I’d like to take a moment to shine some spotlight on one of my favorite non-carnivorous plants. Tacca chantrieri also known as, the Black Bat Flower. There are approximately 17 distinct species of plants within the genus Tacca. They are relatively rare in cultivation. Your best bet is to find one online. Although depending on your climate, you may be able to find one at a local nursery that occasionally stocks unusual plants. My advice is to call around. The nursery at which I found mine didn’t have them in the retail greenhouse; and only had 3 in the ’employees only’ greenhouse.
Interestingly enough there does not seem to be many websites or care guides devoted to this beautiful plant. I have found some resources that state this plant is “very difficult” to grow. This, however, has not been my experience. At the end of the post you will find a care guide specific to my conditions. You may need to make adjustments to suit your environment.
Tacca chantrieri Flower Bud Opening – Picture taken 1/11/2016
Only 6 days later. Picture taken 1/17/2016
10 Days Later. Picture Taken 1/27/2016
A View From Above. Blooming Flower – Picture Taken 1/27/2016
In the Morning Sunlight
The flowers have a nice floral perfume scent. The scent is not overpowering, and I can only smell it when my nose is a few inches from the flower. Unfortunately I do not have the flower reference knowledge to explain what it smells like…Sorry!
Black Bat Plant Cultivation As a Houseplant:
Light: My plant sits in an Eastern window and gets bright morning sun for about 3 hours. Then it has indirect/shade the rest of the day. This plant grows in tropical conditions, on the ground, underneath the forest canopy. It does not require intense light.
Temperature: My plant is doing well with average comfortable household temperatures around 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Humidity: My home is not that humid. I keep a spray bottle filled with pure water next to the plant. I try to mist it once or twice a day. If I don’t mist it for a week it doesn’t seem to care all that much.
Soil: My plant is in a generic coarse mix made for orchids. These plants grow on the ground in tropical areas. If you make your own mix, choose materials that will provide really good drainage. Peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, coco fiber, bark chips, lava rock, etc. It should resemble a good coarse “earthy” mix that doesn’t act like concrete when wet!
Watering: Personally, I put the plant pot into a deep, inexpensive plastic water tray. I never let my plant go longer than 1-2 days without approximately one half inch of water in the tray. I water the plant “overhead” from the top, and let the water run out of the bottom and collect in the saucer. Once I notice the water has evaporated from the saucer, I water again. In my conditions, if I do not do this, the plant wilts overnight but bounces back if I catch it soon enough.
Watering Part 2: This variety of bat plant is an evergreen, and does not go “dormant” so to speak…However it is said that they go through a rest period where growth is quite slow, and might even halt altogether for a period of time. During this period of time, you should not water the plant until you begin to notice the leaves “droop” or wilt a little bit. Then feel free to give it a drink and the leaves will perk back up.
Feeding: I fertilize my plant with a balanced “Maxsea 12-12-12” fertilizer twice a month. Follow your manufacturer’s recommendations.
Pruning: The plant’s leaves get quite large. Once in a while as you notice several new, healthy leaves forming, feel free to snip off 1 or 2 of the HUGE old leaves. (Always use clean scissors/shears that you have sanitized with some rubbing alcohol.) This was a tip given to me by the greenhouse manager of a local nursery.
Flowers: The flower stalks may need to be staked upright to best show-off the blooms. Although this is not necessary. They do NOT make good “cut flowers” for arrangements. When cut, the flower quickly declines.
1.) Rhizome division: The plant is said to enjoy being re-potted every spring. Don’t re-pot the plant if it is actively blooming. During the re-potting process you may divide the plant’s rhizomes to create new plants.
2.) Seeds: I have not yet tried them by seed. I’ve read that this species is self-fertile and can pollinate itself. The seed pods need to stay ON the plant and ripen for 12-15 months. The pod will dry, and begin to split, revealing the seeds. The seeds must be very fresh. I’ll have more info on this if/when I try to mess around with this plant’s seeds.
That’s all for now! Here are some neat resources for additional research on this gorgeous plant…