Tacca, the Black Bat Flower Plant 

I don't sell them anymore, but I'm leaving the info up on the web.

Below; after a day and a half at 26 degrees F. One of them died.

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This is a huge page chock full of great pictures, so it's going to take a long time to load.

If you have T. plantigeae (syn.: plantegiana), I would like one. Maybe we can trade? The species I presently have are integrifolia, chantrerii, and nivea alba

USDA  Zones: 9 TO 12

(also called "Cats Whiskers", "Jews Beard", "Voodoo Flower", and a host of other politically  wrong wordings in the past, but "The New Royal Horticultural Society Index of Garden Plants Dictionary" doesn't bother with vernacular names anymore) (I  don't care where you get this book but you should have it.) (no banners here)

Family:  Taccaceae.  There is only 1 genus in this unique family.  

Tacca Chantrieri.  Bat Flower.  Bat Plant.   Ten perennial terrestrial largely rhizomatous herbs.

Leaves to 55 X 22 centimetres.  Inflorescence to 25 flowers, scapes (flower stem from base of plant to where the flower actually is) to 63 centimetres  Bracts four, green to violet black in color, bracteoles (whiskers, filaments)  to 25 centimetres.  Thailand, warmer tropical to subtropical Asia, other species inhabit Hawaiian Islands, Polynesia, the Congo & Madagascar.

~When you get one by mail-order~

For the sake of the plant, you should actually remove <cleanly cut> the bloom from the plant~ if it is showing one~ 
So that the plant does not put its energy into keeping A bloom alive or making seed~
And instead the plant can put its energy into re-establishing its own self.
  I hope I have been explicit enough with you on this point.

 

Shipping times for North America should run between May & October.  Plants shipped any other time of the year (during the plants 'rest period') never seem to recover. I receive several emails from folks who have dying bat plants every winter and early spring. I suppose there are a lot of mail order nurseries on the web who think nothing of taking a Tacca from a greenhouse in Florida and sending it to a home in Pennsylvania in the dead of winter when all of the shipping routes are frozen. But then those nurseries who sell anything to anyone at anytime are more interested in jamming another nickel in their wallets then actually satisfying a customer.

My greenhouse is a Hobby. I grow 4 species of Tacca presently, including the Hawaiian 'Poi', which has been a challenge at best and will likely hit the compost heap soon.

Experiment with germinating and growing techniques.

For T. chantrerii, the seedpod gets to 22 months old and then the seeds have to fall on moist soil where they are covered by a fine layer of silt, stay frost free and during the next 2 years they sporadically sprout.  T. nivea-alba takes 28 months to mature.  If the seeds dry out for more than 3 weeks, the germination ratio plummets exceedingly fast. If you are purchasing seed, ASK HOW OLD THE SEED IS.  Then after 2 years of growth they get up to 2 inches tall, and one night when you're not looking, the slugs eat them, or one day in the middle of July they dry out, and that's the end.  I've heard that stale beer is a good slug killer, but no opened beer has ever stood the chance of going stale in my household. 

For the best info available on the web concerning propagation via seed, be sure to click on the link below.

Misty's Bat Plant Germinating Tips & Tricks

I bought my first plant several years ago for an obscene amount of money.  Tom Wichman had one in his hobby greenhouse about 25 years ago alongside dancing lady gingers and Amorphophallus specimens, I just couldn't possibly bear to go on living another moment without one, and blew the dough. Special thanks to another Tom, this time near Rock Springs for the T. plantageana. Sometimes K-palms in Australia has T. madagascarensis seed. 

A mature plant @ 10 years may have a spread of 4 feet. Medium to low light , but never full direct sun.  Allow the soil dry between watering times during the winter, keep it more moist during warm weather-78 or above- and humid all the time, without very much air circulation (dislikes drafts and wind-the leaves get burned edges).  If you do not have a greenhouse it may be to your advantage to at least make a little one to keep the humidity up around this plant in the Winter if you bring it indoors. Another method of raising the humidity around tropicals is to place them on a large (restaurant) baking pan which has been filled with an inch of gravel which is kept filled with water. If this setup is on top of a heating mat (thermostatically controlled, about 85 degrees F.) so much the better. The humidity will rise up around the plant constantly.

THE BIG NO-NO

Misting.

Misting a Tacca which is in a dry-air environment is an express ticket on the Death Express. What happens is the pores of the leaf surfaces are opened up, and the mist quickly dries up. While the plants pores are opened, and the leaves lose more moisture through their pores in the dry environment. After this process is repeated a few times, the leaves develop large yellow splotches and holes begin to form in the leaves, then the leaf edges turn brown and crisp. Soon one has a leafless plant which can no longer process sunlight into food for the roots for the rest of the winter months. Soon after, the remainder of the plant turns into a mass of blue fur, which runs to spores, and all is done.

Bat Flowers do not adapt to how 'you' want it to grow. The problem with this whole scenario is that the Tacca is in a dry air environment, a place it shouldn't be in the first place. If you don't have a place that is always humid with slowly to non-moving air, this is specifically what Tacca requires. it is not like a peace lily; Tacca will NOT adapt to you. It is not particularly demanding once it is given everything it needs to succeed, humidity and protection from strong winds. You must provide Bat Flowers with what they require.

       THE FINE PRINT

    The couple of times a year when I thin my collection:

What you get: A plant which has been grown for at least 4 years. It weighs a lot and makes shipping awkward, so I (gingerly) wash the soil from the roots and put the roots with some moistened strips of newspaper (direct recycling) in a bag and bubble wrap the entire thing before boxing it.  I also soak them for an hour before packaging them in a blend of transplanting aids such as a mixture of some of the following: Rain water and Super Thrive and KLN and hydrogen peroxide.

    Addition of a post-transplanting aid such as Superthrive -Concentrated vitamins and hormones that give it a good foliar spray with, and KLN which mixes with water and for saturating/promoting vigorous root growth post-transplanting, from orchid people. or a Mom and Pop type nursery ) is recommended, and they benefit very much from the addition of trace minerals to the soil. I use IRONITE that I get at the big bargain super-store near me. Just a tablespoonful in a 7 gallon pot sporadically throughout the warm months when it is actively growing, because it is naturally warm, and the light cycle is naturally long.  Bat plants are evergreen but they have a rest or dormancy period.  That is, they are not from a place which freezes, therefore during their dormancy, they retain their foliage, they simply stop growing.  No matter what you do in your million dollar greenhouse, Tacca knows what it's doing and when to do it and no amount of coaxing will get it to jump thru the hoops for the grower.  Plant it the same way a peace-lily ( Spathiphyllum ) would grow, with about an inch of soil over where the roots begin to emerge from the base of the plant.  If there are any broken, smashed, or otherwise damaged roots, cut them off before potting up; these roots are broken! They're just going to rot off and become fungus food in the soil which can lead to further problems down the pike.  Avoid that in the first place.  Do not mash the soil down on top of the roots at this stage, or ever.  All that does is it just mashes the roots.  Mush.  Fungus again.  Use the watering can to let the soil settle naturally around the roots.  One might even let the water run throughout the whole process, and avoid any air pockets around the roots.  One may have to stake individual leaves up to provide support for a few weeks.  Just don't mash or "firm" the soil.  Put the transplant in low to medium light and allow to harden off for about 8 weeks before moving to a brighter location.  Avoid sun.  A light dose of bone-meal incorporated into the soil will aid the plant in producing big strong leaves, stems, and flowers, and the bone-meal should be mixed evenly into the soil at the time of planting. Repotting should only take place in the warmth of spring or when there are still 3 months of weather above 68 degrees left in your growing region.  My favorite fertilizer is called EXCEL and it is  made by the Peters Potting Soil & Fertilizer Company.  It is not available in small quantities yet; it has gobs of every macro and micro in it, and is water soluble. Some orchid Hybridizers turned me on to this. They were using it to push rare hybrid seedlings thru to blooming plants for professional show competition.  Quarter strength, once a week, May thru October.  November thru April is the resting/dormancy period. Quarter strength once a week instead of full strength once a month. It's a more regulated way to feed plants, so they don't start to grow and slow down then get fed again and start to grow and then slow down growth then get fed again...just give them an evenly fractional//measured amount less////but more often. 

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