The Bat Flower (Tacca Chantrieri): Everything You Wanted to Know About the Bat Plant

The bat flower is a unique and exotic plant that has captured the attention of many people. With its black bracts resembling bat wings, this plant is sure to add a touch of drama to any interior. Learn all about it!
Eva Blum
bat flower

What Is a Bat Flower? Species, Origin and Characteristics

The black bat flower (Tacca chantrieri) is a species of flowering plant in the yam family. It is native to tropical regions of Southeast Asia (including Thailand, Malaysia and southern China), and has a number of striking features. The most prominent are its large, black flowers with long, dangling whiskers. Its name refers to the flowers resembling bats in flight.

A related species, Tacca integrifolia, is known as the white bat flower. It has purplish-black perianths and white bracts, broad and erect. It’s also bigger than its black counterpart. In general, bat flowers are described to have a sweet scent. They can reach 12 inches in diameter, and their whiskers can grow up to 28 inches long. They’re grown in gardens as ornamental plants in warm climates, and as houseplants elsewhere.

Where Are Bat Flowers Hardy in the United States?

The bat flower isn’t winter-hardy in the United States, since it’s native to tropical regions. It can be grown in zones 9b-11 as an annual or a summertime container plant that’s brought indoors during the colder months. Bat flowers also make great houseplants and summer patio plants, and they’re also popular in atria and conservatories.

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When Do Bat Flowers Bloom?

Bat flowers bloom from late spring through early fall. They typically bloom for around four to six weeks, with new flowers appearing repeatedly throughout the season and lasting up to two weeks each. So, if you’re looking for a long-blooming plant with a unique appearance, consider adding this one to your collection.

Growing and Caring for Bat Flowers

Now that you know a little more about bat flowers, you may be wondering if they’re right for your garden or home. They’re pretty high-maintenance for houseplants, but they’re worth the effort. Here are their growing requirements:

  • Bat flowers prefer shade outdoors and bright, indirect light indoors.
  • They need very rich, well-draining soil. A good potting mix could be 50% pine bark, 40% peat moss, and 10% sand.
  • Their soil needs to be moist at all times, but not soggy. A saucer beneath the pot will help.
  • If the air at your home is dry, mist your bat flowers regularly.
  • Fertilize them twice a month with a soluble orchid fertilizer during the growing season.
  • Make sure there’s good air circulation around the plants.
  • Repot the plants every year in the spring, after they have flowered.

Following these requirements should help you enjoy these fascinating plants for years to come! Remember to always keep them in their pots – they don’t do well as cut flowers, as they wilt rapidly. And if you want to have more bat flowers, you can propagate them by dividing their tubers or rhizomes.

How to Propagate Your Plant From Rhizomes?

Rhizomes are thick, fleshy underground stems that bat flowers use to store food and energy. They can be divided to create new plants. Here’s how:

  1. In early spring, carefully dig up your bat flower plant and shake off the excess soil.
  2. Using a sharp knife, divide the rhizomes into sections, making sure each section has at least one bud.
  3. Replant the sections and water them well.
  4. Place the pots in a spot with bright, indirect light until new growth appears.
  5. After a few weeks, you can move the pots to their permanent location.
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Successful propagation from rhizomes takes some patience, but it’s definitely doable. You can also propagate bat flowers from seeds, although this method is more difficult and takes longer.

What Kinds of Interiors Are Best Decorated With Bat Flowers?

Because of their unique and dramatic appearance, bat flowers are best suited for interiors that are already quite striking. They can add a touch of the exotic to any space, and they’re sure to be a conversation starter.

If you’re looking to really make a statement, pair them with other bold colors like red or orange. But if you want something a little more subdued, try pairing them with neutrals like cream or white. No matter what you choose, bat flowers are sure to add an element of interest to your decor.

Where Can You Get Bat Flower Seeds or Plants?

If you’re interested in growing bat flowers, you can purchase them online or at a nursery that specializes in exotic plants. You may have to do some searching, as they’re not widely available.

It will be easier to find them during the Halloween season, as they make great decorations for the holiday. They’re considered to be collector’s plants, so you may have to pay a bit more than you would for other houseplants. But they’re definitely worth it!

Interested in Adding a Batflower to Your Home?

If you’re looking for a plant that’s unique, exotic, and sure to start a conversation, the bat flower is a great choice. Just be prepared to give it the care it needs to thrive. With a little effort, you can enjoy these fascinating plants for years to come.

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Do you have bat flowers in your home or garden? What do you think of them? Let us know in the comments below!

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