Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Hooded Dwarf Elephant Ear, Chinese Taro, Buddha's Hand
Alocasia cucullata

Family: Araceae (a-RAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Alocasia (a-loh-KAY-see-uh) (Info)
Species: cucullata (kuk-yoo-LAY-tuh) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

9 members have or want this plant for trade.

Ponds and Aquatics
Tropicals and Tender Perennials

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Seed is poisonous if ingested
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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8 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive ivytucker On Feb 10, 2013, ivytucker from Cape Coral, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

I bought this Alocasia cucullata at a local plant sale. I was not sure if it would grow well in our soil because it is sandy, alkaline, and poor. I planted two nice devisions on the shadier north side of the house where it tends to stay damper. This plant has been a beautiful and dependable accent plant in the landscape. It likes the soil just fine as long as I give it a little fertilizer from time to time. Finally a great substitute for Hosta in the subtropics! It gets the size of a large hosta specimen. Dependably attractive year round. Snails, slugs, and bugs don't seem to bother it either.

Positive MetaLark On Oct 5, 2012, MetaLark from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

(2012/10/06 - Houston.) About three years ago my neighbor gave me two or three offshoots of alocasia cucullata for my back yard. She had got the plant years earlier from her aunt in Louisiana and didn't know its name (and her aunt has since died). So recently I looked around the Web for a bush with "heart-shaped leaves," and now I have the answer.

Yes! This is a wonderfully easy plant, and just beautiful. It now fills up a lot of bare spaces in my garden, and I give it almost no care beyond occasional watering. Even during the drouth last summer, it could go far longer without water than almost anything else in the yard.

As for wintering, last winter was very mild in Houston, but during the preceding winter we had several days in the 20s; my alocasias froze back, but then they put out new growth in the spring, and it wasn't long before they were thriving again.

This is just a sweetheart of a plant. I love it.

Positive Zuluqueen504 On May 14, 2009, Zuluqueen504 from Monroe, LA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Dies back each winter but returns like clockwork by May. Great dwarf elephant ear for a tight spot.

Positive EveyB On Apr 5, 2008, EveyB from Baton Rouge, LA wrote:

This plant was one of the very few surviving plants in the garden when we purchased our home 1-1/2 years ago, fighting it out successfully with the fig ivy that had taken over literally everything else in the courtyard. It was planted in a clay pot that was sunk in the ground and two runner plants had spread to the ground beside the pot. With winter approaching, we put off addressing the gardens of our new home til spring. These guys stayed green the entire first winter and performed beautifully the entire spring and summer with little to no attention, spreading a bit and becoming even fuller. I moved some of the babies as I reworked the beds, pulling out the fig ivy and landscaping with our desired plants. This winter was very harsh for our zone, with several extended periods in the 20's... and these guys suffered leaf burn on the majority of the plants. They looked pretty awful at first, but didn't burn down to the ground. They are now rebounding just fine, with blooms and new leaves on all plants and even more babies coming up plentifully in the garden. What a hardy plant! FYI: We're in zone 8b, and they are planted in a slightly raised bed within a brick courtyard under an oak tree with filtered afternoon sunlight. Winter temps swing wildly from 30's to 70's in any given week, and can drop to 20's. Summer temps can go into the 100's here. Basically, it's anything goes!

Positive vossner On Sep 11, 2007, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Mine has been potted for 2 years and has survived outside temps. I will transplant inground this fall. Very beautiful heart-shaped leaves.

Positive DebinSC On Aug 11, 2007, DebinSC from Georgetown, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I planted this in spring a year ago in a part shade spot, in pretty bad (clay) soil. It did amazingly well and stayed in-ground over the winter (Z8) with a pine straw mulch. It did die back but came back beautifully and has produced an offset. This is in a drought year for us so it has not had as much moisture as it should, but seems happy anyway. Very easy. Nice graceful vase shape and pretty heart-shaped leaves.

Positive StarGazey26 On Aug 7, 2005, StarGazey26 from (Zone 10a) wrote:

I love this Alocasia! It is a nice dwarf. I grow it indoors, in almost shade, and keep it moist at all times, it is doing very well. This is one of the Hardy-er Alocasia, and not as picky, it doesnt require humidity like all the others do, and does very well outside in the winter. It is a great container plant. Gets very full and bush, with many leaves. And the leaves are nice and dark green. I changed fertalizer's, and i use, 20-10-20 Urea free, by Grow More. It is great, and i see results with it! I put a little fertalizer in the water everytime i water this Alocasia, and he seems to like it. Dont fertalize too much, or use alot, just a little bit, because it might tip burn his leaves!

Positive onalee On Feb 26, 2005, onalee from Brooksville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

A very lovely plant with heart shaped leaves, I received one as a gift a couple of years ago and planted in a 1 gallon pot. After one season, I moved it up to a 3 gallon pot and this year divided it, removing many 'babies' from the main plant. I don't find it to require lots of water, but it may grow faster/larger with more water. Although this indicates it is hardy in my region, I have not chanced it and have kept it in a container, bringing it in each winter.

Would make a wonderful house plant in cooler regions. Very easy to grow!

Update 2008: Saw these being sold as a kind of bonsai plant at a Plant sale today labeled as Buddha's Hand with this description:

"Buddhas Hand is the essence of Energy flowing upward towards the Heavens. In Chinese Folklore, the heart shaped leaves on the long elegant stems signify Buddhas hand reaching up into the Heavens. In Ancient China, it is believed that it will bring you Long Life and Prosperity."

Apparently bonsaied (is that a word?) by allowing soil to dry between watering on mature plants with good bulbs and keeping the leaves trimmed - it was a different look but still very attractive.

I still love these plants after all this time - still one of my very favorites!


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Vincent, Alabama
Wilmer, Alabama
Solvang, California
Bartow, Florida
Big Pine Key, Florida
Brooksville, Florida (2 reports)
Cape Coral, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Miami, Florida
Baton Rouge, Louisiana (2 reports)
Mandeville, Louisiana
Monroe, Louisiana
Cincinnati, Ohio
Summerville, South Carolina
Alvin, Texas
Beaumont, Texas
Crowley, Texas
Richmond, Texas

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