How to Grow and Care for All Types of Alocasia Cuprea (Red Secret) Plants

Alocasia-Cuprea-Red Secret

Alocasia cuprea is a collector’s houseplant from the Araceae family. With bold, polished leaves ranging from dark green to coppery, you’d expect it to be a prima donna. Well, surprise; it’s pretty easy to care for once you understand its quirks!

This superstar has simple demands: a bright spot away from direct sunlight, well-draining soil, warm temperatures, and a bi-weekly dose of fertilizer during the growing seasons.

You can have more Cuprea plants from seeds, but there are much easier ways to propagate it, like using corms and plant division.

What Are Alocasia Cuprea Plants?

Alocasia cuprea Red Secret is an evergreen plant native to the tropical jungles of Southeast Asia. It goes by a few nicknames, including Jewel Alocasia, Mirror Plant, and Elephant Ears, all highlighting its gorgeous foliage.

Alocasias are broad-leaved perennials from the Araceae family. The term “Cuprea” from its botanical name is Latin for “coppery,” a nod to this tropical stunner’s leaf color. But while some leaves are indeed coppery red, dark green is also a pretty common pigmentation.

The foliage is heart- or arrow-shaped, with a metallic sheen, pink undertones, and dramatic veining. The underleaf is wine-colored, a typical trait of understory tropical rainforest plants.

Each leaf sits atop a slender, pale green stalk called a petiole. The petiole connects perpendicularly to the leaf blade’s underside (peltate) and branches out from an underground corm.

As per the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, a corm is a bulbous section of the stem that doubles as a storage unit for plant food.

Red Secret makes for a fantastic houseplant with the proper care and conditions. When grown in a pot, this petite plant only reaches about 12–18 inches.

Quick Summary of Alocasia Cuprea Plants

Here’s your Red Alocasia at a glance:

  • Scientific Name: Alocasia cuprea
  • Common Name: Red Secret, Mirror Plant, Elephant Ears, and Jewel Alocasia
  • Light: Bright, indirect light
  • Watering: Top 2 inches of the potting soil to dry out between waterings
  • Temperature: 50–85°F
  • Hardiness: USDA zones 9–11
  • Soil PH: 5.5 and 7
  • Soil Type: Equal parts indoor potting mix, coco coir, and perlite
  • Repotting: Every 2 years
  • Pruning: Prune only the diseased or dead leaves
  • Size: 12–18 inches
  • Bloom Time: Late spring to early summer
  • Propagation: Corm and plant division

How to Care for Alocasia Cuprea Plants

Alocasia cuprea is pretty low-maintenance once you’ve learned its growth habits. It’s perfect as an indoor plant, provided you give it filtered sunlight, a well-draining but moisture-retentive potting mix, high humidity, and regular feeding.

Consider this your Alocasia Red Secret care handbook:

Provide Sunlight

The almost iridescent, plastic-like leaves of cuprea Red Secret plants are an adaptation to their natural habitat.

Red Alocasias grow on forest floors beneath lush tree canopies, where only shreds of sunlight get through. They make the most of the limited light available by bouncing it between their glossy leaves.

If you want your houseplant to feel happy at home, give it a version of this dappled sunlight. Choose a well-lit area away from full sun. Somewhere near a north- or east-facing window is ideal, and if it’s too sunny, use curtains to diffuse the light.

Also, rotate the plant to ensure all the leaves get their fair share of sunshine. Direct sunlight can cause the leaves to lose their color and luster or, worse, get sunburned. Scorched leaves initially turn yellow and then brown and crisp.

If your plant looks spindly, it may be craving light, so move it to a brighter spot.

Mix Soil

The proper Alocasia cuprea Red Secret care starts with the soil, and the perfect potting mix is loose and chunky, so it’s almost impossible to overwater it.

You want the soil to stay moist while ensuring enough air and oxygen reach the roots. Excess water should drain freely to prevent root rot.

For a DIY blend, use equal parts of an indoor potting mix, perlite, and coco coir. This simple recipe should provide all your Red Secret’s needs.

Any good indoor potting mix is slightly acidic and nutritionally balanced. Perlite improves drainage and aeration, while coco coir adds superior water retention.

The good thing is that perlite and coco coir are both pH-neutral; they won’t alter the overall pH of your homemade mix.

Add Water

Alocasia cuprea plants like the soil moist, not soggy or bone-dry. The rule is to wait until the top 2 inches of the soil are dry before giving your Red Secret plant a drink.

Instead of sticking to a strict watering schedule, keep track of the actual moisture in the soil and water as needed.

Water the soil thoroughly, allow it to drain away, and discard any excess water from the saucer or dish beneath the pot. You may need to water more frequently in the summer and less during winter.

Forgetting to water your Red Secret now and then is forgivable, but drowning it in one go is a no-no. Remember, it’s easier to recover from underwatering than overwatering. The Wisconsin Horticulture says the latter can lead to fatal root rot in your houseplant. 

Control Temperature

Maintain a cozy environment for your Cuprea plant by ensuring temperatures stay within the 50–85°F range. Anything lower than 50°F can trigger dormancy.

According to Michigan State University, dormancy naturally happens in the winter months. As a response to shorter daylight, colder temperatures, and drier air, your Alocasia stops growing and even dies back to conserve energy.

In your home’s climate-controlled environment, your Alocasia cuprea should keep growing and never go dormant. So, protect it from drafts and sudden temperature swings that could stress it.

Also, keep your plant away from heaters, vents, and radiators to prevent it from drying out. Some telltale signs of temperature stress include leaf damage (yellowing, browning, or wilting) and stunted growth.

Red Secrets flourish in warm, humid climates. Your plant can handle the heat as long as the air is sufficiently moist.

Provide Fertilizer

Spring and summer are periods of active growth for your Alocasia cuprea. Give it a much-needed boost by fertilizing every two weeks.

Just dilute a balanced liquid fertilizer to half-strength and apply it to your houseplant. Don’t bother fertilizing in the winter when your plant is in snooze mode.

Feeding your little Red Secret is never a bad idea, but it’s crucial to do it right. You don’t want to overfertilize and “burn” your plant.

Mineral salts in the fertilizer can rob your plant of moisture and dehydrate it. So, avoid overfeeding and water your plant before and after fertilizing.

How to Grow Alocasia Cuprea Plants

Red Alocasias rarely produce blooms, especially those grown indoors. When they do, this only happens to mature plants primed for reproduction.

Wait around late spring and early summer, and if you spot your Alocasia cuprea flower, you can collect the seeds from the dry seed pods.

There are easier ways to propagate a Cuprea, but if you’re up for the challenge, follow this guide:

  1. Prepare a starting mix using peat moss, coconut coir, perlite, and a bit of compost.
  2. Fill a small pot with your mix and moisten it with a water spray.
  3. Stick your Cuprea seed in the soil and cover the pot with plastic wrap to lock in moisture.
  4. Place your pot in a bright spot, away from direct sunlight.
  5. Keep the soil moist by misting it until that tiny sprout emerges.
  6. Tend to your seedling as it develops and matures.

Note that your Red Secret seedling may take several years of consistent care to grow into a full-sized plant.

How to Repot Alocasia Cuprea Plants

Repotting your Alocasia cuprea Red Secret is part of its care routine. Generally, you must replant every 2 years or when your plant outgrows its current pot. Roots sticking out of drainage holes or creeping over the pot are just begging for more space.

Spring is a time for growth spurts, which is perfect for repotting. It gives the plant the best chance to recover from the stress of the whole ordeal.

To start, choose a new pot 2 inches bigger in diameter than the current container and prepare a fresh potting mix. Then, proceed as follows:

  1. Tap the bottom of the pot and loosen the soil along the edges to ease the plant out. Tip the pot and tug the plant gently as it slides out.
  2. Snip off any dead or damaged roots with clean, sharp scissors.
  3. Spread a layer of potting mix on the bottom of the new pot and place your Alocasia cuprea in the center.
  4. Fill around the roots with more potting mix and tamp it down gently as you go.
  5. Water the repotted plant deeply. Let all excess water run off before returning the plant to its usual spot.

How to Care for Alocasia Cuprea Plants in All Seasons

Start fertilizing your Alocasia Red Secret in the spring, preferably every two weeks. If your plant looks crowded, transfer it to a slightly bigger home where it can spread its roots.

When summer knocks with its longer and warmer days, make sure the soil doesn’t dry out for too long. Water your Red Alocasia more frequently and continue feeding it.

As winter sets in, ease up on watering and hold off on the fertilizer. If natural light is scarce, use artificial light to keep it perked up.

How to Propagate Alocasia Cuprea Plants

There are two primary ways to propagate plants:

  1. Corm Propagation

This method involves growing new plants from peanut-sized corms you’ll find attached to the roots. 

Collect as many corms as you can to ensure you have enough for successful propagation. Then, place them in a shallow plastic container and pour water up to the middle of the bulbs.

The bottom half should be submerged in water, leaving the other half exposed to air. This prevents the corms from rotting while encouraging root growth.

Cover the top of the container with the lid or cling wrap to trap warmth and moisture. Once the corms form roots, plant them in individual pots using fresh alocasia potting mix.

  1. Plant Division

This technique involves separating baby plants, sometimes called offshoots and pups, from the parent plant.

Gently extract the plant from its pot and snip off the baby plants. Sturdy leaves and healthy roots are clear signs that the offshoot can survive on its own.

Replant the baby plants as usual and give them appropriate care.

What Family Do Alocasia Cuprea Plants Belong To?

Alocasia cuprea plants belong to the Araceae types from the tropics.

Interestingly, their “flowers” aren’t true flowers but modified leaves called spathes. The spathe is a colorful leaf-like blade that houses a single spiky bloom known as spadix.  

How Long Do Alocasia Cuprea Plants Live For?

Alocasia Red Secret is a slow grower. It can reach its full height between 5–8 years and live for another 10 years or so if you treat it right.

Of course, prolonged neglect and diseases can chip away at its lifespan. So, give your houseplant all the love it deserves, and you’ll have a green companion for a long time.

What Are Common Pest and Plant Diseases for Alocasia Cuprea Plants?

Common pests that enjoy bothering red Cuprea plants are spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs. These pesky critters feast on the plant’s sap, causing wilted, damaged leaves.

You can get rid of these pests easily using insecticidal soap or neem oil.

As for diseases, Alocasia cuprea can fall victim to fungal infections like root rot, leaf spot, and powdery mildew.

If you notice spots, lesions, and other types of leaf damage, isolate your plant at once. Remove the dying parts and replant the rest of the healthy plant in fresh potting mix in a sterile pot.

How to Tell If the Alocasia Cuprea Plant Is Not Growing

These signs will tell you that your Cuprea has stopped growing:

  • Absence of new leaves or stems over an extended period
  • Pale, lackluster leaves
  • Unnaturally small plant

Are Alocasia Cuprea Plants Poisonous?

Alocasia cuprea plants can be toxic to our beloved dogs and cats if they decide to nibble on them. They contain tiny, needle-like irritants called calcium oxalate crystals.

These specks can pierce the soft tissues of the mouth and throat, causing burning pain and swelling.

Always keep your fur babies away from your red cuprea. If your pet is suddenly ill and you notice chewed parts on your plant, get them checked out by a vet right away.

How to Help Alocasia Cuprea Plant to Grow

Drooping leaves are usually the first sign something’s off with your houseplant. This problem can mean anything: overwatering, underwatering, insufficient light, fertilizer burn, pest infestation, or diseases.

To rescue your plant, check the soil to see if it’s soggy or dry and adjust your watering accordingly. Ensure it’s getting just the right amount of sunlight—not too much nor too little.

If your indoor air is too dry, use a humidifier. Watch out for any signs of pests or diseases and deal with them immediately.

Most importantly, be consistent in your care efforts to help your plant grow.