The black Bat flower plant – with the botanical name Tacca Chantrieri it has a wild, bizarre, unusual flower. As exotic as it may look, the Bat Plant is not a difficult plant to grow.
TACCA pronounced [TAK-kah] – A genus of tropical, tuberous-rooted perennial herbs having large leaves at the base of stems surrounded by black, white, brownish, or greenish dense flower round-topped clusters.
It is Tacca very hardy and found it available in some garden centers. It is also available online.
The name “bat flower” comes from the plant’s bractea shape, which resembles bats.
Also known as the Devil’s Flower, the unusual plant has the most interesting flower seen and the most beautiful foliage. Tacca is a true conversation starter.
Bat flower plants belong to the genus Tacca, where the black species is Tacca Chantrieri, and the white species is Tacca integrifolia.
Pronounced TAK-kah, Tacca is a genus of tropical, flowering, tuberous-rooted herbs with big leaves at the stems’ bases surrounded by black, white, brownish, or greenish dense flower clusters.
The bat flower is a perennial plant. Its common names include:
- Devil flower
- Cat’s whiskers
There are about 15 species of bat flower plants, native mainly to Southeast Asia. The black bat flower variety is specifically native to Malaysia, growing among the tropical understory.
The plant gets its “bat flower” name from the shape of its bractea, which has a similar look to bats.
The shiny green leaves of the bat flower plant are accompanied by flowers with maroon or dark purple perianth and black or white petals. On their bloom, they seem to have “eyes” that follow one’s movements.
The bat plant also wears whiskers (bracts), giving the flower a Fu Man Chu appearance with delicate or flowing forked tails. Under the right conditions, more of these wildflowers are produced. But they’re generally easier to grow in outdoor settings rather than indoors.
Tacca Chantrieri Black Bat Flower Care
Size & Growth
You can grow the bat flower any time of the year in containers indoors or outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 9B-11. However, the best season to plant it is in spring, staying in the ground throughout the winter and blooming from late summer until early fall.
If you live in a colder area, you should bring your potted bat flower plant inside, where it’ll remain to look good over the winter.
Black bat flowers mature to be as tall as 36″ inches and as wide as 12″ inches. However, the white bat flower species can grow up to twice that size.
Bat Plant Flower and Fragrance
Bat flowers have black (dark purple) or white flowers, blooming from late summer to early fall. They give off a sweet scent.
In addition to the green and shiny leaves, the black Bat flower plant produces dark purple or maroon flowers with “eyes” on the bloom that seem to follow one’s moves.
The black bat flower blooms throughout late spring and summer.
Light & Temperature
The bat flower requires indirect light in a shady location.
When growing the Bat flower indoors, give Tacca a northern, eastern, or western partial shade exposure.
Grow the black bat plant outdoors as a summer patio plant as tropical understory plants place them near trees or walls to protect them from direct sunlight. The bat plant does best in high humidity areas. This understory plant will tolerate lower humidity levels but look best with humidity levels above 50%.
Being a semi-tropical herb, bat flowers don’t endure cold temperatures. Therefore, maintain temperatures indoors above 60° degrees Fahrenheit.
A temperature ranging between 70° – 80° degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for growing bat flowers.
Watering and Fertilizers
After planting, water your bat flower consistently and always keep the soil moist.
Water thoroughly until the well-draining potting soil is completely saturated and water runs out the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
For potted plants, try submerging the whole pot and plant into a bucket of water until all air bubbles stop. Then, drain off the excess water. Overwatering and wet soil will cause root rot.
You can improve your indoor results by using a humidifier to maintain a consistently moist atmosphere.
Never allow bat flowers to dry out for an extended period, but choose a growing location with efficient drainage.
Feed the bat flower with a balanced liquid fertilizer at 1/3 strength every two weeks during the growing season or use a slow-release fertilizer.
NOTE: During the winter months, hold off on watering and allow the plant to rest. It is also important to give them a “warm” shade with high humidity.
Good Drainage Soil & Transplanting
The soil for planting a bat flower should be rich and well-drained soil with generous amounts of organic matter. You may need to enhance the soil with compost, perlite, pine bark, and peat moss.
If you’re growing the plant in a container, your best bet is a rich potting mix containing 50% soil, 40% supplements, and 10% sand to improve drainage.
NOTE: Bat flowers do not like to be root bound.
Grooming And Maintenance
Bat flowers don’t require any grooming except for removing old dead leaves.
How To Propagate Bat Flower
You can propagate the bat flower from seed after you let them dry well. But this method will take a long while to germinate as harvesting the seeds from a mature plant can’t be done until the seed pod has ripened and split open.
You can also propagate these tropical plants by tuberous rhizome division or root cutting. In the fall, divide them and plant at a distance of 3′ feet from one another.
Growing bat flower from this method requires patience because you’ll have to wait until the rhizomes become large enough to produce flowers.
Bat Flower Pests or Diseases
Similar to most flowering plants, the bat flower may experience insect problems such as aphids and borers. Proper watering will prevent root rot from developing.
Suggested Bat Flower Uses
Besides their obvious use as a conversation piece, herbalists use bat flowers (either the whole plant or only the root) to make medicines to alleviate digestive issues, dysentery, diarrhea, wounds, internal bleeding, and swelling.
The bat flower plant has a bitter taste, but it contains various nutrients such as calcium, iron, carbohydrate, protein, niacin, riboflavin, and phosphorus. However, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s advised to avoid trying bat flower remedies.
Other Species Of Bat Plants
Tacca pinnatifida, with finely cut leaves sometimes 4′ foot long, is grown in the tropics as a source of arrowroot obtained from the ground tubers or rhizomes. It has greenish and deep purple flowers.
Tacca integrifolia, also known as the white bat flower plant (white bat flowers), is another exquisite species from the yam family. Integrifolia, the white bat plant, calls the rainforest of Yunnan Province, China home.
They grow from rhizomes as understory plants native to Central and Southeast Asia’s tropical forests and subtropical rainforests.
Almost all plants have been labeled as beautiful, lovely, captivating, and the likes. But have you ever heard of a mysterious, almost scary, strange plant?
More of these strange flowers are produced when the conditions are right.
Other than being fascinating, Tacca chantrieri or the Bat orchid is no doubt a perfect example of a mysterious, almost scary, strange plant.
Black Bat Flower Tacca Care Requirements
- Light: Tacca needs northern, eastern, or western exposure with indirect sunlight or partial sun.
- Temperature: Maintain indoor temperatures above 60° degrees Fahrenheit
- Humidity: Bat plants grow in high humidity areas.
- Watering: Water thoroughly and drain off the excess water.
- Fertilizer: Feed with a diluted balanced liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season.
- Pruning: Remove old leaves as they die off.
- Insects and Disease: Tacca flowers experience few insect problems. Watch out for aphids, slugs and snails when growing in the landscape.