Tacca (Bat Plant) Planting Guide
Spectacular. Sinister. Bizarre. Haunting. Tacca!
Lurking in the shadows of the tropical jungles in Asia, the sinister seeming blooms of the tacca rule the shaded depths of the understory. Lush, emerald green foliage makes a beautiful backdrop for the dramatic blooms. Widely flared bracts (8-12 inches across) mimic the look of a bat's wings in flight, while the rounded lobed blooms beneath may appear to be the animal itself. Extraordinary trailing filaments remind others of a cat's whiskers, leading to other common names for this most uncommon of plants.
From the deepest jungles of Asia to your home or garden? Yes! With a bit of effort, the tacca can be made happy in your garden, in containers, even inside your home - year round!
If you are an admirer of the odd, the strange, and the downright bizarre, you must add this remarkable specimen to your collection - indoors or out!
Sun ExposureTacca require warm, humid shade. They thrive in low light conditions of 40-60% shade, where trees or walls protect them from direct sun. This affinity for low light makes them quite happy indoors, if the surrounding humidity is supplemented with daily misting, pebble trays, and/or a humidifier.
Wind ExposureThe wide, lush leaves of the bat flower plant will tatter and burn if exposed to wind, so the wall or plants that provide shade should also shelter the leaves of this beautiful plant. Indoors, provide a spot away from the heating or cooling vents.
Soil TypeLight, loamy, nutritious soil with excellent drainage is critical for tacca. Orchid potting mixes are typically ideal, or add a generous amount of perlite to your favorite potting mix to improve drainage and to ensure good air throughout the soil. Aim for a soil ph of 6.1 to 7.5. The right soil will be critical for your tacca's watering as well, so start off right, for a spectacular finish
Plant tacca rhizomes upright - with the last 1/2 inch of the rhizome, and the leaves exposed above the soil, as shown in this illustration. The rhizome will be perpendicular to the soil, and most of it buried.
WateringTacca should be kept moist, but not wet. Excellent drainage is critical to ensuring your tacca's health. As the tacca grows rapidly, and the temperatures warm, you may need to water twice weekly - check the soil to ensure you are maintaining the balance of moist, but not wet. If you are in a humid area, the bat plants will love it. If your humidity is low, mist the leaves daily, spraying above the leaves, to let the mist settle gently. Adding pebhble trays or water features nearby is a bonus, as is a humidifier if indoors.
Tacca are evergreen, but they do slow their activity in the winter months. Cut back on their water at this time, allow the surface to dry a bit between waterings.
FeedingOnce your tacca has the right soil, water and lighting, it will grow rapidly, and it can bloom heavily for months. A good 10-20-10 liquid fertilizer applied every 2 weeks spring through fall will ensure a dazzling display.
Winter CareWhen planted within their hardiness zones, of 9B - 11, tacca can remain in the ground, undisturbed over the winter. Otherwise, bring your potted tacca indoors, where it will remain a handsome potted plant all winter long. Though evergreen, your tacca will be resting a bit over the winter, so don't fertilize at this time, and lighten up on the water a bit.
Special ConsiderationsTacca needs to be protected from direct sun, from wind and from temperatures below 40 degrees F. Their soil must be moist, but not wet. They are not among our "carefree" varieties. But in exchange for that care, they provide one of the most dazzling displays of any plants to be found anywhere. They are evergreen, and bloom prolifically, and can be made very happy indoors all year long where they will continue to bloom their haunting blooms, which can also make long-lasting cut flowers for arrangements that will stun one and all. Enjoy!