Bat Flower (Tacca chantrieri)
In the tropical forests we can find several plants that catch our attention, and one of the most amazing is the flower known as bat flower. Its scientific name is Tacca chantrieri , and it is a herbaceous plant that, as its name suggests, produces flowers that remind those animals.
Its beauty is such, that sometimes it is seen for sale in the nurseries. However, growing and maintaining this precious species is not easy. What can be done to make it healthy?
Origin and characteristics
The Tacca chantrieri , known as bat flower, cat whiskers or devil flower, is a perennial and rhizomatous herbaceous native to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia, specifically Thailand, Malaysia and southern China. It can reach a height between 50 and 70 centimeters , and develops simple and upright leaves, with an oblong to oblong-elliptical or oblanceolate shape, with a size of 20-50 long and 7-14cm wide.
The flowers are bisexual, large, about 30-35cm in length, dark purple, and appear grouped in umbelliform inflorescences. The fruit is a purple berry, ellipsoid, about 4cm long and 1.2cm wide.
Bat Flower Care
If you dare to have a bat flower, we recommend providing the following care:
So that there are no problems, the ideal would be that the climate was humid tropical. It is a plant that needs mild temperatures, between 10ºC minimum and 30ºC maximum , and a humid environment. In cooler regions, its maintenance is complicated.
- Interior : it must be in a bright room, away from air currents and with a high humidity provided by a humidifier for example.
- Outside : whether the weather is appropriate or if you can only have outside the spring and summer months, place in a shaded corner, where the sun does not reach directly.
It has to be rich in organic matter, with good water filtration capacity. So that:
- Grow in pot : add a first layer of arlite (for sale here), and then mix mulch (for sale here) with 20% substrate for acid plants (for sale here).
- Garden cultivation : the soil must be fertile, light, well drained, and somewhat acidic (pH between 5 and 6.5). If yours is not like that, and as it is a relatively small plant, make a planting hole of about 50 x 50cm, cover its sides with shading mesh and fill it with the mixture of substrates mentioned above.
Watering is one of the most difficult tasks to master when caring for an exotic plant. First, let’s start by talking about the type of water that will be used: the most advisable will always be the rain , but as not all of us can use it, other alternatives are bottled water (for human consumption), or something acid water. This last one only has to be obtained when the one that comes out of the tap is undrinkable due to having a lot of lime, diluting the juice of half a lemon in 5l / water, and checking the pH with a meter (for sale here) or with the classic strips of pH (for sale here ). The pH must be between 4 and 6.5 to be optimal for Tacca chantrieri .
It will depend on the location and weather, but in general you have to water about 3 times a week in summer and 1-2 weekly the rest of the year . If you have it in a pot, do not forget to remove the water that is about 20-30 minutes after you have watered it, otherwise your roots could rot.
What NOT to do
If you want it to be healthy, it is very important that you avoid doing the following :
- Wet the leaves and flowers (there are other ways to increase humidity, more secure, like the ones we say here )
- Keep the dish always full of water
- Plant it in a pot without drainage holes
During all the warm months of the year it has to be fertilized with fertilizers such as guano (for sale here) or universal (for sale here) following the indications specified on the package.
You just have to cut the dried leaves and the withered flowers.
The Tacca chantrieri is multiplied by seeds in spring, following this step by step:
- Fill a pot about 10.5cm in diameter with mulch and 20% perlite.
- Then, water to consciousness.
- Then, sow the seeds on its surface, ensuring that they are somewhat separated from each other.
- Finally, sprinkle copper (for sale here ), which will prevent fungi from spoiling the seeds, and cover them with a thin layer of substrate.
Keeping the seedbed near a heat source and well watered, will germinate in about 15 days.
It can not withstand cold or frost . The adults and acclimated can support up to 4.5ºC, provided it is for a short time.
What do you think of the bat plant?
I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.