

Yes, you definitely can. Sphagnum peat moss is perfect for enhancing drainage and highly contains organic nutrients. Therefore, a little mixture of peat moss with your premade soil mix is great for your plant. However, growing the plant in pure sphagnum peat moss is not advisable, as it can cause the plant to fall over when it grows huge.

Is the Alocasia Sumo Toxic?

Like most other alocasia varieties (most notably alocasia azlanii), every part of the alocasia sumo has calcium oxalate crystals content, which will irritate the mouth and esophagus if consumed. Therefore, it is toxic to cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, and even humans.

Consumption of the plant can lead to excessive drooling, swelling of the mouth and esophagus, coughing, and throwing up. Hence, you’ve to be mindful of your pets and kids coming close to the sumo plant.

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