Black Bat Flower Care

Botanical Name: Tacca chantrieri

Want a truly unusual houseplant? Look no further than Bat Flower. Give it some space to spread its wings. Those dark, exotic flowers grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) across, and feature "whiskers," making T. chantrieri an intriguing houseplant and a real conversation-starter.

Treat it right and you'll enjoy its exotic black blooms year after year. Find out how to grow the rare bat plant indoors.

bat flower, black bat flower, unusual houseplant, tacca chantrieri

Get to Know Black Bat Flower

You can expect flowers when your plant gets enough sunlight, typically in late spring through summer. Blooms are may be black, brown or purplish, and made up of 6-lobed umbels, surrounded by 2 bracts that look like wings. Long, whisker-like threads reach up to 24 inches (60 cm) long. If you can give your plant the light, moisture and humidity it craves, you may see several flowers at the same time. It's quite a sight.

How big does it get? Tacca chantrieri can reach a height of up to 2 ft (60 cm) tall. 

Its lush, lance-shaped leaves are broad, and can reach 2 ft long or more. This is a plant that needs plenty of room.

Tacca chantrieri is rare, but sometimes available from online nurseries. A white variety (Tacca integrifolia) of this plant exists, but my sources tell me that White Bat Flower is not as easy to grow indoors.

We are Family

An unusual tropical flower in the Dioscoreaceae family, this ornamental belongs to a diverse group, including yams. 

Native to the rainforest in Yunnan Province, China, this tropical perennial is suited to average indoor temperatures. However, it doesn't like dry air at all, which can make it difficult to please in many homes. Give your plant the humidity it craves. If the relative humidity drops below 50%, use a pebble tray or room humidifier to increase the moisture in the air. Grouping plants also helps to maintain the humidity around them.

In early spring, repot rhizomes in fresh potting mix. Unlike many flowering plants, this one doesn't like to be crowded so give it some space. This is a good time to divide rhizomes and pot them separately.

bat flower, bat plant, tacca chantrieriPhoto credit Meneerke bloem, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Black Bat Flower Care Tips

Light: Black bat flower plants need bright light to bloom, but keep them out of direct sunlight.

Water: Keep the soil lightly moist at all times. Use a pot with a drainage hole to prevent soggy soil, which will cause the rhizomes to rot. 

Humidity: Moderate to high, preferably 50-70% relative humidity. Use a cool-mist room humidifier or pebble tray to increase the moisture in the air. Do not mist this plant.

Temperature: Steady temps of 65-70°F/18-21°C year-round. Keep your bat flower away from heat/AC vents and away from doors and windows during the winter months.

Soil: Neutral to acidic potting mix, which is peat-moss based. I'd mix in a couple handfuls of perlite to improve drainage. African violet potting mix is ideal.

Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks with a 10-20-10 water-soluble fertilizer diluted by half while plant is growing and flowering. Do not feed in winter.

Propagation: Divide rhizomes in spring and plant one piece per pot. You can allow the seed pods to dry on the plant; propagate them by planting seeds in moist potting mix. Barely cover the seeds, keep potting medium warm (about 75°F/24°C), and in bright, indirect light. Be patient -- seeds may take a few months to germinate.

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