Bat Flower Plant – How To Grow And Care For Tacca [BAT PLANTS]

The black bat flower plant, which has the botanical name Tacca Chantrieri, is a wild, bizarre, unusual flower. As exotic as it may look, the Bat Plant is not difficult to grow.

TACCA pronounced [TAK-kah], is 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.

bat flower plant up close with the long whiskersPin

It is very hardy and can be found 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.

Exotic flower with whisker-like filamentsPin
Photo Credit: Instagram @wilsonplantco

The bat flower is a perennial plant. Its common names include:

  • Devil flower
  • Cat’s whiskers

About 15 species of bat flower plants are native mainly to Southeast Asia but can be grown successfully in Florida, parts of California, and Louisiana. 

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.

Flowers with maroon or dark purple perianth and black or white petals accompany the shiny green leaves of the bat flower plant. On their bloom, they seem to have “eyes” that follow their movements.

Bat flower in full bloomPin

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.

Black Bat Flower Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Tacca Chantrieri
  • Common Name(s): Bat Flower, Devil Flower
  • Synonyms: Tacca integrifolia, Tacca pinnatifida
  • Family & Origin: Dioscoreaceae family, native to Southeast Asia
  • Growability: Moderate
  • Grow Zone: USDA zones 9-11
  • Size: Grows up to 3′ feet tall and 2′ feet wide
  • Flowering: Blooms in late spring to early summer with unique bat-shaped flowers
  • Light: Prefers bright, indirect light but can tolerate some shade
  • Humidity: Requires high humidity levels; mist regularly or place a humidifier nearby
  • Temperature: Thrives in warm temperatures between 70-80°F
  • Soil: Well-draining soil with high organic matter
  • Water: Keep soil consistently moist but not waterlogged; do not let soil dry out completely
  • Fertilizer: Feed with a balanced fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during the growing season
  • Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to spider mites and mealybugs; watch for root rot if overwatered
  • Propagation: Propagated through division or by seed
  • Plant Uses: It makes a unique and exotic addition to indoor gardens or a statement piece in outdoor gardens.

Tacca Chantrieri Black Bat Flower Care

Size and 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.

Ornate purple flower with white leaf backgroundPin
Photo Credit: Instagram @theosgardencentre

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.

The bracts above the flowers look like bat wings, hence the common name.

Vibrant purple flower with long stamens.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @jenniferat58

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.

Numerous bracteoles hang from the flowers that resemble long whiskers.

The black bat flower blooms throughout late spring and summer.

Light and Temperature

The bat flower requires low light conditions or indirect light in a shady location. 

When growing the Bat flower indoors, expose Tacca to northern, eastern, or western partial or full shade.

Grow the black bat plant outdoors as a summer patio plant or as a tropical understory plant. Place them near trees or walls to protect them from direct sunlight. 

Potted Tacca growing as a patio plant in northeast FloridaPin

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, consistently water your bat flower and 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.

Exotic purple and white flowers with long stamens.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @jparkersbulbs

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. Giving them a “warm” shade with high humidity is also important.

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Good Drainage Soil and 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.

Exotic black bat flower in natural foliage.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @dragonflysprings

You may even add peat moss, coco coir, perlite, pine bark, sand, and vermiculite to create a good potting mix.

NOTE: Bat flowers do not like to be root bound. So it’s best to repot the root-bound bat plant after it has flowered in spring and before new growth occurs.

Black Bat Flower 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 black bat flower from seed after you let them dry well. However, 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 them at a distance of 3′ feet from one another.

Tacca flower up close with seed podPin

Growing bat flowers 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 contains various nutrients such as calcium, iron, carbohydrates, protein, niacin, riboflavin, and phosphorus. 

Dark purple flower with leafy backdrop.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @images_by_naomi.caines

However, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s advised to avoid trying bat flower remedies.

Moreover, although bat plant flowers are beautiful, they don’t make lovely cut flowers because they decline rapidly once cut.

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 like. 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

Exotic plant with purple flowers and broad leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @gardeningaustralia
  • 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. When growing in the landscape, watch out for aphids, slugs, and snails.

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