Tacca chantrieri, also known as the bat plant, offers a strange and fascinating inflorescence and is full of mystery. This strange and dark purple-violet flower spreads its bracts like a bat in flight, revealing under its wings a bouquet of small, hanging flowers characterized by a cluster of long, gracefully falling filaments. This inflorescence is carried by a stem emerging from a basal tuft of elongated, elegant, and glossy green foliage. Native to the tropical regions of Asia, this frosty plant should be grown in a warm, humid greenhouse, in a bright spot, but without being exposed to direct sunlight.
Today, in this article, we are going to learn more about the planting steps for the bat flower and the following information:
* Main characteristics
* Care and maintenance
* Pests, diseases and ecological tips
* Bat flower at a glance
The Tacca chantrieri belongs to the Tacca chantrieri family, consisting of the Tacca genus alone. Additionally, the bat plant is a rhizomatous perennial species native to Thailand, Myanmar, and some areas near to China.
They are naturalized and cultivated in many parts of tropical Asia. In the wild, you can find them growing in forests, valleys, and along rivers, from 200m to 1300m at different altitudes, on acidic and humus-bearing soil. In the best growing conditions, it reaches 75 to 90 cm in flower and 40 to 50 cm for the foliage.
The plant grows from thick rhizomes. It forms a tuft of basal leaves, carried by petioles 10 to 30 cm long, with entire oblong blades, measuring 20 to 50 cm long and 7 cm wide. The petals match those of spathiphyllum. They are hairless or pubescent, cuneiform, pointed at the tip. Foliage is bright green and shiny, with visible veins.
In most climates, flowering takes place from June to August, then sporadically until December. Only plants that are 2 or 3 years old produce inflorescences. This “bat flower” owes its name to its very unique inflorescence, which is reminiscent of a small mammal in shape and a very dark color.
The flowers are purplish-black, formed of five petals, grouped in clusters (up to 25 flowers) with four purplish-brown bracts in the center, two of which, in the outer position, are mainly developed. Each flower pedicel produces long, drooping purplish-black filaments, 25 cm (10 in.) long, forming a shooting star tail.
Make sure to use an excellent unique wet seed mixture, which you can place in a propagator or a warm place to maintain an optimal temperature of 27-30°C. The soil temperature must be mild and constant. You can use containers with clear plastic domes (e.g, microwave type), or a sealed plastic bag and place the pots or terrines on a heating pad to heat the bottom of the vessels. Germination usually takes 1 to 9 months, so be patient.
Kindly note: do not throw away your seedlings thinking they cannot germinate…it takes awhile!
Transplant the seedlings when they are large enough to handle, into 7.5cm pots in a well-draining mixture, preferably peat-based or peat-rich soil during the growing season between spring to late summer. You should water the plant very regularly, and the substrate should be well-drained and usually enriched with a heather soil-plant fertilizer. Repot in a 10 cm to 20 cm pot. Give very little water in winter and keep the plants at a temperature of 15-18°C in winter and 25-29°C in summer.
Care and Maintenance
The bat flower is a plant for practiced gardeners. In this regard, you should protect it from the cold and scorching sun, in a heated greenhouse or veranda, without direct sunlight. It is adorned with beautiful foliage and offers one of the most exciting flowers that exist among plants. However, it is sometimes capricious and demanding in terms of cultivation conditions.
These plants require peaty soil, bright shade, and a humid atmosphere. To better understand the best growing conditions for the bat flower, it may be useful to know the climate of its country of origin: Myanmar with three seasons.
A temperate season takes place from October to February, with average temperatures between 20 and 24 degrees C. The hot season starts from March to May, with heat between 30 and 35 degrees C, and finally, a rainy season from June to September with temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees C.
Pests, Diseases and Ecological Tips
The first enemy of the bat flower is mainly the unsuitable growing conditions. Therefore, be careful of some diseases, such as root rot, in poorly drained substrate!
The rhizome of some Tacca, which is very starchy, is used in Polynesia as food. However, as it sometimes releases bitter substances, so its culinary use is mostly replaced by sweet potato.
Due to the high water consumption for growing these plants, a rainwater harvester is a useful accessory tool. Also, it allows for heating the water.
The black bat flower or devil’s flower (Tacca chantrieri) is spectacular, with a flower so unusual (black or brown bat-shaped) that it looks sinister.
Bat Flower at a Glance
Tacca chantrieri is a tropical plant that is delicate to grow. It needs warmth and constant humidity to thrive. Ideally, it should be grown in a heated veranda or greenhouse with plenty of light and moisture. In an apartment, it can be grown on pozzolana trays, provided that it is given a very bright location, without direct sunlight or draughts. The temperature should never drop below 15°C. This plant needs well-drained soil with sand, fibrous material, and bark.
The tropical plant called Tacca chantrieri or bat plant is not offered spontaneously, except perhaps on Halloween. Some people can find it beautiful, and others can see it as evil or even intimidating, but one thing is sure: if you grow it at home, it can not go unnoticed. This plant grows, blooms a lot, and even produces fruit. When something is wrong in the planting, it slowly depletes and eventually disappears. Unfortunately, the only way to find out if you can provide it with the right growing conditions is to try it out. Keep in mind that this plant comes from the hot and humid tropical zones of Asia. Thus, it suffers from a specific drought during the resting period in winter in our latitudes.