Alocasia baginda ‘Dragon Scale’, more commonly known as the dragon scale Alocasia, looks like a plant straight out of a sketchbook. It would be just at home in a tale of magic and castles as it is in your home. Suffice it to say, it has earned its nickname. It looks every bit like a dragon scale plucked from some forgotten pile of gold.
This plant is native to Kalimantan, Indonesia, where it basks in rainforest warmth and humidity. It’s relatively new to the houseplant scene and only started to gain popularity in the early 2010s. It’s made quite the impression since then. Plant lovers clamor to get their hands on their own Alocasia baginda ‘Dragon Scale’. Given its small native area and the growing demand, it’s quite a rare house plant. It will take effort (and a sizable sum) to get your hands on one.
For those lucky enough to bring home a dragon scale, you’ll want to take the best care of it possible. With the right care and conditions, you could enjoy this inimitable plant for decades to come.
|Common Name||Dragon Scale, Alocasia Dragon Scale|
|Botanical Name||Alocasia baginda ‘Dragon Scale’|
|Sun/Light Requirements||Bright, indirect light|
|Soil||Airy, well-draining, alkaline|
|Humidity||60% or higher|
|Hardiness Zones||USDA Zones 10 to 11|
Alocasia Dragon Scale Appearance
Words might not do justice to this particular plant. It’s so unique that, at certain angles, it barely looks like the leaf of a plant at all. It is exquisitely textured. Mature plants have edging around the leaf reminiscent of finished edges on a blanket. A thick vein runs through the middle of the leaf and branches off, separating the surface into sections. In each of those sections is further patterning. Altogether, this plant’s leaves absolutely live up to its nickname – dragon scale.
The leaves are varying shades of green that play off each other. It is light and vivid in spots and rich, dark green in others. Some even have a silver cast to them, making them seem even more magical. The underside of the leaf is paler with reddish veining. If it sounds amazing, that’s because it is! Alocasia baginda ‘Dragon Scale’ has such a striking appearance that it has earned its growing legion of fans and then some.
These plants grow to around three feet tall indoors. They get nearly as wide, too, as they branch out to two feet across. They’re compact enough to fit into most spaces, yet not so diminutive that you need to squint to enjoy their foliage.
Alocasia baginda ‘Dragon Scale’ does flower, although its blooms aren’t the main attraction. They still complement the rest of the plant well and are exciting to see for any plant parent. During the flowering season, it develops a cream-colored or white spathe and a spadix. Its flowers cluster tightly all along the spadix.
Alocasia Dragon Scale Care Requirements
Obtaining a dragon scale Alocasia will be the most difficult part. It’s simple enough to care for, otherwise. These are tough, hardy plants, which makes their nickname feel even more appropriate.
To keep your plant growing and maintain its vibrant colors, it needs several hours of bright, indirect sunlight each day. It will tolerate low light conditions, but you run the risk of losing its liveliness by sticking it in a too-dark room. Aim for at least six hours of adequate lighting each day if possible. North or east-facing windows will do the trick.
For the best results, keep your plant out of direct light. Too much exposure can burn the leaves. You should rotate your plant regularly, too, so that its growth stays even and uniform.
Since these plants hail from the rainforest, they’re accustomed to receiving dappled, filtered light that passes through a canopy of trees, first. Get as close to those conditions as possible to have the happiest plant!
Alocasia baginda ‘Dragon Scale’ has moderate watering requirements. It won’t wilt away to nothing if you happen to skip watering once or twice, but it won’t tolerate drying out completely, either. It’s forgiving, but not necessarily drought-tolerant. Check the soil with the tip of your finger and water it once the first two to three inches feel dry.
Water it enough to saturate the soil, but don’t leave it swimming. Your container should have plenty of drainage holes to get rid of the excess.
Your best bet with these plants is something slightly alkaline with incredible drainage. You can even go with a completely soilless mix. Regular potting soil tends to hold too much moisture and can leave your dragon scale vulnerable to root rot. Try these ingredients instead:
- Coco coir
- Orchid Bark
- Peat Moss
- Wood Chips
Whatever you do, don’t surround your Alocasia with anything too dense or heavy. You’ll choke the roots. This plant needs plenty of space to breathe.
Tropical plants love tropical temperatures, which means they’re happier when it’s warmer. If you have a greenhouse area (like a greenhouse cabinet) or a setup with multiple other tropical plants, this one will fit right in. Anything in the 60-80°F is suitable!
Keep in mind, if they’re left in the cold for too long, they can stop growing completely. There are many cold-hardy plants out there, but don’t count on this one to join their club! Bring it inside and keep it away from any drafty windows once temperatures drop toward 55°F.
For the most attractive foliage and healthiest plant possible, keep humidity on the high side. Aim for 60% or higher if you want your dragon scale to thrive. They’re from the rainforests, after all, where there’s never any shortage of moisture in the air.
A pebble tray is an excellent wait to give this plant its extra humidity boost. Just fill a shallow tray with water and pebbles and place your plant on top of it. Replenish the water if the tray dries out.
Fertilizing during the growing season is one of the best ways to get the most impressive leaves. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer, dilute it to a quarter-strength, and dose your plant once a month. You can also use organic fertilizers to supplement the organic material already in the soil.
There aren’t a lot of pruning needs here. Help out your plant by cutting away any dead or decaying leaves. It’ll save the energy of trying to revive them. Otherwise, you likely won’t need to prune until it’s time to propagate!
It will take a while before you can propagate your dragon scale. They need to grow for a few years before they’re mature enough to make it work. Once it is time to propagate, division is your best bet. It goes hand-in-hand with pruning and repotting, too, so it’s like taking out three birds with one stone.
This plant puts out pups. The only thing you need to do is gently and cleanly remove them from the mother plant and place them into their containers with their own soil. It’s as easy as that. Propagating by diving pups is one of the easiest methods out there, and having a multitude of new dragon scale Alocasia is worth the wait.
Repotting Alocasia Dragon Scale
Frequent repotting isn’t necessary here. The Alocasia baginda ‘Dragon Scale’ has delicate, easily damaged roots, so there’s no need to risk hurting the plant just for the sake of a new container. Instead, wait two or three years. It’s okay if it ends up a bit rootbound – this plant doesn’t mind. Since it takes a few years for the plant to produce pups, you’ll be able to propagate and repot at the same time!
Pests and Disease
Unfortunately, this plant isn’t particularly resistant to pests. That means you’ll need to take matters into your own hands and keep a lookout for any sign of them. The bugs that bother this plant the most are as follows.
- Scale Bugs
- Fungus Gnats
- Spider Mites
In most of these cases, treatment is similar. Spray your plant off and treat the leaves with plant-safe oil or soap. Fungus gnats are attracted to overly moist soil, so you’ll need to back off on the watering to avoid bringing in a new wave of them. Neem oil certainly wouldn’t hurt, though!
There are a few warning signs of disease to look out for, too. Numerous conditions can cause the same outward signs, so you’ll need to do a bit of investigating to figure out what plagues your plant.
- Droopy, Dropping Leaves – Your plant isn’t getting enough of something. Low light and low humidity are common causes. Adjust their location or your routine and see if there’s any improvement. These plants do go into states of dormancy in the winter and lose their leaves, although that doesn’t happen often indoors.
- Curling Leaves – This one is a neon sign saying there isn’t enough humidity or your plant isn’t being watered enough.
- Yellowing Leaves – These usually mean root rot is setting in. Don’t wait to treat this. Repot your plant if you need to, but don’t leave it sitting in the same soggy soil.
Go the extra mile and bring home a magnificent Alocasia baginda ‘Dragon Scale’. It’s certain to be unlike any other plant in your collection and truly looks out of this world. The basics of its care are all wrapped up here. The only thing left to do is get one for yourself!