Bat Plant

How to Grow a Bat Plant

Most of us are more likely to have heard of Batman or his Batmobile than we are to have heard of a bat plant. But in reality, they could all be related. That’s because the bat plant is also black and the center of the plant looks remarkably like the face of a bat. It even has whiskers and a tail.

The bat plant is considered to be an exotic plant and will grow the best in warm, subtropical or tropical temperatures. It is usually grown as a house plant but could be grown outside in locations that are always warm. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t flower for quite a long time as it generally takes up to three years to produce its first flower, and several more years before it is a large, fully blooming plant. The end product, however, is more than worth the wait.

If you are starting your bat plant with a seed or seeds, the best thing to do is to place each one of your seeds in seed starter (peat moss is good), moisten it, and then put the container in a plastic bag until it germinates, which can take up to nine months. When the seedling is around two inches high, place it in some soil in a three-inch pot. You will probably need to repot the plant each spring right before it starts its growing season. As it grows it may get large enough for a six-inch pot and then work its way up to a twelve-inch pot.

The bat plant grows in the spring and summer and at that time needs to have a lot of regular watering. During extremely hot weather, it won’t hurt to give it a spray or two daily with water in a spray bottle. The plant is going to need to be kept warm all winter but watered very infrequently. The temperatures should never drop below the sixties or the plant will become too cold and die. In the summer, the bat plant needs temperatures in the low to mid-eighties. The high seventies are permissible as long as you are very careful about watching the plant and meeting its nutritional needs.

The bat plant has a more formal name when it comes to taxonomy--Tacca integrifolia. There are also a couple of variations of that name depending on the plant’s origins. It has many, many flowers which form the head of the bat--these can be very dark purplish or truly black. The top of the flowers are covered with leaves, which are black. There is also a white bat plant, which has white leaves. If you want a really stark contrast in a room, try growing a black bat plant and a white one. The plant grows to be around three feet in height. The whiskers grow out of the flower base and hang down the sides. They can be as much as twelve inches long.

The bat plant is very difficult to grow and is not a plant that is good for beginning gardeners. Even under tropical temperatures, the flowers are hard to bloom. If you are lucky enough to have a glass greenhouse, you will probably have the most success with this plant. Glass greenhouses are hard to find and very expensive.

The bat flowers and leaves are a little eerie because they really do look like a bat. It is a plant that is bound to get an enormous amount of attention when it is in bloom. Everyone who visits will want to know where you got it and probably want to grow one of their own. The bat plant is hard to find but well worth the effort if you live in a warm climate.