African Mask: Where It’s From, What It Wants, How To Help It Thrive

THE TED LARE LOOK
african mask leaves Ted Lare

African Mask is a houseplant that is quickly gaining popularity. Its striking leaves are exotic and lush. It’s a step-up in the houseplant game because it’s a bit more challenging to care for than many other popular houseplants

If an African Mask plant charmed you into taking it home, and now it’s not looking too happy, we’ve got your back. If you can create its ideal environment, you can turn things around and live happily together!

Family History

African Mask is a member of the Alocasia plant family, originating in tropical and subtropical regions from Asia to Eastern Australia. African Mask has a lot of cousins, with over 79 unique native species. Alocasia are very popular as a houseplant and are cultivated all over the world.  

African Mask grows from rhizomatous or tuberous roots. While the plants bloom in the wild, the flowers are fairly inconspicuous. It’s pretty uncommon for them to bloom as a houseplant. They’re prized for their gorgeous patterned foliage; their name comes from their beautiful, bold markings. 

 

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The African Mask Dating Profile

If African Mask had a dating profile, it would be highly curated with photos of its lush leaves taken from flattering angles in perfectly diffused light. It would write stories reminiscing about its tropical homeland and enjoy cooking complex and fancy meals with the perfect balance of nutrients. It would also be very diligent about staying hydrated!

African Mask might also claim to be laid back and easygoing—but everyone thinks that about themselves! While they’re not necessarily difficult, easy might be stretching the truth a little bit.

So, You Swiped Right for An African Mask Houseplant…

…And you moved it in right away. But now that you’ve had it home for a few weeks, it’s starting to show more of its true colors—and it’s a little more needy and complex than you expected. 

Don’t give up on it just yet!

African Mask plants may seem dramatic and difficult, but they just need the right match. If you can set them up with their preferred environment, they’ll reward you handsomely, sometimes producing a new leaf every week during the growing season. At the most basic level, they want warmth, humidity, and bright indirect light. Here’s a few more details so you can pick the best spot for your new favorite houseplant.

African Mask plants Ted Lare

 
Light

The first thing you need to know is that African Mask plants want lots of bright light, but they do not want to sit in any direct sun. An idea spot would be in a room with a large south or west-facing window, but not too close to the window. A sheer curtain will allow you to keep it closer to a window while still protecting its delicate leaves from burning. 

 

Temperature

African Mask plants come from tropical and subtropical regions, so they’ll do best where it’s warm. While they’ll be okay at average household temperatures, they’re more likely to thrive around 70-80 degrees.

 

Humidity

Think about those rainforests in tropical regions; they’re usually pretty humid! The average humidity levels in most of Iowa are close to, but a little under, what the Alocasia would be used to in the wild. They can probably survive without extra humidity in the summer, but they’ll enjoy all the moisture they can get, and they’ll definitely need it in the winter. A pebble tray or a nearby humidifier will keep them satisfied during the dry winter months. 

 

african mask plants Ted Lare

 

Water & Food

African Masks like their soil to be consistently moist, but they do not like to sit in water. It’s best to water your Alocasia from the bottom in the morning and let it soak up what it needs. Make sure to empty its drip tray after an hour or two.

Fertilizer is your friend during the growing season. Give it a balanced feed every two weeks from spring until the end of summer. 

In winter, Alocasia will do best with a rest period. During these months, cut back on watering but don’t let it dry out completely. 

 

Soil

African Mask likes rich, but loose soil so the roots can breathe easily. If your African Mask is growing quite a bit every year, you may need to repot it every spring. When repotting, make sure to go up only one pot size at a time. 

Red Flags for African Mask

African Masks are poisonous, so make sure to keep them out of reach of children and pets. 

They can also be susceptible to most common houseplant pests, so keep an eye out for them, and treat with insecticidal soap. 

Overwatering can lead to fungal issues, so if you notice brown, black, or yellow spots on the leaves, cut them off. If you need to treat a fungal infection, quarantine the African Mask away from other plants.

 

close up on African mask leaf Ted Lare

Is it Love at First Leaf?

If you’re head-over-heels for this stunning tropical plant, and you’re up for a bit of a challenge, meet your Mask at our garden center! Our staff can introduce you to the specimens we carry in-store, and set you up with the supplies you’ll need to live happily ever after. 

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