Buddha’s Ear bonsai trees are part of the Alocasia cucullata species. They are indigenous to India, Inchochina (which includes Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Cambodia, Singapore), and China. In other areas where they have been transplanted, like Hawaii, South America, and Central America, they are considered invasive species.
Alocasia cucullata plants are known for having large, elephant ear-like leaves. These foot long leaves are broad and shiny. The aerial stems make the tree more compact. Berries grown on these trees are poisonous and should not be ingested. They can be picked off without injuring the tree.
How to Care for Buddha’s Ear Bonsai
These trees can be grown as indoor or outdoor trees, but it is recommended you grow them indoors if possible. Plenty of light in the morning and shade in the afternoon is preferred. Let the soil dry out in between watering this plant. Feed during the length of the growth season. Pruning can be done during the growth period as well, and wiring of the trunk can be done. Pests are a rare occurrence in these trees.
Indoor or Outdoor?
Buddha’s Ear bonsai are tropical trees. They can grow indoors or outdoors, depending on your local climate. As long as these trees are kept above freezing temperatures and are not exposed to wind, they will thrive.
For outdoor trees, lots of sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon are preferred. High humidity is also preferable; the plant will not do well in a dry environment. They can only live outside in USDA growing zones 8 through 11. In these areas, temperatures are high and the sun is constantly out.
Indoor trees also need lots of morning sun and afternoon shade. Even when grown outdoors, they should be brought inside in excessively high and low temperatures. Temperatures can be kept constant much easier indoors than outdoors.
Before you water your Buddha’s Ear bonsai, check to see if the soil is dry. Water with a fine nozzle watering can to avoid disturbing the soil.
These trees like to dry out in between watering. Avoid constant soil wetness. Watering is really only necessary during the growth season, which is from spring to autumn. In the winter, these trees are in hibernation and will not need to be watered.
Bonsai trees need to be fed because they are housed in small containers that limit their nutrient intake. Use a fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. This is called a balanced fertilizer. You can feed the plant either with liquid or solid fertilizer. Usually liquid fertilizer should be applied once a week while watering, and solid fertilizer is applied once a month. Follow the directions on the packaging.
Pruning should be done in the spring and summer, from March to September. Trim back any dead leaves. Leaf pruning can be done to decrease the size of the leaves.
These plants do not have branches. Instead, they have stems. The stems should not be wired, but the trunk can be. Use copper or aluminum wire and keep an eye on it, as the wire will cut into the bark very quickly.
Common Pests and Diseases
Buddha’s Ear bonsai are very resistant to pests, meaning they are hardly ever infested by common bonsai pests and diseases. In the rare times that you see any pests or diseases on your tree, you can use pesticides to get rid of them. With proper care, your tree should face no problems.
Having a Buddha’s Ear bonsai will brighten up any room or garden. These trees are not very common, but they are easy to care for. They can be placed inside or outside, and should be kept indoors when temperatures drop below freezing or are significantly hotter than usual. The top layer of soil should dry out before you water your tree. During the winter, watering your tree will be unnecessary. Feed throughout the growth season, from spring to autumn. You may prune the leaves and stems in the spring and summer, and you may wire the trunk at any time. Pests rarely occur in these trees. When properly cared for, your Buddha’s Ear will be a beautiful, thriving tree.