grabmebymyhandle

alocasia bulbils

grabmebymyhandle
7 years ago

I notice that when i repot my alocasias, i find lots of bulbils growing on short underground stolens. My observation is that these rarely ever grow until severed from the mother plant, The last time i repotted my A. poly you could clearly see there was 3 sets of bulbils that where not growing, and one round of smaller bright ones that were yet to fully develop. it had been 3 years of growth with out repoting, the oldest bulbils were closest to the mother and very dark, almost black, several had detached from the mother, via rot, and were lighter and larger and growing. 2nd set of bulbils was farther away and pretty dark the 3 set was 6 inches from the mother bulbs and quite light. All were just as viable as the next, the newest ones were not developed and died mostly.

It seems like an odd strategy to me, I often wonder why do they do that, 3 yrs is a long time for a dime sized bulb to just sit there why not just go ahead and grow? I also wonder do all alocasias do that, and do any other aroids do that besides alocasias?

Just bored and thinking off all the bulbils i just found in my frydek, it was unbelievable.

Comments (79)

  • grabmebymyhandle

    I keep my masks out in the summer, it can tricking finding that perfect spit for them, especially at first when just coming outta the house, I usually opt for morning sun, all plants prefer it evening sun in my experience...
    So far the spit the seem happiest at Is under a bush that is trimmed up and has room under it. That spots filled this year so it's gunna get more sun, but generally they prefer outdoors as long as u don't cook em!
    It should be warm enough now for them to benifit from it, why wait for August?

    As for leaving some tuber above ground... No need, not sure who is spreading misinformation but it's not cool!
    Most of these are a result if tissue culture. They would be the tiniest of plant when they Bergen like, at that point the do live on the surface of the soil, but in nature they would be seeds, and would die atop the soil... Once they are as big as a marble they could survive there... But it's detrimental, that bulb would likely produce more roots under the soil, and therefore feed the plant better, as the mature the tuber extends above the soil on its own, this is a pseudo stem, it is merely the tuber tho...all alocasia will do this, I think...
    Petruska, your right go think laying it down will produce more shoots, I cut off the main growth point first an repot it laying down, takes several months but they spit new plants a few months later, remove them, or don't either way.

    I love the trunked up p- stem look it just takes time, that big p- stem could be cut up and make lots more, I have to stop myself from doing this as I want lots of plants, I sell and trade them, but a mature specimen can really be a sight to behold!

  • petrushka

    I had to consult my files to answer, but basically alocasias wake up from dormansy when it gets over 70F at night(75F is better) and grow best when it's 85F during the day. for me this means july-aug. we still get low 60F here now - and that's when mine stops growing in winter. that means the soil temp is going to be even lower. so I don't want to do that.
    I am keeping it in the warmest spot now for growth: western window 3-4 hours of sun (building shades me) and 75F day, 70F nite.
    the best I found on burying tubers:
    the soil has to be kept very warm and very moist for roots to start growing to break dormancy: so if you bury the whole tuber and soil is not warm enough(heating mat is best) - the tuber rots easily. if you plant higher - at least you can cut off the top to replant. so it's less risky.
    but yes, the whole tuber will grow roots top to bottom when buried, so that can be done too.
    however, that presupposes large mature tuber. when nursery plants are sold, very often the tubers are not that big. the baby tubers produce lots of roots on top - so they actually need to be buried at least 1"-2" down to provide moist soil for growth. too deep and they can rot.
    for now my tiny baby plants with 1 2-3" leaf are planted may be 1/2 to 3/4" inch down in tiny 2" by 4" plastic cups. so I can see root progress for replanting. and they are bagged and on heat still - so 100% humidity. the roots are constantly poking out the soil on top. on next uppot i'll plant them .5" deeper.

  • grabmebymyhandle

    I think u may be under estimating the sun, friend!
    My night time lows are dipping into the fifties, still, spose to be 72 tonight tho 90 tmrw! Woot!
    Even with night time lows droppin like that, my soils temp stays above 70 for the most part...
    I just took it now at the base if my largest poly, it's been dormant for near 5 months now, I planted it 2 weeks ago in the ground and it's almost got its first leaf out, it's spiked up big time!
    Soils temp there read 82 at 1" and 76 at 2.5 inches...
    There no way u could achieve that indoors right now, not with my wife in control of the a/c... And even tho these windows I have here are junk, they r still all double pane uv treated glass, very little heat penetrates, not much usable light either, it's enough to keep even cacti goin in direct sun thru the window, but it's just not enought to make an EE excel!
    I'm certainly not sayin that what ur doing is wrong, we all have diff conditions, and growing stratagies, but when I stopped worrying about my mask, and just started treating like alocasias, that's when they started to GROW, not just persist!
    Granted the balcony is not the best place outdoors for them, but now u have several, in my opinion that's time to branch out and experiment...

    My Thai giant made 3 bulbils this years, I put it back in its same spot, it likes it there, I put 2 in spots that I just known they would excel, and one in a spot that I was sure it would get too much sun... Well it's out growing the parent plant now, and has far surpassed the 2 I "knew" would excel!
    Not only had I done much research on it but I had been advised by several "experts" we all agreed the one in the sun would burn... Show us all...

  • petrushka

    grab, I take your point about the sun. it's good to know for the future that it heats up the soil this much.
    and I would put them out, if I had more sunny exposure.
    but my N-NE balcony only gets sun for a few hours in like one nook 2' wide :(. I don't think it can heat up anything much. and ...I have calamondins that need sun, jades that need sun, petunias and lilies and amaryllises that need a ray or two...you get the picture. I am an extreme balcony gardener ;).
    but ok, i'll experiment, you talked me into it. I have 2 lil cups with 3" baby leaves that been rooting in actual soilless mix (not perlite) for 2 weeks and I can see roots at the sides. so I can put them out and see what develops:).
    here's my balcony last august. and that does not include the sunny corner on the left.
    but, a lil baby leaf I can fit in, sure...LOL

  • grabmebymyhandle

    : (
    That is packed!
    I'd think about diggings hole in a plant with similar care and plug the mask into there, it'll take much less care if its in a large pot like that, I've never had problems with them rotting in too big of a pot, it think they prefer more room to bring cramped, but even if that's a correctness a large pot that's filled with roots of another plant should never stay wet long as the roots if the big plant with keep that under control

  • petrushka

    yah, that's a good idea, 'cause otherwise i'd have to put it on a wick like African violet to keep it hydrated - but it's too small for that really. I have a couple of pots with room up top. calla lily would be good. it's on a water wick itself, so 3" down the roots from the cup (once they grow thru the bottom) will get moisture. and it's not in exposed position.
    though a drop into 60s is coming in a day. my roots are at 85F on a pad now. so I think I am going to wait for this to pass.

  • greentoe357

    I did a search again about leaving alocasia tuber partially out of the soil - and only one site mentions it out of many that do not. So, that top layer of soil is going right back to the top of the pot.

    Petrushka, your balcony looks like a botanical garden! Love it!

    Accidentally, I saw both Alocasias and Caladiums planted in containers in one of the plazas in NYC. I was jealous - they all looked so great, some were even flowering. I should have snapped a picture!

  • petrushka

    greenT, go to florida gardening forum - they have spectacular pics. people plant hundreds of corms under trees, it's simply unbelievable. colo/alocasias can be left in the ground in fl - so they proliferate like weeds.
    also check 'annuals' forum.
    here's a great blog of fl garden
    http://www.hoeandshovel.com/search/label/caladiums

  • grabmebymyhandle

    Hey!
    It's not just Florida!
    I leave atleast 4 types in the ground all year, this year that number will be higher for sure!
    Last count was 223 ears in ground! : D
    You guys in 7B can do way better!
    That is... If u have ground...balconies don't work so good

  • greentoe357

    great link, petrushka - made me green with envy, except for the thumb - that is still kinda off-brownish color. :)

  • petrushka

    my planted 'woken up' tubers are flowering with not 1 but 2 flowers. they are leafing out more then before: I am getting 3 leaves on some and may be even more coming.
    I think it's because I am giving them better light then before, even sev hours of western hot sun. and lots of water and feed.
    and I thought my plant was a goner!
    this has been the most successful endeavor for this year.

  • greentoe357

    The plant looks great, petrushka! Do you use grow lights, or the sun on the balcony is all it gets? I am in the same zone, so of course very interested. Researching grow lights that look inconspicuous and will not turn a city apartment into a greenhouse-looking operation is on my todo list.

    In other alocasia news: everybody, check out the attached link for a question I have about my alocasia. I did not want to derail the conversation by posting here. Thanks.

    Here is a link that might be useful: alocasia roots wrapped in gauze? what?

  • petrushka

    it's always indoors - western window dappled very bright sunlight 4-6 hours when growing, the warmest spot around 75-77F in summer. no growing lights.
    here'a shot of babies, only 15% bulbils did not sprout. about 30% are now with 2 leaves. largest at 7", most single at 3-4". all still on a heat mat, most xplanted from perlite into single plastic cups with starter mix, bagged, very hi humidity, bright western window 2' away behind other plants, so mostly a few dapples of sun only.

  • grabmebymyhandle

    LOOKIN GOOD!

    I dare say those babies would take more sun, if you have any room for them, but they still look good!

  • petrushka

    they are still bagged and in very tiny cups. some still in perlite.. I am waiting for roots to fill the cups before I put them in 3" pots/wicks and in some sun. i am still planning to keep them on a heating pad, but will uncover and push into the window. I have verticals in case it gets too bright, so I can regulate the light.

  • petrushka

    here's an update on my 'sprouts'.
    i consolidated them 3 to a 6" pot - had 5 pots and then the smallest ones were still in 7oz cups, but out of perlite by oct last year.
    all in AV mix cut to 40-50% with perlite.
    i had to put them on wicks since i can be away a lot. the wicks were not good for such small plants - most developed large necrotic spots after 2 week's absence. i changed to much thinner wicks, bagged all and went away for the holidays.
    when i came back most of them went dormant: the leaves declined. the big-plant held most of it's leaves, except for 1-2 newest. that was interesting, since i would've thought it's the oldest leaves that should decline first.
    i promptly went into the over-drive and repeated 'the hot/wet procedure', since i read that if your plant within the month of decline the chances of resprout are higher. within 2 months most produced at least 1 leaf, some more. had some tuber-rot on the very smallest ones, they are the hardest. so 2 rotted, on 3 more had a partial rot, i cut it off, cinnamon sprinkle, and they resprouted.
    here's a pic of tubers as of beginning of feb, when i cleaned them up and repotted: this is after 1 year growth.
    the biggest on the right is a 2yr old tuber.
    these are the larger ones: about 1" of tuber out of still attached bulbil. those were 2yr bulbils when dug up - they were much bigger and are producing larger plants.
    on the very top you can see that the tuber already is propagating: a tiny bulbil is attached by a stolon.
    i had 2 like that, but broke one off accidentally.

  • petrushka

    here's a pic of larger ones. i left only 1 triple 6" pot - it was not repotted in feb, all the rest were lifted and then potted singly. only 2 grew fast enough to fill the cups with roots good enough to allow potting up into the larger pots end of june. the one on the right is in the deeper pot - and it grew the largest leaf : 9" (in a month). the other larger leaves are mostly around 8", but the first leaves that open are always smaller. the singles have 3 leaves each, in the 6" only one is a triple.
    the mature 5 yr old plant has 12-14" leaves.

  • petrushka

    the largest are in the back with intermediates upfront: mostly 2 leaves around 4-6".
    all still in cups, though i added 1-1.5" of soil on top in july, where the roots were growing close to the surface.

  • petrushka

    and finally the smalls: 3-4-5" with 1-3 leaves still shallow-planted.
    the one with tiny extra bulbil sprouted 'the baby' with 2 tiny 2" leaves.

  • tropicbreezent

    Looks like you're right into the mass production of Alocasia Poly. I should probably pull mine out and see if it's worth separating them. They certainly grow better when they're not so crowded and competing with one another.

  • petrushka

    i found that 1st yr seedlings are very sensitive to over-watering - need to be grown in small pots otherwise they can get 'water-logged' (absorb too much water) and then large areas of leaves yellow and go necrotic eventually.
    when that happened i put them back on a heat-mat to dry up the soil and that corrected the problem, when it was not too late.
    when it was late - the leaf was a goner within a couple of weeks, but usually they put out a new one soon.
    it's been hard watering them manually, especially since i can go away for some time. perhaps a propagator or terrarium would help.
    i am slowly potting them up in slightly larger pots - like literally only 1" larger, from 2" to 3" only. and then slowly to 4",etc. that seems to be working well.

  • joey CUTAJAR

    hi petrushka very nice and good info do you still got them? mine alocasia polly is still sleeping and in my country it gets a lot of sun


  • joey CUTAJAR

    this is my polly right now and i live in malta its very sunny and hot here

  • joey CUTAJAR

    and this are the small ones that i took from the big one

  • joey CUTAJAR

    is in normal that it take that long to wake up ? cause my other types of colocasias and alocasias are all starting to wake up and already with open leaves also the small alocasias lile hilo,velvet and dragon scale only this one and my alocasia nirobi night are still like this

  • joey CUTAJAR

    this is my nirobi night

  • joey CUTAJAR

    and i just bought this one the seller told me that it an alocasia amazonica any ideas?

  • petrushka

    sorry, i wasn't checking in for a while. But yes, i still got my crop of pollys. I repotted the big one after 3 years - dug up the tubers and collected a new set of bulbils :).

    my smaller seedlings from last crop are doing well too - i had to give away a few - way too many for me! what happens is the longer the bulbil stays in soil (and the tuber produces a few each year) the bigger the sprout will be, when it sprouts eventually. so the bigger ones take off well, while the smallest grow much slower. i had 2 sizes again.

    the smallest ones i neglected and just kept moist in the dish under cling-wrap for a month ...and they started sprouting anyway :). so i bagged them in perlite just a week ago.

    you should bury yours about 1.5 cm with soil - this will keep them moist, the tips should not be exposed. they produce roots on the top of the bulbil and funny enough the roots point upward - so they stick out and dry up if the bulbil is too close to the surface. so it actually helps to tent the pot to keep moisture level very high and top soil moist constantly. and the hotter and wetter the pot the faster they will wake up.

    my new batch of bulbils produced first leaves after approx 6 weeks - and that's just the first few. others can go another month easily. first they grow roots and after awhile the first leaf sprouts. until you get the first leaf it's very important that the medium stays moist and humidity is very high.

    i keep mine in pure perlite and super moist and tented on heat until the first leaves unfurl - to prevent rotting when it's so damp...if you have over 30C temps outside you should be fine, but it needs to be humid too! if it's dry - tent them with plastic.


  • petrushka

    so here's a pic of my tubers - the largest are the same ones from 3 years back. and i added sev larger sprouts from the 1st crop.

    and here they are 2 months later - all sprouted the first leaves.

    so that took 2 months on heat to grow roots and then 1 leaf.

    that's pretty normal. but i grow them indoors - outdoors should be faster, actually.

    this is from the back, so you can see how densely they are packed into the pot

  • mysticme62

    I know this thread is a few years old but I have found it to be full of wonderful information. I have been trying to root my bulbils and have realized, thanks to this thread, I have been planting them upside down, haha. Anyway, thanks for posting this, any updates on your plants?

  • petrushka

    they got thru this winter with flying colors, most large tubers holding 2 leaves, and smaller ones 1. i put them tented very moist on heating pad and they all produced new leaves. except for the big pot - they slowly lost their older leaves - so naturally i got worried and dug them up to look at the roots. but they were fine and i found more bulbils, tiny ones ...put them somewhere and can't find them since...but it's ok - they were just from last year when i repoted too. when they are that small they sprout very tiny leaves and grow very slowly. so i prefer not to disturb the roots for 3 years - then i can get 3 year old ones and they grow much faster.

    basically even very small tubers produce bulbils and they are attached by a stolon (root) to the tuber. but it is rather fragile, it's impossible to prevent it from breaking during the repot.

    so my big pot is outside on the balcony, but 2 tubers have not leafed out still - ultra slow this year. perhaps they are old - i've had them since 2009.

    so i want to cut leafless ones in half - they are very tall above the soil. i'll wrap some moist sphag around the stem above soil level and try to air-layer them first though.

  • petrushka

    couldn't find any pics from last year, though i'm sure i have them :(..

    here are the huge tubers in the pot . they are inserted all the way down - so very long! the longest 2 are about 11-12" long.



  • mysticme62


    So I went out to turn them the correct way and this is what I found. 2 are already sprouting!! I had been planting them with the pointy side up, is that incorrect? See the photo on top, to me it looks like roots and leaf sprouts are coming out of the same place (pointy end), I am so confused. Do I bury them with the pointy or blunt side down? Thank you so much for your help to this seemingly simple question.

    Your plants look amazing, you've really got the hang of this plant!

  • petrushka

    there are 2 ends: one where the stolon was attached - that's the bottom end, when stolon dries up it looks pointy too.

    and then there is the sprouting point - that's where the growth starts up.

    so on yr 1st pic - the right side is up with roots pointing up. what happens is that the roots grow on the top of the bulbil , so it's necessary to bury it, so that the new roots stay moist. not too deep - about 1/2" may be. and keep the top layer of the mix moist, so the roots will keep growing - it's easier to tent or put them in seed-propagator. this way you can assure that the top of the mix won't dry up. or just mist the top layer.

    on the 2nd pic - it's upside down: the fat 'root' on top is the stolon, that needs to be planted down, with growing point up. it's not necessary to cut them off - the bulbil will get some nutrients from it while it's growing roots. it'll shrivel eventually. i've never seen it rot.

    here you can see 2nd year bulbils after forming a tuber on top.

    so the bulbils are on the left side and the stolon looks pointy too :).

    and you can see on the top one the left overs of roots from last year, they are coming out from the top of the bulbil, but that is actually the bottom of the tuber.

    the bulbil can stay attached for sev years.

  • petrushka

    i also sprout caladium corms every year - they also sprout from the top of the corm.

    they are aroids too. i first sprout them in damp long-fiber sphagnum moss and then transfer into the mix.

    here's a pic of them before i covered them up with about and inch of mix.

  • mysticme62

    You are awesome - I finally get it! I had been planting them stolon down but I had left the growing tip sticking out of the soil. I will plant them a little deeper now. I really appreciate your super informative posts.

    I actually do Caladiums too. I began hybridizing them and really enjoy doing it. I actually made a small, very simple tutorial about it for my plant friends. How to make Caladium babies. They were my first step into the deep end of the Aroid pool. Now I find myself collecting Colocasia and Alocasia so I can try to hybridize them as well.

  • petrushka

    that's a great tutorial! you have a LOT of patience, i see :).

    my oldest Cal 'Red Flash' blooms, but that's the only one that survived for long enough to mature. i've had it for over 10 years. i overwinter other cultivars, but often the corms are too small to survive. may be half make it , but no flowers. i restock ev year :).

    but i am fond of aroids and i have sprouted sev anthuriums: A. plowmanii and A plowmanii 'Fruffles'. The first one bloomed this year with 2 inflo's, 'Fruffles' is very small still (1 yr since sprouting) and is tented in a cup.

    i also sprouted a few aglaonema seeds - took 8-9 mo! :0...won't do it again for sure!

    but it's growing..

    you can see pics of those in this thread

  • petrushka

    if you look at may 28 2016 post of mine above - there's more detail about how to keep the bulbils happy.

    and here are some pics of my caladiums (long ago though), i also have some more recent pics of them on my balcony in ideabook if you look at my profile.

  • mysticme62


    I did everything you said and it worked!!! Thank you for your advice and guidance!! My next task is to get a red aglaonema . I have been thinking about them since you mentioned them and it's become quite an obsession to find the perfect one. Thank you again!!

  • petrushka

    applause on the spout! be very careful how you water them. the 1st year they are very sensitive to overwatering. if they absorb too much water - they get dark spots around the edges like water-soaked. keep them above 75F if you can. and if you get them water-logged the best thing to do is to heat them up on the heat-mat or put them oitside at 80F-90F in shade to 'process' this water as soon as possible. those darker 'soaked' areas will yellow and then dry up. but if you catch them in time at least the whole leaf will not die, just look bad. they are very slow in the beginning.

    red ags? guess, you mean Thai hybrids? you can get more common cultivars even in HD these days. are you looking for sites that ship or just in stores?

  • mysticme62

    Thank you for the warning. I admit I killed my first 2 Pollys by over watering them. I have since learned my lesson with the larger plants, but I had been keeping the sprouting pot VERY moist to encourage growth. I will immediately cut back on the water. I find most of my Alocasias prefer to be more dry than wet.


    As far as the Aglaonema, there are so many varieties, but my local stores all seem to have the same ones. I've been looking online, but haven't quite found "the one". I'd like to make sure I can make one thrive before I order something online. I really like the Thai hybrids, so many beautiful color combinations. Are yours mostly white?

  • petrushka

    no, mostly pink. and they actually look a lot like caladiums :). the culture is very similar to caladiums too. but they are sterile, so you can't hybridize them.

  • L Watkins

    This thread is absolutely amazing! Just want you guys to know that even in 2019 it's super helpful!

  • petrushka

    i'm glad you find it useful :)!

  • HU-440008683

    Yes, I agree. Thanks for all the information! One was sitting on top of my soil of my alocasia clypeata for probably a year separated from the mother plant. Now that I have one sad small leaf and flower after the other leaves yellowed and died (likely root rot), I “accidentally” covered it in soil and now it’s sprouting! Maybe it’s still somehow “connected” to the mother plant and knows she needs help ;) Crossing my fingers!

  • HU-440008683

    *Clypeolata

  • Amrit Instagram @amrit.plants

    @petrushka i love your posts on this topic, it is the only info i could find on this topic. thank you! in new zealand it is spring and quite warm now, i was repotting and have several polly bulbils now , along with a frydek bulbil from friend. trying my luck have them on heat pad, soil, with some plastic film over it to lock in moisture. the ambient room temp is 70-90f+ 24/7 right now, been about 2 weeks nothing happened yet that i can see but eagerly awaiting, especially the frydek as that is rather expensive here and i cannot find it yet.

  • petrushka

    you need to keep them super moist while on heat: I water mine with HOT water. YEP!

    however, I sprout mine in sterile medium: perlite to prevent rot which can certainly happen when you soak soil or even peat with 100% humidity. they can just dissolve :)..I suggest you squeeze them gently to make sure they are not rotten...and transfer into perlite ASAP.

  • Amrit Instagram @amrit.plants

    thank you @petrushka , great thinking on the hot water, that is what i had done to wake my dormant amazonicas up will do so on bulbils too. i went to repot them like you suggested, happy to report they are still firm. will let ya know how that goes. btw i wonder if i planted them the right way up, they all had some little whit bits coming out one end which i assume is roots, one of them had developed about 1cm long of this already, surprisingly that was the smallest bulb of the lot (about size of pinky finger nail). i have assumed that end is roots and have planted that end facing down now, was i ok ti assume this?

  • Amrit Instagram @amrit.plants

    smal update. had put them in sideways since wasnt sure which way was up at the time, now it's obvious to me that those white bits were shoots, but anyway sideways was easy option because the shoots came up and roots went downwards. one bulb gave a leaf much faster than all the others, so far only 2 smallest bulbs have done nothing, but none are rotten / soft so that is good :)

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