The origins of the dragon scale Alocasia are shrouded in mystery, but it has long been cultivated in its native Borneo.
It’s become a highly sought-after tropical plant, and the price for larger plants can be quite high.
Alocasia baginda belongs to the Jewel Alocasia group of elephant ear plants and is prized for its large, deeply textured leaves.
|Scientific Name||Alocasia baginda ‘Dragon Scale’|
|Common Name||Dragon Scale Alocasia, Dragon Scale Elephant Ear|
|Light||Bright indirect sunlight|
|Watering||Water if the top 1 to 2 inches of soil are dry|
|Temperature||61 to 81ºF (16 to 27ºC)|
|Hardiness Zone||9b to 12|
|Humidity||60 to 80%|
|Soil Type||Rich, quick-draining, loamy|
|Soil pH||5.5 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)|
|Fertilizing||A balanced feed every 6 weeks in spring and summer|
|Repotting||Every 2 years|
|Toxicity||Toxic to humans and pets|
|Mature Size||3 feet as a houseplant|
|Bloom Time||Late winter to early summer|
What’s Unique About Dragon Scale Alocasia?
The dragon scale Alocasia plant is native to the Eastern Kalimantan region of Borneo, where it grows in tropical rainforests. It was first described in 2011 and is now a popular houseplant.
The leaves of dragon scale Alocasia plants are what gives this cultivar its name; they are dramatically sculpted into what appears to be dragon scales.
Because of its striking foliage, dragon scale Alocasia is perfect either as a single specimen houseplant, or as part of a larger indoor garden.
While growing dragon scale Alocasia may be a bit challenging, once you’ve mastered its water and humidity needs, it should thrive for a long time.
Dragon Scale Alocasia Care
In the Borneo rainforests where the dragon scale Alocasia originates, this tropical plant lives right on the equator.
Your dragon scale Alocasia plant care needs to take into account that native environment: it’s hot and humid, with plenty of rainfall year-round.
Alocasia baginda care should focus on keeping this plant in a warm, humid setting in consistently moist soil.
Even though the sun shines brightly at the equator, the average hours of sun in Eastern Kalimantan is rarely as much as 5 hours a day. It’s often raining in this wet climate.
As well, the tree canopy filters the sun before it reaches understory plants like the dragon scale Alocasia.
In your home this translates to dragon scale Alocasia light requirements for moderate to bright but indirect light, or between 5,000–26,000 lux.
To meet your Alocasia baginda light needs, you can place your dragon scale Alocasia directly in an east-facing window.
Be more careful, however, in a room with a southern exposure, as full sun will burn those gorgeous leaves.
Set it back several feet, or hang a sheer curtain to shield your dragon scale Alocasia from the direct rays.
On the island of Borneo, rain can be expected to fall at least every other day, and even more frequently in the rainy season from November to January.
Thus, it’s not a surprise that you should water Alocasia baginda frequently, especially during its growing season in spring and summer.
However, your dragon scale Alocasia watering should also take into consideration that the forest floor drains away excess water quickly. This plant will not tolerate its roots sitting in wet soil.
It’s best to water your dragon scale Alocasia when the top inch or so of the soil has dried out, which may be several times a week in summer.
Its watering needs will drop off quite a bit when it goes into dormancy in winter.
It is consistently hot in the Eastern Kalimantan region of Borneo. Daytime high temperatures maintain an average of 90ºF (32ºC) year-round, and nighttime lows are around 75ºF (24ºC).
The acceptable dragon scale Alocasia temperature range in your home is 61 to 81ºF (16 to 27ºC).
Obviously, the higher the temperature for Alocasia baginda the happier it will be, but as long as your house is kept to a reasonably warm temperature, it should be fine.
Don’t let the temperature drop below 60ºF (15ºC), however, because it does not have much low temperature tolerance. Even sitting in a draft will harm it.
It has no frost hardiness, so do not leave your dragon scale Alocasia outdoors as temperatures fall.
It is always very humid in dragon scale Alocasia’s native habitat on Borneo. In fact, there is no time of the year where it falls below 80%.
As you might expect, dragon scale Alocasia humidity requirements are also going to be pretty high in your home. The ideal humidity for Alocasia baginda is between 60 and 80%.
Some growers have kept their dragon scale Alocasia happy at a humidity level of 50% or less.
However, most recommend keeping it as high as possible for these rainforest natives.
A pebble tray or misting is probably not going to be able to do enough, so your best bet is to buy a small humidifier to keep your tropical plants growing well.
Your dragon scale Alocasia soil should be similar to the rainforest soil it evolved in. The native soil for Alocasia baginda is very loose and porous, with lots of organic matter.
The required pH level for Alocasia baginda is 5.5 to 7, or mildly acidic to neutral.
A good soil mix for your dragon scale Alocasia is one-third each of peat moss, perlite, and orchid bark.
While the actual original location of dragon scale Alocasia is not known, it is believed they grow on limestone outcrops in Eastern Kalimantan. Adding some calcium carbonate or bone meal will benefit them.
You will want to use some dragon scale Alocasia fertilizer, but too much is worse than not enough.
The best fertilizer for Alocasia baginda is a standard liquid houseplant formula with a balanced fertilizer ratio of 20-20-20.
Dilute it to half the recommended strength and pour evenly over the soil surface.
Use it once a month to every 6 weeks in spring and summer, right after you’ve watered your dragon scale Alocasia.
If your dragon scale Alocasia starts to develop brown leaf tips and edges, there’s a good chance that there’s too much residual fertilizer in the soil.
Simply flush the excess fertilizer out by running a stream of water through the soil several times.
Potting & Repotting
Dragon scale Alocasia repotting should be done only every 2 to 3 years when it becomes rootbound.
Repotting Alocasia baginda needs to be done with care, as rough handling could send it into dormancy.
The best time is in early spring right at the beginning of its active growing season.
Only go up one pot size, as too much soil will actually set back its growth. Make sure the pot has good drainage. A glazed or plastic pot will conserve soil moisture better.
Use fresh potting soil mix, as the old soil may be harboring pathogens that can harm your dragon scale Alocasia.
You really won’t need to do much dragon scale Alocasia pruning. It will maintain a fairly neat shape on its own, and will not grow much beyond 3 feet tall with a 2 foot spread.
The main reason for cutting Alocasia baginda is to remove dead or diseased leaves, to preserve the look of your plant and to prevent the spread of disease.
Cut off any affected leaves with their stems, back to the base of the plant.
However, if the only problem is a minor problem such as a brown, crispy tip or edge, don’t sacrifice an entire gorgeous leaf.
Just use a pair of very sharp, small, sterilized scissors to carefully trim off the brown bits. Your leaf will look as good as new!
Dragon scale Alocasia propagation can be done through division.
Remove the root ball from its pot and carefully clean off as much soil as possible.
Identify the small offsets or pups that have formed around the perimeter of the mother plant. They should have both roots and stems.
Gently tug them loose, only using a sharp, sterilized knife if absolutely necessary.
Pot each pup up in its own pot, and water it well.
To propagate Alocasia baginda using corms, feel through the soil to see if you can find small, firm tubers.
Remove the thick outer brown skin, and plant them in individual pots filled with sphagnum moss.
Keep them well-watered and in high humidity, and within a few weeks, they should start growing roots.
Also, make sure to check out our in-depth variegated Alocasia plant care guide.
Common Problems of Dragon Scale Alocasia
You can avoid most potential dragon scale Alocasia problems by paying close attention to the growing conditions that it needs to thrive.
However, if problems with Alocasia baginda do arise, they aren’t usually too hard to solve.
Keep an eye on those gorgeous leaves, as they will give you the first warning that there’s something wrong.
The most likely dragon scale Alocasia pests include most of the common houseplant pests.
The best way to keep your Alocasia baginda safe from bugs is to spray or wipe down the leaves periodically with an insecticidal soap or neem oil solution.
Aphids are small, usually green insects that gather on the stems and under the leaves.
Spider mites are hard to see, but the webs they spin are obvious.
Both of these insects can be removed by giving the plant a good shower.
Scale insects are little brown bugs that look like bumps on the stems and leaves. They hang on tight, so need to be scraped off.
Mealy bugs form white, cottony colonies on the underside of the leaves. They’re easy to remove with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol.
Most dragon scale Alocasia diseases can be avoided if you don’t overwater, and don’t let the leaves get wet.
However, if your Alocasia baginda does develop a bacterial or fungal disease, you need to act fast.
Leaf spot is a catch-all term for several different diseases caused by bacteria or fungi.
If you see spots appearing and spreading across your dragon scale Alocasia, cut off any leaves that are affected as soon as possible.
Improve the air circulation around your plants and keep the leaves dry.
Root rot turns the roots black and smelly, and causes stems to soften and leaves to yellow and droop.
Cut off all parts that show signs of infection, and replant your dragon scale Alocasia in fresh soil in a clean pot.
Yet other growing problems aren’t caused by pests or pathogens, but are simply the result of inadequate growing conditions.
Fix that, and you can save your sick plant.
Dropping leaves may indicate not enough light, water, or humidity.
Yellow leaves can be a sign of over or underwatering, or a nutrient deficiency.
Curling leaves usually mean that your plant isn’t getting watered often enough, or that it needs higher humidity levels.
Sometimes a dragon scale Alocasia will drop all its leaves and go into dormancy. This may happen when temperatures are too low, or it isn’t watered enough.
Be patient, cut back on watering and wait a few months for growth to begin anew.
Toxicity of Dragon Scale Alocasia
Alocasia baginda is toxic to humans and pets.
While its toxicity is unlikely to be fatal, it can cause considerable distress if ingested because of the calcium oxalate crystals found in all parts of the plant
Caution should be taken when growing dragon scale Alocasia in a home with children and pets.
Dragon scale Alocasia is toxic to humans, but children are at greater risk than adults.
The worst risk for adults is a rash from the sap. If it gets on your skin, wash it off.
Because children are more likely to try eating a dragon scale Alocasia leaf, it’s important to be aware of the possible consequences.
Since they will almost immediately experience sharp pain in their mouth, they’re unlikely to take more than one bite.
Rinse their mouth out, and give them a cold compress or popsicle to numb the pain.
However, if their tongue gets swollen, or they have trouble breathing, that’s more serious and you should take them to the emergency room.
Most common household pets can suffer severely after eating some dragon scale Alocasia foliage.
This includes cats, dogs, and rabbits.
If your pet ingests a dragon scale Alocasia leaf, and starts wheezing, drooling excessively, or vomiting, or has diarrhea, take it to the veterinarian to prevent permanent damage.
It’s a good idea to find a place for your dragon scale Alocasia where neither pets nor children can gain access to it.
Because of its preference for high humidity, it’s perfect for growing in a terrarium. That would also accomplish the goal of keeping it out of reach of animals and toddlers.
Dragon Scale Alocasia Appearance
The striking dragon scale Alocasia appearance has made it highly sought after as a houseplant.
The gorgeous, emerald-green leaves certainly are worthy of inclusion in the Jewel Alocasia family, and it has other close relatives in that group.
Alocasia baginda ‘Silver Dragon’ has a lovely silver sheen over its green leaves.
The foliage of dragon scale Alocasia really does seem to resemble the scales of the mythical dragons that they are named for.
Each leaf is a deep, vibrant green with a metallic sheen. The color deepens along the veins, adding even more dimension. On the underside, they are a pale green or cream, with maroon veins.
They are thick and leathery, with a hard, glossy surface.
Leaves on a mature plant can be as long as 16 inches, on 2 foot petioles. Small plants have leaves 3 to 7 inches long. They have a broad oval shape with elongated tips.
Dragon scale Alocasia flowering occurs in late winter through to early summer when a plant has grown to a sufficient size to support flower production.
It may be dependent on seasonal changes in temperature or number of hours of daylight.
The Alocasia baginda flower is fairly large, with a cream-colored spadix tightly wrapped in a creamy white spathe, which has a slight edging of deep red.
It is a striking bloom. However, many growers choose to cut out the flowering stems before blooming starts. It takes a lot of the plant’s energy that could otherwise be focused on leaf growth.
Size and Growth
The mature size of dragon scale Alocasia depends on whether it’s grown indoors or outdoors.
Of course, in a temperate climate you have no choice but to grow it as a potted plant, in which case you can expect it to reach 3 feet in height with a spread of 2 feet.
Outdoors, a dragon scale Alocasia can reach as high as 6 feet.
It has a moderate growth rate and will take up to 7 years to reach its full size.
It also can go into dormancy in cold or dry conditions and die back to the soil surface for a few months.
Dragon Scale Alocasia Fragrance
There is no dragon scale Alocasia fragrance. The foliage has no scent, and the flowers do not depend on pollination for fertilization, so have no fragrance to attract insects.
However, growing a plant that does not have a fragrance is actually a benefit for many people with a sensitivity to strong scents.
If you live in a small space such as a studio apartment, you may appreciate a plant that does not overpower the air with its smell.
As well, in many institutions such as nursing homes and public spaces such as shopping malls or offices, fragrances are not permitted because of allergies.
Suggested Uses for Dragon Scale Alocasia
Wherever you decide to place your dragon scale Alocasia indoors, it’s going to reward you with its striking foliage.
Just make sure that it’s a spot where it will be happy to grow, as they don’t respond well to being moved about too much.
The only exception would be moving it out to a patio or balcony for some extra heat and humidity in summer.
A bathroom with bright natural light is a great spot for your dragon scale Alocasia, where it will revel in the high humidity.
It’s also recommended as a terrarium plant.
If you garden in a tropical zone, you can plant it in a shady spot in good, well-draining soil.
What is dragon scale Alocasia?
The dragon scale Alocasia is a rare houseplant that is native to Eastern Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. It is a tropical evergreen foliage plant.
How to identify dragon scale Alocasia?
The dragon scale Alocasia has large, deeply green quilted leaves with a thick, leathery texture and a tough, glossy surface, with a cream colored underside.
How to care for dragon scale Alocasia?
The dragon scale Alocasia should be grown in loose, quick-draining soil in bright but indirect light, in a warm room with high humidity, and watered regularly.
How to grow dragon scale Alocasia indoors?
The dragon scale Alocasia can be grown indoors as a potted plant at normal room temperature with increased humidity, in a bright spot out of the full sun.
How to grow dragon scale Alocasia outdoors?
The dragon scale Alocasia can be grown outdoors year-round in zones 9b to 12, in a shady location in loose soil full of organic matter.
How fast does dragon scale Alocasia grow?
The dragon scale Alocasia can take up to 7 years to reach its full size, and sometimes goes into dormancy when the plant dies down completely for a few months.
How tall does dragon scale Alocasia grow?
The dragon scale Alocasia generally grows to 3 feet high and 2 feet across when grown indoors, while a plant grown outdoors in a tropical climate can reach 6 feet.
How to make dragon scale Alocasia grow faster?
The dragon scale Alocasia will grow its fastest when watered regularly with light feedings, in a warm and humid environment in bright light out of the full sun.
How to stake dragon scale Alocasia?
The dragon scale Alocasia does not need to be staked to grow upright, but it is a good idea to rotate the pot a quarter turn once a week.
How to pot dragon scale Alocasia?
The dragon scale Alocasia should be planted in loose, porous soil that will hold a moderate amount of moisture, in a glazed or plastic pot to conserve soil moisture.
How to revive dragon scale Alocasia?
The dragon scale Alocasia may go into dormancy where the foliage dies back completely to soil level. Keep it in a warm and humid spot to encourage regrowth.
Why is my dragon scale Alocasia dying?
Your dragon scale Alocasia may lose all its leaves and seem dead, but it may simply have gone dormant. Cut back on watering and give it a few months to restart itself.
Why is my dragon scale Alocasia drooping?
Your dragon scale Alocasia soil may be too dry or too wet. Check the soil so that you will know when it’s time to water, rather than sticking to a strict watering schedule.
How cold can dragon scale Alocasia tolerate?
The dragon scale Alocasia is used to lows of 75ºF (24ºC) in its native habitat, so anything below 60ºF (15ºC) will damage its growth and possibly send it into dormancy.
How to get rid of pests on dragon scale Alocasia?
You can usually deter pests on your dragon scale Alocasia by wiping the leaves down or spraying with an insecticidal soap or neem oil solution.
Is dragon scale Alocasia toxic to cats?
Yes, dragon scale Alocasia is toxic to cats. If your cat eats some foliage and is vomiting or has diarrhea, take it to the veterinarian immediately.
Is dragon scale Alocasia toxic to dogs?
Yes, dragon scale Alocasia is toxic to dogs. If your dog is drooling or wheezing, or has vomiting or diarrhea, it needs to be seen by a veterinarian.
Is dragon scale Alocasia toxic to children?
Yes, dragon scale Alocasia is toxic to children. If your child has eaten a leaf and has a swollen tongue or trouble breathing, take them to the emergency room.
Is dragon scale Alocasia toxic to humans?
Yes, dragon scale Alocasia is toxic to humans. Wear gloves when cutting or handling the plant, and wash off any sap that gets on your skin.
Does dragon scale Alocasia have a scent?
The dragon scale Alocasia has no scent, so it can be used in settings where people who have allergies to strong fragrances may be exposed.