Alocasia lauterbachiana (Purple Sword): The #1 Care, Propagation, and Watering Guide

Alocasia lauterbachiana, or the Purple Sword, is a one-of-a-kind Alocasia with huge, beautiful green leaves and strong stems. If you enjoy the look of large-leaved beauties, then this is the plant for you. Undoubtedly, this plant has a great ornamental value because of its low upkeep and distinctively shaped multicolored leaves. 

Alocasia lauterbachiana

The Purple Sword might be just what you’re looking for to add to your collection. You may learn more about this particular plant, its proper care and maintenance, and its cultivation methods in the sections below. 

What are you waiting for? Let’s dive right in.

Alocasia lauterbachiana Profile

Alocasia lauterbachiana Profile

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General Information

The Purple Sword (Alocasia lauterbachiana) is a dazzling, venerable, perennial, tropical plant species in the genus Alocasia, which belongs to the Araceae family. This plant is prevalent in Northern New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago. It is also known as “Elephant Ears” because of the wavy margins of its leaves. 

The Alocasia lauterbachiana is popularly known as the “Purple Sword”, which refers to the purple blooms, the purple veins in the center, and the deep purple underside of the leaves. The purple undersides on the long, narrow green leaves with wavy leaf edges create an interesting combination of color, shape, and leaf texture that makes this Alocasia variety stand out. 

It has triumphed in the world of houseplants and is especially well-liked in interior design thanks to its distinctive leaves, dynamic structure, quite sturdy stems, and lovely green color.

Etymology

Alocasia comes from the Greek word kolokāsiā, which means lotus root. On the other hand, the species name “lauterbachiana” was chosen in honor of German botanist Carl Lauterbach, who made the discovery of the Yellow-breasted Bowerbird in 1896. 

Flowering

The Purple Sword produces small, green, or purple flowers with an Anthurium-like structure. The finger-like spadix emerges from a clasping spathe. These plants do not have a defined flowering season. Alocasia Lautrbachiana, on the other hand, may blossom throughout the year if conditions are appropriate.

Season of Interest and Purchasing

The Alocasia lauterbachiana plant actively grows during the spring and summer months and goes into dormancy during the winter. However, dormancy does not mean it is dead. Instead, think of it as the hibernation of plants. This will end up rightfully when the temperatures rise again.  

Growth

Since the Alocasia lauterbachiana is a fast-growing species with an upright growth pattern, it can reach a height of around 4 feet tall if you’re growing this plant outdoors. However, in indoor circumstances, the plant has an average height of around 3 feet tall and 3 feet- 5 feet wide (0.9-1.5m).

Related: Alocasia Maharani: Helpful Plant Information and Care Guide For This Rare Beauty

Alocasia lauterbachiana Overview

Scientific nameAlocasia lauterbachiana
Common name/sElephant Ears, Purple Sword
FamilyAraceae
Growth HabitHerbaceous
Height and SpreadCan have a height of up to 4 feet and a spread of 2 meters
Classification based on life cyclePerennial
Origin and DistributionNative range is Northern New Guinea and Bismarck Archipelago
Climate ZoneGenerally warmer climate
USDA Plant Hardiness ZoneUSDA Zone 9 – 11
ColorGreen leaves with purple undersides and venations

Care Tips

Care tips

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Light Requirement

Alocasia lauterbachiana plants thrive in bright, dappled light. Therefore, place your Purple Sword plant in a location where it will get indirect, filtered light. For example, it is recommended that your Alocasia plant be placed next to a south-west facing window. However, it does not work well in direct or bright light since the leaves may burn.

Another option is to use artificial light to avoid dormancy during the winter season. Inadequate light will result in stunted growth. Excessive direct sunshine, on the other hand, will burn the foliage. As a result, make sure your Alocasia plant is kept in proper lighting.

Temperature Requirement

Alocasia lauterbachiana thrives in warm, comfortable settings. Most household temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit are optimal for the care of the purple sword plant. However, they dislike excessive temperature fluctuations since they can stunt growth, drooping leaves, and leave them limp. 

During the flowering season, however, these plants demand a temperature of roughly 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Furthermore, extremely cold temperatures may cause leaf yellowing and slower growth.

Water Requirement

Alocasia lauterbachiana needs moisture to thrive. Although these plants love moisture, watering the Lauterbachiana is tricky since it requires consistently moist soil without becoming soggy or damp. It is a drought-tolerant plant that has to be watered on a regular basis. 

To achieve the ideal balance, you need to learn to assess the soil’s moisture level. Insert your index finger into the soil until it reaches the first or second knuckle. Check again in a few days if the soil is moist. Only water with room temperature water when the topsoil feels dry. It is advisable that the plant be watered once or twice every 7 to 14 days to ensure that it stays moist until the next watering.

Related: Alocasia Sarian: Ultimate Care Guide, Propagation, and More

Humidity Requirement

Alocasia lauterbachiana plants like humidity levels of approximately 70%. They require a high quantity of moisture to maintain their narrow green leaves with wavy leaf margins. Humidity levels that are appropriate for growth and development are crucial.

 Many methods, such as the pebble tray technique or misting, can be used to obtain this high humidity. In addition, the collective humidity generated by clustering indoor plants together can also aid in the growth of this purple Sword. 

If the plant is suffering from a lack of moisture in the air, the margins of its leaves will become brown. Here are a number of steps to increase humidity in your home.

  • Adding a humidifier
  • Putting it in a group of other plants
  • Please put it on top of pebbles in a water tray or have some water containers nearby.
  • Placing your plant where water is regularly used; it can be in the kitchen or in the bathroom.

Soil Requirement

Lauterbachiana prefers a well-draining, loose-growing medium. They like loamy or sandy substrate mixtures to allow this plant to thrive properly while also ensuring the soil is rich in essential nutrients. These plants thrive in soil-based aroid potting combined with a slow-release organic fertilizer (5.5 to 6.5) pH level that is high in nutrients and preserves moisture. 

The soil should be rich but light and airy in order for water to trickle out of the pot. They like fast-draining, high-organic-matter potting mixes. This is done to prevent becoming muddy or wet. A good soil should be able to retain moisture but not hold it for excessive time to avoid rotting the plant roots.

Fertilizer Requirement

These plants are heavy feeders and enjoy liquid fertilizers throughout the growing season. Feed them liquid fertilizer during the growing season or on a regular basis. You may fertilize with a well-balanced liquid fertilizer every four sips of water or every two weeks. For best growth, it necessitates the appropriate fertilizer. 

Regular fertilization can be very effective. When using liquid fertilizers, make sure to dilute them by half before applying them to the soil to avoid burning the roots. Except during the winter, when it might cause more harm than benefit, once-monthly fertilization is advised. For foliage growth, a fertilizer with a high nitrogen concentration is recommended.

Space Requirement

The Purple sword plant does not require a lot of areas to thrive. Instead, only a small amount of room is required. It flourishes in containers, particularly ceramic and terracotta pots with wide drainage holes at the base. These pots will help to accelerate its growth rate. It may be grown directly in the soil or in pots, and it is best used for adornment. 

Growing and Planting Tips

Growing tips

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Propagation

These plants are propagated and cultivated using (1) seeds and (2) basal offset division plants into rhizomes. However, keep in mind that, while seed propagation is feasible, it might take an extended period. Basal offset division is the most prevalent way of propagation for Alocasia lauterbachiana.

Propagation by seeds 

This is the least preferred method of propagation since it is time-consuming and produces few fruits. Remove the seeds from the flower pods and rinse them well. Sow the seeds in a light soil mixture of peat moss and perlite. Seeds may be planted straight in the ground and grown. 

Plant these seeds in separate pots or starting plugs until seedlings develop. Place them shallowly, cover with a layer of potting mix, and water carefully to keep the soil wet. Place in a warm location with indirect sunshine. You should observe little seedlings growing from the dirt in around ninety days.

Propagation by basal offset division 

Like any other Alocasia, Purple Sword develops and multiplies by forming “clumps” or “pups.” A mature plant will develop offshoots that can be detached after the parent plant has established a strong enough root system. Simply pluck any offshoots from your plant and place them in a new pot with an appropriate growing medium. 

Use a well-draining potting mix and preserve newly planted offshoots in a warm, but not direct-sunlight area. Maintain moist but not damp soil. After the offshoots have been removed from the mother plant, new growth should develop within two months. When these growths sprout, you may begin caring for the plant the same way you would a mature Alocasia Lauterbachiana. 

Pruning

Alocasia Lauterbachiana grows fast, so pruning your plant regularly is crucial for it to thrive. In addition, they will promote their healthy growth and aesthetic appeal by preserving their large, vivid green leaves and sturdy stems. Use sterile blades to trim away the stems and leaves that are weak, damaged, or discolored. 

Refocusing its energy and cutting extra growth and leaves will help the Purple Sword plant thrive. In addition, you may encourage your Alocasia lauterbachiana to grow more quickly by trimming it. Pruning also helps to prevent fungal diseases on your plant’s leaves from spreading. 

Potting and Repotting

These plants do well in pots, especially ceramic and terracotta ones. However, it is not necessary to frequently repot the Purple Sword plant. Repotting of this Alocasia is only done once the roots have completely filled the pot and penetrated the soil. This plant can be repotted every year into a more enormous container with new, drained soil. 

When roots start to show through the drainage holes in the pot, it is the ideal moment to repot. The soil mix has to be changed as well while repotting. Furthermore, dividing the roots once a year is preferable to promote development and maintain reasonable plant size. 

Alocasia lauterbachiana Care

LightBright indirect
Temperature65-75 degrees Fahrenheit
WaterOnce a week, increased in summer, decreased in winter
SoilWell-draining and organic, moist soil
FertilizationOnce a month, no fertilization needed in winter
SpaceMinimal space
PropagationVia basal offset division and seed propagation
BloomingRarely blooms, enough sunlight and maturity needed
PruningWhen needed, removal of damaged and decaying leaves
PottingRegular potting mix or Aroid mix, use of perlite and peat moss recommended,

Related: Alocasia Nebula: All the Must-Have Care, Propagation and Watering Guide

Problems and Troubleshooting

Overwatering

Purple sword plants drown when they are overwatered. Overwatering is one of the primary causes of root rot in Alocasia plants. When a plant lies in moist soil for an extended period of time, the roots struggle to breathe. It causes stunted, slow growth and fading leaves. Plants may suffer from leaf scorch or burn, root rot, soil sogginess, or even die. 

To fix this, consider changing the container and soil to promote better drainage and faster soil drainage to address this issue and lessen the effects of overwatering. In addition, make sure your Alocasia Lauterbachiana is well watered and that all necessary conditions, including wet, well-draining soil, bright indirect light, and moisture level, are satisfied. 

Underwatering

Underwatering Purple Sword results in dry leaves, brown tips, leaf drops, withering, and leaf curling because you are either not providing enough water for the plant or losing too much water. Leaf dropping is another telltale indicator when a plant is underwatered.

The plant will benefit from watering even though the soil will seem dry. Maintaining the watering schedule and providing the plant with bright, indirect light will help it live. Try to shorten the intervals between waterings and water it well, paying close attention to the roots.

Nutrient Deficiency 

Purple Sword exhibits common nutritional deficiency signs. These symptoms include yellowing of the leaf surface or edges, holes, burned leaves, purple colors on leaves, brown patches, deformed leaves, soft texture, and stunted roots. Plants deficient in essential nutrients will not develop normally and display a range of symptoms. 

To address this, apply the proper and balanced fertilizer. Nutrient strength must also be evaluated since too much strength is harmful to plants and may result in delayed or stunted development. To increase nutrient absorption by Alocasia Lauterbachiana, soil pH must also be optimal.

Flowering Problems

These plants do not have a distinct flowering season, so it is impossible to predict when they will bloom. The flowers can, however, continue to flourish all year round in the right circumstances. 

Make sure your Purple Sword receives the best care and needs to ensure that it will bloom. Ample light is also essential for healthy flowering. 

Pests and Diseases

Alocasia lauterbachiana Pests and Diseases

Common Pests/DiseasesSymptomsTreatment and Prevention

Common diseases include leaf spotting, root rotting, fungal diseases, stem and crown rotting. 
Black or dark brown spots with yellow rim around

Do not overwater and maintain proper humidity levels. Extremely wet environments enhance fungal growth.

Proper ventilation is necessary. Removal of infected plant parts to avoid spreading of disease.



Common pests include aphids, scales, mealybugs, spider mites


Visible insects thriving on surfaceWarm, soapy water can be sprayed once a month. Neem oil, herbal spray, or commercial insecticides can also be used.

Problems with People and Animals

Toxicity

The Alocasia plant is highly toxic. Horses, cats, dogs, and people are all poisoned by it. Its leaves are rich in oxalate crystals. The crystals will be released upon eating the leaves. This can result in swelling and irritation of the mouth and GI tract, as well as serious breathing difficulties. 

It is preferable for you to keep your children and pets away from the plant. However, if a kid or a cat has accidentally chewed the plant leaves, go to the nearest hospital.

Alocasia Plants Meaning and Symbolism

In both the Western and Eastern versions of the fable, alocasias are associated with Jack and the Beanstalk. Even though the Alocasia is not a tree according to botanical definitions, it is sometimes referred to as the “tree that grows up to the skies.” 

With this, Alocasia symbolizes seizing opportunities and taking risks. Therefore, they are perfect gifts for people who are about to make major life decisions such as moving into a new city or venturing into a new business. 

General Meaning“plant that grows up to heavens”
SymbolismRisk taking and seizing opportunities
Cultural SignificanceAttribution to the Jack and the Beanstalk fairytale

Landscaping and Gardening Ideas

Landscaping Alocasia lauterbachiana

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Companion Plants

Other Alocasia plants such as Silver Dragon and African Mask, Caladiums, Colocasia, and Xanthosoma make great companions to these plants. In addition, many plants like Canna lilies, decorative bananas, Dieffenbachia, Ficus, Schefflera, and Coleus, may also be planted with Alocasias as they exude the same tropical scenery vibe.

Landscaping Ideas

In gardens, Alocasias can be placed on the perennial borders. Its foliage, shaped like elephant ears, is a good break from the rest of the plants, especially those with colorful hues. It can be placed in the center mixed with other foliage and flowering plants in terrariums and vivariums. 

This plant with dark leaves can also be combined with plants with purple hues or stiff texture, which provide more drama when juxtaposed with the dark green leaves of Alocasias. 

What to plant withColocasia, Caladiums, Alocasias, Xanthosomas, Coleus, Canna Lilies, Ornamental Bananas, Ficus, Dieffenbachia, Schefflera
What NOT to plant withBasically nothing

Conclusion

Alocasia lauterbachiana is an eye-catching house plant with huge leaves and sturdy stems. It is a low-maintenance species that is surely a fantastic addition to any house or yard. They may be reproduced by dividing them into rhizomes or by seeds and then planting them under proper circumstances.

If you are looking for a sign to get this plant, then this is what you are looking for! Get one Purple Sword now and bring a splash of color to your garden!

FAQS

  1. Are Alocasia lauterbachiana hard to care for?

Alocasia plants are not the easiest to care for, but surely not the hardest. The plant needs reasonable care and attention to thrive and could be a little fussy when the environment is not at its optimum. However, first-time plant collectors can still have this in their homes.

  1. Should I cut off the Alocasia lauterbachiana flower?

It depends on you. You can leave the flower and admire its rare beauty. However, flowers take much energy from the plant, and thus often, flowering involves the dropping of some leaves. Cut the flowers off if you care for much healthier foliage and faster new growth, especially in the growing season. 

  1. How often should you water Alocasia plants?

Alocasias are very water sensitive. Therefore, it is imperative to water this Alocasia only once during cold seasons and up to three times a week during hot seasons. As a general rule, you may check the top 3 inches of soil and only water when it is scorched. Overwatering causes too moist conditions that will invite more spider mites and microorganisms.

  1. Does Alocasia lauterbachiana bloom?

As an angiosperm, Alocasias produce an anthurium-like flower called a spadix. However, the flowers of Alocasias are insignificant as they rarely bloom. They are collected mainly by their distinct foliage.

  1. What soil does Purple Sword need?

A well-draining soil that contains large chunks which are suitable for aeration and drainage is what Alocasia lauterbachiana loves. A standard jungle or aroid mix will surely make your plant thrive.

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